Tag Archives: Australia

Getting down and dirty :D

15 Aug

Mud, excrement, rain, kitchen prep, weeding……….none of those things sound particularly exciting or intriguing (well, not for most people :p) but these are all words that relate to my new extremely exciting adventures at a local wildlife sanctuary 😀

When looking for new ways to get some real life experience to help with my new chosen career, I did lots of research and found the courses I have previously written about but I was also exceptionally lucky to find myself having a conversation with an ex colleague of mine who, when I told her about my new plans, let me know that she was studying (also via distance learning) for a certificate in Captive Animals, part of which is 8 hours of volunteer work per week at a local animal shelter/sanctuary. She told me it had been very difficult to find such experience but that she had finally been successful at an out-of-town sanctuary where they don’t get many volunteers due to location. I asked if she could put in a good word for me, and lo and behold, it turned out that they were having a volunteer induction day on the 22nd July 😀

So, of course I registered and took a day off work ( I don’t think I mentioned before, but I am currently temping at the moment, recovering from my old job and filling in the time until I finally get to go back to university(hopefully!)) to attend.

This place is a dream for me, it’s set in the most beautiful location, they have over 350 animals on site (mostly Australian species such as dingoes, wallabies and koalas, just to name a few), and everyone there is wildlife/environment mad and so full of expertise and knowledge which I can just soak up like a sponge!
They have also breeding programs for all sorts of endangered species which I have a special interest in and of course, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

You know when you ask yourself “why haven’t I been doing this all along??”Well, that was me!!

So now I go every second Saturday from 9-5, and get muddy & sweaty cleaning out enclosures, feeding and watering the animals, doing general maintenance and coming up with new ways to keep the animals active and enriched, I LOVE it 😀 There will also be opportunities to get involved with sexing and tagging new arrivals of which there are going to be many very soon as we are heading into spring and the capturing of any animals that may require medical attention (In fact, only last Saturday one of the male Potoroos had unfortunately scratched his eye and we spent about 1 ½ hours trying to catch him, but to no avail (the nifty bugger) so hopefully they had better luck yesterday 🙂

My best moment so far has been feeding the resident Barking Owl. The keeper let me know that she can sometimes fly to you for feeding if she feels like it, so I donned the falconry glove, took some meat and held me arm up high for her to see. And wouldn’t you know it, this beautiful bird decided that I looked ok and swooped down to land on my arm!! I have never been so in awe in all my life. This amazingly beautiful and powerful (you should have seen her talons!!) bird sat with me to enjoy her whole meal, those big bright eyes staring right into me. Most children’s animal stories feature a wise owl, and I can definitely see where the inspiration comes from 🙂 It was one of the best days of my whole life!

It’s really just such a great environment to be in, and not only do I feel like I’m taking a huge step forward and learning heaps, but I’m also doing a lot of good as the sanctuary is privately owned and receives no government funding, therefore they rely heavily on their volunteers.

Plus, it gave me a good excuse to buy that pair of gum boots (or wellies as I would call them) that I have hankered after forever (yes, I know I’m a little strange!). Bob took one look at them and said to me, with a slightly concerned expression,  “you’re not really planning to wear those ALL the time are you?” ;D

Fact 4: The Barking Owl is a nocturnal bird species native to mainland Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea. They are a medium-sized brown owl and have an extremely characteristic voice that sounds exactly like a barking dog noise! Here in Australia, Barking Owls are often said to be the source to the myths and legends surrounding the Bunyip.

Making the Application :D

8 Aug

So, I have made the decision to return to study 😀

Since coming to this conclusion, I’ve been spending lots of time researching, finding out all my options, what courses are available and how to make my dream of studying again a reality.

I guess I should let you know at this point that I have only been in Melbourne for 8 years and I’m originally from Scotland, therefore all my previous study was done over there, and I have very little knowledge about how the Australian tertiary schooling system works. So, as you can imagine, that has my first point of call!

There are plenty of great universities here in my local Australian state of Victoria, so it was a case of finding out which ones had the best courses, most suited to what I want to do.  Here in Victoria, most applications for all tertiary courses need to be done through a central admission centre (VTAC) and they allow up to 12 applications per year. The way it works is that they go through your preferences directly with the universities on your behalf until one of them acccepted (hopefully!).

I have found 9 suitable under-graduate degrees (from various universities) ranging from Environmental Science (Wildlife & Conservation Biology) to straight Science. My last three preferences are TAFE (Technical and Further Education institutions) courses which are shorter courses that will provide an entry into further university study should I fail to get accepted into any of my 9 under-grad preferences this time around. I don’t like to think of not getting in this time around, not when I am so anxious to get going, but I believe I must cover all my bases, as I have defintely learned in the past few years that nothing should ever be taken for granted!

As I’m sure many of you are aware, it’s a little more complicated applying as a mature-aged student than applying as a school leaver. Here in Australia, school leavers receive one score when they graduate (the ATAR) which is their key to university study. For me, what counts is an undergraduate degree that I completed almost 10 years ago (in a completely different field) and to be honest, the first time round, I wasn’t the best of students, preferring the many Edinburgh student bars on offer as opposed to the to the student library! Luckily, as a mature-aged applicant, there were other options available to me in lieu of having the ATAR as well as having prior tertiary qualifications.

I could submit a personal information sheet, which is pretty much like a personal essay where you can state your reasons for returning to study, committment etc. This part was easy, as brimming over with excitement as I am at the moment. It also is a chance to talk about what you have done to show your passion for your chosen area of study but more on this later 😀

The other option is to sit the local STATs (Special Tertiary Admissions Tests), a series of tests designed to assess a range of competencies considered important for success in tertiary study, covering writing, numeracy and analytic skills. Luckily, when I had flirted with the idea of studying last year, I had actually sat these tests, and I have to say that I was pretty happy when I found out that my results are valid for use for up to 5 years after sitting, so no more scary entrance exams for me this year 😉

So, courses found and requirements discovered,  I then went to VTAC, and when all applications opened on the 1st August, I lodged all my 12 choices through their Special Entry Access Scheme (this scheme covers applying as a mature-aged student) 😀 😀 😀

I am SO excited, nervous, scared and a whole number of other adjectives but I have to now call in all my skills in the art of patience (of which I do not have many) as I am in for a long wait. Not including early admissions, the first round offers don’t come out until Jan 16th!!!

5 months feels like an age at this point, but I just have to buckle down and get on with it. And there are plenty of related things I can be doing with my time between now and then….but that’s for a different post ;D

Fact No 2: Echidnas and Platypus are the only living mammals that lay eggs instead of live young! (Both species found here in Australia.)

And just because……Echidna babies are called puggles!


For more information, please see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echidnas and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

NB: I feel I must apologise for this detail laden post, but I felt that if anyone is reading who may be considering starting on the same journey, these descriptions could help in some small way!