RE­MEM­BER­ING OUR BILBY HERO

Me­mo­rial ser­vice for Peter McRae this Satur­day

Western Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LARGER than life and a lover of the out­back, Peter McRae, 67, will re­main in Charleville through his le­gacy, hav­ing left an in­deli­ble mark on this small cor­ner of the world.

A cel­e­bra­tion of his won­der­ful life will be held at Charleville Town Hall on Satur­day morn­ing, mov­ing to the Cat­tle Camp Ho­tel as the day pro­gresses.

It has been or­gan­ised by Charleville lo­cals and will be­gin at 10am.

A vi­sion­ary across the decades, he fought tooth-and-nail along­side his Bilby Brother Frank Man­the to pro­tect the pre­cious crit­ters of the out­back.

Their vi­sion: a 25-square-kilo­me­tre re­serve for bil­bies, where the en­dan­gered species could be pro­tected from the scourge of feral cats.

A preda­tor-proof fence may have seemed in­signif­i­cant to many, but to Pete it was a life­line - a way to save them.

When his bilby brother stepped down the foun­da­tion, Pete stayed in Charleville with the bil­bies, and with the fund from 2014.

To­gether they still cam­paigned for a na­tional bilby day, first cel­e­brated in 2016, af­ter years of hard work for a small amount of recog­ni­tion.

Progress over the years was al­ways slow, but Charleville stood be­hind Pete from the out­set, sup­port­ing Bilby Day, and the well-loved Fur Ball.

It seemed only fit­ting that the bilby broth­ers vi­sion was fi­nally hon­oured; ableit late in the piece.

A few days af­ter Pete’s pass­ing, the re­hom­ing of 20 bil­bies to his beloved Cur­rawinya Na­tional Park, af­ter the money was fi­nally fronted to prop­erly pro­tect the sanc­tu­ary from cats.

Peter was not only a re­spected zo­ol­o­gist and con­ser­va­tion­ist, he was a much-loved work­mate and friend who touched the lives of hun­dreds, said for­mer co-worker Chris Even­son

“His search for in­for­ma­tion was end­less and he was record­ing it with great dili­gence – that was Peter McRae at work.

“Pete was a great men­tor to so many peo­ple across the state, a great chal­lenger and ques­tioner of peo­ple who had the­o­ries and ideas about our en­vi­ron­ment.

“The Save the Bilby Fund was just one as­pect of that gen­tle­man’s ca­reer when it comes to pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion to Queens­land for its en­vi­ron­ment, and ev­ery­thing he’s recorded will go down in his­tory – both in the her­bar­ium and the mu­seum.”

Mr Even­son de­scribed Pete as the kind of per­son who went above and be­yond in pur­suit of his pas­sion and work.

It was that pas­sion and drive that was so greatly re­spected by many, in­clud­ing En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Leeanne Enoch, who paid trib­ute to McRae on Na­tional Bilby Day, which he sadly missed.

“Peter worked with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment

❝for His search in­for­ma­tion was end­less and he was record­ing it with great dili­gence.

and Sci­ence for 34 years and was in­stru­men­tal in the con­ser­va­tion of threat­ened species in Queens­land and the greater bilby in par­tic­u­lar,” Ms Enoch said.

“His con­tri­bu­tion to our cur­rent knowl­edge of the ecol­ogy of the out­back was tremen­dous and I know he will be greatly missed.”

PHOTO: AN­DREW MES­SEN­GER

RE­MEM­BER­ING PETER: Charleville bilby brother Peter McRae and his part­ner Tracy Wattz in 2016 at the first Save the Bilby Day.

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