Murray and Ray Chambers: koala heroes from Tessa Mapstone on Vimeo.
Every now and then people surprise me. They will say something, or do something that reminds me that no matter how hard I try not to, I do make assumptions; I do pigeon-hole people, and I do listen to stereotypes. We all do.
Take tradies, for example. They’re blokey, they’re scruffy, and they swear a lot. They stomp around in their big boots and when they’re not making goofy jokes and giggling, they’re dark and broody, and best left alone.
They’re the last people I would ever expect to admit that they cry over fluffy animals.
Meeting Murray and Ray Chambers pulled me out of my stereotype stupor. These brothers are your typical tradies. Murray is a mechanic and Ray a panel beater. They wear shearer’s singlets and stubbies and haven’t shaved for a few days. And yes, they do swear a lot. But they reminded me that even though tradies might not show it very often, they do have hearts. And these particular tradies have hearts of gold.
For the last five years they have poured everything they have into helping sick and injured koalas across south-east Queensland. When the phone rings, at any hour of the day, they go. No matter how far away.
When I arrived to complete the filming of my Day In The Life video Ray was downing tools and heading to Narangba to scrape a dead koala off the road. He’d just got off the phone and although he didn’t say much, he was visibly upset. I was moved by just how much the death of one little koala that hundreds of drivers probably didn’t even notice lying on the Bruce Highway affected him.
On reflection capturing his reaction would have added an extra element to the video but at the time it felt like an intrusion, and Ray was in a hurry to get going. As he and Murray say, ‘koalas first’.
Their dad worries about them. He worries about how much time, and how much money they spend on helping their furry friends. He doesn’t know how they can sustain their workshop at Moffat Beach when all their money goes into the rescue service, which receives little or no funding. He says his sons didn’t get their love of animals from him, but he’s proud of them.
Murray and Ray tell me there are more bad times than good. Only one in seven koalas they rescue make it back into the wild.
But they will keep doing it because, they say, each koala deserves a chance to live.
The big challenge for me, in making this film, was showing both sides of these surprising men, and showing how much koalas mean to them, in just three minutes; and doing it without having any koalas to film.
To find out more or donate, head to the Sunshine Coast Koala Rescue website.