30 October 2023

Far South Coast pair helping kangaroos affected in bushfire bounce back with some tender loving care

| Claire Sams
Start the conversation
Weeks after a fire burnt through large areas of the Far South Coast, these kangaroos are still recovering in the care of two dedicated workers.

Weeks after a fire burnt through large areas of the Far South Coast, these kangaroos are still recovering in the care of two dedicated workers. Photo: Gary Henderson.

Seven days a week, Sara Tilling and partner Gary Henderson are surrounded by kangaroos and joeys on their 850-acre property.

It is there, at the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary on the NSW Far South Coast, that they rehabilitate native wildlife under authority from WIRES.

As co-owners of the sanctuary, Ms Tilling said they cared for injured kangaroos to ideally release them back into the wild.

“We found that because of my work in the medical field and the fact that Gary is a pretty strong guy means we’ve been able to focus on the rehabilitation of most of the high-care kangaroos in the region,” she said.

“For probably eight or nine years now, we’ve been specialising in the rehabilitation of Eastern grey kangaroos caught in motor vehicle accidents or fence hangers.”

In recent weeks, however, they have had some new guests wrapped in brightly coloured bandages.

That’s because when the Coolagolite bushfire hit the Far South Coast of NSW, it affected more than just humans – kangaroos were also caught in the flames.

READ ALSO When it comes to saving lives, police, thankfully, will have a quack at everything

The fire was brought under control on 4 October, after burning more than 6700 hectares and several properties.

“We’ve got seven bushfire victims now,” she said.

“We have unfortunately lost a couple to smoke inhalation.

“But the ones in bandages, all their injuries are healing really, really well and there’s absolutely no indication of infection at the moment.”

More than just a fashion statement – the kangaroos have their bandages changed every two days. Photos: Gary Henderson.

Looking after the bushfire victims takes time, effort and money.

“Our vet has been out to assess them all, and they were treated with appropriate antibiotics and pain relief,” Ms Tilling said.

“We do their bandage changes every two days, where we sedate them and do a full change.

“Other than that, we pretty much just leave them because they’ve been through a pretty stressful event and the last thing we want to do is add to that stress.”

kangaroo with bandages on its feet

The healing process is going well for the kangaroos at the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Gary Henderson.

As they continue to recover, Ms Tilling said they were expecting a release after at least six more weeks.

“As far as the timeframe for a release, it would depend very much on their recovery,” she said.

“They’ll stay in care with us until our vet deems that they’re healed enough to be released, and then they’ll be taken back down to where they came from.”

READ ALSO Students get a taste of what it takes to be a country vet

Ms Tilling said their work at the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary followed working at similar organisations overseas.

“We’ve had a great love of animals, but we actually didn’t realise just how beautiful the animals on our doorstep were,” she said.

“Once you start caring for kangaroos, they get under your skin.

“They’re the most beautiful, intelligent, loving animal and unfortunately they’re one of the most persecuted animals on Earth.”

Ms Tilling said there was a small thing everyone could do when they found an injured kangaroo.

“If you accidentally hit a kangaroo with a motor vehicle, or find a kangaroo is stuck in a fence, use your phone to call your local wildlife organisation.

“You just need to call, so they can be rescued and rehabilitated, or humanely given their wings so that they’re no longer suffering.”

Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary can be contacted by calling 0419 154 306 or by messaging their Facebook page.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.