Klassic Koalas: Mr. Douglas’ Koalas and the Stars of Qantas
by Joanne Ehrich
Also included are some of the most renowned Qantas ads featuring koalas. The popular I hate Qantas commercials originally featured a talking koala who sat in a eucalyptus tree while complaining about tourists disturbing its tranquil environment.
These advertisements were first created by the Cunningham & Walsh agency of San Francisco and aimed at an exclusively American audience. Running from 1967 until 1992 (and briefly reinstated around the time of the Australian Olympics in 1999), they became the longest television ad campaign in United States history. The original ads in addition to other examples, can now be enjoyed in person by visiting the Q.A.N.T.A.S. Founders Outback Museum in Longreach, Queensland. These classic publicity shots exhibit all the charm that helped cement Australia’s position as a hot tourist destination. And if you think your eyes are deceiving you, they’re not—that’s not just one, but two albino koalas in some of the pictures, just as winsome as their more-pigmented brethren—yet a reminder that, without human intervention, the koala may become a mere ghost of a memory.
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David Stephensen, Information Architect / Photographer, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia: “…as a 19 year old university student in 1970 and 1971 I worked there [Lone Pine] one day a week as relief photographer. Ian Reid, the son of the founder, taught me how to handle koalas.The ‘handling’ koalas were trained to be comfortable with it from when they were young. They were never overworked, probably being picked up only a few times a day each. I never saw the slightest thing in their behavior to suggest that it was traumatic for them. Our favorite was young Peanut, who rode the dogs with flair and was always happy to cuddle a visitor.
I loved my time with them. With Ian’s great training I never had any bad experiences. I would certainly never try to touch a wild one, though. Those teeth can bite through to the bone!
You may think it sounds silly, but I believe that, somewhere behind that tiny brain, there is a being who is a really good sport. What other normally wild animal can look cool and dignified with ballet shoes or sunglasses? The jockey koalas who rode the dogs looked pretty natural to me, too. Look at the pictures in this book and tell me what you think. Tame koalas generally pose for photos without party hats these days. I am sure this change says more about us than them.
Klassic Koalas: Mr. Douglas’ Koalas and the Stars of Qantas shows tame koalas as the gentle, endearing good sports that they are. The Qantas ads were beautifully executed and show what an innocent time it was. The other photos are nearly all surprising, funny, endearing or all three. You can see several shots of albino koalas and some publicity photos that .. um .. will appeal to Americans. Interspersed with famous amusing quotes, with a simple and pleasing design, this book makes an ideal gift, or even a nice treat for yourself.
Congratulations…for this great addition to…[an] impressive line-up of koala books.”
Franke Stallworth, M.F.A. Art: A definite must for ones collection…. This book is guaranteed to put a smile upon ones’ face—not only for the witty shots of the koalas, but also for the entertaining captions that ran with the original adverts. If one has never wanted to journey to Australia before seeing this book, one shall once one has.”
Eva Kwolek, Columbus, IN, USA:“The pictures in Klassic Koalas: Mr. Douglas’ Koalas and the Stars of Qantas are truly amazing! Picture after picture, I became envious of Mr. Douglas for having the chance to be in the presence of such adorable creatures. This is a perfect book for any koala lover!”
Jennifer Kahal, Speech Therapist:“The nostalgic koala pictures echoing laughter and playtime (even alongside a canine friend), accompanied by inspiring quotes to live by, make for a wonderful gift for those you care about—at any occasion.”