Free School Holidays Bandicoot Event at Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

These school holidays, the world’s largest Southern Brown Bandicoot comes out of hiding at Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne’s Big Bandicoot Backyard, with free, fun activities and entertainment for all ages and families to enjoy.

The event runs from 10am for three days on Friday 22, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September, where there will be arts and science activities (including crafting a baby bandicoot), Southern Brown Bandicoot inspired performances by award-winning theatre ensemble Born in a Taxi, an interactive guided walk with Southern Brown Bandicoot Outreach Officer, Eilish Roberts and more.

In the lead up to the event, on 7 September, on National Threatened Species Day, there will be a Bandicoot Spotlighting Walk at dusk, where keen wildlife watchers can bring their own torch and tour the Australian Garden with Southern Brown Bandicoot Outreach Officer, Eilish Roberts and Conservation Officer, Ollie Sherlock to learn how to spot Southern Brown Bandicoots. With Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne traditionally only open during daylight hours, this is an exclusive opportunity to spot Southern Brown Bandicoots after the Gardens gates have closed.

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne is home to the last remaining urban population of Southern Brown Bandicoots in mainland Australia, which are a Nationally Endangered species and were once one of the most common and widespread native mammals in Southern Australia.

Southern Brown Bandicoot Outreach Officer, Eilish Roberts, said that residents in areas bandicoots inhabit can support Southern Brown Bandicoots in their own backyards, with added benefits.

“Southern brown bandicoots are remarkable critters and they need our help to survive and thrive in the suburbs,” says southern brown bandicoot outreach officer, Eilish Roberts. “Their distinctive conical diggings turnover nutrients and allow water to permeate the soil, improving the health of your garden. Not to mention, they are extremely cute!”

“There are a few things that you can do to support Southern Brown Bandicoots: plant dense, strappy grasses, keep cats contained indoors or in a cat run, avoid using poisons for rats, snails, and rabbits, and report sightings on the free iNaturalist app,” she said.

Chris Russell, Executive Director, Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, said, “We are grateful to our neighbours for all of the work so far and encourage you all to attend the Big Bandicoot Backyard.”

“As part of the Bandicoot bonanza over the three-day weekend, on Saturday 23 September keen gardeners are invited to join a free one-off walk to learn how to plant a habitat for our Southern Brown Bandicoots in their very own garden.”

The giant bandicoot sculpture was sustainably created by artists Darryl Cordell, Vanessa Ellis and Trina Gaskell using local Kunzea ericoides – a plant that has become weedy in the bushland and must be removed to increase biodiversity. The sculpture will remain on site for visitors to experience after the Big Bandicoot Backyard has closed.

On Tuesday 10 October, there will be a Bandicoot Ramble & Amble in partnership with Victorian Seniors Festival where seniors can enjoy a free interactive walk with Bandicoot experts Terry Coates and Eilish Roberts.

The Big Bandicoot Backyard will be officially launched at 10am on Friday 22 September.