Raising a glass for frog conservation and research at Southern Cross

Published 16 January 2023
Drawing of Red Eye Tree Frog on ginger_Artwork by Amber Gillett A Red Eye Tree Frog by artist Amber Gillett features on the can.

When an amphibian biologist, a wildlife vet and a craft brewer join forces, the frogs of the Northern Rivers’ world heritage rainforests are the winners.

The new Knee Deep ginger beer, its distinctive can emblazoned with a Red Eye Tree Frog, is a collaboration of Seven Mile Brewing Company, Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, Southern Cross University and Amber Gillett Art.

$1 from each lager will go towards raising awareness and funds for research and conservation of frog populations and wildlife care across the Northern Rivers region.

The limited-edition brew, number-5 in the wildlife series, was unveiled at the Ballina-based craft brewery last week. The Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital’s ambassadors, musician Tex Perkins, actor Joshua Sasse and journalist and meteorologist Magdalena Roze, lined up to lend their support.

Dr David Newell, an amphibian expert at Southern Cross University, says the outlook is not bright for native frogs, with many along Australia’s east coast being wiped out by disease, while locally habitat is shrinking for the unique Gondwana rainforest mountain species.

“Alongside multiple research projects, Southern Cross University has started a captive husbandry program dubbed project GRASP with the aim to undertake conservation translocations to bolster remaining populations,” Dr Newell said.

A man in front of metal vats at a brewery

Frog expert Dr David Newell with a case of the Knee Deep ginger beer.

Mr Ben Roche, Vice President of Engagement, explained why the University hopped onboard with the novel partnership.

“This announcement reflects two important elements of the collaboration that we are celebrating through the launch of Knee Deep,” said Mr Roche.

“Firstly, that we need to bring together knowledge and action to create positive impact. Secondly, in doing so we need new and novel approaches to ensure we are being effective in how we connect with people and together learn about what we can collectively do to support action for threatened species.

“Has the University ever featured on a drink can? No – but in doing so, we recognise that knowledge and action need to meet in new and innovative ways, and as a University focused on creative real impact through our research, we need to be open to what form that may need to take,” Mr Roche said.

Cans of beverage

Knee Deep ginger beer with the Koala Lagar.

Dr Stephen Van Mil, Founder and CEO of the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, said Australia’s native wildlife was not limited to cute and cuddly koalas and kangaroos.

“Our veterinarians are treating native frogs injured by cats and dogs. There is a growing need for dedicated services to treat and rehabilitate all types of wildlife.

“’Drink beer, save wildlife’ is our motto, knowing that by consuming this beverage (responsibly of course) you’re contributing to improving outcomes for our native fauna.”

Seven Mile Brewing co-founder and managing director Lou Wilson said he was thrilled to grow the range of special edition charity beers.

“For Knee Deep, we’ve taken our Wildling Ginger Beer and added a native twist. Inspired by the humble Green Tree Frog, which we are especially fond of, we’ve added some local green finger limes into our blend to help cut through the sweetness and give a well-balanced zing!”

To coincide with the launch of Knee Deep, Seven Mile Brewing is also re-releasing its popular Koala Lager, number-1 in the wildlife series.

Learn more about the University's Gondwana Rainforests Amphibian Survival Program, aka Project GRASP, at www.scu.edu.au/GRASP

Media contact: Sharlene King, media office at Southern Cross University 0429 661 349 or scumedia@scu.edu.au