Since Derek the wombat hit international stardom, he’s been frantically busy. He’s an adolescent now and being a savvy business-wombat he has a new line of tea towels and t-shirts out. If that’s not enough to keep this Flinders Island local run off his paws, he’s the proud big brother of orphan-siblings April and May.
Why the interest in Derek specifically? “Wombats, in general, get to people. They tend to melt,” smiles Kate. “But Derek isn’t like the others. He’s adventurous and daring. Most don’t like to be out of the pouch, but he’s been a curious and cheeky little bloke since I found him. That makes him pretty special.”
But cuddling goes both ways. What did Derek think of Tourism Tasmania’s Chief Wombat Cuddler competition winner? According to his mum, the two got on splendidly. “Derek took a real shine to him. At one point down at the shed Justin had seven wombats descend upon him, including Derek, who eagerly pushed to the front for attention. Justin has a real way with the animals.”
Insightful words from the Mother Theresa of Flinders Island’s wombat world, who manages to juggle a background in agriculture with being a full-time carer for her ‘wombat flock’.
According to Kate, what makes Flinders Island special is, “the beauty of the place and the spectacular scenery. It’s just magical with its white sands, turquoise waters and diverse coastline. It’s also the solitude. We have a saying here – if you see someone’s footprints in the sand, just go to another beach. What’s more, encounters with wildlife in their natural habitats are an almost inevitable highlight of travels around the island.”
While Justin diligently entered The Chief Wombat Cuddler Competition and also spent the day at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Hobart, for an introduction to wildlife rescue and husbandry before meeting Derek; there’s a good chance anyone visiting Flinders Island might encounter one of his furry kinsfolk.
SOURCE Tourism Tasmania