Steve and I recently migrated to Australia from the UK and after spending a few weeks in Cairns with our friends, and on the advice of many, we decided to travel around the country before choosing where to lay our roots.
As the trip was unexpected and a little ‘off the cuff’ we hadn’t budgeted at all to go gallivanting around this amazing country. We looked at our options and found some fantastic websites like Hovos and Helpx where we could work for a few hours a day in exchange for accommodation and food, as well as gaining a first-hand experience of living like a local. Following stops in many places including Airlie Beach, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Byron Bay, our journey brought us in to Southern NSW. After a little bit of searching we came across Bill and the wombat refuge and instantly knew that we wanted to spend some time there. Following our New Year in Sydney, we travelled 4 hours South to Majors Creek where we were made to feel unbelievably welcome from the moment we arrived.
Bill and his wife Les are both wonderful, extraordinary people who work so hard and sacrifice so much in the name of wombats! Les has to feed the babies religiously through the night, every few hours or so depending on their weight. Her love for these animals shows no limits. Bill also works extremely hard, building and maintaining enclosures for wombats of all ages, from the nursery pens where the baby wombats can easily be watched, up to the robust, burrow-proof adult enclosures providing more privacy to dehumanise them ahead of their release back in to the wild.
Bill and Les usually take in baby wombats that have been rescued from their mother’s pouch who, in most cases are killed on the roads. This relies heavily on kind members of the public, or Les and Bill themselves, checking the pouches of the unfortunate wombats for any surviving joeys. Lesley takes in these orphans and bonds with them, replacing their lost mother and nurtures them throughout their years until they are big and strong enough to look after themselves and eventually be released back in to the wild.
During our time there, we helped build a new enclosure for the babies directly in front of the kitchen window and Lesley’s watchful eye! We also observed Bill on some of his daily chores of checking the enclosures of the older wombats and ensuring that they had plenty of food and water. As the wombats demand so much of Bill and Lesley’s time and attention, they find it extremely difficult to keep on top with all the other jobs around the property. One of these jobs was a much needed extension to Bills workshop and shed which we helped build whilst we were there. I was also lucky enough to play with two wombats that were nervous and unsure of their surroundings to help them feel more comfortable and settled. You can’t beat a wombat cuddle every day!
One afternoon, Lesley and I went on a rescue mission of a poor baby boy who was found by some passing bikers. Fortunately they showed enough compassion and awareness to check the dead mothers pouch and bundled the baby joey into their backpack to take him to the nearest vet. Once given the ‘all clear’ from the vet, Lesley was contacted to collect him and she started the challenging process of getting him to feed from an unfamiliar bottle in a strange new world. We left the day after this rescue and hope that the joey will survive.
Whilst our time there was short, we felt that we learnt a lot and contributed to the refuge. On our continuing journey through Australia, we will now always check pouches for surviving young on any unfortunate marsupial mothers. We wish Bill, Lesley and the Majors Creek Wombat Refuge all the best for the future. Thanks for the memories!
Nadine and Steve
Always Check Pouches!!!!