There is a strange creature lurking in the suburbs of Newcastle. No - it's not a panther, or a drop bear. It's something even more intriguing.
Nestled between the roaring ocean and the quiet little suburb of Dudley, lies Fern Creek Gully. It used to be a coal mine. Now, a team of dedicated volunteers are restoring the gully to its original state of rainforest.
Years of hard work has seen the valley transform from a monoculture of invasive bitou bush to a thriving ecosystem, filled with swamp mahogany, banksia integrifolia, goannas, bandicoots, and a plethora of bird life. But there is another creature that calls Fern Creek home that the team didn't expect to find.
No - this is not a plush toy, or a Pokemon. It's a squirrel glider - a threatened species living right on the doorstep of Newcastle's suburbs.
You'd be forgiven for not knowing what this creature is. Or for mistaking it for its cousin, the more common sugar glider. I made the same mistake. But the Landcare team at Fern Creek taught me that there is a whole lot more to this loveable face than meets the eye.
I had the pleasure of filming a documentary about Fern Creek Gully and its unique inhabitants. Treading lightly through the ferny understory, getting tangled in vines, and admiring towering trees with awe - you would never know that this place used to be a mine.
There is something special about closing your eyes deep inside the rainforest, and only being able to hear the distant breath of the ocean, and the fleeting chirps of inquisitive eastern yellow robins.
It's easy to see why squirrel gliders would want to call this place home.
In this video we reveal the secrets of how one small team turned a coal mine into a thriving native rainforest, and uncover the mysterious life of Newcastle's rare squirrel gliders.
A huge success!
As of October 2020, the documentary has been viewed over 14,000 times on Facebook alone, and has been shared all over social media.
The documentary also featured on 9 News Newcastle, and led to Fern Creek Gully being covered by the Newcastle Herald and ABC Radio.
Volunteer applications for the group have also skyrocketed.
Just goes to show the power of video for increasing public awareness and community involvement in Australian conservation efforts.