TECHNOLOGY

Save paradise: How a stunning farmer has a lifelong mission to save a national treasure


There is probably no guy on the legendary Great Ocean Road in Australia in southern Victoria who would not buy beer for Shayne Neal.

Although it is unlikely that he would ever find the time to collect it.

At 39, Mr. Neal did more than most in her life, including representing Australia at the World Plow Championships.

Shayne Neal and a couple of Sugar Gliders in his Ecolodge in Cape Otway. The cheeky animals were looking for honey

A long-nosed poteroo enjoys a serving of fruit at the Conservation Ecology Center in Cape Otway. She lives next to a family of Sugar Gliders. The animals are threatened by foxes and wildcats in the wild

A long-nosed poteroo enjoys a serving of fruit at the Conservation Ecology Center in Cape Otway. She lives next to a family of Sugar Gliders. The animals are threatened by foxes and wildcats in the wild

The likeable, stunning farm boy from Scott’s Creek – about 120 km northwest of Victoria's legendary Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road – decided as a university student to help save his part of the world.

His latest project promises to bring a piece of Hollywood to the Australian bush.

Stage designer Brian Massey, who brought the Lord of the Rings hobbit to life in New Zealand, has teamed up with Mr. Neal to create an unparalleled Australian wilderness experience.

Wildlife Wonders is located on the 50 hectare property just outside Apollo Bay and offers visitors the opportunity to experience nature in its purest form without getting lost in the bush.

"I think it is the only major property development in the region that has not received opposition from the local community," said Neal.

The zone itself is an ecological masterpiece. Mr. Neal and his team transform the already lush forest into a nature reserve for popular and endangered wildlife and fauna.

The state and federal government have already committed around $ 3 million to the $ 12.6 million project, with the rest coming from environmentally friendly companies and individuals.

Kangaroos and koalas are among a number of exquisite native animals that live in the Conservation Ecology Center. Shayne Neal takes visitors on a walk through the bush at dusk and shares the secrets of the elusive animals that live there.

Kangaroos and koalas are among a number of exquisite native animals that live in the Conservation Ecology Center. Shayne Neal takes visitors on a walk through the bush at dusk and shares the secrets of the elusive animals that live there.

Hobbiton in New Zealand has become a popular tourist attraction in New Zealand. Shayne Neal has the same set designer who is working on his wildlife experience outside of Apollo Bay

Hobbiton in New Zealand has become a popular tourist attraction in New Zealand. Shayne Neal has the same set designer who is working on his wildlife experience outside of Apollo Bay

A section of Wildlife Wonders under construction. Shayne Neal has planted indigenous rubber trees to line the paths that tourists will take when it opens next year

A section of Wildlife Wonders under construction. Shayne Neal has planted indigenous rubber trees to line the paths that tourists will take when it opens next year

An endangered tiger quoll lives in the Conservation Ecology Center. Visitors can use it to get into the enclosure, but not too close. The Tiger Quoll has a strong bite

An endangered tiger quoll lives in the Conservation Ecology Center. Visitors can use it to get into the enclosure, but not too close. The Tiger Quoll has a strong bite

When you're done, visitors will be guided through the tranquil forest that hides the predatory fences that keep the local creatures safe inside, and the quirky foxes and wildcats outside.

The project became Mr. Neal's obsession after he had the idea of ​​drinking a bottle of red in the twenties.

Today it is almost a reality.

With his loyal dogs looking for droppings, Gus and Teddy – and the not so helpful Neil, the cheeky Chihuaha – Mr. Neal and his team work tirelessly to bring the experience to life.

Shayne Neal built the Ecolodge with his own two hands with a little help from his friends. Then they replanted hundreds of rubber trees that reconnected the farmland to the national park

Shayne Neal built the Ecolodge with his own two hands with a little help from his friends. Then they replanted hundreds of rubber trees that reconnected the farmland to the national park

The legendary Twelve Apostles bring tourists from around the world to the Otways and Apollo Bay. Tourists can be seen parking along the Great Ocean Road and at risk of taking pictures of local animals

The legendary Twelve Apostles bring tourists from around the world to the Otways and Apollo Bay. Tourists can be seen parking along the Great Ocean Road and at risk of taking pictures of local animals

From restoring endangered gums to saving mighty forest ferns from the burn marks of the Country Fire Association, Shayne and his crew hope to bring a natural experience to life that cannot be seen on the coast.

"At the moment, you are seeing tourists stopping on the Great Ocean Road taking photos of koalas and this is a very dangerous situation," said Neal. "This enables them to observe the animal world safely and in a very natural environment."

On the way through the forest, visitors are greeted by an epic and unforgettable view of the sea.

The wildlife has returned to the area steadily as part of Mr. Neal's reforestation efforts.

The Great Otway National Park

The park is approximately 162 km southwest of Melbourne and stretches over 100,000 hectares. It stretches both over the coast and over the hinterland in the Otway Ranges and includes both beaches and forests that can be reached via extensive hiking trails

The long-nosed potoroo belongs to the kangaroo family. They are at risk in the Otways from habitat loss, changing fire regimes, and predators such as cats and foxes.

In 2012, vacationers in the Otways collected the first evidence of endangered tiger quolls in almost a decade

With the support of his wife Lizzie Corke – the financial magazine of this dynamic duo – the couple has already set up an environmentally friendly and award-winning retreat and ecological research center on Cape Otway.

At the Conservation Ecology Center, the couple and their dedicated team work to find solutions to the most pressing nature conservation challenges in the Otways region.

The center includes the Great Ocean Ecolodge – a guest house where visitors can relax between koalas and kangaroos and enjoy the tranquility of the forest on guided tours by Mr. Neal himself.

The lodge is fully solar powered and environmentally responsible. It rests gently in the landscape and all profits flow back into nature conservation.

Here, Mr. Neal can interact with the creatures he loves, such as the endangered Tiger Quoll, Sugar Gliders and the Poteroos.

A few cheeky sugar gliders look for traces of honey on Shayne Neal at the Conservation Ecology Center on Cape Otway. Mr. Neal is in the process of establishing a nature reserve where tourists can observe Australian wildlife in their natural habitat

A few cheeky sugar gliders look for traces of honey on Shayne Neal at the Conservation Ecology Center on Cape Otway. Mr. Neal is in the process of establishing a nature reserve where tourists can observe Australian wildlife in their natural habitat

Pippette - the long-nosed Poteroo snuggles up to Shayne Neal. She lives with her son Pipsqueak at the Conservation Ecology Center on Cape Otway. Here Mr. Neal and his team try to save the planet

Pippette – the long-nosed Poteroo snuggles up to Shayne Neal. She lives with her son Pipsqueak at the Conservation Ecology Center on Cape Otway. Here Mr. Neal and his team try to save the planet

The Tiger Quoll, a carnivorous feline marsupial, is believed to have died out in the area until its rediscovery in 2012.

You now live in captivity on the property and are part of a breeding program to restore their numbers.

Mr. Neal built the entire lodge in 2002 with his own hands, using the skills he had learned on the farm with his rebellious father.

& # 39; It went against his grain and he was punished (for not clearing his land). In the end he gave in … he vacated all of his property and as soon as he got his certificate, he rebuilt everything, «said Mr. Neal.

With the help of family and friends, the couple built the Ecolodge on farmland from scratch and replanted trees that would connect them back to the forest.

Today the Ecolodge is surrounded by trees and soothing water. It offers visitors the opportunity to connect with nature and the surrounding area while earning income for the conservation efforts of the Conservation Ecology Center

Today the Ecolodge is surrounded by trees and soothing water. It offers visitors the opportunity to connect with nature and the surrounding area while earning income for the conservation efforts of the Conservation Ecology Center

Shayne Neil and his loyal dog Teddy. The loyal dog can spy on Tiger Quoll Scat, which is DNA-tested and used for further research. Wildlife Wonders visitors end the tour with this magnificent view of the Bass Strait, where whales can migrate

Shayne Neil and his loyal dog Teddy. The loyal dog can spy on Tiger Quoll Scat, which is DNA-tested and used for further research. Wildlife Wonders visitors end the tour with this magnificent view of the Bass Strait, where whales can migrate

It would become the base of operations for the couple's mission to save the Otways wildlife from predators such as foxes and wild cats that terrorize local animals.

Sometimes the animals are their own worst enemies.

A few years ago, Otway-Koalas literally ate themselves out of the house and at home.

They decimated the region's manna chewing gum population and starved to death.

The center works to restore forests and works with the community to restore natural fire regimes through ecological burning and plant the next generation of young trees to restore balance.

Australia's mammalian extinction record is the worst in the world – 29 species of mammals have died out in the past 200 years.

Working with local landowners and stakeholders, the Conservation Ecology Center provides knowledge to help save endangered animals like the Tiger Quoll and the Long Nose Poteroo.

All profits from the experience of Wildlife Wonders go to the conservation research of the center.

& # 39; The whole concept behind this tourism company is to create a sustainable flow of funding for this research in the Otways and for this conservation work, ranging from research to planting to supporting land management, etc. It's huge, ”said Mr. Neal.

To contribute to the Conservation Ecology Center or to make a reservation at the Ecolodge, visit https://www.conservationecologycentre.org/

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