The arrival of Europeans in Australia produced profound changes across the continent. It can be hard to know exactly what the landscape looked like before this dramatic upheaval. The documents left by the earliest intruders can give us a few clues. Professor Barry Golding of Federation University has combed through historical records to put together a picture of how the land around Newstead and its environs may have looked prior to contact. From the extensive permanent ponds on the Loddon containing literally tonnes of Murray Cod to the vast meadows of Yam Daisies (Myrnong), some of the descriptions Barry has found give us a glimpse of the extraordinary richness of our neck of the woods. Barry will be presenting some of his findings at Newstead Landcare Group’s AGM on Thursday October 13th. The presentation will start at 7.30pm at Newstead Community Centre. A very brief AGM will follow. All are welcome to attend, gold coin donations appreciated.
After the frustration of watching storm clouds skirt around Newstead on numerous occasions in recent weeks they certainly landed with a vengeance last Friday afternoon … 75mm of rain in 3 hours of mayhem.
The first image was taken at the top of the Mia Mia Creek catchment, just as the most intense storm was passing through. The remaining images were captured the following day as I undertook a ‘mini-tour’ of the Mia Mia catchment.
I am always astounded at the impact of extreme storm events on our landscape that is ostensibly ‘forested’, yet a thousand times removed from its ‘original’ condition.
I was fortunate last Friday to spend the day at Long Swamp on the Moolort Plains with folks from the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation. I was one of a number of observers invited to join an Aboriginal Waterways Assessment for the Tullaroop catchment. One of many highlights was a pair of Black-shouldered Kites ‘greeting’ us when we arrived at the swamp under blue skies and warm late autumn sunshine.
The presence of this species, absent from large areas of the plains over the past year or two, is a sign of high quality raptor habitat. Long Swamp is a special place, now in the safe hands of Trust for Nature, and where it is possible to reimagine this country.
River Red Gum @ Long Swamp, Moolort Plains, 30th April 2021
I’ve been pondering the absence of Black-shouldered Kites from the Moolort Plains.
While Brown Falcons and Nankeen Kestrels have been about in good numbers over the past year, I can only recall a handful of observations of these small kites. They have been totally absent from some spots where in past years you might see a dozen or so on any one trip.
Many readers will appreciate that mice, a favourite prey of the Black-shouldered Kite, are abundant at present. Let’s hope for an influx of kites in coming weeks to help solve this problem.
While some parts of the continent at present are experiencing almost unprecedented amounts of rain, here in central Victoria we are enjoying the Goldilocks effect … not too little, not too much … but just about right.
This morning I tipped 37mm of rain from the gauge … a perfect autumn break as far as the bush is concerned, which made for some interesting sights yesterday afternoon in the Mia Mia.
I was also pleased to come across some autumn flowering orchids, including Parson’s Bands and what I think is one of the Midge Orchids, Corunastylis sp, but not sure which one.
Autumn downpour, Mia Mia Track, 21st March 2021
Midge Orchid – please help with species identification if you can?
A visit to the Franklinford and Yandoit Cemetery at this time of year is a window into a landscape that is now sadly much diminished.
Kangaroo GrassThemeda triandra forms an almost pure sward, waist height and swaying in the breeze of a sweltering November afternoon.
The cemetery was established in 1842, just a few short years after the first squatters arrived with their flocks, about a year after Edward Stone Parker established the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate station a few hundred metres to the east.
From here it’s a short hop to the Jumcra as it flows northwards to join the Loddon River at Newstead. Juvenile Grey Fantails were chasing insects beside the stream, a White-browed Scrub-wren collected spiders for its young as Sacred Kingfishers called from the Candlebarks overhead.
Kangaroo Grass, Franklinford and Yandoit Cemetery, 28th November 2020
Juvenile Grey Fantail by the Jumcra at Franklinford