August 28th, 2019
Critters big and small from across the Hills will soon arrive in Wayville for the Royal Adelaide Show including a cheeky lizard who is quite used to being the centre of attention.

Norbert the Shingleback has already had three books written about him by his custodian Leanne Stevens, student support officer and administrator of the Critter Club at Nairne Primary School.

“He joined the Critter Room two years ago and has become something of a main attraction,” Leanne said.

“He’ll often go on adventures around the school and turn up all over the place – he particularly loves the magazine rack in the library.

“He’s such a character that I’ve written three books about them which my daughter Johan illustrated – the first was called ‘The Adventures of Naughty Norbert and his sidekick Red’.”

Norbert is one of many critters of a variety of species looked after by students at the school, while Leanne and her daughter Jasmine help maintain the room seven days a week.

“It was known as the Bug Club when we started, but when Norbert and more animals came it became a place for critters in general,” Leanne said.

“We house the scaly, furry and slimy here – everything from green tree frogs, lizards and turtles to hopping mice, yabbies, giant snails and stick insects.”

What began as a home passion project for Leanne took off when she brought the idea to school, with the animals also helping students to learn maths, science while appreciating how to respect and care for wildlife and the environment.

“We allow children to interact and help take care of all the animals by feeding and playing with them – it is great environmental education for kids and helps them understand nature in regards to their own backyard, as well as how it effects the world beyond,” Leanne said.

“The animals are part of the school now; we recently had a 19th birthday party for one of our turtles with a giant cake and presentations on the nature of turtles as well as their cultural history in Australia.”

With a carer permit for Parks and Wildlife, Leanne has established to room to be a sanctuary for animals in need of ‘forever homes’, like Nobert’s friend Red, a blind blue-tongue lizard.

“Many of our animals come to us from Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre. We have a ringtail possum who was attacked by cats who lives here now – we love them all and give them the very best,” Leanne said.

“Students have set up stalls at events at the Mount Barker Show and other organisations to give demonstrations and talk about the animals and understand the importance of ecological sustainability.

“They going to love getting down to see Norbert at the Show.”

Chickens, dogs, steers and miniature goats from the Hills will all be on show, along with eight of Jess Lou’s Khaki Campbell ducks from Nairne.

“We taking them just to show, they’re fully feathered with good colours and the boys have curled tails,” Jess said.

“It’s important when we breed them to keep the mums and babies separate from the others until they grow up or there tends to be trouble.

“We have around 20 ducks these days – my husband kept 50 to 100 or so before we had kids.”

Jess said her three and two-year-old children are looking forward to the Show.

“They’re of an age now where they can really enjoy it, though they loved the lights last time.”

Jodie Burr will bring seven of her prized alpacas from Callington, having just returned from the National Alpaca Show in Canberra where one of her boys won a ribbon.

“I’ll be taking five of my juniors between six and eight months old and two older girls,” Jodie said.

Jodie will show both sirius with long, dreadlock-like wool and huacayas, which have a more sheep-like coat.

“I’ll be showing some raw fleeces as well which we sell at the farm and have started using to spin yarn,” Jodie said.

“After that it’ll be on to the next royal show in Melbourne.”

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