Peter McRae, 'Bilby Brother' and co-founder of Save the Bilby Fund.
Peter McRae, 'Bilby Brother' and co-founder of Save the Bilby Fund. Rosie Savoca

Paying tribute to legend

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 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.”


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