Currawinya Bilby Fence
The bilby fence at Currawinya National Park, completed in October 2002, was designed to protect bilbies from feral animals and predators to enable them to live and breed in safety. It cost $500,000 to build the 25sq km electrified predator-proof fence.
Much of the money raised came from selling thousands of panels of the fence. This engaged the community and supporters in helping to save this species.
Currawinya National Park falls close to the centre of the bilby’s former range in eastern Australia. Weather conditions there provide a reliable and diverse food supply. The reintroduction of bilbies to this park forms part of a national strategy to recover endangered species to either their former status or at a minimum to secure the status of existing wild populations.
The bilby fence was officially opened in 2003, with guests including panel purchasers and John Williamson, who came to entertain the crowd with his song ‘Easter Bilby’, which was written specifically for the event.
The key to the fence work are:
- the 400-mm wire netting ‘skirt’ at the base of the fence on each side blocks invaders from burrowing in and bilbies burrowing out under the fence
- 4,100 short ‘springy’ wires pull the netting across to create a ‘floppy top’ which stops foxes and cats climbing over it
- 5,000 volts of electricity pulse through six surrounding wires, preventing emus and kangaroos from crashing into and damaging the netting.
Constructing the fence required:
- 2,000,000 staples put in by hand
- 4,100 steel pegs
- 240km of plain high tensile wire used in fence
- 40km of galvanised netting
- 40km of foot netting
Releasing captive bilbies
Bilbies were ceremoniously released into the completed ‘enclosure’ in 2003, but were later caught because Peter McCrae considered the conditions too drought-stricken for the released animals. Due to the ongoing drought, the first captive-bred bilbies could not be released until December 2005.
In May 2010, two captive-bred female bilbies from Dreamworld were released inside the fenced area. These two females were genetically important introductions to the enclosed population.
What’s happening now
The bilby fence is being renovated to establish the floppy top to its original height because it has sagged over time. This will prevent cat incursions.
The fund has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Queensland Government which has committed $700,000 to replacing the bottom panel of the fence with stainless steel wire to make it impervious to corrosion from future flooding events. The government has committed to have the new panels in place by 2018.
HOW YOU CAN HELP BILBIES
Find out all about what's been happening with the Fund throughout 2016. read more
In our 2017 competition, we'll be asking Australian school students of all ages to produce a film / animation, piece of creative writing or poster to inspire greater public support for saving these threatened marsupials through action, education and raising awareness. read more