By Tracy Sorensen

When was the last time you sat down with a cup of tea, a pack of pencils and a good colouring-in book? Going by the latest bestseller lists, it might not be that long. Adults are turning to colouring books as a soothing activity in a world of digital beeps, blips, noise and rush.

We at Bathurst Community Arts Network have embraced the fad with a colouring-in competition for all ages, featuring our beautiful copperwing butterfly. Our colouring sheet, by talented BCCAN member Laurana Smith, shows the butterfly along with its attendant ant and bursaria plant. The butterfly lays its eggs on the plant, which the hatching larvae eat, producing nectar. The ants, just like little farmers, come along and “milk” the larvae. They watch over the larvae and fight off predators, ensuring that the butterflies thrive and produce more eggs and larvae. In tiny form – the butterflies are as big as a thumbnail – the three players represent the interconnected cycle of life of which we are all a part.

The colouring-in sheets are available to download from our website or from Digital Prints and Images in Bentinck Street. As the butterfly has a gorgeous coppery shimmer, so this could be a good time to get out the glitter or sparkly pens!

Of course, being BCCAN, we do have an environmental message to convey as well. Sadly, the copperwing butterfly, like so many butterfly species around the world, is vulnerable to a changing climate. As a species restricted to a very particular spot within a very particular temperature range, its prospects under a regime of rising temperatures are gloomy. But if we do take action against climate change, then the chance of survival of our own special butterfly, as well as so many threatened species around the world, will be improved.

The colouring-in competition is part of our 200 Plants and Animals exhibition to take place in Shop 7 at Bathurst Centrepoint, the arcade at 177 Howick Street opposite the Post Office from October 16-25. We’ll be displaying the coloured butterflies there, and announcing the winners on Saturday October 24 at 11am.

The exhibition is a celebration of the intricate biodiversity that has supported the growth of Bathurst over the past two centuries. It will also feature some animals and plants that have already disappeared from this region, such as the trout cod, the bilby and the brush-tailed phascogale. It’s a chance to note their passing and to make a commitment: no more!

This piece was published in the Sustainable Bathurst column in the Western Advocate, Saturday October 3, 2015.