The Koala has its own tartan, a long way from the Glasgow UN Climate Summit

The tartan named Koala

Although Scotland is a long way from Australia, and a very long way from our unique animals, yet, we now have a lovely tartan material named Koala.

Fred and his sister Marie Lawson come from Spring Ridge near in Gunnedah in the New England region. They live on a property with Clydesdale horses, Scottish Highland cattle, and Irish donkeys, which Marie is breeding to re-establish the blood line in Australia. They are also keen weavers and interested in conservation of all kinds. Living close to the bush they came up with the idea of making a tartan to draw attention to the plight of koalas in Australia.

Koalas at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

When asked, why a tartan for koalas, Fred said “Tartan is a language without words, it crosses all boundaries.” (this would bring a stirring to my Scottish father’s heart)

Koalas are completely dependent on Eucalyptus trees both for food and for a place to live. In recent times, the koala’s habitat has been severely reduced with increased urbanization. In addition the 2020 bush fires were devastating for koalas, and for their habitat.

Marie off! ABC New England North West: Photo by Kemii Maguire

Fred and Marie took several pattern trials before deciding on one, and that has now been approved by the World Tartan Register in Scotland. The colours include green for the Eucalyptus trees, dark and light grey for the koala’s coat colour, and black for the nose, with some pink and white for some parts of the koala’s face and coat.

Fred and Marie have officially registered and woven the tartan, and it is called simply The Koala.

The main fibres used in Fred and Marie’s new koala tartan are sheep’s wool, alpaca, and silk

Fred and Marie have always been interested in cloth and once they had done a weaving course in Gunnedah, they began weaving on a regular basis. They have a huge shed on the farm called ”Crofter’s Mill”. At the moment, Fred is experimenting with organic grown cotton which he sources from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Melbourne.

Fred Lawson in the Crofter’s Mill

Meanwhile, far away from the Crofter’s Mill in Gunnedah, during the next two weeks, all eyes are on Scotland, and Glasgow, as national leaders will gather for the latest round of talks on preventing global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.

I read this small news story about the Koala tartan, in the same week that the Australian government was quarrelling and bargaining (within itself) about our commitment to climate change at the Glasgow summit.

I couldn’t help thinking there is something poignant, and hopeful about individuals who are making a difference, and remain steadfast in their belief in change…despite dissention in government ranks here in Australia. May some practical and positive decisions be made at the summit.

Meanwhile I hope the Koala tartan finds many admirers, and one day I may be able to visit my Scottish cousins wearing a Koala kilt. Now there’s a plan!

Best wishes for a happy November….no more Lockdowns in Australia and the sun is shining!

PS: If the koala photos seems familar, I used these same photos for an earlier post on Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. During Lockdown I was unable to go to Tidbinbilla, but I’m sure the koalas are thriving in their protected environment after the trauma of the fires.

26 Replies to “The Koala has its own tartan, a long way from the Glasgow UN Climate Summit”

  1. Oh so much to love about this post! I was born in Scotland and lived there most of my life, I love koalas, have been to Tidbinbilla (wonderful place….) and hope COP in Glasgow does something. That tartan is really pretty too – and the connections are just great. Thank you so much for posting about this!

    1. Thanks Barbara, yes, I thought the tartan was really pretty too. The koalas are very cute…but hard to get photo of them when they are awake!

  2. Loved all the pictures of the koalas. What a splendid idea to weave a Koala tartan. I hope it is very popular. Like you we can only hope that the climate change talks in Glasgow end on a positive note, I despair sometimes.

  3. You are on for a cousin visit wearing your tartan kilt – maybe in winter! I love how creative and inventive people are and how interesting it would be to visit the Crofter’s Mill.

    1. Yes, you would look very good in a Koala kilt at one of your Caledonia evenings! The Crofter Mill looks big enough to run workshops.

    1. Thanks Judy, I thought the colours chosen for the tartan really suited the koalas. They are very cute aren’t they?

  4. What a brilliant idea and such an attractive tartan, too! I hope the summit does some good but I don’t hold out much hope. People are much too selfish and/or set in their ways and are delaying making changes for as long as possible. We have been told that there will be no more gas heating boilers fitted after 2025 and we will be expected to have electric heat pumps fitted instead. I am pleased about this but heat pumps are extremely expensive and don’t produce as much heat as a gas boiler. We will be doing away with petrol and diesel cars very soon but I doubt if there will be enough car chargers around the country for us all. We aren’t producing enough electricity yet either and, as we experienced today during a gale, we still get frequent power-cuts. It would be good if as well as promises of reduced emissions we also had promises that we will have reasonable alternatives in place by the time we need to start giving things up.

    1. Yes I completely agree Clare and many of us worry about effective alternatives, very much a dilemma for us all ( those who are thinking about it!) Thanks for posting your practical comments…very interesting.

  5. A wonderful initiative on the part of Fred and Marie. I love the colours in this tartan and hope it sells well. Your koala pics are so adorable., Gerrie. Happy for you that there are no more lockdowns and your life can begin to return to normal.

    1. Thanks Sylvia, I love the colours of the tartan too, I’m sure people will buy it … there are many Scottish celebrations here in Australia…so I’m sure the tartan will do well. Yes we are very pleased to end lockdown and we can now visit our grandchildren. Enjoy your time in SA and keep well.

    1. Thanks Ruth … yes I agree the colours of the tartan are perfect for the koala. We are enjoying a release from Lockdown and catching up with family.

  6. I had heard about this tartan, but not seen any photos. So, it was a treat to see these–I always love seeing other people’s looms and weaving.

    I’m not optimistic about any meaningful resolve on climate change any time soon. We are a remarkably good at burying our collective heads in the sand as a species.

    1. I’m pleased to hear you have heard of the tartan called Koala. The brother and sister weavers would be delighted to know that I’m sure! Yes I agree, it is hard to be optimistic about the summit. Perhaps businesses and companies will lead the way long before governments!

  7. I do hope world leaders make constructive change and policies. I am always so saddened to hear of the koalas fate, they are such wonderful yet vulnerable creatures. I loved the tartan and hope it raises awareness of their fate. xxx

  8. A beautiful tartan – something good after the disappointing end to ‘not’ ending coal.
    This country too, despite loadshedding has a government unwilling to move away from coal.

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