Nestled in the undulated hills of the vibrant Warrumbungle Ranges in Western NSW sits a water trough on a unique farming enterprise. At the far end of the small cement structure, a solitary camera is positioned towards the ground, initially installed to monitor feral animals in the paddocks of one of the few emu farms in NSW.
What the owners of Emu Logic did not expect, however, was a real-time window into the workings of Australia’s native wildlife.
From thirsty goannas to night-time visits from echidnas, or even a bird battling a carpet python – the ‘trough cam’ records the highs and lows of life on the land, capturing the diverse tapestry of Australia’s natural wildlife, including some sneak peeks of the property’s emus.
Since 1995 Phil and Penny Henley have farmed emus on their property north of Dubbo at Tooraweenah. They currently have about 1200 birds on their farm and are joined by daughter Nicole and son-in-law Dan in running their business, Emu Logic. They also run sheep and cattle on their property.
The family farms emus to sell a number of products including emu oil, soap and lotion, while using the meat for jerky. Emu eggs are also sold.
In addition to their products, the family also runs an on-farm interactive museum where visitors can experience emus and emu chicks up close, to learn about the native bird.
For those who can’t make the journey in person, the Henley family often share snippets from the watering hole on their social media. Giving viewers an insight into the escapades of the region’s native wildlife while educating people about the recent drought, ongoing mice plague and the plight of native animals.
A desperate drink during drought
As the big dry settled into much of NSW, the Henley’s western region property was not exempt from the harsh, bitter drought conditions. Water resources, so scare in mid-to-late 2019, the Henley’s considered switching off a major trough. However, before making the decision Phil Henley decided to use the camera purchased for monitoring feral animals on the trough to see if it was being used by dehydrated native animals.
What he found was enough to keep the water flowing.
A hobby with an important message
Throughout the recent drought, Phil Henley’s surveillance camera showed a higher number of native animals desperate for a drink, as species intermingled at the trough.
Sine then, according to Phil’s wife Penny, it’s become more than just keeping an eye out.
“He’s had a great time doing it, it’s become his hobby,” Mrs Henley said.
The Henley’s all share a strong passion and appreciation for native wild life.
“We do care for our wildlife and I think that’s an important message as graziers. We like to look after our wildlife.”Penny Henley
From dust to mice
In recent months, the camera has embarked on surveillance missions away from the trough. This time, to showcase the ongoing mouse plague which has caused widespread havoc across much of Western NSW, including the Henley’s property. The vision depicts birdlife catching mice on the banks of a dam.
Phil is also a keen bird watcher, sharing footage from his larger than average birdbath, where a number of native bird species congregate in the morning hours. A hobby he intends to keep for a long time to come.