A Merino property is coming to the rescue of the eastern barred bandicoot, a marsupial previously declared extinct in the wild.

Story Bron Willis  Photos Annette Ruzicka

The long, pointy nose of an eastern barred bandicoot is hidden under straw in the darkest corner of a cardboard box. Named for the beautiful bars or stripes on its back, the rabbit-sized creature is about to be released into an area that its kind has not roamed for 40-odd years.

The humans gathered around the box are holding their collective breath. Each person has played a part in the eight-year journey to bring this bandicoot to its new home at Tiverton, a 1000ha property in western Victoria, purchased in 2011 with the aim of providing habitat for this species. Tiverton is believed to be the largest fenced, predator-free area in Victoria.

Phones and torches illuminate the bandicoot’s path as the evening light dissipates. The silence is broken with cheers only when the bandicoot, after being gently pushed out of its box and prodded, finally hops away.

This story excerpt is from Issue #135

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2021