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18 September, 2020

Freedom for furry friends

When they were found, they were helpless and on the brink of starvation but now, Opal the agile wallaby and Patrick the red legged pademelon are bouncing with energy and ready to be released back into the wild.

By Tanya Murphy

Best Buddies: Opal the Agile Wallaby and Patrick the red legged pademelon are ready for life in the wild.

The adorable marsupials were dropped off to Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue after being orphaned, and nursed back to health by their doting volunteer carer Beau Peberdy. 

A Kewarra Beach family thought Santa had dropped Opal off by accident after finding her abandoned in their yard which backs onto the bush on Christmas Eve last year. 

She was around two months old and with no fur and her eyes and ears still sealed, she was not developed enough to survive on her own, so they called FNQ Wildlife Rescue. Caring for a wallaby as young as Opal is a big commitment from volunteer carers like MrPeberdy. 

“She had to be carried everywhere and required feeding every three hours, day and night, and that lasted for several months,” he said. 

“Now, eight months later, she’s hopping around in my backyard eating grass, lupins, sweet potato, and carrot. I also bring her branches of native shrubs like eucalyptus, grevillia and acacia, to prepare her for her natural diet in the wild.” 

Patrick was sadly orphaned by a vehicle near Mirriwinni in April, but fortunately, the drivers of the vehicle stopped to check the mother’s pouch and dropped Patrick to FNQ Wildlife Rescue. Patrick and Opal soon became fast friends who love cuddles and naps together. 

Mr Peberdy said although he was very fond of the mischievous macropods, they were now ready for the gradual release process. Opal and Patrick will initially be released into a large enclosure of natural bush, in South Mission Beach, used by FNQ Wildlife Rescue to prepare the animals for life in the wild, with others of the same size and age. 

Once they become totally independent, feeding on their own without human interaction, the gate will be opened so they can hop to freedom whenever they are ready. Mr Peberdy said native animals like Opal and Patrick were threatened by habitat loss, with a lot of construction and housing developments underway in the Northern Beaches area of Cairns. 

Traffic and domestic animals like dogs were also a major threat. “We get over 3500 calls for sick, orphaned and injured animals every year and have more than 150 volunteer carers,” said Mr Peberdy. “Unfortunately, carers are currently reaching into their own pockets to buy the food for the animals. 

“COVID19 drastically impacted our ability to fundraise so we are looking more than ever to the community to donate kindly so we can continue to help animals like Opal and Patrick.” 

The next fundraising event will be a trivia night with raffles and great prizes, on Saturday October 31 at Trinity Beach Sports Club, for $10 entry per person. 

To book, phone 0408 726 419. Other things you can do to help include, always checking the pouch if you hit an animal in your vehicle and if you find an injured animal, call FNQ Wildlife Rescue’s 24-hour support line on (07) 4053 4467. 

To donate or for more information, visit

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