With the coming of Easter 2010 this blog is a little more personal as my memories have been drawn back to when the Easter bunny that came to my house was replaced with the Easter Bilby.
During a very long trip to document and collect images and stories from Queensland’s outback, my path crossed that of Peter McRae. Now for those that don’t know Peter he is not your average ‘Jo Blow’.
In tow I had my three children and we were living out of a tent while I was working and schooling them via Charleville School of the Air (thanks all at CSA – you were fabulous).
Immediately we were drawn to the cause this quiet achiever was working for. In his clasp lay whether such a cute Aussie animal in a state of peril due to the fact we had introduced the fox and cat to our large island would survive or not. (nothing against cat lovers J)
So as it is here: its boots and all or not at all. We helped build an amazing fence where Bilbies are now breeding and playing; documented and wrote about the Bilby’s plight and the man behind saving them. At the tender age of … ,my daughter was also impressed by Peter’s devotion to these helpless creatures and set about organising a ‘free dress day’ in Queensland public schools where proceeds went directly to the research being undertaken by the ‘boy from the bush’.
Our dedication to the cause went so far as to carting bilbies around; having them for sleep over’s in my toilet (if this does happen to you please make sure the toilet lid is down), my boys testing trackers, and loads more too long for this blog, however the best memories are the ones that I took with my camera.
Like the image I have of John, one of my sons the day he met Peter, after he had given him his entire money box to help save the bilbies. Pete checking the Bilby fence on a clear skyed winter day and seeing the look in his eyes reflecting the realisation that miracles do happen and people do listen. Us all partying with Sherrie and Moc at the Hungerford Hotel – another tick to the list!
There’s an image that sticks in my mind of the sun setting through a newly finished sculpture, those who had been chiselling and carving on the project were happily toasting their efforts of a job well done as they stood around a vehicle behind me trying to coax me to join them. I kept insisting ‘yes soon’. I was sure the light would come on through one of the sculptures on the right angle, and if it did I would only have a few seconds to capture it – I was right!
There are images of my daughter dressed in a Bilby suit for the fence opening at Currawinya National Park and others of my youngest son attending ‘ranger school’ with distance educational kids and beside them sat children that attended ‘normal ‘ school who had escaped to the outback for the big fence opening – at moments like these there WAS no difference.
So Easter this year does bring a flood of memories back. The Bilbies are breeding inside the fence – a bit like rabbits. Pete is still toiling away in outback Queensland and now helping with the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat fence. And I have those special memories and a feeling of gratitude that through my images and writing I have aroused awareness in this important fight for survival.
There are many charities out there, I agree, and what you choose to support and what not, it is totally up to you. With Bilbies, it’s easy, just buy a chocolate Bilby at Easter and replace the feral bunny. If you are ever in Charleville call in and see the Bilby Experience at the Charleville Visitor Information Centre.
Above all, let Easter bring back some memories , savour family time, and hopefully capture some new ones for the record in years to come.
By notes: The whole collection of images for the region took Danielle almost 2 years to photograph. All images were taken on 35mm and 6x7” transparencies (slide film). Her favourite memories: ‘the people, places and faces.’
The Bilby Experience: April- mid October Monday, Wednesdays, Friday and Sunday nights from 6.00pm
Bookings: 07 4654 7771
Peter McRae and a Bilby
Pete checking the fence.
One of the sculptures.
The road into Cuurrawinya.
Where is Currawinya?