Toodyay's Hidden Treasures - Souls and Stars Sanctuary

Published on Friday, 18 December 2020 at 4:00:00 PM

What happens when a psychiatrist and an engineer – both with a lifelong love of animals that sees them adopt furry and feathered family members rather than pets – find their way to the West Australian Wheatbelt (from Germany and via a very scenic route through Switzerland) and to 650 acres of paddocks and bushland? Sabine and Wolfgang Steffens are the people to ask, and their answer is Souls and Stars Sanctuary. Far from your regular animal rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming centre, the sanctuary is a place that builds a bridge between animals, nature and humans – three of Sabine’s favourite things.

Souls and Stars Sanctuary

The Souls and Stars story had an early start: Sabine’s childhood dream of becoming a vet. Fast forward to 2003, a year after Wolfgang (the engineer) and herself (not a vet but practicing psychiatry) had arrived in Perth with one dog, two children and three cats in tow, when they found themselves the owners of 25 wild ponies. Discovering the ponies were headed for the abattoir, Sabine was desperate to be their lifeline. Despite living in suburbia and having nowhere to house a single pony – let alone a sizeable stable’s worth – she paid the required price and the deal was done.

Seven months of keeping the ponies on another property passed before the vast Toodyay block, complete with stunning Avon Valley vistas, came along. Sabine fell in love with the land, knowing it was where her adulthood dream of caring for and rehoming animals in need would become reality. That’s exactly what happened, and nearly 17 years on the sanctuary is still going strong.

There are many animals in residence at present, including horses and ponies, as well as dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, sheep, cows, goats, alpacas and llamas. There was once a donkey on that list too, one who decided to live on the Steffens patio and put in an occasional uninvited appearance in their living room.

Then there’s Loki the Maremma, a.k.a. Loki the local hero, who recently made headlines for safely delivering an abandoned joey to Sabine’s doorstep. He’s a country boy who prefers to paw-patrol Souls and Stars rather than travel down to see Dad (Wolfgang) who works in the city during the week. That’s probably for the best, since it’s a struggle to find space for him in most vehicles.

Loki’s a big dog and an equally big help, but that doesn’t mean life at the sanctuary is a walk in the countryside. Every day begins with breakfast – for the animals, that is. It takes two or three hours to get everybody fed before admin, health checks and (supersized) property maintenance gets the go-ahead. The days end with an afternoon feeding: another two hours of getting the grub up. Then it’s time for some shut-eye before the routine begins all over again.

Sabine is happy to work hard for animal welfare however, aware it’s an incredibly rewarding life to live. People often ask why she would want to foster so much fauna, and constantly comment on how thankful the animals must be – but Sabine says she’s the thankful one. Souls and Stars is a magic mix of the animal and human connections that she loves making more than anything else. Naturally, it’s not all sunshine and belly scratches: healing the hurt takes time, and it’s also heartbreaking becoming attached to animals who will eventually find their forever homes elsewhere. 

Even so, finding a home for the homeless has been and always will be the sanctuary’s main aim. Their adoption process is currently more personal than public, with anyone interested in meeting the animals and potentially giving one (or more) a permanent place to stay advised to contact Sabine. Her pawed-and-clawed clan can rest assured that all human candidates are carefully screened to ensure a happy and healthy home – and life – is on offer. There is the hope of an online adoption area that brings Souls and Stars together with other nearby sanctuaries, like Happy Hooves in Gidgegannup and Possum Valley in Mount Helena. Sabine is already working with Marsupial Mamas and Papas right here in Toodyay, which is where Loki’s own animal rescue ended up.  

Another plan for the future is to allow anyone wanting some relaxation and regeneration to attend retreats that provide just that: specifically through soul-food sessions of animal-assisted therapy, reflexology and yoga; talks by motivational speakers; organic food grown on-site; and glamping-style sleeping quarters.

It’s a beautiful picture to paint, but it does depend on support from Sabine and Wolfgang’s fellow animal lovers out there. That support can be shown in simple ways. Visit the sanctuary’s social media pages and give them a like or a follow (search for Souls and Stars Sanctuary on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) or visit their website to make a donation and/or register your interest in volunteering. You’d be barking mad not to!

Souls and Stars is located on Hoddy Well Road, Hoddy’s Well. For more information call Sabine on 0468 444 404, visit or email

Toodyay's Hidden Treasures

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