“My first kiss from my husband was the happiest moment of my life. It was in 1975, on a Monday afternoon at about 4.30pm.
I’d wanted to go out with him for so long. I saw him out flying his falcon when I was out riding my horse one day and wondered what he was doing. He was waving this strange thing around his head, next thing this bird came screaming in from above and was chasing whatever it was he was waving around. I thought, ‘wow that is pretty cool.’
We had the only petrol station in Wilmington, where I grew up; he had to come there for petrol—so, I saw him quite a little bit. I was invited around to his place by his sister Janette. I couldn’t believe the menagerie they had in their backyard—kookaburras, emus, kangaroos, hopping mice, birds, pelican, foxes, goats, you name it—that was my introduction to native animals. Basically, we’ve been together ever since and just grown together as far as caring for wildlife and the environment. We went from the Flinders Ranges to Darwin to where we ended up both working at the Territory Wildlife Park, me as a guide and Dave as head bird keeper. Dave was then put in charge of setting up a bird of prey show from ground level at the Alice Springs Desert Park. We then went back to the Territory Wildlife Park for a few more years but after being in the NT for 23 years we decided to go back to South Australia to set up a bird show. It was so hard to leave our two beautiful daughters Linda and Alaina behind who were both still very happy to stay in Darwin. After setting up bird shows for Warrawong and a school recreation Centre near Mylor in the Adelaide Hills, we were approached by Sealink to set up and run a show on their property at Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island. We set up a card table, money tin, put a laminated sign on the tree saying ‘pay station’ and presented our first show at Vivonne Bay Outdoor Education Centre run by Sealink.
For three-and-a-half-years we did shows for schools and the general public on weekends until we opened up Raptor Domain where it is now at Seal Bay. Dick Smith very kindly agreed to officially open our doors on the 10th September 2010. When we first wanted to set up bird shows decades ago, our vision was exactly what we created at Raptor Domain. Our birds are in enclosures and we bring them out, they aren’t visible to the public and we don’t have the public going around looking at birds in cages. That is not where we believe education is. We feel the best way is with entertaining, interaction and fun up-close and personal presentations. Dave calls it Edutainment. I am passionate about the growth and education of children. I recently had the privilege of speaking to some children at the Parndana primary school about our business and the things that have an impact on it. One of the things I wanted to get across to the kids of this day and age is not to be afraid of climate change. There are so many out there that are afraid and worried about their future. I said to them, ‘it’s going to be challenging but human beings are very innovative and will live within it; there will be opportunities that will come with adapting, so don’t be afraid of it, just move with it and look for those opportunities.’ I looked around the room and they had a bit of a smile on their face. That is the sort of thing I want to do during my retirement. I am happy to retire and have time for myself and spend more time with Dave. We’ve got a caravan and will do a bit of intrastate travel, I guess. Linda joined us on the Island some years ago and married a local boy. Alaina still lives in Darwin, is married and has given us our beautiful granddaughter Tiara. I am 60, Dave is 65 and we really probably weren’t going to take Raptor Domain too much further. We’d gone as far as we were going to go. This is a beautiful property; it has got so much potential. People have been wonderful and supported us so much here at Raptor Domain. I hope they will support the new owners as much as they have us. We are looking forward to finally after 14 years being able to explore our amazing island fully and catch up with friends. I also intend on volunteering where needed in the community.”