Posts Tagged ‘Tasmania’



It’s been four years since our last visit to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania, and while there we met these three adorable orphaned baby animals. The Bonorong team rescue, rehabilitate and release hundreds of animals each year and work tirelessly to save our precious natives. I am so excited to announce that we’ve just planned our next project with Bonorong for early 2018 and we have a very special fundraising print in mind. We can’t wait to share it with you!

HUGE thanks to the generous support and sponsorship of World Expeditions and Seagate who are our partners for this venture. So grateful that these precious creatures are as important to them, as they are to us.

We’ll also be stopping in to see our dear friends at Brightside Farm Sanctuary to shoot an epic portrait pic.

Watch this space!



Every week I receive heartfelt emails from people who are seeking more meaning in their lives and who want to find a way to contribute to those in need but don’t know where to start. They ask how to select a group to donate their time and expertise to as a volunteer, or about undertaking a complete career change, keen to know how to begin with a not for profit organisation.

Do you ever have those moments? Where you have wondered if there is a greater way to make a difference? I think it’s such a beautiful thing to be at a point in your life where you’re ready to take steps to follow your inner calling, and I really value being asked these questions and having the chance to direct people onto a valuable new path.

Given the frequency of the emails I receive, I thought I would publicly post the contents of my responses to them, with additional advice from a few of my inspirational friends who continue to change the lives of animals in their relevant area of expertise.
I think the best place to start is to consider what sort of group you’d like to volunteer with, or work for – so deciding what it is you are most passionate about. Where would you like to see change? What fuels you into action? What fires you up? Who or what do you see as the most vulnerable?

It could be linking in to local or international animal rescue; supporting the homeless, domestic violence victims, or unwell children; co-ordinating overseas aid; or assisting environmental conservation efforts.

When you identify the specific area you’d like to help, the next step is to research organisations online to find a group whose ethics and operations resonate with you and align with your values. Check out their mission statements, aims, goals, and financial reports. Link in to their social media pages and read their posts.

If you are passionate about saving the worlds’ bear (for example) and you come across an informative, educational website like that of Free The Bears, you next need to decide if you want to assist at a local level or an international one. Some organisations have Australian offices or Australian based volunteer networks – Free The Bears is based in Perth but also has local chapters in other Australian towns and cities. Their rescue sanctuaries are situated in Cambodia, India, Vietnam and Laos, so there’s lots of scope for you to help from home, or abroad.

Once you have found the organisation that ticks all the boxes for you, check if they have a volunteer program. You can do this by searching online or giving them a call. To apply you may be required to fill in forms, undertake an on-site induction or even have a suitability interview, but these are opportunities to learn even more about the organisation and to increase your involvement.

If you are time poor and committing to regular volunteering isn’t an option, see if your chosen organisation has a wish list of items they need – again, either online or by giving them a call and asking. Animal rescue groups often need blankets, towels, cat and dog food, bedding, flea treatments, collars, vet supplies, etc. You could organise a collection amongst friends or your local community, and make it a regular or annual task.

Or you could donate your skills to help out – be they accounting, business management, catering, delivery driving – or even offer to support them by manning their information stalls at events, or rattling tins on donation drives. The list is endless and there’s always some way you can fit your volunteering in around your day job depending on how much, or how little, time you have available.

To gain employment in a not for profit I would advise taking all of the above steps first. The best way to discover if you want a career in a select area is to volunteer to get a good taste of what’s involved and to learn the ins and outs. Be a team player. Honour your commitment. And work hard for the cause.

Volunteering also builds two extremely important things – experience and relationships. A reliable pattern of volunteering registered to your name will help towards consideration for future job opportunities and networking with those who run not for profits means you’re the first on the ground to hear about pending vacancies. Overall, volunteering is a big foot in the door and will give you the chance to network with likeminded people. Plus the giving back factor will have feel-good reverberations in all aspects of your life.

I asked several incredible people to share the advice they would give to those who want to find and follow their passion. Each is established in their own right as a founder, director or president of an animal rescue or rehabilitation organisation. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them all and am proud to call them my friends Their advice is from the heart and comes from years of experience. Please consider their wise words.

“For me it was reaching a point in my life where the passion I had for my voluntary animal advocacy work, overtook the commitment I had been putting into my career. After working full time and volunteering for the animals part time, I made the switch to volunteer full time and work at my paid job part time. Although personally and financially it’s been very difficult, the sacrifices are outweighed by the fact that due to my decision, every day I get to work on what I am truly passionate about. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I say to myself ‘What if’. So I guess my advice would be, find what you’re passionate about, and let that guide you. During my (at times frightening) transition to full time volunteer I keep this quote on my wall as it depicted the journey I was about to take –

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire-

Push yourself and follow your passion … or you will never find your wings!”
Debra Tranter, Founder of Oscar’s Law, National

“My advice to anyone is too chase their dreams. You live life once and don’t want to look back and say you never gave yourself a chance. My biggest tip to anyone is to volunteer their time to learn more about their passions and get a head start. When I am looking at potential employees in the animal care industry the first thing I look for on a resume is the volunteering that person has done. In my industry all applicants love animals. Most people do! If I have two applicants and one has 3 university degrees and the other none, yet the one with none has volunteered their time free of charge to care for animals and the other has only done it when they are paid, it makes it a very easy decision to see who will be more dedicated. Make sure you try, try and try again! Your dream job is worth it. Good luck!”
Greg Irons, Director of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania

“I started out working with animals as a vet nurse and didn’t feel like I was making much of a difference to animals in need. My Family could see I wasn’t happy and so supported me in my decision to do more. Moving to the country and caring for so many animals in our sanctuary has meant sacrifice, a lot of hard work and can be stressful at times but overall I have never been happier and finally feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. The hard slog is worth it.”
Rachael Badger, Founder of Greener Pastures Sanctuary, WA

“They say do what you love and the money will follow – but money is irrelevant if you’re doing what you love. You are emotionally fulfilled instead. Use your skills to make a difference. Your career doesn’t always need to change, just use it to help those who need it most. There’s so much to be done so consider starting now. The more you give the more you get. Making a difference is addictive.”
Karen Rhodes, President of Dogs’ Refuge Home of WA

“Find what stirs your soul. If your passion is strong, your commitment is absolute and the cause is just, take that first step forward. Make contact and see what they need. Who knows where it will lead. We can all make a difference. Especially together. ”
Mary Hutton, founder of Free the Bears Fund, International

Now go out there and find what makes your heart sing! And please SHARE this post to spread the message far and wide and to help others find their way too.

Peace and love,



Kindest Heart – Petra Harris, Bonorong Wildlife Park

KINDEST HEART! Who could imagine something so precious as hand raising a baby Tasmanian Devil? The amazing Petra Harris has raised 4 baby devils and is the manager at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. This means she gets to spend each day working at one of Australias best wildlife centres and is heavily involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife. She is also someone we are proud to call our friend and we are thrilled to introduce her as todays KINDEST HEART.

QUESTION: What path led you to running Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania?

PETRA: I have been an animal fanatic for as long as I can remember and growing up I always had a menagerie of different fur-babies that I’d rescued or brought home from somewhere. In my teenage years I really became passionate about native Tassie fauna and in particular the rehabilitation and release of orphaned and injured wildlife. I started volunteering at the RSPCA animal shelter when I was 15 and shortly after starting there I attended a course on how to look after orphaned marsupial joeys.

After completing this course I became a registered wildlife carer through the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and my love for protecting and conserving native animals just grew from there. When I finished school I said to my parents that it would be my dream to work at a place like Bonorong and they told me that I should just simply drive out there and have a chat to them, show them my CV and see if they had any job opportunities. So that is exactly what I did! I was very lucky that they liked my prior animal experience and despite there being no jobs going at the time, they gave me a trial day the following week. I completed my trial day and got offered a job.

As you could imagine I was absolutely over the moon and well that was 7 years ago now… how time flies.! Bonorong is certainly my world, my everything and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Q: Who was the first animal you cared for?

PETRA: The first animal I cared for was a beautiful little Tasmanian Pademelon joey named Dolly. Her mother had been hit and killed by a car but luckily she was found uninjured and brought in to care before her health was compromised.

Q: What do you love about Tasmanian Devils??

PETRA: Devils certainly are on my short list of favourite natives. They are such misunderstood animals and I truly love being able to share the close relationships I have formed with my devil girls with people who visit Bonorong.

There are so many amazing facts about Devils that people don’t know, like their incredible sense of smell (over 2km on a still day), their ability to gorge feed (up to 40% of their body weight in one sitting), the fact they only have a gestation of just 18-21 days or why they were named ‘The Devil’ in the first place (due to their vocalisation).

But despite all of the incredible things that make a Devil a Devil I really can’t resist their cheeky little personalities and their big boof heads.

Q: How many Tassie Devils have you raised and what’s involved in their daily routine whilst in care?

PETRA: I have raised four Devils who came in to care when they all weighed under 200g each. They were a litter of four sisters and it is actually quite rare for an entire litter to be the one sex. When the girls first came in to care they were on 4 hourly feeds (yep, day and night) so I was a walking zombie for a couple of months. They were being fed a special milk formula that marsupial joeys can have (not like cows milk which can make them very sick).

When the girls got older their little individual personalities came out and they were hilarious to be around. I was still living with my parents when I was raising the four Devils and they would run amuck around the house stealing things like socks, toilet rolls, and undies and kept disappearing with them.

One day we saw two of the girls run off with a sock and tissue and disappear under the couch. When we looked under there the Devils had ripped a large hole under the couch and were using this as a play den to stash all of these hidden objects. My parents were horrified, haha. The little Devils were so proud of their efforts and this is still a regular story told around the Harris dinner table. Raising Devils is a very special privilege and something I will never forget.

Q: What is Prada the Devil like personality wise?

PETRA: Well if you talk to any of the keepers who work at Bonorong they will tell you they do not have a very high opinion of my Prada, haha. Hand raised devils can often be more aggressive towards people that they do not consider ‘Mum’ and Prada certainly keeps the keepers on their toes. With me though she is a completely different Devil – very loving, cheeky and overall such a gorgeous girl. Her sisters Nimba, Raali and Luna all have different personalities, but Prada was certainly the most robust of the four girls.

Q: What message would you like to share with everyone about animals/ animal rescue?

PETRA: There are so many animal issues in the world desperately in need of community support. We need to change our human practices which impact on native wildlife. Tasmania is an absolute haven for wildlife and is often described as ‘the ark’ for the whole of Australia, as many species found here on our island state are now extinct on mainland Australia. We need to cherish this and help protect the incredible animals we are so lucky to have in our own backyards.

There are three quotes that are close to my heart which might leave people with something to think about.

The first is a quote from Baba Dioum – ‘In the end we will only ever cherish what we love, love what we understand and understand what we are taught’.

The second one was shared to me by my friends at Brightside Farm Sanctuary and is one I say to myself all the time – ‘Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.’

And the third quote comes from an inspirational man named Philip Wollen from the Kindness Trust who changed my life for the greater good – ‘There are three types of people in this world. People who do not care, people who do care and then people that do care but are willing to change their lifestyles in order to see change.’

Q: And finally, what one thing would people be surprised to know about Devils?

PETRA: Devils they give birth to between 20-40 tiny babies at one time that are literally the size of a single grain of rice. They are completely furless and are born in an embryonic form. The mother Devil only has four teats inside her pouch so the strongest and healthiest four babies that make their way to the teats first will be the ones that survive. What an incredible critter they are.

PICTURED: Petra with her hand raised Devil Prada.

For more information on Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, please visit



Animal Photography Workshop in Tasmania

Meet the lovely like minded people who attended our Animal Photography Workshop on Saturday, held at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Together they helped raise $1500 for the Tarkine Devil Project, which will be used to research and monitor the devil population of the Tarkine Rainforest – the last known area in Tasmania free of the horrendous devil facial tumor disease.



Kindest Heart – Linda Tabone, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

KINDEST HEART! Welcome to our KINDEST HEART series, a collection of interviews highlighting the unsung heroes of animal rescue, aimed to inspire and educate you.Today we went to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary to visit Max the baby wombat. Do you remember him? He was the adorable star of our Baby Face Series, showing us his toothy grin in a photo so cute that it went viral on a global scale. Not that Max bothers much with news like that! Now aged 13 months, he has doubled in size and is happily spending his days at Bonorong until he decides it’s time to go back into the wild – which will probably be in around 11 months.

And given Max was doing so well, it was only fitting that our first KINDEST HEART feature should be about Max’s foster Mum, the dedicated and humble, Linda Tabone, who describes her role at Bonorong as “Privileged Carer of Tasmania’s Very Precious and Unique Wildlife.” How beautiful! 

Q: How did you get into wildlife caring and working with Bonorong?

LINDA: I always wanted to work with animals as a child but my parents insisted I work in an office and in those days you did as your parents wanted. Then when we lived in Healesville in Victoria I approached Healesville Sanctuary to become a carer, however as I was working full time they felt I wouldn’t be able to commit. Not long afterwards my husband Emy and I moved to Tasmania. We had no idea that we were actually building our new home very close to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Once we realised this, I convinced myself that it was fate that we become carers and approached Greg, the owner. Greg and his partner Petra were very pleased to have another carer on board and they became our mentors.

Q: Who was the first animal you cared for?

LINDA: Our first animal was a Pademelon called Mr Magoo and he was followed by sixty other Pademelon, Bennetts Wallaby and Bandicoot joeys who came through our home in the next 3 1/2 yrs. Emy made all of our joey enclosures, both inside ones for the babies and outside ones for them to use as they grew up.

Q: How did you come to care for wombats?

LINDA: Our first love was to care for wombats and about 18 months ago Greg realised just how dedicated we were as carers and asked us if we would like to raise the baby wombats for Bonorong. This had always been done by Greg and Petra but with the growth of Bonorong and the instigation of their ‘’Friend of Critters, Friend of Carers” Program, they found it very hard to continue with full time wombat care. As sad as it was for Greg and Petra, it was a dream come true for us and we jumped at the offer.

Digger was our first beautiful baby wombat and he came to us as an orphan after his Mum was killed on the road. He was an absolute delight to raise at home, with us taking him up to Bonorong as much as possible so he could become familiar with the surroundings prior to living up there full time. Once he moved into Bonorong 24/7 we continued to go up 3 times a day to bottle feed him and give him lots of cuddles. During this time along came Trooper followed by Matilda, Molly and (bushfire victim) Sarah, Lucy and Julie, Ben and Little Boy, Cassy and Max.

Last year was a very busy year for baby wombat joeys and we were caring for 8 wombats at one time including Digger and Trooper who were living at Bonorong. The babies started off in our large indoor enclosure and progressed to the outdoor enclosures as new babies filled the indoor one. This year is a lot slower for baby wombats, thank goodness. At the moment we have Lucy and Max at Bonorong and we visit daily to give them a cuddle and spend some time with them, and at home we have two 8 month old babies, Sam and Mandy. These two little ones have started their introduction to Bonorong, going up there whenever possible for a couple of hours of wombat day care.

Q: How long does each wombat baby stay with you and what’s involved in caring for them?

LINDA: When you take on a baby wombat you MUST commit yourself for a full two years. The little ones usually come into care around the 6 month stage and may not be ready to be released until they are 2 to 2 1/2 years old, so you have to expect the at least two years of necessary care. You can’t pass them around to be cared for so you can go away for a week and you have to work your life around feed times and play times. You are taking on the role of their Mum and she is with them constantly, always being there for them if they need her. Without the right care and attention a baby wombat can become so stressed it will die. However despite all this, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a grown healthy animal being released who originally came to you as a trembling wide eyed frightened little baby.

Q: What is max like personality wise?

LINDA: As one of our current wombat joeys is Max has been photographed by thousands of people at Bonorong over the past 4 months and I know he is on Facebook pages all over the world. He’s such a great little ambassador for Bonorong. He’s very chilled out and quite happy to greet numerous people during the tours at Bonorong. But, look out at play time because he bites very hard when playing and I often come home from Bonorong black and blue. He has now learnt to dig a burrow and is very pleased with himself, often going inside his burrow and presenting you with his bottom.

Q: What message would you like to share with everyone about animals/ animal rescue?

LINDA: When I see my little ones running around at home, all safe and happy, I can’t help but think of all the babies who are not found because people don’t stop and check an animal that has been hit on the road. These little ones stay in the pouch or hidden under their Mum until they die of starvation, dehydration, or the cold. Some are even taken by predators. Either way, they die a slow and horrible death. I wish I was able to drive along ALL of our roads every morning to check for orphaned or injured wildlife. I do this on some of our local roads, but there are only so many I can cover as one person.

If you really care about our wildlife and would love to help them, please think seriously about become an “Friends of Critters, Friends of Carers” (FOC) member. This is a program run and funded exclusively by Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, where families or individuals are trained completely FREE on how to rescue injured or orphaned wildlife. You are taught how to handle them the correct way, keeping yourselelf and the animal safe. You learn how to put a rescue kit together from things around your home, to keep in your car. Once you are trained you only answer the calls by SMS if you are able to help. Nobody is pressured to do rescues at times that don’t suit them and everyone who does do rescues has someone on the other end of the phone to talk them through the rescue if necessary. The FOC program will also arrange for someone to come and help if a situation cant be managed by an individual. This program is the only 24 hour wildlife rescue service in Tasmania and helps thousands of orphans and injured every year. The more members we have the more of these beautiful babies we can help.

Bonorong are also trying desperately to build Tasmania’s first Wildlife Hospital with it’s own Vet who is trained to handle injured Wildlife. You can also help with this by becoming a member of our fundraising team or our pouch making team. The pouch making team meets once a month at Bonorong with our sewing machines and scissors and makes pouches for all of the babies who come into care. If you are interested in any of these teams please contact me at

And if you find an injured or orphaned wild animal, bird or reptile, please ring Bonorong on 62681184 (answered 24 hours a day) and they will get a member of our amazing FOC team to you as soon as possible.

Q: What one thing would people be surprised to know about wombats?

LINDA: You may be surprised to know that Wombats can run at 40kms an hour – they are so fast on those little chubby legs. They can run faster than any human on earth. Another facinating fact is they have ‘square’ poo. They back up to a log or rock and as they go to the toilet they continue to push their bottom up higher and higher so they can pile it up as tall as possible. This creates a show of size to other wombats who may roam into their territory and indicates who the biggest wombat is in the area.

FURTHER INFORMATION on the FOC program can be found at

PICTURED: Linda with Max the baby wombat



Beginners Outdoor Animal Photography Workshop – Tasmania

OUR ONLY EASTERN STATES COURSE in 2014 – We are very excited to present our Beginners Outdoor Photography Workshops in Tasmania in 2014. Do you have a DSLR camera but struggle to use it? Want to improve your animal photography? Keen to learn how easy and jargon free photography can be? We can help you!

WHERE: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton, Tasmania
WHEN: Workshop 1 held on Saturday 1st March / Workshop 2 held on Sunday 2nd March, 2014.
COST: $495 (all inclusive of meals, park entry, course flash cards, drinks etc)
PLUS: $100 from every workshop fee goes directly to the Tarkine Devil Project, a conservation effort to help save Tasmanian devils from extinction, coordinated by Tarkine Trails and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

We personally guarantee you will see an improvement in your photography on these workshops! 

Come along to learn how to get the best from your DSLR camera – plus I’ll share my top tips to improve your animal photography. It’s a fun day with like minded people, hosted in a beautiful environment perfect for learning.

Limited to 15 participants per course only. Please share with like minded people.

Please email if you are keen to receive our course info or to book your place. HURRY – we work on a first in best dressed policy.


The adorable Luwanna

Meet the adorable Luwanna, the 4 year old koala from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  As part of my induction to the sanctuary I was very lucky to have the job of holding her and introducing her to some visitors. The rumour that I shed a tear when I met her may or may not be true, haha. I LOVE koalas and was in complete awe of Luwanna.




Behind the Scenes!

BEHIND THE SCENES! Photographing and filming Lucy the wombat at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania.

Taken with Tamron Australia 24-70mm f2.8 VC Lens


Save Orphaned Wildlife

“Potential to save orphaned wildlife” Page 7 The Examiner, Launceston. click here for full story.



Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania

Alex takes a break from photography to smell the roses, or in this case, hang out with the kangaroos at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania. Put this place on your “MUST VISIT” list when in Tassie!


Photo by the awesome Joe Shemesh, of Stromfront Film.
Gear: Canon 1DX body and 70-200mm f2.8 Tamron Australia lens with COKIN PURE Harmonie UV filter, the thinnest and lightest filter in the world.