Highway One: wildlife carers on the south coast

As Catherine and David head up the east coast, they stop at the wildlife hospital in Nowra.
By Catherine Lawson November 7, 2013 Reading Time: < 1

Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, along with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Australia.

HANDLING AROUND 3000 CALLOUTS every year, the team of volunteers at Nowra’s South Coast Wildlife Rescue are a busy bunch, retrieving and rehabilitating a steady stream of injured and orphaned birds, bats, possums and gliders, echidnas and bandicoots from Kiama to Bateman’s Bay and west to Goulburn.

Vice-president Gerardine Hawkins also operates the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic in her own backyard and on our visit, we meet a pair of juvenile grey-headed flying foxes and a truly intriguing little forest bat.

It’s Australia’s smallest bat, weighing less than 5g and with forearms less than 3cm long, but these tiny nocturnal bats (vespadelus vulturnus) have a huge appetite. 

“This little guy can eat up to 400 mosquitoes per night,” says Gerardine. “That’s why we try to encourage people to put bat boxes up in their backyards and encourage these guys in”.

The tiny bats are remarkably territorial, roosting in buildings and in the hollows of eucalypts in colonies that number around 50.

“About three weeks ago,” Gerardine says, “a local guy pulled the tin off his roof and discovered a nursery colony – 54 bats, 40 of which were babies smaller than the tip of your fingernail.”


RELATED ARTICLES
…More Highway One articles
Australia’s 18 top camping spots
Camping: the classic Aussie past-time
Top 5 great Aussie road trips
Australian Geographic’s top 100 icons of all time
Top 10 Australian outback experiences
Wilderness by bike: the Munda Biddi Trail
Predict the weather without a forecast
Australia’s 8 greatest surf spots
6 great Australian train trips
Travel photography tips
10 best kayak day trips in Australia
18 of the best day walks in Australia
Gallery: The top five greatest Aussie road trips
Indian Pacific celebrates 40 years