Once in a while, you stumble upon something you didn’t expect to happen or see. So, imagine this: You are doing a road trip through Western Australia and the final stretch is kind of disappointing. The stays are terrible, it’s cold and rainy, and there is nothing to see. Maybe you even think about canceling an accommodation and just head straight back.
Well, that happened to us. But at least we didn’t cancel this one particular stay to finish the road trip earlier. I am so happy we just went, because we stumbled upon an actual wildlife sanctuary.
Arriving in the dark
Driving in the dark while in Australia isn’t the best idea. Especially when driving in areas with a lot of kangaroos. We drove from Kalgoorlie to Moorine Rock, a small town with just one accommodation. We left Kalgoorlie too late and we were looking for our accommodation in the dark: A tent. I am not really a camping-type-of-guy, but it should be a big, luxury tent and it’s just for one night.
Driving in the dark like this makes you wonder; what happens to the kangaroos that get hit? Some of them are just wounded. And what about baby kangaroos? There is other wildlife here too and although it’s dark, you know they are out there. Little did we know we would have the answer to these questions the very next day.
After searching into the black nothing – it’s really dark here – we found one farm. A guy with a flashlight is signaling us so I drive the car toward the light. It’s the owner, Ron. A nice guy who loves to talk and so do I. After a small talk about the darkness and other small things, he leads us to the tent. We traded the hard road for a dirt road and after a small kilometer, we arrive. Yup, a big tent.
The moon is up too, so after dimming the car lights we get used to the darkness. Ron explains everything in just 5 minutes and stayed for another 15 minutes to talk, which is fine. It’s nice to have some opinions and insights from the locals.
The night was nice and quiet. Until the morning. This time it wasn’t the birds that woke us up at 5 am, but sheep. In a field of 500 acres, they found the little tent and car. So that was a new experience. We got up, and had some coffee and breakfast. The sheep left and it was all quiet again.
Not your typical meeting
We did read that the owner has a kangaroo sanctuary. We did ask the night before if we could come over and check it out and it was fine. I expected just a small barn or something with just a few kangaroos, nothing more.
At 9.10 am, as agreed, we arrived at the farm. The place is way bigger than we saw in the dark. There was a car from the mining company and a mineworker who just went in. Ron came out to meet us and told us a small kangaroo was just brought in so we just checked out the emus. There were 2 big emus in a big meadow and 2 smaller ones in a cage… With a chicken that somehow got the idea, it’s the mom of these emus. One of the two smaller emus got all stressed out and was running around like crazy. So we left them be.
We also saw some other chickens walk around, but they were just your average chickens. Nothing special, except they didn’t really move away from us.
The guy from the mining company left the house and drove off. Now we went inside. Just to remind you; this is their own house, not a special building for these animals. Time to meet a baby kangaroo.
Meet the residents of Parnana Pikurtu Wildlife Sanctuary
The house is not really a mess, although Ron said so. It’s just a busy house. We entered through the kitchen where Ron’s wife, Laura, is just prepping some cabbage. The kitchen is usually full of human stuff, but this kitchen is a bit different. There are things for animals everywhere. And that’s where we meet their first roommate: A green little fellow that loves to fly around and sit on people’s shoulders.
In the back is a stone owl just sitting, not really doing much. At one point I thought it was a dead one, but then it moved. There are two plastic travel cages that each home a little bird. The top one has a baby owl, which was found sick, but getting stronger. This one will be set out into the wild.
The lower cage has a different owl. This one is really old, has old feathers, and just sleeps. This one won’t be living for long and will die happy. Ron and Laura will take care of it until his last breath. He is too old to be set free and he won’t be able to catch his own food. When I look very carefully it does look like a grumpy old man.
Then two bags start to move. Two bags full of blankets which didn’t raise any questions before. Just two bags. It turns out two other residents are in there that have just arrived.
The things we learned
Laura takes out one of the animals from the bags. It’s a small kangaroo, a joey. She starts to explain what has happened. Her mom was hit by a car and she was left alone. The miner just brought her in. Her tail is broken but can be fixed without much effort. She gets a sedative and is brought to the vet. It won’t be long before this little kangaroo will join a group and make new friends.
A female kangaroo doesn’t need a perfect tail. A male is different. They need tails to lean on and strong legs to fight. If the tail is broken he can’t balance right. If the legs are broken and not fully healed, he can’t fight for the ladies or territory.
The second kangaroo is a male with broken legs and a broken tail. He is still a newborn, smaller than the other joey. If he’d stayed in the wild it wouldn’t survive. It’s Ron’s and Laura’s mission to put all animals back in the wild and not keep them. Changes are big they will have to put it down to save it from his miseries. In this line of work you sometimes win and sometimes lose.
Now, before you think “let’s go to Australia and rescue animals!”… You can’t. Well, you can, but not just like that. There is a heavy course to be done before you can work with animals like this. You are basically a vet without operation skills. You need to know how to feed them, dose their medicines, and much more.
Money talk for a wildlife sanctuary
Sadly, the world evolves around money. Prices go up, also in Australia. A wildlife sanctuary needs money to survive, they don’t make any money. They are built on funding. They do get funding from mining companies, which is a really big thing in these parts of Australia. But also from other places they can get some money.
People who bring in animals sometimes donate 50 to 70 AUD, to help out. But this doesn’t cover the costs of rehabilitating these animals and putting them back into the wild. Because of the high prices, they put in some of their own money too. Just to help animals in need.
After learning way too much than our brains can handle, Ron takes us out again. While he keeps talking about the animals, the way they handle stuff, government issues, and whatnot, we arrive at a barn with 2 sheep and 3 or 4 goats. They just don’t do much. One goat is a bit old and you can see that. Then there is Molly. A young sheep, just not a lamb anymore. She came to the entrance of the fence in the barn, anticipating Ron’s arrival. Not a surprise, because he has a bottle of milk for Molly. After drinking, and spilling half of it, we go out for a walk, Molly walking with us.
I think Molly has an identity crisis because she follows us like a dog. She doesn’t wait or linger, she just follows us to the next location. We could even pet her and she didn’t mind at all.
@bootsandsunshine Spending a night at Nulla Nulla Farm was the best decision of this road trip! We had a change to visit all the rescue animals and learn about wildlife rescue. #roadtripaustralia #nullanullafarm #moorinerock #wildliferescue #coupleswhotravel #budgettravel #fulltimetravel #longtermtravel ♬ Down Under – LVNDSCAPE & Rat City
Next up: Little ponies, according to Ron. On our way over we saw a lot of old machinery, some walls and old kitchen-shower-combi, birds, and much more. The 62-year-old Ron has many ideas, but the responsibilities got in the way. He doesn’t only care for the animals but also drives a school bus. Every morning and afternoon he drives a bus for 2 hours for… 5 kids. That’s remote living for you.
Then there is the tent, which is usually booked every night. They also have another building where they rent out some rooms, which also needs a lot of attention.
These little ponies are two full-grown Shetland ponies. I can’t remember their names (everyone has a name here), but it’s mother and daughter. Where daughter was very shy when she arrived at Parnana Pikurtu Wildlife Sanctuary, she now comes up to us and we both pet them. Maybe the fact they were about to be fed did help.
That was the tour. We went back to our car, a bit flabbergasted by all the stories and beautiful things they do for these animals.
What to do?
So, this is what you should do in Australia: If you hit a kangaroo on the highway (110 km/h) always check if it is alive and look for any small babies. The same goes for birds or sheep. These injured animals can be brought to a sanctuary like Parnana Pikurtu Wildlife Sanctuary.
But if you are new to Australia, or 5 hours away from Nulla Nulla Farm, where the Parnana Pikurtu Wildlife Sanctuary is located, you might have no clue what to do or who to call. There is a helpline called WildCare Helpline. The phone number is 9474 9055. Laura told us that the phone isn’t always answered due to a shortage of staff. In that case, you can go to the nearest vet, they usually know what to do. If you can’t find a vet, just go to a pub or hotel/motel and ask the locals there.
If you do find a kangaroo baby, make sure it will stay warm. Get some blankets or clothing and wrap it around the kangaroo. Not too tight, but loosely. With very small babies it’s better to hold it under your clothes, like on your belly. This way it will keep warm because of your body’s warmth.
What not to do?
Leave it there, hurt and alone. Period.
Although we were thinking about canceling this tent for one night, I am so happy we didn’t. Personally, it’s one of the best things I have seen during these two weeks in Western Australia.
We met two awesome people who dedicated most of their time to animals in need. They are selfless and love to show you around. We’ve been to a lot of countries and been shown around by many people. Most people want money after a tour, not Ron and Laura. They love to show you what they love to do and tell you even more.
If you ever go from Kalgoorlie to Perth (or the other way around), make sure to book a stay at Nulla Nulla Farm. In the morning, visit Parnana Pikurtu Wildlife Sanctuary, say hi, and enjoy nature, the animals, and these two beautiful human beings called Ron and Laura.
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