I have been following this interesting blog for a short while now, it’s called “Under the Pecan Leaves”. Two posts I read there today particularly grabbed my attention.
Firstly, this post about the ways information about the ecological issues facing bees is disseminated through popular culture: https://mylandrestorationproject.wordpress.com/. It is a really insightful read and I found it very thought-provoking.
Secondly, this post about knowing your local environmental conditions: https://mylandrestorationproject.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/bioregional-quiz/
I decided to give the quiz a try, and will share my answers below. The image used below is from this post. I do not know the writer of the blog, nor have I dialogued with them, but I have enjoyed reading their posts and have learned a lot from their blog.
- I live in south-eastern Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, Australia, which has a massive and complex water catchment system that largely relies on nature’s own filtration to treat the water. The water in our part of Melbourne comes from Cardinia Reservoir, just 15 km from our suburb. (References: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/cardinia-reservoir-parks and http://www.melbournewater.com.au/whatwedo/supply-water/reservoirs/Pages/water-storage-reservoirs.aspx)
- The Moon is in its First Quarter (Waxing Gibbous). (Reference: http://museumvictoria.com.au/planetarium/discoverycentre/moon-phases/moon-phases-2015/)
- Total rainfall in 2014 according to the closest weather station to our suburb: 683.4 mm (Reference: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/index.shtml)
- Two edible native plants of our region* – in this case, the state of Victoria, in south-east Australia: 1. Golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) gum infused into water to make a sweet drink; 2. Native raspberry (Rubus parvifolius). *Please note, these are not commonly eaten, and the information is based on traditional Indigenous knowledge of edible plants in Victoria. Generally speaking, you won’t just stroll up to the grocery store and find many foods based on Indigenous plants. (Reference: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/wildlife/downloads/Aboriginal-plant-use-list.pdf; further reading: http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/index.shtml and http://www.indigenousaustralia.info/food.html. WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that these websites may contain images and voices of deceased persons.)
- Two native grasses of our region: Purple Sheath Tussock Grass (Poa ensiformus) and Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia sp). (Reference: http://www.knox.vic.gov.au/Files/Environment/Indigenous_Plant_inserts_2012.pdf)
- From what direction do winter storms normally come in your area? They come from a roughly south-west direction. The wind seems to cut straight across the Antarctic and into our homes. A recent news report (June 2015) noted that Australian homes are poorly designed and don’t take into account the severity of the cold weather, particularly in the southern states. While the image people have of Australia is often that of an incredibly hot, dry country (and most of it is), the majority of the population lives in wetter, coastal areas. (References: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/australian-houses-are-just-glorified-tents-in-winter-20150610-ghj2ox.html and http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-weather-first-winter-blast-hits-victoria-20150512-ggzjv4.html)
- Where does rubbish go? That’s a little trickier to find out because the various shire and city councils have different answers to that question. Based on my understanding of this particular region of Melbourne: our waste is collected weekly. We have three different types of bins: household rubbish, ‘green waste’, and recycling. Green waste is for plant materials – pruned branches, lawn clippings, weeds. Recycling covers all papers and most common types of plastics. There is a special hazardous waste collection for poisons, paints, batteries and similar. We also have “hard waste,” where large household items, like furniture, appliances and bicycles are collected for recycling. Several charities collect mobile phones for recycling. We even have charities that collect old eyeglasses for recycling. Once the rubbish reaches the various transfer stations (aka “rubbish tip”) it is further sorted. Our local council also conducts random audits of people’s bins to check whether people are sorting their rubbish correctly. And the local council strongly encourages home composting.
- How long is the growing season? Basically it’s all year around, as I understand it. In particularly hot summers there may be a few weeks where it is too hot to plant – and also too hot to function, like that time we had four days of 41 °C (105.8°F) in Melbourne in January 2014. (References: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/vic/melbourne.shtml and http://www.vicfarmersmarkets.org.au/content/whats-season)
- Deer / ungulates: basically, apart from semi-wild escapees from farms, ungulates are not a part of the Australian landscape. We have kangaroos, wombats, koalas, echidnas, possums, myriad bird species, and platypuses. But no native deer. (Further reading: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2014/08/australias-animal-fauna-emblems)
- Birds: this question was a bit trickier. I am not sure what, if any, migratory birds live in this part of Australia. As for native birds, that’s a bit easier as we have so many different and colourful species here, including Magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca), Magpies (Cracticus tibicen), Australian Ravens (Corvus coronoides), Crimson rosellas (Platycercus elegans), Galahs (Eolophus roseicapillus), Noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala), Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), and Sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita). (Reference: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/. Further reading: https://www.listeningearth.com/LE/index.php and http://birdlife.org.au/)
- The primary geological event that appears to have shaped our region (Dandenong Ranges) was a volcanic eruption dated at 300 million years ago that resulted in the triangular or conical shape of the mountain that we see from our loungeroom window. My understanding is that a lot of Victoria originated through volcanic activity, and that is somehow related to a fault line that also causes the earthquakes we get around here – though I could be very wrong on that point. (References: http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/313264/Dandenong-Ranges-National-Park-Management-Plan.pdf and http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/earthquakes-in-victoria-the-facts-20141204-1201sk.html)
- North is straight ahead of me!
- Spring wildflowers? I actually don’t know the answer to this, and I would have to hunt around for a while to find out. (Possible direction for further reading: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Yarra-Valley-and-Dandenong-Ranges/Things-to-do/Nature-and-wildlife/Parks-and-gardens)
This was an interesting exercise, trying to recall what I know and confirm it or adjust it in accordance with external sources. As I ponder the environment that we have here in Melbourne, and listen to the crazy winds blowing outside, what I can say is that this is a place of incredible variety. We have a saying in Melbourne: “If you don’t like the weather, go look out a different window.” The weather here can change in an instant (a quick Internet search for “Melbourne weather memes” highlights this pretty well).
All links accessed 30 July 2015.