After dedicating 11 years of hard work and commitment to the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, caretaker Bill Dewhurst has chosen to take a well-earned rest and focus on his health and even try fishing once again.
It all started in summer November 2008 when the Black Cockatoo Preservation Society relocated to the current Kaarakin site.
During the first four years at the centre, Mr Dewhurst didn’t have a day off until 2012 when he was given three weeks off but it wasn’t a holiday that made him stop, instead it was prostate cancer.
After recovery he went back and continued his hard work at the centre and even though he had a couple of holidays throughout the years he never went back to some of his old hobbies.
He has now made the decision to step back after a few health issues and said he believes the time is right to close this extraordinary chapter as he wants to be remembered in the long run for his hard work.
“Last year I turned 80 so I thought I should start looking at the other side of life,” he said.
Mr Dewhurst said he will be going back from time to time to help with the wildlife but he knows they have the right people looking after their needs.
Before Mr Dewhurst left, his last big job was to help with the new operational building for wildlife Australia for the young kangaroos to have somewhere to go, as they can’t be mixed with the cockatoos.
Bill Dewhurst’s love and passion for the centre has been very noticeable considering he gave up most of the things he used to do 11 years ago.
“I gave up my footy, I gave up my fishing, camping and all the luxuries I used to do, so I hope I can do it now,” he said.
When looking back at the long history of the development of the Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre he remembered they didn’t have a cage for the cockatoos so they operated from the laundry with multiple cages and eight cockatoos that were sunbathed every morning.
The Department of Environment and Conservation visited one day with young cockatoos and Mr Dewhurst incubated them and hand fed the younger ones.
However Mr Dewhurst said they wouldn’t be where they are without the help of the Karnet Prison farm. Inmates were dropped off at the centre until last July and he was responsible for looking after them as they helped with cleaning up the yard and building cages.
Black Cockatoo Preservation Society treasurer Maureen Griffihs said she had no doubt that the retirement of Mr Dewhurst, along with passionate coordinator volunteers Cathie and Rae Dewhurst, would leave a large hole in the Kaarakin dedicated workers’ force.
“Their unstinting devotion to the animal care and the development of this centre has made a huge difference and has been outstanding,” she said.
“With this keen trio leading the way for our volunteers, Kaarakin, as it proudly stands today, is such a tribute to all who contributed their efforts over the years.”