I was 10 years old when I knocked on Nancy’s door that day, and through my innocent immaturity, wide-eyed and panicking, blurted out: “YOUR CAT IS DEAD!” (…how a writer wishes she could edit her words upon looking back!).
After walking from her door and onto the road, Nancy’s shock turned to desperate sobbing, falling from her walking stick onto her rheumatoid knees, only to discover that ‘Tiggy’ was not actually dead yet, but in her last, twitching minutes. Nancy died a few weeks later.
Since then, I have: returned a blind mole back to its burrow; carried a bloodied pigeon, in a never-to-be-white-again cardigan, to a local farm (both, when still living in England); helped return a young koala to its mother's back after it slipped and was hanging onto a branch by one claw; and while traversing Australia’s red dusty roads, pulled over to kangaroo roadkill to check the pouch for orphaned joeys. The latter, taught to me by the legendary wildlife welfare champion, Chris Barnes, AKA: Kangaroo Dundee, when I visited his kangaroo rescue sanctuary near Alice Springs (you can read up on this legend at: www.kangaroosanctuary.com).
But it’s not all death and tragedy on my wildlife-infused travels. Recently, my husband treated me to a belated anniversary weekend at a rustic log cabin in the heart of Kangaroo Island. With both of us having demanding, time-consuming jobs, we booked only last minute, and brought with us no work or laptops. We were also refreshingly out of range (which would usually strike panic into my bones), so we went AWOL on our phones.
From Eleanor River Homestead, an eco-friendly, isolated property on grounds pebble-dashed with mature native xanthorrheas, we took an evening stroll. The walk, needling between hundreds of these spherical, immaculately groomed grass trees (I’m sure they visit hairdressers!) down to the Eleanor River, provided excellent photograph opportunities for Kangaroo Island’s wild roos. But it was a photo opportunity of an unexpected kind that gate-crashed the scene.
“G’day!” came a voice, and a waving hand. We waved back, approaching each other. The friendly farmer introduced himself as Graeme, and turned out to be the owner of the homestead we were staying in. He lived next door (‘next door’ being on an Australian scale, you understand – the two properties are out of sight of each other).
Then, up went Graeme’s arm, and we ducked, as a nankeen kestrel missiled down to spear a piece of meat from Graeme’s (brave) fingers.
To read up on Genie’s remarkable life, and view videos of her chicks hatching, follow Graeme’s passionate blog: www.graemericketts.wordpress.com, about this gorgeous girl.
Australians have a finely tuned passion for wildlife, which becomes evident as soon as you escape the day-to-day bustle of city life. But the passion is alive in the city too.
The recent devastating bushfires that torched the outskirts of Adelaide were close to home for me. Only a day prior to the fires, I was at Gorge Wildlife Park enjoying their koalas. Within 24 hours, the free population of wild koalas, literally across the road, were tragically burnt by the fury of these destructive feats of nature.
Luckily, I saw IFAW’s call-out for funds, so promptly donated money to help them supply rehabilitative care and cotton mittens for the burnt paws of our iconic koalas. Please join me and be generous to such organisations, many of which are volunteer-run, that provide respite and refuge for our endangered wildlife.
So, for my fellow animal and wildlife lovers, until next time…