Bush Capital | Tidbinbilla animals shine in portraits

A secluded valley can be found just a short drive to the west of the nation's capital.

Tucked beneath a stunning mountain range, it is steeped in history.

It was a spiritual place where Indigenous families gathered and communities celebrated ancient customs and shared Dreamtime stories.

Today, Tidbinbilla continues to hold a very special place in the fabric of our community. It is a valley with many stories.

As an iconic nature reserve for well over 80 years, Tidbinbilla has been preserving the past, conserving the present and celebrating the wonders of the natural world.

Renowned for its role in threatened species recovery programs, Tidbinbilla is undoubtedly the jewel in the bush capital crown.

The artist's gaze

Over the past year, artist Emily Birks took a close look at this jewel, going beyond the veneer, delving deeply into what makes Tidbinbilla tick.

Emily explored the reserve and viewed the inner sanctums through the prism of a gifted artist.

CONNECTIONS: A section from Study Nature by Emily Birks. View all the works at the Tidbinbilla Visitors Centre from August 31 until December 5.

CONNECTIONS: A section from Study Nature by Emily Birks. View all the works at the Tidbinbilla Visitors Centre from August 31 until December 5.

Emily gained a unique insight by meeting and observing Tidbinbilla's team of rangers, field officers, vet and ecologists.

Good breeding

From exquisite corrobboree frogs and bouncing bettongs to the iconic brush-tailed rock-wallabies, Tidbinbilla is a natural showcase of its threatened species breeding programs.

A corrobboree frog at Tidbinbilla.

A corrobboree frog at Tidbinbilla.

Embracing innovation and thinking outside the square have placed Tidbinbilla in an admirable position.

With large free-range breeding areas that allow species like bettongs and brush-tailed rock-wallabies to explore their environment, natural processes and behaviours are incorporated into the breeding programs.

Soon, the brush-tailed rock wallabies will have a 120 hectare breeding area in natural habitat, allowing our recovery team to build large source populations for reintroduction into the wild.

Emily's exhibition, Connections: Wildlife of Tidbinbilla, explores links between these animals and their environment, as well as the bond Emily had to the various species that call Tidbinbilla home.

Emily has created a series of ten portraits that portray her subjects in their natural environments, providing the viewer with a sense of reverence and wonder.

Emily pays homage to how precious these species are by gilding elements in 23 carat gold leaf. These paintings literally shine.

The exhibition runs from August 31 to December 5 at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Visitor Centre.

  • Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

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