We are a community group that works for the conservation of bats and their habitat through rescue and landcare work, advocacy, education and research.

Our activities began in a small way in 1990 when the local paper reported that hundreds of young spectacled flying-foxes had been orphaned by tick paralysis.  The adventure began with 2 orphans but over the next 10 years morphed into a life’s passion for our founder. We originally worked with bats from the Tolga Scrub and hence our name. This became confusing when we opened the visitor centre in 2009 as we are not at Tolga, and so we called it The Bat Hospital Visitor Centre. We now work with all bats, megabat or microbat, from this region and afar. Bats come to us  from remote rural areas many hundreds of kilometres away, and occasionally for sanctuary when retired from zoos.

We followed in the footsteps of Friends of Far North Flying Foxes. This group was very active in the 1990s, working mainly centred around the colonies at Zillie Falls and Whiteing Road on the southern Tablelands. In 2002 they folded and voted to transfer their funds to Tolga Bat Rescue and Research Inc. Ann and Bruce Johnson, the mainstay committee members, left a legacy of very informative newsletters.

Over the years our work has become more holistic and wide-ranging. In 2004 we became endorsed as a Landcare group, in recognition of our habitat restoration work at the Tolga Scrub and other flying fox camp sites. We subscribe to the Landcare Ethic: “To protect our environment and way of life now and for future generations, we must carefully manage our land, air, water and biodiversity. ”

We became incorporated in 2002 as a not-for-profit community group, listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations in 2007, and registered as a charity in 2008. This enables us to accept tax-deductible donations, but also means we have a fair amount of administration and accountability.

We are now facing the challenge of ensuring the sustainability of the group by moving beyond an all-volunteer workforce.

  • 1990 Tick paralysis discovered on Atherton Tablelands

  • 1997 Began treating bats affected by tick paralysis

  • 2002 Incorporation as a not-for-profit community group

  • 2003 Big Cage built as flight cage for flying-foxes

  • 2004 Endorsed as a Landcare Group

  • 2005 Cassowary Award from Wet Tropics Management Authority for Community Conservation

  • 2005 Microbat Cage built with English philanthropic money

  • 2006 Orphan cage built for pups when they leave the nursery

  • 2008 Registered as a Charity, a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR)

  • 2009 Award for Animal Welfare and Education from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

  • 2009 Visitor Centre opens

  • 2010 Achieved Advanced Ecotourism accreditation with Ecotourism Australia

  • 2011 Serventy Conservation Medal from the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia

  • 2012 Nursery opens

  • 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Heritage Bank

  • 2017-20 #1 on Trip Advisor for attractions in the Atherton area

We have 2 classes of annual membership.
Active members are involved as volunteers in the activities of the group and pay a $10 membership fee.
Associate members (which can include groups) like to support the good work of the group but are unable to volunteer.  Membership fee $20.
Some people support our work through regular donations. Click here for a MEMBERSHIP FORM, click here to donate.

Our membership usually hovers around 120. We send an occasional email newsletter to members and supporters, and provide regular updates on our Facebook book. Our AGM is usually April or May.

2018 Office Bearers
President / Secretary Jennefer Mclean
Vice-Presidents: Ceinwen Edwards and Ashleigh Johnson
Treasurer: Debra Johnston
Membership Officer: Ashleigh Johnson

Honorary Veterinarians: Tableland Veterinary Service

spectacled flying fox mum and pup

This frame over the bath was our nursery in the very early days. It is still there and gets used at the beginning of each pup season when we only have a handful of pups in.

spectacled flying fox pups before we had our proper nursery

We grew out of the bathroom pretty quickly, but it wasn’t until 2012 that we had a bequest that paid for the Nursery building.

spectacled flying foxes in the bathroom before we got our nursery in 2013

High-rise living was our only indoor possibility for the first few years. We had to move the pups to the outside cage prematurely. We’d hang large sheets of cardboard to create the walls of an outdoor room, as well as cardboard on top, and set up a heater inside.


1. Wildlife care. To rescue, rehabilitate and release all species of bats with a high standard of care, as well as provide a sanctuary for some of those who cannot be released.

2. Education. Educate and raise awareness of issues affecting bats, involving
(i) bat carers and volunteers
(ii) the education community, teachers and students of all ages and disciplines.
(iii) the public health, research, scientific and veterinary communities
(iv) the general community

3. Actively seek partnerships in the community for all aspects of our work, networking with:
(i) other community groups especially those with environmental aims
(ii) public health, research, scientific, veterinary and education communities
(iii) other local. national and international bat groups

4. Habitat protection. Negotiate with landowners to facilitate the repair and protection of bat habitat, especially the Tolga Scrub.

5. Research. Support ethical research into the general ecology of bats and their management.

6. Advocacy. Advocate for conservation values of bats and their habitat.

7. Recognising the rights and responsibilities of Volunteers. Implementing an increasingly safe and harmonious volunteering environment.

8. Establishment of the Public Fund. To establish and maintain a public fund to be called the Tolga Bat Hospital Fund for the specific purpose of supporting the environmental objects/purposes of Tolga Bat Rescue and Research Inc.

Our first cage, built in 1996, and replaced in 2004 with a steel/concrete cage known as Middle Cage (between the Microbat Cage and large Flight Cage) or Orphan Season cage.

We did well with grants in the early days, but now our main funding…


Check out some of the places we’ve been featured in media…


Our name has been taken from this small patch of rainforest …