Monday, 15 September 2014

Spring Walks in Barrm Birrm

In this beautiful weather, there's no better time to walk through Barrm Birrm. Riddells Creek's secret bushland, right on our doorstep.

The wattles are still flowering - Prickly Moses has been in flower for over two months now, with no sign of flagging, and the Blackwoods have recently joined them. But early spring is also the time to see new growth right down at ground level, amongst the grasses.

Honey Pots appearing through the Wallaby Grass

For a slice of Barrm Birrm, take a 30 minute walk from the Riddells Creek Winery. Go up Gap Road, right onto the dirt road and after 400 metres, park on the verge beside the "Winery" sheds.  Walk a little way up Gap Road and turn into the first dirt track, walk 100 metres and you'll get to a big pool of winter rain. Head right up the hill.

You'll walk through a favoured hangout of the local lads. A lovely spot to drink and talk in the bush, and sit by a campfire, but sadly, they took to a couple of young trees recently, exercising their hormonal instincts to impose themselves on raw nature. Fortunately, they didn't have a chainsaw, and the impact is minor, but it's a pity they didn't notice the nearby Ovens Wattle, a native but not indigenous to the area. I've taken to carrying a pruning saw with me on my walks, and feel some responsibility for escapees like this, since I have them flowering along my fenceline.

Ignore the building waste dumped at the side,
and walk through a gorgeous grove of Cherry Ballart heading on the track up the hill. Straight away, you'll find the Prickly Moses, which hugs the lower slopes of Barrm Birrm.

It likes the damp in this hollow of the hillside. Growing not much more than 2 metres, it has a lovely shape, and flowers for a long time - an excellent garden shrub in places where you don't have to push through it, though the truth is it's not that prickly. Walk in to stand amongst these acacia, and have a look down at the grasses.

Red-Anther Wallaby Grass is the predominant grass in Barrm Birrn, working its way from here through to the top of the slopes. It's called the Red Anther because in late summer, it has orange-red flowering stems that rise up a metre or so from the grassy clump at ground level. Quite delicious, and delicate, like all of the understorey in Barrm Birrm.

Walking on, the ground levels off, then reaches another track. This is one of the two main roads of Barrm Birrm, put in by the developers who sold off lots here in the mid-1970s. It is named Prince Alfred Terrace, would you believe it!

This subdivision first came to life in the 1890s, how we just don't know, but if you search the "Planning Maps Online", you'll see the cadastral boundaries of the lots the developers sold. There never was permission to build here, because the soils are too easily erodable (hope springs eternal in the mind of the naive purchaser), and there never will be now, with Macedon Ranges Shire Council resolved to maintain the conservation status of the area,

So turn left onto Prince Alfred Terrace, and just a little further on, head right on the next track that runs downhill. You'll see how readily this soil erodes once the surface vegetation is cleared off. Where the slope levels off, walk a few metres to the right, slowly, and you'll see the natural gully formation on Barrm Birrm. Incredibly deeply eroded, you'd need to abseil down from this point. These small creeks don't run often, but when they do, there's not much to hold them back. Thsi is a good place to see wallabies in the early morning, or to hear them thumping away as you approach.

Continuing on, and turning left, you're back at the lads hangout and can head out to Gap Road.

In all, a brisk 15 minute walk, but for those of us who like to stop and linger, gazing first up, then down, more likely 40 minutes.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Join the October bird count

As part of National Bird Week Monday 20 October and Sunday 26 October, Birdlife Australia are conducting a national bird survey, The Aussie Backyard Bird Count. Macedon Ranges Shire Council has partnered with Birdlife Australia, Woodend Landcare and Woodend Bird Observers Group to assist with surveying for species within the Macedon region.

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count will allow for a greater understanding of bird populations in the Shire. Birds are sensitive to changes in the environment and can provide us with an insight into the impact of invasive species, changes in climate and the overall health of the local environment.

All you need to do is:

1. Sign up to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count by visiting the link at or download the Apple/Android Aussie Backyard
Bird Count App.

2. Record all bird species in a 20 minute survey in your backyard, local park,
schoolyard or other area of choice during National Bird Week.

3. Enter your data into the online form or via the Apple/Android App.

Monday, 8 September 2014

That toad, and the other animals out there

News of the Asian Black-Spined Toad found recently in Sunbury has now been followed up with a photo id leaflet,.

Up in Bendigo, 4th October, Visual Arts Centre, La Trobe University in Bendigo, 121 View St,
Bendigo, an art/science/conservation collaboration between the Centre for Creative (CCA), La Trobe University, and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), wll host a conference talking about our relationship to animals, approached from artistic, scientific and conservationist angles. There will be talk, and video/photos of animals at night time, captured on motion sensitive cameras like those the RCL uses. Contact Jan for more information.