Tourist makes trek to pat bilby
Swiss woman helps cause
EVER since Laurine Chiarini heard about the Save the Bilby Fund, she hoped to meet a bilby in real life.
The only problem was that Ms Chiarini lives in Switzerland, almost 15,000km from where the endangered species reside.
Distance was not going to stop her from achieving her dream, so Ms Chiarini made the trek to Australia – just to meet a bilby.
“I found out about the Save the Bilby Fund in 2011 and ever since I have always wanted to see a bilby,” she said.
“Last year the dates didn’t work for me but this year they did, so I just jumped at the chance.”
Ms Chiarini has joined the Save the Bilby Fund’s Bilby Tracks program, a citizen science program operating inside the Bilby Fence – a predator-exclusion area at Currawinya National Park in western Queensland.
While working within the program, Ms Chiarini was able to experience what she had hoped to do for the past six years.
“I’ve actually gotten to stroke two bilbies, Sarah and Susan,” she said.
“That was absolutely fantastic and they are doing some amazing work here in the program.
“Just watching them jump around and live their little lives was a really good experience.”
Ms Chiarini hopes to share what she learns from the program when she returns home.
“Nobody knows about the bilby in Switzerland,” she said.
“But I have a lot of younger family members, so I hope the cute factor of the bilby will help.”
Overall, Ms Chiarini will spend 16 days in Australia.
So far her experience had been one to remember.
“People are really, really nice and everyone has made me feel so welcome,” she said.
A second Bilby Tracks program will run in November.
If you are interested in taking part in the program, email bilbytracks@ savethebilbyfund.org or visit the Save the Bilby website.
FURRY FUN: Laurine Chiarini and Colleen Foelz dressed up as firemen at the Fur Ball in Charleville on Saturday.