Category: Natural History

The peak of cold resistance
Post

The peak of cold resistance

Australia is hot and dry. Ask any tourist on sun-drenched Bondi Beach and they will affirm this well-known paradigm. Yet although much of our flora has adapted to thrive in our baking interior and dry open woodlands, many unique plants have evolved in a very different setting: the frigid landscape of the Australian High Country....

On the tail of the malurid wrens
Post

On the tail of the malurid wrens

I remember sitting with my cousin in my aunty and uncle’s backyard when I was in my teens, watching the local birds milling around the garden and bathing in the bird bath. The backyard was providing plenty of thrills for us novice birdwatchers. We watched the interesting behaviours and interactions of the birds and identified...

Reconnecting with the South West wilderness
Post

Reconnecting with the South West wilderness

Looking upward, the Karri trees towered above me with their creams, pinks, oranges, yellows and deep greens curving up their smooth trunks, shining in the sun. Eucalyptus divisicolour – the scientific name says it all. My pack harness creaked and I breathed in the fresh South West air. As a black-cockatoo arrived at the branch...

The fairy and the goblin
Post

The fairy and the goblin

Picture yourself in a forest. Damp green mosses clothe giant trees, veiled in slow swirling columns of mist. The varied calls of lyrebirds and parrots echo through the woody labyrinth as you wade through a waist-deep sea of ferns which ripple and sway against the trunks of the mighty Mountain Ash. A pantheon of small...

The scent of a eucalypt
Post

The scent of a eucalypt

The next time you are near a eucalypt, I want you to do one thing. Breathe in. Deeply. You’ll be able to immediately notice it. That sharp, sweet scent of the eucalypt leaf. A mix of menthol and honey. Take some leaves in your hand, crinkle them. The scent will become more powerful, before it...

On the wing of a dragon
Post

On the wing of a dragon

A creamy coloured egg, the size of a pinhead, drifted down through the water. It slowly sank to rest on the brown rotting leaves lying on the mud at the bottom of the still pool. Over the next day, it become yellow-brown. A day later, eyespots appeared. After two weeks, the egg was dark orange,...

I propose a mistle-toast
Post

I propose a mistle-toast

You may have heard about mistletoe because of its place in Christmas festivities. The tradition goes that you are able to kiss anyone who happens to stand under a sprig of mistletoe adorning doorways, ceilings, or rafters. But there are better reasons to heap praise on mistletoe than simply its ability to allow you a...

A different way to leave
Post

A different way to leave

I work in a university biological sciences department that has a large number of international staff and students. Shortly after the arrival of new international members to the department, once they have ventured out into the Australian bush a few times, I often hear the following summation about our landscape from them: ‘The Australian bush...

The ancient Xanthorrhoea: uncovering grass trees in Bailieston
Post

The ancient Xanthorrhoea: uncovering grass trees in Bailieston

The state forest around Bailieston in Central Victoria consists of acres of Box-ironbark and other Eucalyptus trees. Their leafy canopies offer shelter from wind and rain to resting birds. With strong competition for water and sun, young trees produce a narrow trunk reaching towards the sunlight. Older, established trees have broader trunks and far-reaching branches,...