Clean Up

August 17th, 2017
Clean Up
Warrawong may be back from the dead, but there’s still a long way to go before the national treasure is fully revived.

380 volunteers – or ‘busy bees’– gathered at the sanctuary in Mylor last Sunday to help tidy up the neglected land.

They cleared debris, weeds and fallen trees that had settled over Warrawong during its four years of abandonment.

New owners David Cobbold and Narelle MacPherson from Western Australia purchased the remaining 28 acres of land earlier this year and plan to restore Warrawong to its former glory.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done over the coming months.

“The community are interested in engaging with Warrawong and curious about what’s going on here. So bring a wheel barrow and I’ll show you what’s going on!” David said.

David plans to hold busy bee gatherings once every two months. But in the meantime, a crucial piece of the Warrawong puzzle is missing.

Sunday also marked the announcement of a crowd funding campaign to raise $490,000 to buy back the lake and eight acres of land that used to belong to Warrawong.

Acquiring Black Water lake would reunite the plants and animals with their water source.
At its peak, Warrawong occupied 85 acres across nine properties.

When the owners were forced to sell, property developers carved up the land and sold it with no thought to the ecosystem.

“Without the lake, the sanctuary is just not the same,” David said.

“Where I’m standing now, I can see what’s called the swamp, the dam before Black Water Lake.
“That was completely dry two to three weeks ago. There was a pair of platypus there, but I have no idea where they’ve disappeared to.

“According to Dr John Wamsley, the lake holds 55 gigalitres and it is 17 metres deep.

“It pumps water through the park at 15,000 litres an hour.”

When the water from the lake flows through the creeks, which are lined with limestone, it creates a slightly alkaline water for crustaceans – the platypus’ food source.

“It’s a beautifully designed system, so we’re desperate to put it back together,” David said.

“We want to reinstate the waterway to get it circulating, oxygenated and full of nutrients.”

David said the support they have received so far has been amazing.

“People have been so helpful, even just showing moral support through messages on Facebook, ‘We’re so happy that you’re here.’ It makes you work a bit harder,” he said.

“This is about the power of the people. Some of the headlines said ‘WA couple save Warrawong,’ but it’s going to be the people of South Australia that save Warrawong.

“If you’re not in the position to donate, just tell someone about it.

“We’ve been really impressed with the community spirit of South Australia – we don’t really have this in WA. We just feel so welcomed.”

When Luke Grainger heard that Warrawong was returning, he remembered all the time he spent at the sanctuary as a kid and wanted to be a part of it.

“I create most of the videos for the Facebook page and the campaign. I assist with anything technical – I’m not much of a green thumb,” he said.

“I try to encourage others to give us much as they can because without the lake we’ve noticed a large drop of animals. There’s hardly any turtles or bandicoots around.

“It really takes a whole community to get this place up and running again and once it is, it’s going to be an amazing place.”

Luke’s wife Salli Grainger also volunteers her time at Warrawong.

“I’m so grateful and happy to be a part of bringing the sanctuary back to life,” she said.

“I came on as an administration officer and now I’m the volunteer coordinator.

“It’s great being on the ground with the start up crew and helping others be a part of this as well.”

David has nothing but high praise for original owner and founder Dr John Wamsley.

“I think the work that John Wamsley and his wife did for conservation was so important it has to be maintained,” David said.

“They need to be remembered and acknowledged for what they did and one day we would like to build a museum for them.

“We don’t want to see Warrawong wiped off the face of the planet or turned into a subdivision. We need places that are historically significant and loved.

“We’re calling Warrawong a national treasure.

“It needs to be saved because it’s significant to the whole country, not just Adelaide. We think it changes lives.”

To help save Warrawong Sanctuary visit
For more information or to sign up as a volunteer visit

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