You are here

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.

“It costs a lot of money to provide expert veterinary treatment and rehabilitation facilities for wildlife. WRA continues to seek philanthropic donations, private sector capital and public funding to carry out this important work to save wildlife.”

“We will continue to operate retail and hospitality services and to welcome the 200,000+ annual visitors to the Macadamia Castle. By continuing to support and visit, current and new customers can contribute to positive welfare outcomes for Australian wildlife.”

The Macadamia Castle’s solar energy system and electric vehicle charging station will provide immediate, clean, renewable energy sources for WRA’s operations. There will be dedicated parking and access for wildlife rescue organisations and carers to present patients for triage, treatment and care by the veterinary team led by Dr Bree Talbot.

The Macadamia Castle will also be the departure point for deployment of the Mobile Wildlife Hospital to respond to injured, diseased, traumatised or stranded native animals during a crisis, such as a bushfire flood or mass stranding event, anywhere in Australia.

“WRA also acknowledges the Nynagbul people of the Bundjalung nation, the traditional owners of the land we’re going to work from,’ said Dr Henry.

“We are looking forward to learning from the Nyangbul’s ancient knowledge of caring for Country and the wildlife that inhabits it.”

Wildlife Recovery Australia’s founding Directors are Mr Nigel Sharp, Dr Stephen Van Mil, Dr Evan Kosack and Mr Sam Marwood. Its founding Chairman is Dr. Ken Henry AC.


Have a question or need help? Please Contact Us

Byron Insider Features

Byron Bay | Beaches

Belongil Beach luxury holiday homes

For families wanting a luxury beachside home for their holiday, Belongil Beach offers some unique... read more

7 Things to do in Winter in Byron Bay Byron Bay | Australia | Entertainment | Culture

7 Things to do in Winter in Byron Bay

The beachside paradise of Byron Bay has plenty on offer to keep you entertained throughout the... read more

Byron Bay

Byron Bay Film Festival 2020 Red Carpet Opening Night Tickets Are On Sale Now

Firestarter marks Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary. Taking us through Bangarra’s birth and... read more

Byron Bay | Beaches | Activity

7 Free Things to Do in Byron Bay

Visiting Byron on a budget? There are plenty of free things to do in Byron Bay. Check out 7 of our... read more