Staff at the Sanctuary often get asked, “Who owns Potoroo Palace?”.
The Kooris, Indigenous Australians, had no word for ownership, but many other people want to own land, cars, houses, paintings and other things. Someone might say, “This land is mine”. A Koori would say, “This land is me”.
Indeed the idea that we can own a piece of earth, a piece of water, a piece of air, is very strange. It is more logical, perhaps, to think of ourselves as custodians, guardians of the world, carers of the land, plants and animals.
Potoroo Palace is not owned by anyone. You could say that it belongs to the animals or to the community. Technically it is owned by a company which has no shareholders, and which cannot be bought or sold. It can only be given to another charity. It is overseen by honorary directors. It is not for profit, having charity status and relies heavily on entrance fees and donations to continue.
The local community of the Bega Valley is not a rich community financially, but very many businesses and individuals give their support to Potoroo Palace in whatever way is possible for them. They give their services free. Because of this, our losses keep diminishing, and one day we will break even. The community has come to know that it is their sanctuary. They are part of it.
In our Mission Statement we say that we are passionate about looking after the Earth.
We share the Earth with 30 million other species of living things. We are here at Potoroo Palace caring for the land, the plants and the animals (including humans) and trying to show others ways in which they can do so.
If we can persuade others, both by example and by talking, to change the present day practice of stealing from the future, perhaps we can show them ways of caring for our planet.
Maybe they will begin to live with native animals and value the big trees and wild places which might otherwise be stolen. It is already happening very close by here at Panboola, the Pambula Wetlands, where the land has been given back to the animals and the native plants.
There are also many places in Australia and the rest of the world where people are trying to save the wilderness before it is stolen. We can help to turn the tide.