UNSW unveils the Greater Bilby

03 Jul 2024
Bilby opening

The Wild Deserts Sculpture and Garden opens on the UNSW Kensington campus.

On 2 July 2024, the Hon. Penny Sharpe MLC, Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Energy, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, officially opened the garden and bilby sculpture at the Michael Birt Lawn.

The sculpture and garden celebrate the Wild Deserts Project, a partnership of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ecological Horizons and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

Minister Sharpe was joined by special guests Brian Campbell the sculpture artist, Dr Reece Pedler who coordinates the Wild Deserts Project with his wife Dr Bec West, and Jenny Birt wife of former UNSW Vice-Chancellor Michael Birt.

Above, L-R: Professor Attila Brungs (VC), the Hon. Penny Sharpe MLC and Brian Campbell.

“It’s an audacious idea to think that you can shape an ecosystem back to health after all the damage that’s been done in such a short period of time. That’s really what Wild Deserts is about”, said Minister Sharpe.

“This project is not only turning around the future for animals but showing us how an ecosystem approach to recovery is possible. That’s something really worth celebrating.”  

The sculpture and garden mark a significant milestone in UNSW’s ongoing commitment to understanding, restoring and promoting desert ecosystems through the pioneering efforts of the Wild Deserts Project

Professor Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor and President, remarked at the opening that the project provides us with incredible hope and optimism. “By doing the right work with the right science we can make a huge difference. 

“It’s exciting today to bring a part of Wild Deserts to our Kensington campus. The sculpture and garden will be a permanent reminder of UNSW’s commitment and the incredible work we’re doing to change whole ecosystems in far western NSW.”

The bilby sculpture, by Coonamble-based artist Brian Campbell, is inspired by Brian’s giant marsupial sculpture series at the Sturt Steps Art Trail, Sturt National Park. The conservation fencing used by Wild Deserts to protect the arid region has been recycled as the primary sculptural medium for the bilby. The sculpture is set in the Wild Deserts Garden with the landscape typology designed and constructed by Regal Innovations to reflect the habitat of the arid deserts. 

The sculpture and garden will provide a new photo opportunity on campus for students and the UNSW community. It’s been intentionally placed for students to capture their graduation snaps with the bilby and the UNSW logo on the Library visible in the background.  

How you can support the Wild Deserts Project

The aim of the Wild Deserts Project is to reintroduce locally extinct mammals – one of which is the Greater Bilby – to an area in north-west NSW ‘corner county’, within the Sturt National Park, where NSW, South Australia, and Queensland meet. The successful reintroduction of these species signifies hope for restoring a delicately balanced ecosystem.

Staff can help make a difference through the UNSW Workplace Giving Program. UNSW will match a gift dollar for dollar from current UNSW employees. For large donations, please contact the Development team at giving@unsw.edu.au.