From Jest to a Life’s Quest

July 17, 2013 in Eco-Living, Tourism by Malanda Riverine

A throwaway line made in jest as she left Darwin for Far North Queensland proved a turning point for Dr Karen Coombes – and Australia’s vulnerable tree kangaroo population.  Someone asked the former natural science collections manager at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery what she planned to do after the love, since Cairns had no museum.  “I jokingly said if I didn’t get a job, I’ study tree kangaroos in my backyard. I had heard about them, but I didn’t know a lot about them”. Today, Dr Coombes is a world expert on the elusive tree hugging creature and has given much of the past 14 years to researching, rescuing and rehabilitating the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo found only on the Atherton Tablelands.  Together with husband Neil, she established the non profit Tree Roo rescue and Conservation Centre near Malanda and divides her time between nursing injured and orphaned animals, and raising public awareness about their plight.. Dr Coombes’ work to protect the rare marsupial has seen her nominated for a Pride of Australia Medal in the Environment category, which recognises “Australians whose actions prove that by making one degree of difference to their local environment, people can make a difference to the broader community”. A volunteer wildlife carer since 1990, Dr Coombes said she and her husband bought a 65 hectare property near Malanda in 1998, about 85% of which is covered in rainforest which they had protected from logging.  After hearing about the Tree Kangaroo and Mammal […]