Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
January 28, 2002
Earth Sanctuaries operate 10 properties around Australia, all devoted to creating environments to protect indigenous and endangered wildlife where people can experience the animals in their natural habitat. Warrawong Sanctuary was their inaugural property, opening in January 1985. But the story begins much earlier.
Dr. John Wamsley bought a 35 acre dairy farm in 1969 and set about revegetating it, restoring it to its pre-farming glory with 50,000 native plants. In 1982 he fenced the property to exclude all vermin and introduced species, successfully creating a natural environment that had not been seen for more than 200 years.
The bird and mammal populations flourished, with many species recording their first "captive" births for more than 50 years. The rest is history. And it's worth travelling a long way to see. For us it was just a 20-minute drive through the Adelaide Hills from Hillgrove House, our B&B accommodation.
At the Shed Restaurant we dined in the still warmth of dusk to an audience of noisy rosellas and parrots and a curious group of bettongs and kangaroos. "Bush Tucker" features, with the textures and tastes of local bushland produce complimenting vegetarian and meat selections.
As we drained the last drops from a bottle of Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, our guide announced the commencement of the dusk walking tour. A group of around 20 proceeded through the expanded 85 acre property along marked trails. We explored the area's flora, with many of the grevilleas and banksias in flower, before approaching a lake bordered by brilliant rose gums. Their bark was lit with the reflection of the sunset.
In the lake we spotted a platypus (a rare sight we were told) before continuing to the top of the property as night closed. Our guide produced torches for us to use as the bush around us came alive with nocturnal critters. With names like pademelons, potoroos, quolls and woylies, we didn't know if we were in a scene from a fantasy novel or speaking another language.
Our walk continued with the cuddly, cute creatures of the bush teeming around us, seemingly unconcerned, while our guide explained the history of the sanctuary, the animals' habitat and some of their unprecedented and successful breeding programs. It was an unforgettable experience to share the bushland with these endangered animals.
After 90 minutes we emerged at the side of the property for a look at the accommodation before completing the tour. For $150 per couple you can spend the night in a luxurious ensuite "bush cabin" and get a dawn and dusk guided tour, dinner and buffet breakfast. Not surprisingly, only a few of the cabins were empty.
Alternatively, you can come just for a dawn or dusk guided walk for $11 and indulge your appetite with a "bush tucker" feast at the well-priced restaurant.
From journal Bed, Breakfast & Bolero in the Adelaide Hills