Posted 10/3/09 


Tallulah happy as a roo in a rug

Selma Milovanovic, The Age

March 10, 2009

Carolyn Rogers and her band of sewing volunteers.

Carolyn Rogers and her band of sewing volunteers. Photo: John Woudstra


WHEN a Kinglake couple discovered Tallulah the joey as fires roared towards Toolangi, she had just been thrown out of her mother's pouch.


The couple took the eight-month-old to their property and cared for her until the fires subsided.


Yesterday, Tallulah was back in a pouch - not her mother's, for no one knows what happened to her mother - but a fleecy one sewn by volunteers.


Tallulah is one of about 4000 joeys and possums orphaned or injured in the fires who have benefited from Carolyn Rogers' Sewing for Wildlife club, which has about 200 volunteers.


Ms Rogers, 52, a retired veterinary nurse who runs a textile arts business from her Coldstream home, decided to help her neighbour's mother, a wildlife carer, when the fires hit.


"There were three of us," says Ms Rogers, as six sewing machines whirr around her in a small suburban room. "I asked Ros at Textile Offcuts in Lilydale to donate needles and threads. When I got there, she also had three full rolls of material and it snowballed from there."


The women advertised their sewing club in the Coldstream Primary School newsletter. Headmaster Peter Donaldson organised for the group to use the Coldstream Community Centre for two weeks.


Later, centre worker Katrina Jennings and her husband Wayne Soltan offered Ms Rogers rooms at the back of their house in Coldstream.


Yesterday, there were 12 women sewing about 200 joey bags, possum pouches and wildlife capture blankets at Ms Jennings' house. Many more Victorians from around Melbourne have dropped in to get patterns and materials to sew at home.


Ms Rogers gets most of the donated materials from Sam Sufra of Sports Australia in Dandenong and Maria Lopes of Mad Fabrics in East Brunswick. Other ordinary people have helped, too, such as a man who brought 40 metres of flannel and delivered the sewn pouches where they were needed.


On Sunday, a CFA volunteer arrived with donated materials from a woman in Bathurst. The female firefighter had lost a family member and her house in the fires, while three other relatives remained in hospital.


This week, textile students from Lilydale Heights Secondary College and Upwey High School will sew pouches, while the Office of Community Correctional Services at Ringwood is organising for inmates to make possum boxes.


Julie Pryor from Koala Watch in Wonga Park has organised a central depot for the pouches and other items where registered wildlife carers - such as Carol Seeger, who is caring for Tallulah at her Kallista wildlife shelter - can pick up supplies.


To help, call Carolyn Rogers on 0412 279 053 between 8.30am and 3.30pm. Registered wildlife carers can call Julie Wildlife Supplies on

0458 012 967.