Wombat tops sale list

THE bidding started heating up when they brought out the stuffed wombat.

Hands flicked and heads nodded faster and faster as the auctioneer bounced between three, then two bidders in the crowd.

It was when bids reached $300 that a woman walked away from the crowd in mock-disgust.

“It’s a mangy wombat,” she said.

That mangy wombat was sold for $520, fetching the highest price at the Ettamogah wildlife sanctuary’s clearing sale.

Saturday was the final hurrah for the sanctuary after closing its doors in May.

Nothing was sacred as $5500 was raised from the sale of stuffed wildlife, cages, right down to coffee machines and a cash register.

It was a cleansing exercise for Friends of Ettamogah chairman Daryl West, who has battled head and heart as the sanctuary disintegrated as its funds diminished.

It came to a head in November when Mr West, a sanctuary volunteer of 20 years, was forced to shoot the last of its wildlife because he couldn’t find a home for them.

“I’m at the point now that it’s good to get it settled,” he said.

“It’s no good sooking about it. It’s done now.”

But for many of the 150 at the clearing sale, it was their chance to say goodbye.

Thurgoona’s Robin Hall came to pick up a piece of his childhood; a Border Mail photograph taken in 1980 when he was six with an orphaned baby wombat.

Mr Hall, 39, spent seven years of his childhood volunteering at the park, doing chores like feeding animals and cleaning cages.

He would often take some of the baby animals home to help keep up with feeding times.

“We always had a joey hanging off the back door,” Mr Hall said.

“I always had a love of animals.”

He said it was “devastating” for the Border to lose the sanctuary and he wished there were more children like him.

“Young people have other things to do these days unfortunately.”

But many of the bidders will breathe new life into Ettamogah’s legacies.

That stuffed, glassy-eyed wombat will teach a new generation of children about wildlife.

Winning bidder Darryl Jacob helps to run Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre at Burrumbuttock.

He said the wombat would sit in their display alongside a wedge-tail eagle, goannas and snakes.

“We haven’t got a wombat,” he said.

“It’s so the children can see it close-up.”

The money raised will also continue the sanctuary’s legacy.

Mr West said after bills were paid, the proceeds would go to local wildlife causes.

He said money would also go to a Bacchus Marsh woman, who housed the remaining dingoes, to build their cages.

The next step for the sanctuary is to be sold with money from the sale of the land to go to Wonga Wetlands.

“Hopefully it goes to something worthwhile and long term,” Mr West said.

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