POTOROO PALACE AWARDED 2014 TRIPADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE

trip advisor 002.1Recognised as a Top Performing Wildlife Sanctuary as Reviewed by Travellers on the World’s Largest Travel Site.

Potoroo Palace Native Animal Education Sanctuary of Yellow Pinch near Merimbula, announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide.  Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website.

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the honorees that takes into account reviews ratings.  Businesses must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, volume and recency of reviews. Additional criteria include a business’ tenure and popularity ranking on the site.

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at Potoroo Palace and we’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor,” said Alexandra Seddon, one of five Directors and the founding member of Potoroo Palace. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s customers. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.”

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honour exceptional hospitality businesses for consistent excellence,” said Marc Charron, President of TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award gives top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers. From Australia to Zimbabwe, we want to applaud exceptional hospitality businesses for offering TripAdvisor travellers a great customer experience.”

Koala Rescue

It was a busy and exciting month of September for staff. Several different native wild animals were rescued and taken there for care.

One of the most remarkable of these rescues was a young male koala, affectionately named “Woollybutt” since this was one of his favourite species of eucalypt to munch on.

He was found in August sitting in the middle of the road near Wapengo and put into a covered basket while not wanting to move, by his rescuer. This is the best way to assist a koala as it provides support on all sides of the body. He was taken to Potoroo Palace the next day, still sitting in his basket and still seemingly stunned.

Staff had prepared for him a warm, safe enclosure with a tall tree stump and he was carefully checked over again for signs of injury (having already been examined by a vet). The basket was gently tipped towards the stump and to staff’s amazement he crawled out and climbed it, nestling himself comfortably in a fork.

For the next few days he took supplement from a syringe and ate quantities of specially selected eucalyptus leaves. It was a rare privilege for staff to participate in such a heart-warming experience and to be directly contributing to the broader community effort of conserving this local koala population.

“Woollybutt” was dazed and confused  upon arrival but as the days went by he began to make it quite clear that his Potoroo Palace Retreat was coming to an end and he told staff quite plainly that he was ready to go home! This was a little sooner than anticipated and not everyone could be there for his release as planned. The staff who did witness his release were deeply touched to see him return to the wild. He is the first wild koala since 2001to be released in this area and it was a very special moment.

Nigel Charms Palace

One of Potoroo Palace’s newest arrivals is “Nigel” a Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens -meaning ‘reddish high-rump’) and from the same family as that of the potoroo, except that he will grow to be larger. Nigel arrived at Potoroo Palace at the end of October 2014. He is now about 14 months of age and was raised in captivity locally as part of a Bettong Breeding Project which has been a long-time dream of Rob High’s; the owner of the Merimbula based holiday resort, Mandeni. Now this dream has been successfully actualized, and Nigel was generously donated to Potoroo Palace where he can show visitors how special and beautiful he is and assist keepers in sharing just how important the bettong’s role is within the natural environment.

During the day he stays tucked away in grassy nests within his enclosure but as soon as food is presented he scurries out to delve into his bowl of tasty delights, showing plenty of enthusiasm and a very healthy appetite! He can sometimes be seen peeking out through the fence inquisitively watching people. He has settled nicely into his new home and his photogenic qualities have been discovered and appreciated by many of the staff.

As with other members of this family there has been a dramatic reduction in the bettong’s distribution and numbers, but due to low intensity land-use practices throughout the bettong’s range, they have remained quite common and occupy a variety of habitats along much of the eastern coastal areas.

Already, Potoroo Palace staff have fallen head over heels for Nigel and it is always with much delight that he is served his food at meal times. Staff  look forward to seeing his unique personality revealed a little more each day and to showing him off to the public on the Educational Talks, teaching visitors all about him; the adorable Rufous Bettong.

 

Bell Miner – manorina melanophrys

Upon arrival at Potoroo Palace, visitors often remark on the tinkling sound in the trees around us and more than once someone has shared with us the anxiety they have experienced driving along in their car with windows open and wondering what the worrying noise was emitting from their vehicle, only to realize with some relief that it was actually coming from the trees! It was in fact the song of the Bell Miner.

If there was a prize for achieving one of the most distinct sound tracks to Potoroo Palace, it should go to the Bell Miner (Manorina melanophrys). Other common names for this bird include “bellbird” and “bell mynah”. They are often more frequently heard than seen but at Potoroo Palace they can be more visible (and more audible!) as they are very used to people and much less frightened.

It is a sad fact that the Bell Miner, although a native species; a honeyeater, it has acquired an unpopular reputation in recent times. Many native species of birds are displaced by the behaviour of Bell Miners defending their food suppliers, psyllids which exude a protective sugary covering known as lerps, on the leaves. They farm the psyllids and just relish the lerps which are to be found on eucalyptus leaves. The psyllids love to munch on these leaves and the Bell Miners chase away and will sometimes kill other birds which would normally be feeding on the psyllids and keeping bellminerthe health of the trees in balance.

The “Pretty Garden,” leading away from the cafe was purposely developed as a sanctuary for smaller birds to be protected from the Bell Miners. Lots of thick cover was created with shrubs providing a protective layer for smaller birds such as Red-browed Finches, Scrub Wrens, Whipbirds and Superb Blue Wrens. This is a beautiful, shady and peaceful garden with a pathway meandering through from the cafe to the Potoroo Train Station and “Elvis” our free roaming Tammar Wallaby can sometimes be spied upon keeping cool in the undergrowth there.

The dieback of our forests is often blamed on these much maligned birds and as healthy forests become fewer in number and size, the Bell Miners do accordingly increase in numbers. They prefer to dwell on the fringes of forests and unfortunately our forest fringes are ever increasing as more wild spaces are lost.  Disturbed environments inevitably lead to out of balance ecosystems and therefore the species which constitute them such as the Bell Miner. When the recovery of our forests becomes priority then balance can return naturally.

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SIX NEW FURRY PUNKS AT POTOROO PALACE

A few weeks ago six small precious bundles arrived in pastel pillowcases travelling by the fastest transport possible (drivers feeding each other so as not to have to pause on the journey) from Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Canberra: three male and three female Long-nosed Potoroos. They have now joined the eleven residents, who all have biblical names: Esther, Magdalen, Bathsheba, Ruth, Rachel, Jezebel, Eve, Ezekiel, Daniel, Noah and Solomon. The new six have plant names: Fern, Moss and Orchid (female) and Sedge, Bracken and Wattle (male).

Staff at Potoroo Palace have been able to gather a huge variety of mushrooms recently because the weather has been perfect for all kinds of fungi, the potoroos favourite food. The potoroos themselves are excellent truffle finders, truffles being the fruiting bodies of underground fungi. Australia has a huge variety of truffles, of all shapes, sizes and colours. The truffles rely on small fungus eating native animals (especially potoroos because most of their preferred diet is fungus) and insects to distribute their spores. Most forest trees and many shrubs in Australia have mutually beneficial relationships with these underground fungi. Most of the fruiting bodies grow between the hard subsoil and the rotting leaf litter layer.

The breeding programme for Long-nosed Potoroos at PP has been very successful, but the new arrivals are needed to prevent inbreeding. The seventeen potoroos are distributed between seven enclosures at the moment, making it easier to spot them. The potoroos are happy to share enclosures with many of the birds.