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What the duck?

A woman photographed walking her two ducks in a pram through the streets of Manly quickly got a lot of attention on our local social pages recently. Videos of her walking in her dressing gown, giant headphones, no shoes, with two ducks tucked comfortably into a pram spread quickly across the internet. It was just so.. different! What the duck is this all about?

We decided to get to the bottom of the mystery by tracking down said duck lady. Not going to lie, it involved a cold call door knock, and we had no idea what we were in for. We were pleasantly surprised!

Celeste, aka “Manly Duck Lady”. Photos by Sonja Tye @sonjatyephotography

Meet “Manly Duck Lady”, a 21-year-old university student called Celeste.

In January Celeste suddenly had the urge to get two pet ducks, as one might. She scrawled Gumtree until she found ducklings for sale for $15 each. She contacted the duck breeder and requested for the two most energetic ducks. “I figured the most energetic would be the most healthy,” Celeste said.

This is when Celeste came to mother Basil (male) and Parsley (female).

grew up on a farm from the age of two. She grew up with her brother, sister, mum and dad. Her dad, Bruce, was an economist in Sydney before he and wife Belinda decided to uproot the family and move four hours north to start a biodynamic cattle farm.

The farm life meant Celeste grew up with animals. She particularly likes pigs, especially black pigs. “Black pigs for the win!” she says. Celeste got her first pig when she was just six years old. The farm life is what probably propelled Celeste to be comfortable rearing ducks, as she had been around them many times before.

Celeste with her ducks. Photos by Sonja Tye @sonjatyephotography

Parenting an infant (or two) is bloody hard, even ones with feathers. Celeste said the early days of raising the ducks was a real struggle at first. “I was relieved to know ducks mature by three months of age which really helped me through.” Baby ducks, just like all babies, are extremely needy. They followed Celeste everywhere and wouldn’t leave her side.

“I found it incredibly exhausting. They were up all night, ravenous little eaters and pooed everywhere,” she said.

Photos by Sonja Tye @sonjatyephotography

A few weeks into duck mum life, Celeste’s mum, Belinda, came down to Manly where Celeste currently lives from the country and helped her get some rest from her babies. Celeste slept for a whole day straight. 

When asked what  Basil and Parsley’s favourite things to do is, Celeste replied nonchalantly, “have sex.” She said the ducks get it on three to four times a day. THey were doing it just doing it right before I arrived at Manly Dam for the interview, she said.

Fun fact: Ducks do what’s called ‘imprinting’ where they imprint an image into their memory, Celeste wears similar clothes so as not to confuse the ducks. She often wears a long red patterned skirt so that the ducks know that it’s her.

Celeste with her ducks. Photos by Sonja Tye @sonjatyephotography

I asked Celeste whether she lived the ‘barefoot lifestyle’ because in all the internet pics she was barefoot, and upon our meeting at the dam she was also barefoot. Celeste chuckled. “No, I just happened to not be wearing shoes on either of those days. Or today.”

She wears the dressing gown because she’s just going for a swim and she lives mere minutes from the beach.

But why the pram?

Celeste originally carted the ducks around in a picnic basket but they outgrew that within three months. Celeste decided a pram would be an appropriate means of carting her ducks from A to B. Celeste asked on Manly Living if anyone had a pram they could donate to her. “One really lovely lady responded to my post and gave me the pram.”

On a walk with Celeste, Basil and Parsley

Parsley does lay eggs but Celeste says they taste disgusting. “They taste really fatty but I am trying to get used to the taste because I don’t like the thought of wasting the eggs.”

Celeste doesn’t mind people’s curiosity but she does get a bit annoyed when people don’t read the ducks body language.

“If a dog is running away from a human the human doesn’t keep chasing it. So I don’t know why people do this with my ducks,” she said.

“I find it annoying when people continue to try and pat the ducks when they are obviously ducking their heads in avoidance”

Celeste is extremely approachable, she loves to meet new people but don’t force yourself onto her ducks.

Celeste, Basil and Parsley won’t be in Manly for much longer, for in a couple of weeks they will be making their way north.

For anyone wanting a pet duck, they are very cheap coming in at $15 a pop, but are a lot of maintenance.

They poo a lot, eat a lot and don’t sleep that much either.

Celeste describes herself as very responsible. “I know it seems like buying ducks on a whim isn’t responsible but I wanted them and I look after them. I often take them to Manly Dam and let them roam and swim there for hours.”

Celeste with her ducks. Photos by Sonja Tye @sonjatyephotography