Rescue wombats Nudge and Bubbles were released back into the wild last week after months of rehabilitation with wildlife carer Dean Saxby.
It was a bittersweet end to a beautiful relationship he had formed with the two female wombats.
However, it was even sadder when the pair were found lying dead on the Princes Hwy just a few kilometres from Mr Saxby's house, only metres apart, possibly both hit by the same vehicle.
Mr Saxby knew it was Bubbles and Nudge due to their distinctive features.
"When they left they were in excellent condition, they were a healthy size and they always stayed together, which proved the buddy system worked. Everything was perfect except the ending," Mr Saxby said.
I’m devastated but with wildlife caring, you lose far more than you win. You start with an animal that has already cheated death simply by surviving.Dean Saxby
Nudge was the first wombat to arrive in Mr Saxby's care mid last year. She was found wandering through bushland on the side of the Princes Hwy. She had remained close to her dead mother who was a roadkill victim.
“She was handed to me by a farmer. She had been on the side of the road for about five days and was exhausted, dehydrated and covered in ticks – she was on her last legs,” he said back in August last year.
After many bottles of special formula wombat milk, love and native grass it wasn't long before Nudge was up and running around Mr Saxby's Maramingo property.
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Mr Saxby spent many hours recording the adventures of Nudge on his Facebook page and pretty soon the cheeky furball had a strong following.
Soon after, another rescue wombat Bubbles arrived. She, too, became a strong ball of cheekiness and the pair became the "Nudge and Bubbles" of Mr Saxby's's Facebook posts.
"Nudge hides under the blanket. She carefully changes position like a stealth submarine," Mr Saxby wrote.
"Nudge tries to use my legs as cover but Bubbles screams 'tag, you're it,' as she again lands directly on Nudge's barely visible form."
Months of shenanigans, growing and laughter passed before it was time for the wombats to begin their journey back into the wild. The pair were gradually released far into the national park bushland surrounding Mr Saxby's property.
Mr Saxby said he was saddened by the outcome but also knew it came with the territory of being a wildlife carer.
"I’m devastated but with wildlife caring, you lose far more than you win. You start with an animal that has already cheated death simply by surviving," he said
"The odds are stacked enormously against their continued survival so Nudge and Bubbles were a definite win. They were surviving back in the bush where they were meant to be."
And life must go on. Scratching around in the tunnels of the "wombatorium" on Mr Saxby's property are three other newly-arrived wombat joeys.
The antics of Willow, Nugget and La La are sure to become the next chapters of Mr Saxby's journal.