2015 August: Koala chases Quad Bike near Heywood

Koala in cute pursuit of terrified farmer on ATV

August 17 2015


It could easily be the most Australian video on the Internet, and it’s made Ebony Churchill famous for the day.

The video shows a fearless and determined koala chasing down a quad bike ridden by Churchill, 31, as she worked on a farm in Heywood, Victoria, over the weekend.

They are mythologised as cute and cuddly – but one koala’s “very unusual” behaviour has shown the animal’s scary side.

The koala gave chase to Australian dairy farmer Ebony Churchill as she fled on a quad bike at a property near Heywood, in western Victoria.

Churchill captured the pursuit on camera and posted it to Facebook, where it has so far garnered more than 25,000 shares and 1.2 million views.

The soundtrack is an odyssey of fear that underlines how this unassuming marsupial can be terrifying when in full flight.

“Far out, it’s coming! Get away, get away,” Churchill cries. “Oh my God, now it’s coming up on there. I can’t move. Where the bloody hell is it?”

She dismounts the quad bike to find the rogue koala clutching the rear left tyre.

“Oh my god, it’s on the friggin’ bike. P— off!”

Director of the Koala Ecology Group at the University of Queensland, Bill Ellis, described the behaviour of the animal as “very unusual”.

Koalas would not usually be expected to approach a vehicle or human, especially during daylight hours when they are typically more sedate, he said.

Ellis ventured that koalas may be attracted to the low-frequency sounds or vibrations caused by vehicles such as trucks, which could explain the number of koalas killed on the roads, and called for more research into this area.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was something to do with the noise that [the quad bike] was making,” he said.

The image of the koala as cute and friendly belies the fact that it can be an aggressive and dangerous animal, especially during breeding season, from October to November.

“They’re nothing at all like the animals that you see in the zoos that people cuddle,” Ellis said.

“A wild koala is quite a dangerous animal to deal with unless you know what you’re doing. They’ve got super sharp claws and really strong and very sharp teeth. They can do quite significant damage.”

Despite her flurry of fear, Churchill lived to tell the tale and the video of her 43-second escape has now gone viral online.

She later told Adelaide’s The Advertiser one theory for the unusual pursuit: “He [the koala] was in love with me and I rejected him so he chased me.”

In December, Churchill was a member of a team that won the inaugural National Dairy Challenge, a competition that tested dairy farmers on skills and knowledge regarding animal health, breeding and body condition.