News - 19 June 2018

Protect the bilby – don’t let the Kimberley be mined

In the Kimberley, you will find:

  • Dinosaur tracks: Yes, you can still see the tracks of many different dinosaurs along the Kimberley coast – dating from over 100 million years ago.
  • The oldest rock art in the world: Painted over thousands of years by the region’s Indigenous people.
  • Waterholes: That provide a cool, fresh oasis in this sunbaked land.
  • Clean healthy rivers: Free from dams and other interference and full of native fish found nowhere else.
  • Incredible wildlife: More bilbies, turtles, frill-necked lizards, golden bandicoots and rock wallabies than you can see anywhere else!

In the Kimberley, deep underground in the Canning Basin, you will also find the largest known unconventional gas store in the southern hemisphere. This, of course, greatly excites the mining industry – as well as the greedy Western Australian Government.

We know digging up these fossil fuels not only destroys native habitat but also contributes significantly to climate change. So, it’s the aim of the Wilderness Society to keep as much of it in the ground as possible. For the future of all life on earth... including our own.

The bilby – survivor of the southern Kimberley

Although they have held on tenaciously in the southern Kimberley, bilbies are now facing their biggest threat ever in the form of the fossil fuel mining companies, who are busily staking their claims over the lucrative reserves of oil, gas and coal in the Canning Basin.

For over 150 years, the bilby has been fighting off invasive predators like foxes and feral cats and competing for food with cows, sheep and rabbits.

Will the greedy miners with their fracking wells be the last straw?

Threats to the bilby’s survival

The bilby used to be found across most of inland, southern and western Australia. Sadly, they are now only found in the north of WA and small pockets in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Bilbies have lived in the Kimberley, in north-western Australia, for over 400,000 years. For millennia they have survived in this beautiful but unforgiving land – until now.

The Kimberley is the only place in Australia where native mammals have survived without any extinctions. Don’t you think that’s incredible? Or is it sad – that we have only one place where this has happened?

The bigger question is: how do we stop extinctions from occurring here, too?

Protecting the bilby and the Kimberley alike 

  • Support Traditional Owners and locals to remove invasive species like foxes and feral cats and prevent damaging wildfires.
  • Get ironclad legislation to protect the Heritage-listed Fitzroy River, which flows above the Canning Basin, from gas fracking, coal mining and unsustainable water extraction.
  • Continue work that is underway to secure the North Kimberley National Park and Marine Park (based on Indigenous consent).
  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Bilby facts

  • Aboriginal people across Australia had many names for the bilby – Dalgyt, Ninu, Marrura, Walpatjirri.
  • Like many Australian animals, it looks like a bitser – in this case, a cross between a rabbit and a mouse.
  • It’s a silvery-blue-mauve colour with a black tail that ends with a white tip.
  • Bilbies tend to get the night-time munchies (they like insects, seeds, fruit and fungi) and sleep two metres underground in the day (kind of like a uni-student).
  • The bilby is listed as Vulnerable.