Few reach the heights of fame where the world refers to them by first name only. There's Madonna, Adele, Prince, Cher, Queen Elizabeth.... And there's Derek.
If you’re not up with Dezza, he’s a Flinders Island wombat who hit international stardom when his beach strut went viral. We won’t hold it against you if the name “Derek’ didn’t conjure immediate thoughts of this celebrity fur child, but let’s fill you in on the latest.
Time for your dose of mid-week cuteness thanks to @seanscottphotography. Meet Derek, a much-loved and ridiculously cute resident of Flinders Island who stole Sean’s heart on a recent visit. Fortunately for Derek, Flinders Island has Kate Mooney – affectionately known as the “˜Wombat Lady of Flinders’ – who adopts orphaned wombats and smothers them with love and attention. It goes without saying that when you are as gorgeous as this little guy, the odds are definitely stacked in your favour! We hope you enjoyed your beach run, Derek. (And thanks for sharing him with us, Sean!) You too can share your Tassie stories by tagging us with #discovertasmania. #flindersisland #northerntasmania #seeaustralia #babyanimals #tasmania #wombat
Derek has been enjoying his celeb status. Sure, it got pretty busy when he introduced his line of tea-towels and t-shirts to meet fan demands, but things are settling back into wombat time. He gets plenty of naps and grazing breaks at his home with Mum, Kate Mooney. Yes, Derek still lives at home with Mum, but after all he is a teenager. One day, as his mum the “Wombat Lady of Flinders Island’ laments, he will go out the back door and never return.
Derek has had a big impact on his home turf. The rescued wombat’s notoriety has led to a flurry of tourists heading to Flinders. Fortunately, those hoping for a glimpse of celebrity have plenty to keep them occupied. Flinders is one of Australia’s best kept island secrets – a place you’re almost guaranteed to find your own private clear-watered cove. According to Mooney, “We have a saying here – if you see someone’s footprints in the sand, just go to another beach.”
The coastline provides stellar fishing and a ribbon of white beaches punctuated by lichen-topped rocky outcrops. Mount Strzlecki climbs 756 metres above the sea for avid walkers and wildlife is as common as a local’s wave. It’s a place where two days could easily become a week.
But back to Derek. Let’s focus. He’s now the proud big brother of orphan sisters April and May. Both were delivered to Kate (incidentally in the months of April and May), who has nursed more than 100 wombats back to health over the last 20 years. Although they might all have a soft spot for their wombat Mum, Mooney is happiest when they return to the wild strong and healthy.
“He was an only child for the first six months that I had him, so I guess he became rather spoilt,” says Mooney. “Derek isn’t like the others. He’s adventurous and daring. Most don’t like to be out of the pouch, but he’s been a curious and cheeky little bloke since I found him. That makes him pretty special.”