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Australian Bilby Appreciation Society

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Easter Bilby drawing by Simone


Easter Bilby images by

Simone Lorenzen who sent
us these drawings of
Billy Bilby
from Germany.
Click here to see more of Simone's Bilby drawings.

Photo of Dawn Fraser and Frank Manthey (right) used with permission from Darrell Lea Chocolates

The Easter Bilby

The exact origin of the Easter Bilby concept is unknown, but it dates back to at least the late 1970s.

Queensland children's author Rose-Marie Dusting self-published the book Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby in Adelaide in 1979 and is recognised by many as Australia's Bilby Lady and creator of the Easter Bilby.  Rose-Marie has been a passionate Bilby advocate for over 20 years and a percentage of the sales of her books has been donated to Bilby conservation. 

Ian Faithfull, in his article On the Origin, History and Significance of the Easter Bilby (Victorian Naturalist, Volume 117, April 2000) suggests that "the concept of the Easter Bilby was invented between 1976 and 1983 by Malcolm Turner of the Hawthorn Junior Field Naturalists Club as a replacement for the Easter bunny at the Club’s traditional Easter bush camps. Officials of the Club acted as the Easter Bilby and delivered chocolate eggs to camp participants on Easter morning." He also notes that the "concept also appears to have been invented independently by Tony Robinson of the South Australian National Parks Service about 1980".

The Anti Rabbit Research Fund of Australia (now known as the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia) began using the Easter Bilby in 1991 to highlight the damage that the introduced rabbit does to the native environment.  They arranged for the first chocolate Bilbies to be produced in South Australia by Haigh's Chocolates, Melba's Chocolates and Cottage Box Chocolates in 1993.  Now many more chocolate Bilbies are available each Easter.

The Easter Bilby is an important reminder to Australians of the plight of our native wildlife.

Darrell Lea Chocolates began supporting the Save the Bilby Fund in 2002 by donating a percentage of the proceeds of each Chocolate Bilby sold.  Pictured below at Darrell Lea in Sydney are: Frank Manthey, from the Save the Bilby Fund, Dawn Fraser, Aussie Swimming Legend, and Dawn the Beautiful Bilby.  Yes, it's Frank and 2 great Dawns!!

Find out about Easter Bilbies from Darrell Lea
and their support for the
Save the Bilby Fund 

Meet the Easter Bilby at Haigh's Chocolates

On ABC radio in April 2000,  the Foundation for a Rabbit Free Australia said that some chocolate manufacturers were using the Bilby as a marketing tool while not contributing to Bilby conservation.   There is no doubt that you can't believe all the claims of contributions made on the labels of chocolate Bilbies

Darrel Lea have been supporting the Save the Bilby Fund since 2002, filling the gap left by Coles (see below).  In South Australia, Haigh's Chocolates have continued to support the Bilby enclosure at Adelaide Zoo and their captive breeding program. 

In 8 years the Bush Bilby from Coles contributed around $300,000 to a fund administered by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.  Unfortunately, after Easter 2000 Coles announced that their support would end in 2002.

The Australian Bilby Appreciation Society urges you to buy Bilbies not bunnies this Easter.  For we will only be able to pressure the chocolate companies to donate money to help conserve the Bilby if people are buying chocolate Bilbies.  However, we also suggest that you buy your Bilbies from companies that are supporting Bilby conservation and that you buy a few less chocolates this Easter, and use the money saved to make your own donation to Bilby conservation.  Also, if the store you are shopping at doesn't stock Easter Bilbies, make a point of asking, "Where are all the bloody Bilbies?".

Remember, when purchasing chocolates for Easter,