1 Wetlands Place,

Shortland NSW 2307


Open 7 days

Mon - Sun  9am - 4pm
Except Public Holidays


(02) 4951 6466

1 Wetlands Place

Shortland, NSW 2287


At any one time Hunter Wetlands Centre is engaged in many projects.

We are constantly seeking grants and donations to help us undertake conservation and sustainability projects and improve visitor experience of our Wetlands.


After a quarter of a century, and thousands of hours of volunteer work, we have completed our predator-proof fence! A 3.6 km fence has been built to stop predators from entering this new 40 ha sanctuary. Introduced predators, such as foxes and cats, are one of the biggest threats to our native wildlife. When all existing feral animals in the sanctuary are removed we believe this will create the largest fox-free sanctuary along the densely populated eastern seaboard of Australia.

HWCA hopes the wildlife sanctuary will be an asset for conservation organisations and ecologists to re-introduce wildlife that has become rare or locally extinct.

Thanks to almost $20,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s Green Army Program and $15,935 from NSW Community Building Partnership Program to install two new solar-powered automatic electric gates for the fence to ensure gates close after use, and a strong partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, the last 480 metre-long stretch of fence has been installed along Ironbark Creek. This enables us to effectively exclude feral predators for the first time since the first stage of fencing was installed in 1991.

Foxes, cats and dogs can no longer simply walk or swim into our wildlife sanctuary. The good news is we are already seeing more evidence of bandicoots, two pairs of Black Swans successfully raised their fox-prone cygnets, and we are successfully eradicating foxes living in the sanctuary.

The fence was officially launched on Thursday 14 December 2017.

Freedom for the Frecklies

In a world first, the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia, a community-owned environmental organisation is proposing to release Freckled ducks from our conservation breeding program and track them using satellite technology.

Located near Newcastle in the Hunter Estuary of New South Wales, the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is a Ramsar listed wetland of national and international importance. In addition to providing significant waterbird habitat to over 67 species, including the endangered Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) and the vulnerable Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata), it serves as a breeding rookery and a welcome refuge for migratory bird species, especially during droughts.

Since commencing the program in 1993, The Hunter Wetlands Centre has been one of the world’s most successful captive breeders of the vulnerable freckled duck (Stictonetta naevosa). Freckled ducks are a wetland dependent waterfowl that nest in densely vegetated, inland Australian wetlands. They are adapted to the erratic fluctuations of water distribution, often seeking coastal refuges, such as the Hunter Estuary, in times of drought. The Freckled duck is threatened from the draining and clearing of vital wetland habitat, alterations to natural water flows as well as illegal shooting.

The Freckled duck conservation breeding program was originally established to conserve the future of one of Australia’s rarest ducks. Our largely volunteer run program currently boasts a thriving population of 32 “Frecklies”.

After years of deliberation, we have finally decided to fulfil the last stage of the program and release some of our un-imprinted freckled ducks back into the wild. The inaugural release, scheduled for autumn 2016, will launch our annual plan to release healthy juveniles, while also maintaining a viable breeding population on site.

But where will they go?

Freckled ducks, dispersive and nomadic by nature, may migrate thousands of kilometres in search for greener pastures. Based on expert advice and comprehensive research, we have decided that our best choice for monitoring their dispersal is the highly regarded but expensive satellite transmitter technology. This will allow individual birds to be track in real time, providing novel information on the distribution patterns and habitat use of the freckled duck.

The Hunter Wetlands Centre ambitious Freedom for the Frecklies project, subject to funding and approval, will be a valuable contribution for the conservation management of this rare and vulnerable wetland dependent species.

Written by Grace Bourke, Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia and published in Wetlands Australia, 27th edition, August 2015 ‘Wetlands support threatened species’


The Hunter Wetlands Centre Nursery was established in 2009 to supply plants for our own projects and to help the Centre survive financially by supplying plants commercially on a fee for service basis.

The nursery grows 200 different local providence plants and volunteers collect all seeds and cuttings on site. The collection of seeds is a very important function of the nursery activities as is the collection of plant cuttings for those species that are difficult to propagate from seed.

Our nursery specialises in local providence native plant species raging from canopy trees to understory trees, shrubs, grasses, and water and wetland plants.

Under the guidance of volunteer Nursery Manager Ken Bayliss, the capacity of the nursery has increased to more than 100,000 plants per year. We are equipped to supply orders for projects requiring 150,000+ plants.

The Hunter Wetlands Centre Nursery has a nursery specific environmental management system (EMS) which defines the best practice and procedures we implement to manage the potential impacts of our work activities on the environment. The Nursery Manager with the support of the Hunter Wetlands Centre CEO is responsible for the maintenance of the EMS.

Nursery Contacts

Ken Bayliss – mobile 0434623658 or nursery@wetlands.org.au

Volunteer, Become a member, Get involved

There are different ways to get involved at the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia.