Bundy's bilbies, frillies and fakes
BILL Taylor's car slowed to crawl on a dirt road on the outskirts of Bundaberg. He couldn't believe his eyes
Mr Taylor watched wide-eyed as a small greyish animal with long ears and a tail hopped slowly across Blairs Rd in front of him.
Having spent years in the bush as a shearer, he is confident the animal was a greater bilby, commonly known as a bilby.
He said it was definitely not a joey, rabbit or hare.
Mr Taylor said he wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.
"I've never seen one in real life, just plenty on television and in books," he said.
"The ears were too long to be a joey, and the tail was too long for a rabbit or hare."
The 83-year-old said it would be nice to think the endangered species was making a comeback.
"As I watched it cross, it immediately came to mind it had to be a bilby," he said.
"I've never seen anything like it around here."
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesperson said it was unable to comment on whether the animal in question was a bilby.
"However, northern brown bandicoots which are similar to the bilby in appearance (they have much shorter ears) do occur in the area," the spokesperson said.
It's not the first time a rare or unique animal has been spotted in the region.
Trevor Standfast lives at Alloway and captured this photo of a frill-necked lizard resting at the back of his property.
Mr Standfast had seen less feral animals in the past year or two and hoped the natives were making a comeback.
Queensland Museum vertebrate curator Patrick Couper confirmed the photo was indeed of a frill-necked and said they were found around the region despite beliefs to the contrary.
"I once caught one in the dunes behind the beach at Mon Repos," he said.
But with all the vast array of unique animals across Australia, it is easy to be fooled or have doubt.
Social media posts saying a mysterious animal had been terrorising crab pots in North Bundaberg went viral in October 2015. The NewsMail revealed it was a hoax: the creature was a diplocaulus, which existed in North America about 300 million years ago.
BILBIES IN BRIEF
The greater bilby is the size of a rabbit, and has a long-pointed nose, silky pale blue-grey fur with a tan belly, big ears and a crested black and white tail.
They measure up to 55cm in body length, and their tail can be up to 29cm long.
Males weigh 1kg-2.5kg and females weigh 800g-1.1kg.
Their large ears are not for decoration - they provide sharp hearing. This feature, combined with a strong sense of smell, is important for the greater bilby when looking for food.
But all its senses aren't that effective - the greater bilby can't see very well.
When they run, they keep their nose down, contributing to their unusual gait.
The greater bilby once ranged over most of mainland Australia.
For many years there were no records of greater bilbies in Queensland, and some thought that the species had become extinct in the state.