When a North Star woman stopped to take a photo of a koala last week, she had no idea the sensation it would cause.
Pamela Schramm and her children were traveling on the Moree to North Star road when they witnessed the creature having a drink from the rain pooled on the road.
Pam then posted the photo on social media asking drivers to be aware. "I've never been close to a Koala in the wild before," she later said, sharing another photo and video of her son with the animal.
"Wow what an amazing sight," one person commented. "Fantastic photo, award-winning I would say" another wrote. "Hope there will now be plenty of water for them. Thank you for taking care," the comments continued.
And from here is where the story went viral. "I don't know how you feel about sharing your photo but I do believe the whole world would love to see this," one woman commented. And she wasn't wrong.
When ACM spoke with Pam on Monday she was exhausted, having been up until 1am replying to messages from the media. "I've been getting 40 or more messages a day. It's been in a Dutch newspaper, Mexico and India. Now Russia has contacted me and the BBC!"
"I have been completely overwhelmed by the response. I thought the local communities around Goondiwindi and Moree would be amazed by the photo. It's well known they are in the Croppa Creek area. It was just good timing.
"I nearly cried thinking about how much these animals have been effected by the drought. We take for granted what they are missing out on. It's so hard on these animals. A lot of the bigger animals, skinny cows and horses etc have been in the media but these small and native animals have been forgotten. Only now, since the bushfires, have animals like the koalas been all over the news. I hope this raises more awareness about how they are suffering."
This experience has had more than one life lesson for the family. "I've been able to use this to teach my kids to be so wary about the internet. There have been plenty of silly and hurtful comments on some sites. I had to stop reading some of the comments."
People have not heard the full details by simply seeing the images shared. "It had not long started raining for the first time in a long time, so we didn't want to move the koala off the road where he was able to get a drink.
"We sat with him until he was finished and we put a bag on the guide post to hopefully slow traffic down.
"Later we went back out with a local wildlife carer to check on him and he was up the top of a tree nearby. It was quite emotional to see it back up high and healthy."
The family will now place a water station near the site. They had seen the idea shared from Blair Athol at Inverell which included a diagram of how people can make one of these stations easily at low cost. They planned to place some around the region, but after this encounter are now even more keen to be involved in the project. Pam's father in-law will help with the construction at the Men's Shed.
With thousands of shares world-wide Pam has now signed a licensing agreement with ViralHog for her photos and video. It will be a small help for the family who are struggling through the drought, like many local families. She will also donate some of the funds to WIRES to help local wildlife.