Three students from Andrews Creek Primary School pose with a model of a burrowing crayfish chimney which they have just created out of clay, in a white tray on a wooden picnic table, in an outside garden area. Photo: Clare Hawkins.
Photo: Clare Hawkins

About us

Bookend Trust

Bookend is a not-for-profit education initiative that seeks to inspire students and their communities with positive environmental engagement that helps make the world a better place.

The Bookend Trust is the educational arm of the Pennicott Foundation, and undertakes charitable programs to inspire people of all ages and abilities to develop careers and interest in the environment, and to find positive solutions to environmental problems. Our projects have provided opportunities for impoverished students to access education to escape the trap of people trafficking in Thailand, helped students install alternative power supplies for medical equipment in remote Fiji (providing both medical benefits and a means of transitioning Fijian communities away from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems), involved disadvantaged students undertaking endangered animal surveys across Australia, and even flown students to Antarctica in exciting, inspiring career-development programs.

Bookend projects have been widely recognised for their lasting, positive community impact and outreach. The interactive Expedition Class adventure learning program, established by 2013 Tasmanian of the Year Andrew Hughes, has reached thousands of students each year. Our first movie-length documentary, Sixteen Legs, presents an original, multi-internationally-awarded take on the biology of Tasmania’s huge cave spiders. The NatureTrackers program, initiated in 2018, annually brings together schools and the community to track the progress of threatened species through rigorous science, and better understand their needs.

The mouth to a Tasmanian cave. The photo is taken from within the cave looking back toward the opening. The opening cannot be seen but there is daylight shining in highlighting the many stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The stalactites are glowing like crystals, To the left of the frame is Bookend Trust Cinematographer and editor, Justin Smith. Justin stands only two-thirds the thigh of the cave. He is mostly silhouette. Photo: Joe Shemesh.
Photo: Joe Shemesh

Our core team

  • Niall Doran

    Niall Doran Director

    A zoologist and film-maker, Niall founded the Bookend Trust with international best-selling author Bryce Courtenay in 2008. He has a strong background in threatened species and environmental management, gained through extensive work in both government and the private sector. He was the 2012 Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year, the 2012 inaugural awardee of the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival Award for Innovation in Filmmaking, a 2016 Screen Producers Australia ‘Ones to Watch’ Awardee, and a 2017 Churchill Fellow — which led to him working with the BBC on the production of Doctor Who. He is the creator, producer and co-director of Sixteen Legs, featuring Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Kate Miller-Heidke, Tara Moss, Adam Hills, Mark Gatiss, and the inhabitants of Australia’s deepest caves. The film, exhibition and books have won multiple international accolades, and are a key outreach and fundraising initiative for the Bookend program.

  • Vicki Colville

    Vicki Colville Director

    Vicki is Bookend Trust central, and has been involved with the work from the outset in a million ways — from Sixteen Legs production assistant, to spreadsheet whizz, to all round photographer. She has seen the change that the projects that Bookend Trust has made on students and how they carry the impacts of the experiences offered into their lives. She says “There is a strong power in nature to inspire students and the community, and we should all use this to work together to achieve wonderful things”.

  • Alastair Richardson bending down with a crayfish on one hand.

    Alastair Richardson Academic Director

    Alastair taught and researched zoology at the University of Tasmania for many years and still likes to be up to his waist in water or mud, finding out about the natural world. Freshwater crayfish, sandhoppers and more recently, birds, are his great interests. He is a founder member of The Crustacean Society and a Life Member of the International Association for Astacology, and as an occasional consultant has guided transport infrastructure operations to work in harmony with threatened burrowing crayfish. He enjoys taking students on field courses and excursions, and numerous schools continue to benefit each year from his Claws on the Line visits in spring.

  • Justin Wildsmith

    Justin Wildsmith Cinematographer, editor & technical support

    In his extensive Bookend work, Justin has produced scientific and educational content for students, including for the Where? Where? Wedgie! education program, and was co-director, B Unit cinematographer and editor of award-winning, feature length natural history documentary Sixteen Legs, on the Tasmanian cave spider. He has written and directed two theatrical comedies, and has also directed, produced and advised on outside broadcasts, short films, television adverts and more; but editing remains a passion. He enjoys the ongoing relationship with science and natural history through his work with Bookend.

  • Clare Hawkins wearing a NatureTrackers beanie and holding binoculars.

    Clare Hawkins Citizen science coordinator

    Clare has researched and advised on wildlife population monitoring and conservation in academic, corporate, governmental and non-governmental organisations, focussing on mammals including Madagascar’s fossas and flying foxes, and Tasmania’s spotted-tailed quolls and devils. After nine years as the Tasmanian Government’s threatened species zoologist, and a Churchill Fellowship on citizen science, she joined forces with the Bookend Trust, to establish the NatureTrackers program and the ‘Extinction Matters’ BioBlitzes. Based at the University of Tasmania, she collaborates with individuals and organisations to coordinate and strengthen citizen science participation in mapping and long-term monitoring Tasmania’s threatened species.

  • Jim Lovell

    Jim Lovell Citizen science coordinator, technical whizz, data manager

    Jim has worked as a radio astronomer for UTAS, CSIRO and NASA using radio telescopes to study quasars. He became interested in Bookend’s NatureTrackers citizen science program when he and his family participated in Where? Where? Wedgie! — and was soon an integral member of the team, helping to manage the masses of survey data coming in and much more besides. He is now applying his many skills to develop innovative acoustic monitoring approaches, and to establish and coordinate the CallTrackers project.

Our patron

Neil Gaiman holding a hot drink and wearing a puffer jacket

Neil Gaiman

Master story-teller and best-selling international author (Doctor Who, Coraline, American Gods), Neil is Bookend’s patron. He presents the Sixteen Legs film’s real-life tale of deep science, with a dark fairytale twist.