Back in 2009, photographer Andreas Jakwerth and his girlfriend Ulrike traveled from Vienna, Austria, to Southeast Asia and Australia for a six-month-long trip. They expected adventure, yet even with all the amazing places they discovered and the people they met, an orphaned wombat named Douglas ended up becoming one of the most unforgettable experiences on their big trip.
In fact, Andreas tells OGP that meeting Douglas was one of the most memorable experiences he and his girlfriend have had in their entire lives.
Douglas first met the traveling couple when they arrived in the beautiful Tallangatta Valley located in Victoria, Australia.
To save some money and to get to know the local community, Andreas and Ulrike signed up for a WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms) program. They stayed at a local Tallangatta farm for a week at the start of their Australian trip (which lasted three and a half months) and a week at the end.
Upon their arrival, they were quickly acquainted with adorable little Douglas, who was staying with the farm’s family.
Orphaned as a young baby, the family rescued Douglas from his dead mother’s pouch. She, like many other wombats, was killed by a car.
Andreas tells us that Mary, the farm’s owner, often cared for one to two wombats at a time with the goal of releasing them back into the wild once they were strong enough and ready to return.
Andreas and Ulrike arrived at Mary’s just in time to be a part of Douglas’s early life.
Andreas admits that he spent most of his time playing with young Douglas, loving every moment of their time together.
Ulrike, on the other hand, became Douglas’s caretaker, often feeding and cradling him during their stay.
“We spent as much time as possible with Douglas. We loved him so much!” Andreas says.
They quickly learned that one of Douglas’s favorite things was getting his belly rubbed. Andreas fondly recalls his stubbornness, stating that when Douglas wanted a belly rub “he got it.”
“Besides belly rubs, he enjoyed squeezing his head between arms, legs, or whatever he could find. They like it narrow and cuddly. He reminded me of a cat, just better!” Andreas says.
Andreas and Ulrike were lucky to experience Douglas as a baby since adult wombats, as Andreas tells us, can be quite aggressive.
Already as a young wombat, Douglas occasionally exhibited bouts of more aggressive behavior. Sometimes, when Andreas would tease him, Douglas would get a little mad and try to hit him with his head. Thankfully, no damage was done as Douglas was still small.
Andreas and Ulrike were saddened when they had to leave Douglas behind, yet he will always remain warmly in their memories. By being with and caring for Douglas, Andreas learned that he could really “fall for an animal,” reiterating again how Douglas truly was the “best experience by a clear mile” they had in Australia.
For a cute look into their brief yet heartwarming friendship, hit the play button on the video below!
For more of Jakwerth’s stunning photographs, please check out his website.
Lead image source: Andreas Jakwerth