Wombat Rescue on Tour’s second visit of 2019 was to the Major’s Creek Wombat Refuge.
Judi, Kelly and I set off early Saturday morning, driving through quiet country roads, always watchful for dead animals that may require our help.
In Captain’s Flat, a tiny little country town we stopped for a homemade bun with avocado and cheese and some much needed coffee, before we set off for the final leg to Major’s Creek.
On the way into the town, we found a very young kangaroo female killed next to the side of the road. Not expecting anything as she is very young, we checked her anyway as we always do, and found a tiny tiny kangaroo joey, still alive. The heartbreaking truth is that the little pinkie was not viable to be raised and I knew it would be put to sleep. But we never leave a pinkie behind, especially a live one as the ants would eventually get it which would lead to an excruciating death.
On our arrival at the Major’s Creek Wombat Refuge, situated on top of a hill overlooking the most gorgeous views over the sleepy town of Major’s Creek, we were warmly welcomed by the owners, Bill and Les, who have given their lives over to the rescue and rehabilitation of wombats.
The refuge is situated on an old eucalypt oil farm, you can see the forest of new trees growing where they were cut down ages ago. Spread across the property are very old mid-century buildings, no doubt built by the oil farmers. They give so much character and charm to the place and no doubt have many stories to tell!
The refuge is cleverly designed with further away, large outside enclosures built deep into the ground to prevent industrious escapees, with smaller enclosures for the little ones to explore in the afternoon, in view of the house and watchful eye of Les. Close to the house a shed was converted into a hospital where sick and manged wombats are housed initially, to make treatment and access easy.
Our mission for the day was to get as much of the outside work done as possible. We got right into it, first cleaning the enclosures of the bigger wombats. Nothing like a nice sweep to get the rhythm going ?
Next came fixing up one of the outside enclosures as a big boy dug up just about every surface in his attempts to get out. He is now released so we got in and filled up all the holes, in anticipation of the next occupant that would arrive the next day at the refuge.
Work never stops so our next job was to plant some trees and shrubs that would eventually grow to give the enclosure some shade and wind shelter.
During a well deserved break over lunch we got to play with some of the little orphans in care. The work never ever stops. Between bottles, more bottles, plays, washing, cleaning, bottles, quick coffee, bottles, I don’t know when Les ever sleeps.
Time to chat to these two beautiful people while we munch on salad. Bill and Les were both teachers in their previous lives, about 4 decades each of teaching and raising the children of their community. During a commute one day Les found a dead wombat, and stopped to check the pouch. She found a tiny wombat joey and the love affair began. As with most sanctuaries, the decision is to take in one and when you blink, you have 22 and it becomes a full-time job. They have been doing this for 17 years.
So Bill and Les converted their house and land to accommodate the growing number of orphans they take in, as well as the different ages, from pinkies to fully grown adult wombats come into care and each has different needs and requirements that has to be catered for.
It is very obvious from watching the pair that they love each other and love what they do. They are teachers at heart and provide animal welfare training when necessary and not only manages the refuge, but also the Native Animal Rescue Group (NARG).
Les gave us such valuable advice. She truly is a powerhouse of knowledge. As with all our endeavours, mange in wombats is on the forefront for all of us. Les is very practical in her approach to mange and when you find a wombat with mange. Her philosophy is to take every wombat as a case by case for treatment as every case is different. Weigh up the risk versus benefit when trying to capture a wild wombat and treat, or whether to euthanise to end its suffering.
My personal experience at Major’s Creek Wombat Refuge as a support person for the day was an excellent opportunity to understand the dedication, commitment and ongoing care given to twenty two wombats by two delightful people who welcomed us into their home. It became apparent to me that any support we could give would be of significant valve and our reward was cuddling the wombats in care. It was an honour and i hope to return. Judi
Hard decisions that need to be made, and it does take its toll. Judi remarked carers also need care, give them your time and carers will let you know what are their needs.
I personally found working at the Wombat refuge a completely rewarding experience. It was really hard work, but so worth it. Bonding with like minded people over a hard earned beer was just icing on the cake. That, and seeing first hand how the wombats in this refuge really have drawn the long straw!!! Kelly
I have known Bill and Les for a while and these are the good, honest and passionate people I admire so much. There is no time for nonsense. It is all about the animals. They have so much to give, and are so willing to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with anyone who is interested. Yolandi
Written by Yolandi, Kelly and Judi