The Friends were finally able to make our 3-times postponed trip to the Wildlife Wonders Conservation Park on Saturday July 31. The seventeen members (in two groups) who attended the activity were all united in their praise for the Centre and were pleased we had persevered and had finally got to see it.
Lizzie Corke and Shayne Neal (who also run the Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway) have created a very special area to showcase the incredible floral and faunal diversity of the Otway Ranges and have constructed a space that is safe for its native inhabitants, stunningly attractive, scenically splendid, informative, functional, very welcoming and approachable, for its two-legged visitors.
Lizzie Corke warmly welcomes the second of the two groups of Friends
Particularly noteworthy is the use of timber from trees found in the Otways to construct furniture in the Admin/Café/Bookshop and to pick out the track and construct boardwalks and railings for much of the length of the 1.4 km trail.
The guided tour traverses a very nice mix of different land types from (regenerating) temperate rainforest, tree-fern filled gullies, heathy woodland and open grassland (with spectacular views of the Southern Ocean and Cape Otway).
View over the Southern Ocean, with the Eastern flank of Cape Otway in the distance.
These different vegetation types provide suitable ecological niches for its different fauna, that include, Bettongs, Southern-brown Bandicoots, Red-bellied Pademelons, Red-necked and Black Wallabies, Long-nosed Potoroos, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Koalas.
Eastern Gray Kangaroos, one with joey in pouch.
Birds, of course are abundant. A partial list would include (resident) Emus, Kookaburras, Grey Fantails, Pied Currawongs and Ravens.
Eastern Yellow Robin.
The facilities provided are fantastic and range from the knowledgeable guides, through the radio earpieces that deliver the Guide’s commentary, to the binoculars provided to help visitors to spy the Koalas (and birds) high in the trees.
Local woods (not always indigenous) are used to great effect in the beautifully-designed, meandering path through the Park.
The Research station gives a very good idea of what goes on in the park after dark, using networked remote-sensing cameras, scattered throughout.
In the Research Station, Ollie checks out how his handspan compares to the wingspan of a Royal Albatross.
Lizzie and Shayne are to be congratulated on developing such a special showcase for our local flora and fauna and, Covid-permitting, they will achieve their goals of introducing out-of-area and international visitors to what makes the Otways so special and supporting their ongoing research at the Conservation Ecology Centre.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.