Unique Visitors Bring Generations Together at ACH Group in McLaren Vale

on the Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A squirrel glider, albino carpet python, frilled-neck lizard and barn owl were special guests at a weekly intergenerational get-together at ACH Group Colton Court last month.

Preschool students from Montessori Children’s Centre at McLaren Vale and residents of the ACH Group residential home enjoyed an up-close encounter with the Australian native species as part of a visit from Warrawong 2U, a mobile sanctuary from the Adelaide Hills.

Warrawong2U Coordinator Luke Flesher and his team of volunteers are visiting preschools and aged care organisations in a bid to raise awareness of the Mylor sanctuary ahead of its re-opening later this year.

“This is the first time we have seen younger and older generations together and it’s worked really well,” Mr Flesher said. “It’s great to see everyone interacting and enjoying the animals together.

“We find that for older people, especially those who grew up on farms, seeing these animals brings back memories for them, and we hear some great stories.”

Eileen Clarke, 96, said she enjoyed seeing the range of animals. “It was really lovely to see all these animals and have the children here enjoying it. The children love it, and that gives us a lot of enjoyment too.”

Founded by environmentalist Dr David Walmsley in 1969, Warrawong is surrounded by an electrified fence to protect native animals from foxes and cats. New owner Zoos SA closed it down in 2013, citing financial losses.

The 11ha reserve was purchased by West Australian zookeepers David Cobbold and Narelle MacPherson in 2017 and are working to create a business that can create employment as well as protection for endangered species.

They plan to run a Junior Keeper program, live shows on site and resume dawn and dusk tours, popular during the Sanctuary’s heyday in the 1980s and 90s. They also plan to offer accommodation, hospitality and education facilities.

“We’re really excited about continuing the work but we are realists, too. We love our animals, but it’s the people who pay the bills,” David says. “It’s about getting people here so they get to know the wildlife that is in their backyard and so they can see how important it is to look after the environment.”

David says many native populations remain at the site. “We have platypus, poteroos, bettongs, bandicoots, Tamar and red neck wallabies – it really is like the land that time forgot, a little oasis of wildlife.”

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