The wombat was found in the middle of Lake Moolwala on the Victoria-New South Wales border for the first time to a wildlife rescuer

Northern Victorian Wildlife Conservancy Kylie Donkers has been involved in some “very strange rescues” over the years, but this week’s recovery of the animals on a lake was a first.

On Monday morning, the owner and operator of Dutch Thunder Wildlife Refuge in Koonoomoo, about 75km north of Shepparton, got a call from locals who had found a wombat stranded in the middle of a lake on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.

Young fishermen Jack and Archie Hewatt were on a waterslide on Lake Moolwala, on the Murray River, with their grandmother Barbara Hewatt when they saw what they thought was a koala on a stump.

It was only when they got closer, said Mrs. Hewatt, that they realized it was a wombat.

Mrs. Hewatt then contacted the Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter and Mrs. Dunkers headed to the lake to rescue the waterlogged marsupial, which she said was not a natural swimmer.

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A wombat was found stuck on a log in the middle of a lake, a first for a local wildlife rescuer(Supplied: Dutch Thunder Wildlife Refuge)

Echidnas are actually very good swimmers. [it’s] “It is not uncommon to see them moving through waterways,” said Ms. Donkers.

“Same with kangaroos and wallabies; even koalas are reasonable swimmers.”

However, she said, wombats don’t fall into the same category.

“If you look at their body shape, they don’t make for great swimming,” she said.

Wombat on its back in a blue blanket
Kylie Donkers says the wombat is recovering after it was found emaciated on a tree trunk.(Supplied: Dutch Thunder Animal Shelter )

“I don’t think the wombat chose to go into the water,” she said, adding that how it got to the water was a mystery.

“I asked her on the flight home how she ended up there, but unfortunately she could not answer for me,” said Mrs. Donkers.

It’s possible the wombat may have ended up in the water during recent storms or after being chased by a dog, Ms Donkers said.

Risky rescue

The rescue in the water posed some challenges and Ms Donkers said she was “not overly keen to get involved [the wombat] From a waterslide.”

Instead, she chose to call a friend from a service.

Jack Hocking of Lake Mulwala Sport Fishing received the summons and took his boat to help with the rescue.

“It was a lot different from the normal daily fishing on the lake, and there was a lot of excitement,” said Mr Hawking.

“We do have some strange things showing up in the lake, however [the wombat] It was very strange.”

“We have a lot of hollow trees, and sometimes you’ll get snakes, and even sea urchins swim and sit in logs sometimes.”

He holds a wombat claw in the woman's hand
If the community hadn’t helped with this, Kylie Donkers said, it could have been a very different rescue.(Supplied: Dutch Thunder Wildlife Refuge )

Despite their placid appearance, wombats can be “extremely vicious and unpredictable,” Ms. Donkers said.

“I’ve done hundreds of rescues and even I was a little nervous about this one,” she said.

“We had a plan in place for if the wombat turned around and tried to attack.”

Ms Donkers said it was important for members of the public who found stranded wildlife to contact “someone who has the appropriate experience and equipment to handle these rescues”.

Rest and relax for a few days

Ms Donkers said the wombat had been set up for “a few days of rest and relaxation” at the Dutch Thunder Wildlife Sanctuary.

The animal was so emaciated when it was found, Mrs. Donkers said, that she thought it must have been stranded on a log for days.

She said the wombat was also being treated for hypothermia and minor cuts on its foot.

“If all goes well, it will be released back into the wild.”

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