1996Michael travelled the Durrell Foundation's Conservation Academy at the forefront of wildlife preservation for decades, in Jersey, where he took take part in an endangered species breeding course for conservation professionals.
- https://www.durrell.org/training/our-approach/faculty/ 
1998 The Johnson family purchased a 25 acre property formerly a farm and pony club, in Pearcedale on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Development of the Sanctuary commenced in December 1998, and entailed:
  • Construction of a modern, environmentally sensitive visitors centre.
  • Planting of over 10,000 native Australian trees and plants.
  • Construction of a 2 acre wetland with lake and water bird habitats.
  • Construction of over 30 animal enclosures and support facilities.

First animal enclosure built to prove predator proof fence concept.

2000 Wetlands built, 10,000 trees planted and destruction of weeds.
2001 Planning permission obtained, 2km predator proof fence constructed, visitor centre and 10 animal enclosures built.
2001Opened September with evening tours. The lantern-lit tours were declared  "magical!" as word grew about this special opportunity to get up close and personal to nocturnal wildlife, most few visitors had ever seen.

  • Monty - Carpet Python
  • Esmerelda - Brush-tail possum
  • Poss - Ring-tail possum
  • Ash & Ember - Dingoes
  • Bella -Tamar wallaby
  • Tamar wallabies
  • Pademelons
  • Red neck wallabies
  • Eastern Bettongs  
  • Brush tailed Bettong
  • Eastern Quolls
  • Squirrel Gliders
  • Feather - tail Gliders
  • Tawny frogmouth
  • Cape baron geese
  • Spinifex hopping mice
  • 2001 Became full members of the Zoos Aquarium Association (Australia).

    First breeding of Eastern Bettongs.


    Established a breeding colony of the critically endangered Julia Creek Dunnart.

    2002 First mainland breeding of Eastern Quolls since they went extinct on the mainland in 1963.

    Animal scenes in the Heath Ledger movie "Ned Kelly" filmed at Moonlit Sanctuary.

    2004 Julia Creek Dunnarts returned to Queensland for reintroduction into the wild.

    Gained eco-tourism accreditation with Eco-Tourism Australia.


     Started opening during the daytime on a daily basis, expanding their number of animals and welcoming 80,000 visitors a year. Expecting to be 100,000 close of 2016.

  • Monty - Carpet Python
  • Dingoes
  • Easter Grey Kangeroo
  • Tamar wallabies
  • Pademelons
  • Red neck wallabies
  • Emu
  • Purple swamp hens
  • Cape baron geese
  • Spinifex
  • 2009 Won Sustainable Cities Protection of the Environment Award.
    2009 Joined the national Tasmanian Devil Recovery program.

    Won Victorian Tourism Award for Ecotourism.


    Opened the award-winning Wallaby Walk.


    Won City of Casey Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year award.

    2012 Opened world’s first walk-in glider exhibit.
    2012 Won City of Casey Business Awards Environmental Award.
    2012 Won Zoo Aquarium Association Best Exhibit under $100,000 award.

    Won South-East Melbourne Small Business of the Year award.

    2013Joined the national recovery program of Orange-bellied Parrots by breeding in a specially constructed breeding facility, built with support of the Avicultural Society of Australia.
    2013 Won City of Casey Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year award.
    2013 Took over the management of the national Spot-tailed Quoll studbook.

    Gained animal welfare accreditation with the Zoo Aquarium Association.


    First Orange-Bellied Parrot bred at Moonlit Sanctuary and subsequently released into the wild.

    2014 Opened first walk-in aviary.
    2014 Won Victorian Tourism Award for Ecotourism.

    Won Casey-Cardinia Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year award.


    Built Education Building for school groups.

    2015 Opened new wombat exhibit with revolutionary new design.

    Won Casey-Cardinia Tourism Business of the Year award.



    Became a "Green Travel Leader" with Ecotourism Australia.


    Opened "Conservation in Action" wildlife show, incorporating amongst others for the first time ever Spot-Tailed Quolls and Rufous Bettongs.