Is The Easter Bilby Bush Tucker?
The champions of Australian bush tucker like Vic Cherikoff, Jean-Paul Bruneteau, Jennice and Raymond Kersh, Craig Squire and James Fielke or Mark Olive might find the Easter chocolate Bilby concept a tad naff. But you have to prefer to champion a native bandicoot to a destructive exotic like a bunny – even if it is wrapped in foil.
Sure rabbits are good on a plate. But the types bred for the table don’t sound remotely native – or even neutral: British and Dutch Giants or New Zealand Whites. Bilby at least comes from an Aboriginal word (albeit a word that sounds nothing like Bilby). While they are integral to the manufacture of the Akubra hats, myxomatosis, calecivirus and even Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch can’t eradicate our rabbit infestation. They are akin to fuzzy cane toads in their destructive and insidious occupation.
Rabbits came to the Australian mainland courtesy of a dozy Victorian Acclimatisation Society member who released 24 of them in Geelong on Christmas Day in 1859 for sport hunting (we got foxes and deer the same way). And haven’t they done well for themselves since?!
I’ve just put down a book of guinea pig recipes from South America (they are native to the Andes). In Peru, where you can buy a skinned six pack of them like a pack of drumsticks here, they eat an estimated 65 million of the critters a year
Professor Michael Archer, Dean of Science at the University of New South Wales has always been an advocate of utilising native fauna. If it is utilised it has a worth. If it has value it becomes worth saving. Clearly it works for guinea pigs – but I’m not sure he would advocate a real Bilby as an Easter offering for the plate. Still it’s a thought.