Meet Jenny Thynne, a senior volunteer with a lifelong passion for nature and conservation

Mother and child wombats on Maria Island, Tasmania

Mother and child wombats on Maria Island, Tasmania © Jenny Thynne.


21 October 2023

Jenny Thynne’s passion for the natural world and its creatures is truly inspiring. From a very early age, Jenny loved all creatures, from tiny bugs and flowers to possums and wombats, and recognised their unique role in the ecosystem. Now in her senior years, Jenny continues to foster her passion for the natural world around her through travel and nature photography, and her weekly volunteer work at Wildlife Queensland.

Jenny was born in Melbourne but moved to Brisbane before she was two. She began developing a love of wildlife in her early years and a recognition of the astonishing beauty that surrounds us each day.

“I remember having my own garden from when I was just 5 or 6 years old,” Jenny recalls. “My mother gave me Zinnia seeds, and it was incredible as a child to watch the brightly coloured flowers emerge.”

Jenny’s grandparents also had a keen interest in nurturing and teaching their extended family.

“My granddad was a fencer in Blackall, and I loved visiting the huge army tent my grandparents lived in there,” said Jenny. “My grandmother cared for two orphaned kangaroo joeys, Lulu and Josie. She had an apron with a pocket that the joeys would dive into, and I will never forget the joy I felt seeing them curled up in there.”

This connection with the environment and her natural curiosity sparked a lifelong love of her surroundings. Jenny’s fascination with all living things and how they adapt, modify, and interact with each other led her on a path of loving, learning, and helping to save the environment and our native animals.

In 1986, Jenny went as a volunteer at the Riversleigh fossil site.

This world heritage property in North West Queensland holds fossils of ancestral marsupials, including moles, bandicoots, koalas, wombats, and possums. The experience sparked yet another opportunity for Jenny to explore and observe the structure and makeup of our unique Australian animals — a memory she will always treasure.

After leaving school, Jenny worked in the Commonwealth Public Service but maintained her gardening and photography hobbies.

“Many years ago, it was also possible to purchase Wildlife Queensland’s magazine from the local newsagent where I would regularly collect my ordered edition,” remembers Jenny. “Walking to the local newsagent always held a certain excitement for me, and I couldn’t wait to see what each new edition held.”

In 2007, following her retirement, Jenny was quick to start volunteering at Wildlife Queensland. She began by assisting with the EchidnaWatch, Quoll Seekers Network and PlatypusWatch programs. Her volunteering explored better outcomes for echidna by collating information on their distribution and helped quolls by gaining a greater understanding of their ecology through population monitoring and mapping. Jenny also enjoyed engaging with other volunteers in platypus surveys, recording their sightings, and helping assess platypus habitats.

Sixteen years on, Jenny continues to volunteer weekly in the office at Wildlife Queensland. Her natural and beautiful photography can often be found in Wildlife Queensland publications, including Wildlife Australia, which Jenny enjoyed reading in her younger years.

“I love taking ‘behavioural photos’, or photos of animals and insects when they are doing something,” Jenny says. “I can spend hours watching creatures, particularly bees, exploring their habitat and working so hard to play their part in the world around us.”

Female blue-banded bee roosting at night

Female blue-banded bee roosting at night © Jenny Thynne.

Famale blue-banded bee with orchid pollinia

Female blue-banded bee with orchid pollinia © Jenny Thynne.

It was approximately ten years ago when Jenny began taking her photography seriously. Due to the love of camera work shown by her father, Jenny had dabbled in this art since childhood, but it was only when some close travel friends encouraged her to purchase a Canon SLR that she could capture vivid and evocative photos.

The opportunity arose at age 47 for Jenny to experience her first overseas trip, and her enthusiasm for travel quickly grew.

“Goodness, travel opened up a whole new world for me, literally,” Jenny laughs. “The beauty in the world around us is incredible, isn’t it?”

Seeing diverse landscapes and the animals particular to each country, Jenny realised she wanted to explore as many different places as possible.

“Some of my favourite experiences so far have been seeing the true beauty of polar bears and witnessing with my own eyes the magnitude of a colony of over 80,000 penguins on Macquarie Island.


“The stillness of a mountain hare in Scotland will never leave me, but one of my favourite moments was at home in Australia, seeing a mother and baby wombat in Maria Island National Park, Tasmania. Wombats are my favourite animals,” Jenny says. “Something I will never forget, and thankfully, I have the photos to remember how beautiful they were.”

Colony of 80,000 royal pengins - Macquarie Island 2010

Colony of 80,000 royal penguins, Macquarie Island © Jenny Thynne.

Polar bear mother and cub - Svalbard 2009

Polar bear mother and cub, Svalbard © Jenny Thynne.

Explore more of Jenny’s stunning nature and wildlife images in our online picture book series.

Jenny’s next few trips have been planned and will take her firstly to Regional Victoria and then to Tasmania for the umpteenth time. A tour has also been booked in November 2024 to visit Chile, Jenny conveys with immense excitement. Chile is renowned for spectacular scenic landscapes that feature coastline, forests, glaciers, lakes, mountains, and waterfalls.

“I can’t wait to see the hairy armadillo and the hog-nosed skunk!”

While Jenny will continue to travel both within and outside Australia, her strongest message to the Wildlife Queensland community is about the little things we can each do in our gardens or on our balconies to help our local insects and wildlife.

”Plant more Melalucas and Grevillias if you can,” says Jenny. “They support our birds and insects immensely. Plant flowers that will attract our native bees. Not only does this help with pollination, but if you watch the bees closely, you will see the different ways they collect pollen — on their legs and abdomen. They are incredible little creatures.”

Jenny’s deep love of nature, learning and exploration has not diminished into her senior years. Wildlife Queensland is so grateful for the many thousands of volunteer hours Jenny has given to help our mission to protect wildlife, influence choices, and engage communities.

Senior volunteers have played a massive role in the success of Wildlife Queensland and the success of our 14 branches across the state. During this Senior’s Month, we recognise and give thanks to our senior volunteers, donors, and bequestors. These gifts and ongoing donations are the lifeblood of our organisation and the successes we can achieve.

Together, and at any age, we can secure a future for wildlife.

How you can help:

  • Donate to Wildlife Queensland to help fund a range of vital wildlife conservation programs and activities.
  • Leave a gift in your Will to Wildlife Queensland to help preserve our natural environment and its inhabitants for future generations.



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