Field Gnats trip to Mount Rothwell – June 2022

Last weekend the Woodleigh Field Gnats embarked on another volunteer weekend to the Mount Rothwell Conservation Reserve in Little River. Mount Rothwell is a 400-hectare property surrounded by an electrified fence. It serves as an ark for endangered species and is vital to their recovery – species such as the Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Eastern Quoll and Bush-stone Curlew.

We had seven students attend, along with Dr Simpson and Mr Hennessy and ex-field gnats Alex Simpson, Lucy Doran and Liam Thomas assisting. We left Woodleigh early Saturday morning, arriving at the Mount Rothwell gates at 10am, ready to begin completing a list of tasks set out for us by the wonderful staff who look after this special place.

While driving through the You Yangs on the way to the entrance, many of us were delighted to see the new electric fence up and running. Our last weekend at Mount Rothwell involved us helping pin down 1.3km of the upgraded fence, so it was wonderful to see it fully completed.

This weekend our tasks involved restoring disused aviaries to be used for the reserve's newest residents, a group of Spot-tailed Quolls. Spot-tailed Quolls are mainland Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial. Throughout Saturday, individual groups helped clean, patch up and sweep aviaries and prepare enclosure furnishings to provide much-needed enrichment for the quolls. Of course, we can't forget feeding the Bush-Stone Curlews, Eastern Quolls and the two Dingoes. For dinner, Dr Simpson treated us to Tacos and his famous guacamole. Afterwards, we played a round of Wildlife Bingo, where students searched around the BBQ area for different animals crossing them off as they went. The first person to cross off three animals won the prize; it was highly competitive!

Undoubtedly no trip to this amazing place is complete without a night walk through the woodland and granite rises. As we followed the tracks, students excitedly pointed out bandicoots and rock wallabies. When we reached the summit, we took in the view of Port Phillip, Geelong and Melbourne. When we returned to where we'd be staying the night, it was time for some board games till everyone felt tired and turned in for the night. On Sunday, we completed the refurbishment of the old aviaries and, after lunch, packed the bus ready for our return to Woodleigh. Everyone had a lot of fun, and we all felt very proud of the amount of work we completed counting down the days till our next visit.

The thing I loved most about Mount Rothwell was the feeding. We got to chop up frozen rabbits and feed curlews and quolls. Another fun thing we did was the Night walk. We saw bandicoots, bettongs and Rock wallabies and finished it off with a phenomenal view.

Bas P. Y7

Rothwell was really fun. We prepared food for the curlews, dingos, and quolls by chopping up and skinning rabbits which I really enjoyed. We went on a night walk and saw many endangered Australia animals in the wild as well as stopping to see the stars and the view of the city lights.

Bec Jeffries Y9

Land and Animal Management Assistant