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Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary

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by Kat May (subscribe)
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Published December 17th 2015
A sanctuary is a place of peace and safety
This Sanctuary nestled in a valley in the Adelaide Hills, is a private one established in 1905. Today it serves a needed place in the community as a refuge for injured and sick wildlife. The animals are found by people who see them by the side of the road, injured by cars. Some are passed on from vets or national park rangers. Many animals have come here over the years to recuperate after bushfires. They all have a home here until they get well, however some may need to outlive their days here.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
A welcoming sign on the walking track leading to the animals. Image by Out and About.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
There is a large avairy with every colour of Australian native budgerigars. They were flying so fast I could not get a photo. Image by Axe77 on

I had heard of this place many years ago, and assumed it was quite remote and way out in a desolate part of the bush. And I did not know it was open to the public. I hope this article will raise some awareness of this place, and encourage more people to visit.

I was pleasantly surprised with the location. It is situated along the One Tree Hill Road which is accessible from the south- west of Adelaide near the Golden Grove end. If you are north, via Deadman's Pass from the Gawler end, or via One Tree Hill east of Elizabeth. The reserve is three kilometres south of the entry to Para Wirra Recreation Park. The place could make a good day out, with some visits to other facilities in the area. There is also some pleasant wineries and eating spots in the area along One Tree Hill Road.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
There is one kangaroo who lives here, while the others come and go in the surrounding bush. His scars are evident on his body and head. Image by Out and About.

Upon entering the driveway you drive down the hill a short way, into a pretty valley surrounded by natural bush land. Parking is provided away from the animal shelters, so you need to walk along a pathway to the enclosures. This was the original driveway for the early settlers who would have rode their horses down this track to return home to their stone cottage.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
The original cottage still stands where the first settlers made their home in the bush to create the Sanctuary. Image by Out and About.

The Sanctuary had some introduced trees planted many years ago, which have now grown large. So even on a warm day there are shady spots for visitors to relax in. These lush green trees also provide some welcome shade for the animals, as the shelters are dotted around the area under shady areas.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
Large shady trees and tables make a pleasant spot to sit with a picnic. This one is surrounded by the wallaby enclosure. Image by Out and About

This is not a funded wildlife park, with modern facilities and paved pathways such as at Cleland. This is a small home and hospital for the native animals who need to rest and to get well. The shelters and aviaries are made from used garden sheds, and fencing. All the infrastructure here has been given by donations, and erected as needed. The owners have to make do with what they have got, in order to house and feed the animals and birds.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
Walkways have cages and avaries to view the wonderful birds. Image by Out and About.

Animals come and go here, as once rehabilitated they are released back into the wild. Although some now have a permanent home here as they could not fend for themselves. One such example is Annabelle, the koala. She was found very injured as a young Mum with her new baby. She had bad cuts and ripped tendons on her wrist and arm. Possibly ,she was caught up on some fencing, and ripped herself free. She could not climb, and therefore could not eat, so was starving.

After some time at the shelter, her baby was eventually released, however Annabelle will always live here, as she would have difficulty climbing and grasping very large trees. The keeper introduced me to Annabelle and showed me her scars. It has been a long time since I was up close to a Koala and was surprised to see how big a creature Annabelle was. The keeper said sometimes Annabelle is frightened of loud visitors. She obviously has emotional scars after the traumatic events she has gone though. She was alright with some gentle strokes and a soft hello.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
Big Mumma Bear. Beautiful Annabelle will have a safe home here for the rest of her days. Image by Out and About.

There is a lovely little lake area or dam, with ducks and a swan. A walking track leads you around the lake and bushland. There is a large enclosure of wallabies, and one resident western grey kangaroo. The emus and other kangaroos are free to visit and free to roam the Sanctuary bush land.

This Sanctuary is home to a wonderful selection of Australian birds, including cockatoos, galahs and a fantastic large aviary of budgerigars of every colour. We stood watching these for quite some time as they flew about. This visit has now inspired our family to get a budgie of our own. One yellow crested cockatoo is blind, and is housed in a small cage for safety, but he seems to manage his way around alright. There are some cheeky cockatoos who will have a chat to you like this character below. There was also some peacocks and peahens, cape barren geese, and some fast asleep and not to be seen native bettongs.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary

A family fun day with activities, sausage sizzle and a by donation entry is arranged twice per year, usually on a day during on the October long weekend and the Easter weekend. These are fund raiser days where essential funds raised on the day go towards food costs for another six months. But you can attend at any time of the year. I would not recommend going on an extremely hot day though, especially with young children. The Sanctuary is open every day but Christmas Day, from 10 am to 5pm.

Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary
These emus are free to roam the park, and are not enclosed by fences. They just happen to drop by at morning feed time. Image by this writer, Out and About.

If you are in the area or planning a drive out of the city do stop by and see the animals and birds at Humbug Scrub. As it is a small venue in size, this place makes a good spot to take young children for a short outing. The venue would perhaps not be suitable for wheelchairs as there is no paved pathways, and a bit rocky in parts. If you have any building supplies of fencing or sheds to donate, please contact the managers. This place is doing a great job, and could really do with our help, with donations or by paying them a visit.
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Why? Because visiting here will support the ongoing running of this place.
When: Open Daily (not Christmas)
Where: 3 kms south of the Para Wirra Recreation Park entry.
Cost: Adults $5 Kids $2 Family 2 2 for $10 and Yearly Pass $20
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