A group of veterinarians, threatened species specialists, philanthropists and environmental entrepreneurs have teamed up to purchase The Macadamia Castle, an iconic tourism attraction in the Byron Bay region hinterland.
The sale will provide a permanent home for ‘Matilda’, Australia’s largest Mobile Wildlife Hospital, a 22-wheel, fully-equipped veterinary hospital staffed by a team of expert wildlife vets and nurses.
The new owner is Wildlife Recovery Australia (WRA), chaired by economist and passionate wildlife conservationist Dr Ken Henry AC. WRA is a joint venture of two not-for-profit companies, Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and Odonata Foundation. It combines resources to run mobile wildlife hospitals and build predator-proof sanctuaries.
“We aim to fill gaps in the way Australia protects wildlife and acts to recover endangered species,” said Dr Henry. “This is vital work at a critical time for Australian native animals. We’re excited and honoured to build on the animal welfare, conservation and education work done by the previous owners.”
Easily accessed and situated in the heart of a biodiversity hotspot, the Macadamia Castle is an ideal location for a wildlife hospital and WRA’s national headquarters.
The popular family tourist attraction located on 2.7 hectares in Nyangbul Country, Ballina Shire features an animal park, retail and hospitality services. Retiring to focus on health and family, owner-operator since 2007 Mr Tony Gilding said he was delighted to see WRA as the new owners.
“Their expertise in wildlife conservation is unparalleled. Our much-loved community-focused business will be in amazing hands as they lead the Macadamia Castle into a new era of wildlife education and conservation for local, interstate and overseas visitors.”
Odonata Founder and WRA Director Mr Nigel Sharp said that WRA’s collective strengths and new management structure will build on the foundations of current activities operating at the Macadamia Castle.
“This is a unique model for wildlife conservation in Australia. We’re demonstrating the power of business to sustainably fund solutions to treat, rehabilitate and recover wildlife,” said Mr Sharp.
“The site provides natural environments suitable to rehabilitate and care for wildlife patients on-site. There is also scope to become a potential hub for threatened species breeding programs and environmental science research programs.”
Founder and CEO of Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and WRA Director Dr Stephen Van Mil said the purchase will create new opportunities for public education about Australian native animals.
“From our new home, we will continue to provide expert veterinary services for wildlife free of charge. Offering educational visitor experiences alongside our veterinary and conservation work will help to inform people about the skills, facilities and resources required to give wildlife the quality care they deserve,” said Dr. Van Mil.