Playing on our 40-acre farm, I spotted a baby sugar glider lying motionless at the trunk of a tree.
Scooping it up gently in my hands, I wrapped him in my shirt and brought him back to the house to show my mum, Rhonda and dad Pedro.
‘It must have fallen out of the tree,’ I said.
‘Poor little guy has injured its back,’ Mum confirmed.
Nursing our new furry friend who we called Pebbles back to health, it was incredible watching him find his strength.
And when he started crawling along my shoulders, up the curtains and across the telly, we knew he was ready to go back into the wild.
At just 10 years old, I’d rescued my first wild animal!
Working as a sparky years later, and buying my own 35-acres farm just a kilometre away from mum and dad’s, I was always running into wildlife that needed my help.
I even worked with the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) aged 27 in 2014, who provided me with training avenues of how to best care for the native animals.
Keen to help however I could, I even put a portion of my savings towards building indoor and outdoor enclosures on the farm so I could accommodate more animals like wombats, possums and wallabies full time.
Meeting my partner Amber, then 24, when I was 28, she moved on to the farm and she was a natural with my furry friends.
A vet nurse, she took to the injured wildlife like her own patients!
And as news spread around town of our side gig, more animals in need of a home began arriving at our doorstep in cardboard boxes.
Dipping into our savings, we paid for enclosures, fencing, food, feeding teats and heating and humidifying equipment for the animals.
With kangaroo and wombat joeys needing up to three feeds during the night and around the clock feeds during the day, we juggled full-time work with full-time caring.
Sometimes, we were caring for up to 10 native animals!
Between the two of us, we managed to keep their mouths fed and tummies full.
‘It’s like raising little furry children,’ I told Amber, cheekily.
Little did we know we were about to welcome a joey of our own.
On 22, July 2019, we were blessed with our daughter Ashlee.
Growing up alongside the furry animals in our house, Ashlee quickly adopted them as her siblings.
Laying under her baby gym, a ringtail possum running across the hanging toys, Ashlee was captivated.
From the moment she could walk, Ashlee ran around with the wombat joeys in the yard.
And when the black headed python we were rearing that we named Banjo got out of its enclosure, although not yet able to speak, Ashlee carried it back to its home in the living room, giving it a kiss on its head before shutting the door.
‘Be gentle,’ we’d sometimes have to remind our fearless toddler.
When Ashlee was one, we rescued Reggie, a few months old wombat whose mother had been hit by a car and killed.
Instantly, the pair hit it off, quickly becoming the best of mates.
Wearing her fairy dress and armed with a fairy wand, Ashlee and Reggie loved exploring the yard together.
Now four years old, it’s clear our little girl has a soft spot for saving wildlife too.
‘What is that? It’s so cute!’ she asks when a new furry friend arrives on our doorstep.
‘Oh he’s a bit sore on his foot,’ she’ll say after a quick inspection.
Possums are in care between four to five months, kangaroo joeys are with us for between 10 and 12 months.
Wombats stay with us the longest at 18 months as the bigger they are the less predators they have in the wild.
Thankfully, while we have our hands full, we are never short of a helping hand.
‘I’ll do it, I’ll do it!’ Ashlee pleads at feeding time.
Laying on her dinosaur couch drinking a bottle of milk, Ashlee is often pulling a wombat joey up beside her to feed them a bottle too.
‘She’s so cute, her fur is so soft,’ she says with a smile from ear to ear.
When Ashlee isn’t at day care in town, she loves joining the wombat joeys for some exercise.
‘Charlotte digs big holes doesn’t she dad?’ she said recently about Charlotte, our 9 month old baby wombat.
‘She’s not ready to go back to the bush just yet she’s not big enough!’ she added.
And when our furry friends have made a full recovery, we release them back to where we found them.
‘Good luck, have a good time,’ Ashlee said, waving goodbye recently when we released her bestie Reggie.
Even though they’d been inseparable for 18 months, our girl wasn’t sad.
She knows it’s best for wildlife to go back where they belong - the wild.
Right now, we are caring for three sugar gliders, one wombat, two kangaroo joeys and three snakes.
Over the years, we have looked after roughly 1000 animals.
Our hands and hearts are full, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!