Hayley is a passionate advocate for the conservation of our planet’s beautiful flora and fauna, inspiring her decision to undertake a bachelor of Zoology and Animal Science at Deakin University. This produced an abundance of incredible opportunities, most notably her participation in a Dolphin Research and Marine Conservation program in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Here, she worked alongside other international volunteers to collect data and monitor local dolphin populations, whilst simultaneously educating the local community on the importance of ecotourism. As suggested by this experience, Hayley has a particular love for the ocean and its inhabitants, with her favourite animal being the Orca! Furthermore, Hayley has an extensive background in the hospitality industry, equipping her with a distinguished customer service skill set. This diverse background coupled with Hayley’s enthusiastic approach is sure to reflect and shine through in her tours here at Wildlife Wonders!
Jack developed his interest in Australian wildlife and the bush from his father who is an avid birdwatcher. This led to him undertaking study at the University of Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Ecology back in 2018, investigating the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis in feral cats across Australia. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease in felines, that can also affect other warm-blooded animals and can be lethal in Australian wildlife. Jack recently completed an internship at the Conservation Ecology Centre, learning and experiencing landscape management for conservation. Taking particular interest in science communication and engaging people in understanding the complexities of how we have, are, and hope to protect our amazing natural world. Jack also has a passion for photography which he uses to showcase the beauty of the Australian wilds @regentphotographyaus.
Yoni is a passionate member of the conservation community with a special interest in the marine environment. After completing an Honours of Environmental Science focusing on Seabirds, Yoni participated in an internship with the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC). This sparked her fascination in the wonderful species within the Otways. She is currently working on a PhD exploring the habitat selection of two small seabird species in south-eastern Victoria and will eagerly point out any seabird resembling specks when looking towards the ocean. She is excited to work as a nature guide for Wildlife Wonders and show guests the magic that the Otways has to offer.
Jyoti grew up in London, and has subsequently spent much of her life escaping the city. With a deep sense of awe for the natural world, Jyoti spends a lot of her free time in nature; bushwalking and wild swimming. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Science, she spent the next few years traveling and working with community groups and political representatives in the UK, Colombia and US on different environmental campaigns. She eventually ended up in the Otways in rural Victoria, where she is now lucky enough to call home. She has spent the last year doing bush regeneration work in the Otways, by planting native plants and removing invasive ones. She is very passionate about protecting and supporting the conservation of the Otways and all of the native animals and plants it is home to.
Sylvia van der Peet was born in a coal-mining village in Lancashire and came to Australia as a “ten pound POM”. She has had roles as varied as interstate telephonist; assistant to a horse dentist; volunteer zoo guide; Quoll keeper and wool shop owner, and a long career in the IT industry before deciding there was more to life than computing. Sylvia earned a degree in Natural Resource Management with First Class Honours. Her first paid position with an environmental focus was as Park Planner and Threatened Species Group Coordinator in the Grampians National Park, followed by Ranger Team Leader in the Great Otways National Park. Sylvia retired from Parks Victoria in December 2018. Having climbed in Thailand, trekked in Nepal and hiked the Coast to Coast in the UK, Sylvia is now resident in the Otways where she continues to be a keen walker, amateur twitcher and staunch environmentalist. Sylvia is also involved with the local arts community who are encouraging her in further creative pursuits.
Sara developed her love for the outdoors working in Canada after she finished school, enjoying the vast array of breathtaking mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. Upon returning from Canada, she went on to study Outdoor Education in Bendigo where she enjoyed rock climbing, canoeing, bushwalking, and kayaking. Spending time in these environments developed her understanding for the importance of looking after our natural environment. From there she went on to study her Masters of Environment and Sustainability, with a focus on environmental security including land management practices and ecological techniques. She has lived in Apollo Bay for the last year and has formed a deep connection for the Otways beautiful environment. Sara looks forward to sharing her appreciation for the Otways with others and spreading awareness on the importance of living sustainably and protecting our unique natural world.
Inala has been passionate about wildlife and ecology since day one. Raised in south-eastern Victoria, a childhood spent exploring the bush and learning way too many animal facts eventually led to her studying her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Zoology in beautiful lutruwita/Tasmania. Her Honours project focused on forty-spotted pardalotes and their relationship with their key food resource, Eucalyptus viminalis. Since graduating, Inala has worked with Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their Mallee Cliffs feral-proof enclosure and mammal reintroduction project. She also volunteers on a range of causes close to her heart, most notably the Tasmanian Orange-bellied Parrot Program, which has instilled in her equal passions for the role of captive management in species recovery and a maybe over-the-top love of buttongrass moorland. Inala is excited to learn about the specific ecology and conservation challenges of the Otway region and hopes to develop a broad suite of conservation skills. She is particularly interested in how science-informed management and novel strategies can help build ecological resilience in the face of an anthropogenic world.
Melanie grew up on the edge of a National Park on the far South Coast of NSW and has always felt a very strong pull towards nature and a desire to help protect our precious ecosystems. She is an enthusiastic bird and animal watcher and loves to record unusual sightings and observe the many magnificent creatures that we share this planet with. She loves collecting, identifying and reassembling bird and animal skulls. She has a keen interest in the thylacine and spent several years in Iutruwita/Tasmania looking for signs of its existence in the South West of the state. Melanie's background is in sustainability and she spent many years working in a not for profit organisation that diverted huge amounts of materials from landfill in order to reduce deforestation. She loves painting and many of her exhibitions have focused on the importance of conservation and the delicate ecological balance that is so crucial to protect.
Born and raised in the Otways, Olivia has the passion for the diverse ecosystem, and all its inhabitants, running in her veins. Continuing to follow her fascination for animals and the environment led her to complete a Certificate III in Captive Animal Studies through the Taronga Training Institute with practical components working with threatened species programs including the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, the Helmeted Honeyeater, and the Orange Bellied Parrot with Zoos Victoria. Through these studies she has developed skills in animal husbandry, breeding program development and collection management. Persisting with the desire to expand her knowledge she is currently completing a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a focus on Wildlife and Conservation Biology. Growing up on a farm fully surrounded by the Great Otway National Park has given her amazing exposure and a lifetime of awareness for our native environment. Olivia hopes to one day work in threatened species management and help fight extinction, she cannot wait to share her knowledge and passion with everyone.
Jane’s working life has been all about delivering exceptional customer service. After moving from England to Apollo Bay in 2004, she discovered Cape Otway and the Conservation Ecology Centre’s Ecolodge, joining the team there delivering a unique guest experience. In between ecolodge duties, Jane worked with the team caring for injured wildlife and in turn learnt a great deal about the Otways and its animals. Jane has a special interest in birds, enjoys walking and is a keen follower of sustainable living ideas.
Andrea de Kauwe trained in the biomedical sciences, completing her PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne in 2007. Inspired as a child by David Attenborough’s documentaries as well as an innate sense of wonderment and curiosity of the natural world, Andrea has long been interested in conservation and environmental protection efforts in Australia. Now living in Apollo Bay with a young family of avid bushwalkers and biophiliacs, Andrea’s desire to protect and extend Australia’s wild places has deepened and she sees the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre making a vital contribution to conserving the ecosystems of the Otways. Andrea’s previous research background has given her a special interest in the gut microbiome of humans and animals, and she is currently learning about the microbiome of Australia’s marsupials.
With a strong background in business operations and finance and a passion for local economic development, Charles has managed the operation and development of a number of important ventures in Apollo Bay and Ballarat, including the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, the Apollo Bay Hotel, the Apollo Bay Branch of the Commonwealth Bank, and the George Hotel. As Manager of the Otways Brewing Group, Charles was involved in the development of a strong for-purpose partnership between the Brewery and Conservation Ecology Centre producing ‘Spotted Ale’, a beer directly supporting threatened species research and conservation. Charles has supported Wildlife Wonders operations planning from its inception.
Steve is the Finance Manager at the Conservation Ecology Centre, which founded Wildlife Wonders as a social enterprise to help fund their conservation and research program. He is responsible for the day-to-day financial management of both organisations and is also responsible for implementing the financial strategy and direction, which support this innovative approach to wildlife conservation. He identifies and implements systems, policies and processes to improve financial monitoring, accountability and growth across the Conservation Ecology Centre and Wildlife Wonders. Steve has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He has a passion for eco-tourism and sustainability and managed the Great Ocean Ecolodge on the grounds of the Conservation Ecology Centre from 2015 to 2021 with his partner Karlijn Sas.
Karlijn is the Community Engagement Manager at Wildlife Wonders, and for the Conservation Ecology Centre. She works collaboratively to co-ordinate events, including the hugely successful Art & Ecology exhibit, Big Otway Tree Plant, Otway Threatened Species Research Forum, and much more. Karlijn is also responsible for community outreach, engaging with volunteers, school groups, local artists & makers, and the local community more broadly. She works with the CEO and other staff to develop a vision for community engagement and plays a lead role in implementing this vision. Karlijn has a Master of Science in Cultural Studies and is a talented artist. She has a passion for eco-tourism, sustainability and is dedicated to sharing the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre with a broader audience. Born in the Netherlands, Karlijn managed the Great Ocean Ecolodge on the grounds of the Conservation Ecology Centre from 2015 to 2021 with her partner Steve Ras.
Toni is a science communicator with a passion for conservation and ecology. She treasures her time in the Otways and loves helping to share the experience with others through media, social media, online, and in person. She believes sharing the stories of our wild places is an important step in helping people to understand the value of conserving them. Toni completed degrees in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of Canberra and spent her honours year studying the habits of the endangered Grassland Earless Dragon.
Tania is an experienced tourism marketer with a passion for the environment and for growing healthy, sustainable businesses. Working as a marine biologist and scuba diver in Cairns sparked her love of ecotourism, and launched her sales and marketing career. Since that time Tania has supported tourism businesses around the country to achieve their sales and marketing objectives, including Ocean Spirit Cruises, Kingfisher Bay Resort & Village Fraser Island, Domaine Chandon and the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. She also spent 10 years working at Visit Victoria, the state’s tourism and events marketing organisation, where she was responsible for delivering international marketing activities for Australia’s Asian and European markets. She has also worked closely with touring routes as a key driver of visitation to regional areas. Tania has considerable expertise in upskilling industry members to develop unique and compelling experiences, and in generating demand within both domestic and international markets.