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Wetlands centre inundated with support

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A popular wildlife sanctuary has found some joy in reopening its doors after a deliberately lit fire left volunteers devastated.

The Hunter Wetlands Centre, which re-opened its Shortland-based site on Monday, has been inundated with support from the public.

“The response has been very good, members of the public have been in all week,” Chief Executive, Ken Bayliss, said.

“We have 45 hectares [which is] plenty of room to social distance.”

While on the grounds, visitors must adhere to social distancing regulations and, from this Monday 1 June, 25 people will be allowed in the visitors centre and the café.

At this stage, the centre is not open on weekends and all canoeing, dip-netting and tours, including buggy tours, will not be available.

Mr Bayliss added it had been struggling with no source of income for months after the coronavirus forced the facility to close.

“Being closed to the public severely disrupted our income stream,” he said.

The recent fire only added to this blow, with the centre losing several pieces of equipment, including a historic tractor.

“After the devastation of the arson attack [by] those mindless individuals, the public, in general, have been wonderful with their assistance,” he said.

“It has blown the wetland volunteers, who put so much work into the site, away.”

Mr Bayliss said, while they lost a lot of equipment, the volunteers have stepped up to keep the grounds looking nice.

He added the site is vital to conservation.

“We are an important conservation centre and research site assisting the Newcastle area with research,” he said.

More than 250 species of wildlife call the wetlands home, including ducks, tortoises, frogs and birds.

To support the not-for-profit during this uncertain time, pay the grounds a visit, donate through its website, or become a member.

 Membership costs $15 for the year and allows you to visit the wetlands as much as you like.

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