Written by Kerrie Alexander
Nestled in the quiet bush area of Maryborough West is a sanctuary that is home to about 300 animals, great and small.
A dedicated band of passionate wildlife advocates formed The Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary Inc. about nine years ago to ensure the future of the sanctuary and its inhabitants including dingoes, kangaroo’s, wallabies, Rufous Bettongs, Emus, Wedge Tail Eagle, a wide range of parrots and reptiles.
The sanctuary is set on 15 acres of bushland on Mungar Road with sparse flora and fauna, and a very warm and welcoming atmosphere.
It’s certainly not quiet however, with the talking cockatoos quick to show off by saying hello and giving a little dance as you start the tour around the property.
The not-for-profit organisation is run solely by its selfless volunteers including curator and secretary Jessikah Hockey.
The Maryborough resident has walked through the gates of the wildlife haven five days a week for the past seven years simply for the love of the animals.
You can see her passion for giving these animals – many who have been rescued – the best life possible.
“I grew up around native wildlife and animals, I just couldn’t imagine my life without having them in it,” Jessikah said.
“Working with animals is my ultimate dream and when I walk through the door, and I know that these animals are being cared for by an amazing team of volunteers who try their absolute best to gives the animals the love and care that they truly deserve.
“Knowing at the end of the day that they are happy and healthy, you know you have done right.
“And they appreciate everything you do for them.”
Jessikah has formed a special relationship with many of the animals over the years including the kangaroos and wallabies, and especially the cheeky dingoes.
As an iconic Australian species, the chance to observe a dingo up close at the sanctuary is an exciting opportunity.
“A lot (of the animals) do have their own quirks, but the dingoes in particular put more of a show on for you.
“Spirit, our white dingo, loves her food and if you are not quick enough for her liking she will come and jump on you and start howling to hurry you along quicker,” she said with a laugh.
“Everybody that does meet our dingoes love it!
“We like to offer experiences to people over the age of 16, the chance to do it, so they get a better understanding of these gorgeous animals.
“To meet them up close and to teach them as much as possible about them because they do have a bad repour with some people, but I like to show them that they are truly amazing creatures.”
The sanctuary is a beautiful space for these animals to call home and there’s no doubt that they are spoiled from the volunteers and visitors alike.
You can take a stroll through the building where a diverse range of snakes live and learn about their eating habits and habitat. Snake experiences are also available where you can wrap a black headed python around your neck, if you dare!
Guests are encouraged to buy a bag of food at reception and feed the kangaroos and wallabies as you make your way around the park.
This is a great experience for the little wildlife warriors of the family.
Feel the smooth skin on the blue tongue lizard, visit the turtles and see how many parrots will have a chat to you.
Guests are also welcome to host a small gathering at the park with use of the barbecue for $5. Group discounts apply if you have a group of 10 people or more.
Jessika said by taking the family for a fun day out at the sanctuary for a small entry fee, you are helping to keep these beloved animals safe and sound.
It costs around $10,000 a month to pay for the food, bills, enclosure maintenance and equipment maintenance and purchase.
“As we are a not-for-profit charity the only income we get is from the customers that come through our doors and donations.
“All proceeds go back into the animals, feed, medical, enrichment and upkeep.”