Tag Archives: Yorta Yorta

Brush-tailed Phascogale rendered from cardboard is recognizable

Yesterday just for fun, I uploaded a photo of my cardboard ‘Phascogale’ to my Facebook page and it was ID’d from the artwork from a friend. Here’s what the animal looks like, although this is a red-tailed Phascogale from WA. Both of these small carnivores are declining. red-tailed-phascogale

Phascogale S

And here’s my sculptural Phascogale on a cardboard ‘log’. I often leave raw (recycled) cardboard because it makes the connection to the cardboard/paper/packaging industry and our insatiable need to buy new stuff.

This work is part of ‘Departure Lounge” and will be seen at;
The G.R.A.I.N. Store exhibition in Nathalia.  Opening Sunday June 19th, 2016 4pm by John Kean curator and writer and Honorary Associate of the Museum Victoria. Kean has written extensively about the representation of nature in Australian museums. He has also published extensively on Indigenous art and was Art Advisor at Papunya Tula Artists in the late 1970s.

http://www.abc.net.au/classic/content/2015/01/29/4169599.htm

Communicating Ecology, Barmah Forest and Nathalia

My last 2 weeks have been educational both for me and the arts community in Nathalia, (Yorta Yorta country) Northern Victoria. Meeting and working with US artist Bill Kelly OAM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kelly_(artist) was a privilege.

393A6587.JPG

His wealth of experience and understanding of the role of the arts in communities and his establishment of THE G.R.A.I.N. STORE (Growing Rural Art In Victoria) http://www.thegrainstore.org/  added hugely to the value of my residency.

Ancient Barmah remnant Red-gums inspired this installation piece:

streetar4t

together with Superb Parrots by pre-schoolers:

kids parrots.jpg inspired by…

superb parrot3

some of which I saw on the Broken Creek and known as “Green Leeks”in the Nathalia district. Unfortunately green leeks are becoming a difficult to find species due to loss of food/nesting trees. I noticed large paddock trees ‘still being burnt in the area south of Picola, prime box eucalypt food habitat for Polytelis swainsonii. The recent trend by croppers to implement overhead spray irrigation means large paddock trees are being destroyed by the thousands (bush poet, indigenous plant seeding expert,Tammy Muir https://twitter.com/logiemuir)

streetart

Sculptured Green Leeks (by pre-schoolers) at their cardboard “hollow”.

A combined artist/community exhibition will take place at THE G.R.A.I.N STORE  in June 2016.

 

 

 

 

No rabbits this Easter!

Small mammals in this country under the 5kg weight range are being decimated by introduced cats and foxes, but how many of us understand this is a part of a global extinction event that is underway?

antichinusgrainstorepeter 012

Yellow-footed antechinus, recently photographed on Goulburn river bank amongst fallen logs and flood debris. This species is one of the few small marsupials still seen in the wild in Victoria (and can be active in daylight hours). Each year ALL the males die after mating.  

squirrel glider in hand

Squirrel gliders are rarely seen however. This little chap was found in a bad way on a road and brought to the Bohollow Wildlife Centre, Kotupna Vic and was my first chance to see one close up….a truly beautiful creature. These gliders are capable of a 90meter ‘flight’ and are mainly found in non-fragmented dry sclerophyll forest on inland slopes of the great divide. We have all but destroyed such places, hence Petaurus norfolcensis’s increasing rarity.

A human devised technologically based system has replaced the natural system. This pie chart shows how humanity and our domestic animals now dominate the planet’s biomass.

biomass diagram

Fossilized carbon has been used to make this change and has heated our planet.

carnaby's

Carnaby black cockatoo’s dead from heat stress. This bird has decreased 50% in 45 years! I went to school in Albany WA and these birds were a daily part of my world, I walked through a pine forest on my way to school, they love pine trees.

Red-tailed black3 Bourke

Red-tailed black cockatoos in WA (race Naso) are now classed as ‘near threatened’ and only 500-1000 Vic birds (race graptogyne) still exist, and are listed as endangered. 

Red-tailed black5Bourke

It is likely your children and their children will be living in a much reduced biome. So don’t teach your kids about fluffy rabbits and cats, Aussie kids need to know about Aussie warm and fluffies.

Of cukoos and a marsupial mice

A recent trip to Barmah  National Park saw me swagging it on the banks of the Goulburn river for a couple of nights on Philippa and Ian’s property, a tiny remnant of original red-gum forest. Sugar glider sounds woke me in the middle of both nights, eerie but satisfying to my ears. Waking on the second dawn I  watched a very active yellow-footed antechinus hunting for prey.

Yellow footed antichinus3

Yellow-footed are the only antechinus I know which is active by day (diurnal) and I have seen them climb huge eucalypts to take blossom nectar at 9.30 am. How they manage to avoid crows and other predators amazes me.

Yellow footed antichinus2

I was in the area to establish details for a 2 week visual arts workshop, talk and exhibition with The Grain Store for April 2015 centered on species loss. Opportunities to meet Yorta Yorta representative Sharon Atkinson and other shakers and movers who work in the Nathalia area was appreciated. Time was spent immersing myself in the locality and I was lucky  to see a superb parrot feeding in roadside box forest.

superb parrot rear view

Polytelis swainsonii

These beautiful 40cm long birds which formerly nested in Victoria have suffered habitat loss for decades and nesting in this state is now very limited and still declining. They require extensive hollows in mature large eucalypts near to or over water courses, located 5 -7km or less from box trees for forage.  Most box forest has been cleared and is now irrigated agricultural land.

From Barmah I travelled to Bendigo where I am in contact with other people intent on changing humanity’s current environmental impacts. I took a couple of hours off in wet weather to walk a small part of Crusoe reserve and was rewarded with close up sightings of what I think were….

rufous whistler female2

Rufous whistler female adult going by the call…

yellow robin (1)

Yellow robin, probably a fledgling

 

 

yellow robin (2)

and below….

 

yellow-tufted honeyeater

a colony of yellow-tufted honeyeaters .

Superb fairy wrens were everywhere. On close inspection I chanced to see a cuckoo which at first I thought was looking for suitable host nests surrounded by wrens, but soon realized I was looking at a fledgling totally intent on filling itself with caterpillars which were feeding on the surrounding Common Woodruff.

fantail cuckoo immaturewith food2detail (4)

most likely a fan-tailed cukoo Cacomantis flabelliformis 

 fantail cuckoo immaturewith food2detail (1)

Cuckoos, including the ‘cuckoo clock’ European bird are actually birds of the tropics and I’m betting this little specimen was gorging itself in preparation for a long flight to New Guinea or Indonesia

Naidoc in Barmah

Last week I visited Barmah for Naidoc, here’s a short clip I shot on the day which shows attendance and friendly atmosphere. I was made to feel very welcome and met quite few Yorta Yorta people  I would never have a chance to meet. In case you don’t know, Naidoc is a national week of celebration and remembrance of indigenous culture in this country.

 

 

 

Can we rewild Yorta Yorta country?

My previous post mentioned Yorta Yorta lands. For international readers this country is on the Murray river, Australia’s largest waterway.  Since white settlement the river has been transformed into a channel for irrigators.  Currently almost no river water reaches the sea. Prior to settlement the Murray regularly flooded into an enormous braided river system at snow melt, but would sometimes cease to flow entirely in summer as can be seen here in 1915 drought.

10 River Murray Koondrook 1915 drought

Species which evolved over millenia  to live with this cycle  now has to cope with a regulated flow regime.  Some species like white necked heron  have adapted, but others like white breasted sea eagle are now listed as threatened.

The gorgeous Azure kingfisher alcedo azurea is another  Near Threatened species  (depi advisory list), I felt very fortunate to see these and you’ll hear my amazment looking through the viewfinder. (apology for sound)

It has taken whitefellas several generations to realize our largest rivers are dying. Water is at last being allocated for ‘environmental flows’. This is Hattah WITH its water allocation earlier this year.

DSCF8658

 

DSCF8661

 

DSCF8685

The photo below gives an idea of size, I’m no expert but I’d guess these trees are pushing 1000yrs old, which makes our little lives seem so insignificant.  We have been cutting these ancient woodlands up to make railway sleepers and for firewood. Victorian side of the river  has just ceased this practise in Barmah National Park, however the northern NSW side is still being logged (forestry).

Ian and tree

Tree with man standing, Yorta Yorta lands.

Please share.

 

Yorta Yorta country – Rakali

Hydromys chrysogaster, also known as rakali and in times past, water-rat. It’s Australia’s beautiful large aquatic rodent with webbed feet,  water-proof fur, white-tipped tail and carnivorous appetite. Studies in Sydney hint that this species is able to defend its territory from introduced vermin i.e. they keep rats and mice at bay and probably predate upon them. Rakali may also live in symbiosis with platypus sharing burrows see:  http://www.platypus.asn.au/the_australian_water_rat.html

As a burrowing mammal rakali are considered pests by some irrigators, but paradoxically they may be a major predator of crayfish and yabbies,  known abundant dam and dyke burrowers.

I recently managed to shoot this video clip with help from friend Ian with boat on the Murray River in Yorta Yorta country. Rakali is very active so I have slowed the speed 50% start and end of clip for ease of viewing.

For more species from Yorta Yorta country, keep posted.