Rescued roos come home every night to say thank you
Every evening wildlife carers Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson sit in the paddock for a glass of wine and enjoy a twilight reunion with the kangaroos they have cared for and released.
"They come home every afternoon which gives us the opportunity to make sure everyone is happy and well," Ms Tilling, 45, said.
The couple took ownership of the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary on the NSW south coast a month before the devastating bushfires in December razed everything.
"We came home to absolute carnage," Ms Tilling said. "All of the animals that had been rescued and released were gone."
They moved into a caravan with no water or power and opened their doors to injured animals. First order of business was to build a temporary enclosure for rescued animals. "It was positively luxurious compared to what we were living in," Ms Tilling said.
"We had a rescued wallaby that had burns and needed bandage changes for four months," she said.
"With no water or power it was a real challenge. The day we released him was amazing."
The couple operate a "soft release" program for the animals where the gate to their enclosure is left open once they are recovered and they can come and go as they please.
"We find the boys tend to wander off but the girls stay close to bring up their joeys," Ms Tilling said.
The couple are certified to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife with Australian wildlife rescue organisation WIRES. They began when a joey fell from the pouch of its mother as a mob of kangaroos crossed the road in front of their car.
"Gary sat in a bush for two hours waiting for the mother to come back but she never did," Ms Tilling said.
Mr Henderson, 57, a helicopter pilot who had operated charter flights in Tasmania and Queensland, now works full time at the sanctuary while Ms Tillings works as an orthopaedic clinical consultant to help fund the operation.
Following the fires they received support from a Go Fund Me page and moved into three refurbished shipping containers that were finally connected to water and power.
"It was wonderful to be able to have a shower without driving 15 minutes into town," Ms Tilling said.
Although they will not be back in permanent accommodation for at least another year the work of caring for animals goes on.
Last year they rehabilitated and released 34 eastern grey kangaroos, five red necked wallabies, six swamp wallabies, five wombats and three ducks.
Most of the animals they care for are injured in road accidents.
"We rescued a mum and joey on Monday night," Ms Tilling said.
"Mum is an old girl and she will pass away today. To see that little joey standing there with her hands on her, bewildered that mum cannot care for her anymore is heartbreaking."
Originally published as Rescued roos come home every night to say thank you