8 am: Solo hike along creek bed (it’s the only way I won’t get lost on the 200-acre property) with Bella the excellent dog; got covered in burrs, but saw plenty of wombat burrows and three kangaroos. Felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland about to fall down a wombat burrow (or perhaps I already have…)
9 am: Peanut butter and honey on a crumpet (Donna and Phil let a beekeeper keep his pastel-colored bee boxes on the property, and in return he keeps them swimming in honey).
9:30 am: Donna and I peek in on Walnut, who has a urinary track infection and is on antibiotics. He’s not too happy, but the antibiotics are clearly working.
10 am: Wombat intake. Two female “pet” wombats (Pistachio and Pecan) are dropped off (they join Hazelnut and Walnut). Donna gets them settled in a dark crate and leaves them in a quiet room.
10:30 am: Walk with young Cruiser, who’s having one of his first exposures to the outdoors and fresh grass. He’s hesitant but intrigued. Soon enough he wants to go back into his pouch. He’s a “cuddlebat,” as Donna says.
11 am: Generous American donors come to the sanctuary for a tour and photo op. I help show them around and take pictures of them playing with the wombats.
A wombat is a cross between a bulldozer and a tank. There’s even a group of young wombats here named for WW2 tanks: Sherman, Panzer, Lincoln, Abraham, Barron, and Cruiser.
Wombats use their heads like battering rams and their butts like lethal weapons, crushing the skulls of their predators against the wall of their burrows (that would be called a “bum buck”). You don’t want to mess with a fully-grown wild wombat. They’re all muscle, sturdy and squat. They’re also faster than they look. They don’t suffer fools gladly.
Nor does Donna, the founder of Sleepy Burrows. She is also super-sturdy (though much more shapely than a wombat). Good thing, because there’s a dark underbelly of caring for these furry little tanks. She regularly witnesses profoundly horrible treatment of these creatures and steps in to make things right.
She’s made of steel, but has a heart of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.