Bilbies are native Australian marsupials that are endangered. To raise money and increase awareness of conservation efforts, bilby-shaped chocolates and related merchandise are sold within many stores throughout Australia as an alternative to Easter bunnies.
The first documented use of the Easter Bilby concept was in March 1968 when a 9-year-old girl Rose-Marie Dusting, wrote a story, "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby," which she published as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyse the public's interest in saving the bilby. In 1991 Nicholas Newland from the 'Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia' also developed the idea of the Easter Bilby to raise awareness about the environmental damage that feral rabbits cause and to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.
Chocolate manufacturers that donate towards Bilby conservation include Pink Lady and Haigh's Chocolates. In 2014, Pink Lady donated 30 cent from every large bilby sale and $1 from every 10 pack. Parent company Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as well as other iconic Australian fauna in their Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolate. 20 cent from every Bush Friends collection is donated to the Save the Bilby Fund. 2015 saw these chocolates raise over $33,000 to the fund. Cadbury also produces Chocolate Bilbies, although they do not donate or support any bilby conservation projects. This has led to a backlash against Cadbury, with many Australians derogatively referring to their Bilby products as Easter Bludgers: "bludger" is Aussie slang for a lazy person. Prior to their store closures in 2012, Darrell Lea donated approximately $60,000 per year to the Save the Bilby Fund from the sales of the Darrell Lea chocolate bilbies.
Australian children's book author and illustrator Irena Sibley produced three Easter Bilby books between 1994 and 2000 including the best selling The Bilbies' First Easter, published by Silver Gum Press in 1994.
In 1993, Australian children's author Jeni Bright wrote the story of "Burra Nimu, the Easter Bilby". It tells how Burra, a shy but brave little bilby, decides to save the land from the rabbits and foxes who are ruining it. Burra and his family and friends gather together for a wonderful time painting Easter eggs to give to the children and ask for their help. But before they can set off on their journey to the children, they must outwit the rabbit army. As well as the story of the Easter Bilby, the not-for-profit website 'Burra Nimu, the Easter Bilby' contains factual information about bilbies and other endangered Australian species. It is illustrated by Australian illustrator Janet Selby.