This week AEA had the privilege of being invited to transport WIRES executives and attend to the launch of an enormous chunk of conservation land on the Tomalla Station (bequeathed by the Packer family) high up on the Barrington Tops north-west of Newcastle, NSW.
Tim Faulkner, conservationist and TV presenter, has been the brainchild of this brave and amazing endeavour for its 10 years of existence and has built a team around him to work with endangered species such as the Tasmanian Devil, The Eastern Quoll and the Rufous Bettong.
Initially Tim proposed the idea of a breeding sanctuary only for Tasmanian Devils. In his work at the Australian Reptile Park he had become aware of devastating disease known as Devil Facial Tumour that was impacting numbers of devils on the island of Tasmania. So he set about trying to find suitable cool climate landscapes on the mainland to rehabilitate the species free of the disease for ‘rewilding’ on Tasmania.
In his search he happened upon a state forest area in the Barrington Tops that was in rehabilitation after years of logging. Through viewing this property he happened to meet with manager of the neighbouring property – Tomalla Station – a plateau top block sitting at over 1200M above sea level and part of the sprawling 27000 hectare Ellerston Cattle, Sheep and Horse station that Kerry Packer acquired in the 1970s. The manager Robert Teague happened to mention that there could be suitable wilder, undulating rocky & tree covered tussock grass blocks to use next door, which was not so suitable for cattle.
Teague facilitated negotiations with the Packer family to allow donation of this parcel of land for a newly created non-profit organisation set up by Tim called ‘Devi Ark’.
Running for 10 years now and with the success of the Devil programme Tim led the transition to becoming ‘Aussie Ark’ to focus not only on Tasmanian Devil rehabilitation, but also other endangered species such as Eastern Quolls, Rufus Bettongs and Potoroos.
The purpose of our visit this week was to witness the opening of the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, a newly created and completely fenced 400Ha sanctuary to allow such species to breed naturally in a diverse gene pool, without the threat of foxes, wild dogs and cats.
We were told that it was only a few weeks ago that the last of unwanted feral animals were removed from the sanctuary to allow a new release on the day of the opening of around 20 young animals, some – such as the Eastern Quoll – already considered extinct on mainland Australia.
WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Educational Service) has been in operation since 1986. Established as a network of volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers they were thrust into the spotlight during the 2019/20 bushfires that ravaged the east of Australia due to their agility and reach in mobilising their branch crews for injured animal support.
With their increased profile since the bushfire incidents of 2019/20 they have decided to partner on projects to improve long-term outcomes for native animals.
Aussie Ark is one such project they have partnered up with, contributing funds and focussed species project support. Hence, it was fitting that they join the Aussie Ark team in assisting with release of endangered species in the new Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary.
Equally fitting was the fact that AEA luxury Tours escorted the WIRES executives to the site for the launch. Offering visits to this special facility has been part of the plans for AEA in the aftermath of the restrictions placed on travellers due to the pandemic of 2020. If you can’t travel internationally right now, why not let us handle the tricky navigation and travel in comfort to visit and tour a world-class conservation facility in your own beautiful ‘backyard’ of the Barrington Tops. AEA will happily customise a trip to the facility or guests can join one of our scheduled tours in 2021.