True Spring has sprung at “Sailors Creek”

by | Oct 30, 2021 | birdsong, citizen science, Dja dja wurrung, flowering, True Spring | 2 comments

This week I enjoyed a walk at the Blowhole along “Sailor’s Creek” with my mum’s poodle cross Valli. It was one of those magic days with a bright blue, cloudless sky and not a whiff of wind, with all the hallmarks of True Spring on show – flowers, insects and beautiful birdsong. I also had a chance to reflect on the proposed renaming of the nearby “Jim Crow Creek” to Larni Barramal Yaluk…

While the wildlflower season has been in full swing and is starting to wind up in Castlemaine and surrounds, up here in the higher altitudes we are just getting going! Bright yellow Yam Daisies and Billy Buttons contrast with the last flush of Pink Bells, and the Creamy Candles are just about to peak. This year white Daisies are abundant along the path – these flowers looks so incongruous in a bush setting as they are the classic white and yellow of your introduced garden variety of daisy – but these guys are native!

In the last couple of years,  I have been getting into iNaturalist in a big way – this online citizen science platform allows you to upload your sightings from phone or computer, and then a computer algorithm and fellow nature nuts help you with identification. I thought this daisy might have been an Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) but a couple of  helpful folks known as Michael1922 and Jennyghct reckon its a Tall Daisy (Brachyscome diversifolia). My “homework” is to get a pic of the back of the flower head to see if it is hairy. Now this is the kind of distraction and addition to the “to-do list” that is most welcome!

A species of Comb-clawed Darkling Beetle (Atoichus bicolor) on Billy Buttons (Craspedia glauca). They look like they are having a meeting!

There are many peas, or “egg and bacon” flowers also on show at the moment. This photo shows Valli the poodle with a lovely display of Matted Bush-pea – the flowering is particularly dense this year. For more on our local peas – check out my blog post Bush peas and friends ablaze in the forest.

Another feature of True Spring is that bird breeding starts to peak. I disturbed not one but two different Spotted Pardalotes zipping out of their nesting burrows in the ground, and the warm air was filled with their musical “sleep-dee-dee” call, which is surprisingly loud for such a tiny bird.

Another loud and constant call was the rollicking call and “ee chong pip” of the Rufous Whistler. These handsome bush birds are partial spring-summer migrants – while some individuals overwinter locally, many arrive from northern Australia in September to breed. The males feature bold black, white and rufous red colours , while the females are a more subtle wash of browns and greys with striations on the breast. Like many Aussie songbirds, both males and females call.

Other distinctive bird calls at this time of year from our spring -summer visitors include the “orry-ole orry-ole” of the Olive-backed Oriole, the “kek-kek-kek” of the Sacred Kingfisher and of course numerous cuckoos! I could hear the mournful descending trill of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo, but also ringing out at the moment are the rising “pee pee pee pee” of the tiny Shining Bronze-cuckoo, and the descending call of the Horsfeld’s Bronze-cuckoo.

In this blessed La Nińa year, the creek is flowing strongly. During the Millenium Drought the creek did not flow for several years, and as we walked along the path we could hear the pleasant burbling and babbling which seemed to say that all was well with the world – at least here in Hepburn Regional Park! This creek is known as Sailors Creek, and along with Spring Creek it flows into another creek – the infamously named Jim Crow Creek.

After many years of pressure, Hepburn Shire Council is accepting submissions regarding the renaming of Jim Crow Creek to a name without horrible associations. The history of the term ‘Jim Crow’ is rooted in racial segregation and anti-black racism in the US and completely unsuitable for a beautiful creek here! The new name proposed by the DJAARA corporation ( formerly the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation)  is Larni Barramal Yaluk.

“The name translates to ‘Home or habitat of the Emu Creek’. Another translation given is ‘the resting place of the Emu’. The crater at Mt Franklin/Lalgambook had this name because the crater resembles the Emu nest. The Country surrounding this was also referred to as Larni Barramal because the springs and swamps there provided water to emu. The Creek would also provide water, therefore, renaming the Creek Larni Barramal after this area was agreed to by the Traditional Owners.” From the Hepburn Shire website.

Submissions are due November 12 – I will most definitely be making a submission in support of the name Larni Barramul Yaluk.

On another note,  I would like to say hello and welcome to all my new subscribers who enjoyed my Powerful Owls and Wombat Forest Conversations with the lovely Sarah Kanowski. The whole experience was such a pleasure and a privilege! (To listen click here.) And I would also like to thank many of you who have purchased my book Daylesford Nature Diary: six seasons in the foothill forests. Some of you have asked when I am leading some walks in the Wombat – I expect in late December, Early Jan, when Early Summer kicks in. Stay tuned!



  1. Pierre Quaglino

    Thank you Tanya for this very pleasant whiff of spring in the hills, beautifully illustrated (I just got the new MacBook yesterday, your photos look so crisp !) and soundly narrated (I like the suburban looking daisies bit, it’s as if they had to justify their bush credentials).
    As you mentioned, I came across your work, passion rather, thanks to this other dive into the wonders of nature: your Powerful Owls’ Conversations broadcast (funnily enough this is the second ‘owls’ program, after the Bill Bailey one).. You sounded so genuine and your encounters with those mighty birds were so immersive and instructive that I had to check you out online.
    Your website is very nicely laid out full of the images and stories us, city folks, are longing for after those long lockdowns.
    I wish the very best, thanks again.

    • Tanya

      Oh Pierre! Thank you very much for your kind words! I must listen to the Bill Bailey episode of Conversations. Bill Bailey was the presenter of a wonderful series on the baboons of South Africa – very very worth checking out if you haven’t seen it already. He is such a great guy – kind and so entertaining!
      I do hope you manage to get out and about in nature – so well deserved after a very difficult couple of years!
      Best wishes, Tanya