When I booked a weekend away at Holly Lane Mews, I thought I was off to enjoy a weekend of Yarra Valley wine and country cheese, market-hopping and horse-spotting. I definitely enjoyed all that, but I was also reminded of the good you can find in country communities and the unsung eco-warriors that are changing the world from their own backyard.
Joanne Spears is one of those people and she's just as passionate about environmental conservation as I am. She's the owner and caretaker of Holly Lane Mews, but it's not her only role; Joanne spends her time caring for the wombat population of Stalls Creek, personally rehabilitating and protecting injured and sick wombats.
'Billie' was Joanne's first rescue, and it felt natural to take her in. After finding Billie as a joey on the side of the road sitting next to her dead mother, it was an easy decision for Joanne and her husband Brian to adopt her. But 18 months later when Billie was ready to be released back into the wild, the decision wasn't as easy. Billie could face a fate like her mother or find herself with mange - a serious threat to native wildlife. If left untreated, it’s deadly, and it’s a fate that Joanne and Brian didn't want for Billie. Instead of just hoping Billie would be ok, they tackled the problem to help reduce mange in the area.
Joanne and Brian set up dozens of 'wombats flaps' - handmade contraptions designed to wipe mange-curing medication on wombats every time they walk through one - and they work. They've seen a reduction in mange and an increase of healthy wombats, but their wombat-saving program is self-funded and it’s also physically taxing. After a day's work tending to Holly Lane Mews and looking after their guests, Joanne and Brian turn their attention to the wombats, often working well into the night and sometimes in the rain installing and maintaining their wombat flaps through Stalls Creek.
Often when people think about environmental conservation, they think big, they think about the big problems and the big organisations, but what Joanne and Brian do – this is real grass roots environmental conservation with tangible results - and it's proof that saving our environment really does start at home. It starts in our own backyard. It starts with small actions.
If you want to help Joanne and Brian with their wombat saving work, reach out to Joanne through Holly Lane Mews. You can donate used ice-cream buckets and supplies to help build their wombat flaps, or simply have a chat with Joanne to learn more about her work within the community of Stalls Creak.
You can also book a weekend away at Holly Lane Mews which I highly recommend too! For a weekend getaway just an hour's drive from Melbourne, Holly Lane Mews offers a very down to earth and outdoorsy experience to fill your cup, inspire your soul, and remind you of the little things in life that are important.