Artist and students salute bilby on national day

National Bilby Day
Kalkie State School will celebrate National Bilby Day with the unveiling of a sculpture by John Olsen.

Artist John Olsen and Kalkie State School students have joined forces to recognise National Bilby Day in honour of the memory of Frank Manthey OAM.

The school will become a sea of green as students dress up to celebrate the endangered marsupial while Mr Olsen has created a bilby from recycled metal materials, set to be unveiled tomorrow.

Mr Manthey was a former Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger, co-founder of the Save the Bilby Fund and was responsible for the bilby gaining a national day of recognition.

Together with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Zoologist Peter McRae the pair were fondly known as The Bilby Brothers and were crucial to the survival of the native marsupial.

Visiting Kalkie with Lester the bilby in 2013, Mr Manthey has inspired local students for some 10 years.

Kalkie State School Reef Guardian Leader Hayden Tambovsoff said Mr Manthey had been a big supporter of students.

“We think he would have been proud of the Kalkie students again this year,” Hayden said.

“We are excited to see the Bilby sculpture revealed on parade by Mr Olsen.

“We think it will enjoy a home in our outdoor classroom.”

Year 3 Reef Guardian student Brooke McQuillen said each year teachers order bilby merchandise from the Save the Bilby Fund.

“We set up our shop and students sell the items, and bilby chocolates, at school to help support the Save the Bilby Fund,” Brooke said.

“We also come dressed in green to Go Green for Bilbies.”

Year 2 Reef Guardian student Kiera-lee Ponting said she didn’t want the bilby to become extinct like the Tasmanian Tiger.

“This year we are entering the Threatened Species Commissioner’s Bake Off in Mr Manthey’s honour,” Kiera-lee said.

“We know he would have liked our cake, he liked the bilby biscuits we made.

“I designed the cake with my drawing.

“We have been learning indigenous names for the Bilby also- Ninu, Mankarr, Walpajirri for International Year of Indigenous Langauges.”

Mr Olsen’s bilby creation will be revealed on National Bilby Day for Schools held Friday, 6 September at 8.45am in the Lindsay Cunneen Hall, Kalkie State School.