Like many of my stories, Melly and the Bilby has its origins in a unit of work with an upper primary class on endangered animals. In the course of research, I learned a lot about the bilby and the work being done to create a bilby-safe enclosure in Currawinya National Park.
At that time, Frank Manthey and his scientist colleague Peter McRae were still very much alive, working hard to establish a breeding program at Charleville and map the location of the surviving bilbies at Estrella Downs in outback Queensland.
Frank was very keen to support the publication of Melly and the Bilby. He put me in touch with Stephen Hagan of the Kullilli people, who helped me to add Kullilli language words and perspectives to the story. Frank also visited the schools where I was working and brought live bilbies with him. Stephen formed a publishing company, Ngalga Wurrulu, (Talking with Strangers) to initially publish the story.
The book now being released is the second edition, this time with a more durable cover and updated with more information.
Melly and the Bilby is suitable for teachers covering the Australian Curriculum’s cross curriculum priority of embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures by portraying Aboriginal children as active and engaged learners, Aboriginal adults as responsible and compassionate people, as well as introducing scientific facts about bilbies and their diet and habits. My co-author, Stephen Hagan, added important content with the introduction of Kullilli language names for items including boomerangs, frogs, snakes, budgerigars and possums.
Below are downloadable worksheets suitable for primary students: