Wildlife carer calls a caravan her new home

Margaret Gough looks up at another cloudless day from the door of her caravan and confesses that inside it’s “stinking hot”.

But, in the absence of livable bricks and mortar, it’s home for now.

Ms Gough’s house in Mt Victoria “melted from the inside” during the October fires. While the walls are still standing, it is uninhabitable and will be gutted in coming weeks.

But she couldn’t leave her property as it is also home to a number of injured or orphaned animals, part of the Dreamtime Wildlife Refuge she runs from her backyard.

Scattered among the burnt trees are fenced enclosures where Ms Gough tends to brushtail and ringtail possums, baby wallabies and other animals brought to her by WIRES, National Parks, vets or anyone else who knows the service she offers.

And right there among her charges is her caravan and annexe.

“I just put it up. I just said to my son, in this situation anything temporary has got to be the go.”

Council knows about the set-up, she said, and approved. “The authorised person has been out and seen it.”

Habitat for Humanity has also been to visit, with five volunteers from the Commonwealth Bank at Springwood spreading mulch over the ashes. Now the agapanthus and nasturtiums have sprung back to life and her treasured orchids, burnt to a crisp, are also greening up.

As the fires approached, Ms Gough worked frantically to save her animals. She put some of their cages on a concrete slab near the back door and covered them with wet sheets. Then she packed eight of the youngest animals in her car and fled.

Only three possums were lost ... and the inside of her home.

But Ms Gough, who designed the house 30 years ago, built it with fire in mind and was satisfied to see the double-brick walls survived. Her hope now is that the rebuilding work is finished by winter.

“I wouldn’t look forward to the caravan in the snow,” she said.

Margaret Gough outside her caravan home at Mt Victoria.

Margaret Gough outside her caravan home at Mt Victoria.


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