Kerry and Gordon MacAulay are the owners of Illeray, a property located on Mitchells Island, approximately 100km south of Port Macquarie, New South Wales. The property is a residence and wildlife sanctuary, also used to graze sheep and cattle. Kerry and Gordon wish to maintain the property for these purposes, and are considering establishing a covenant on 8 hectares of bushland in the future to preserve local wildlife and their habitat.
The property covers approximately 16 hectares, ranging from mangrove areas adjacent to Scott’s Creek (part of the Manning River Delta) through low-lying casuarina woodland to higher forests of mature eucalypts, bloodwoods, wattles and native undergrowth. Approximately 8 hectares of the river flats and slopes are used for grazing small herds of beef cattle and sheep. A large section of native bush is temporarily fenced to exclude stock, and three dams on the property provide water and habitat for wildlife. Food trees such as eucalypts, banksias and callistemons, as well as a small grove of mango trees, attract and support local native species.
Wildlife known to inhabit the property includes swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor), grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) and freshwater turtles. In the warmer months, red-bellied black snakes (Pseudechis porphyriacus), green tree snakes (Dendrelaphis punctulatus), diamond pythons (Morelia spilota) and eastern blue-tongue lizards (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides) are also present. A wide range of native bees, butterflies and other insects inhabit the garden and surrounding bushland.
The dams and swampy wetland provide habitat for a wide variety of native ducks, as well as pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus), white ibises (Threskiornis moluccus), royal spoonbills (Platalea regia), jabirus (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), egrets and herons. Various birds of prey including hawks, kites, wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax), ospreys and white-bellied sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) have been sighted along the river. Woodland birds such as magpies (Cracticus tibicen), pied butcherbirds (Cracticus nigrogularis), laughing kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae), satin bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca), willie wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys) and superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) as well as various finches, parrots and honeyeaters are also frequent visitors to the property.