Camping and Fishing at Jimmy’s Creek – 1939

I received a most interesting article from one of the long term members of Stawell Field Naturalists.

“Black Friday”, the 13th January 1939, saw the Grampians burnt  from the northern end to the southern end. Although there was utter devastation, one bright side as far as my family was concerned was that now the Wannon river at Jimmy’s creek was now accessible from the Dunkeld Rd without having to bash through the thick undergrowth of bracken fern, titree etc.

In those days the Grampians were far different from today. Most people didn’t have a car and so very few of the visitors to the Grampians went further south than Myrtlebank on Dairy Creek. About the only people to frequent the area south of Myrtlebank were the forest workers/ sawmillers and those who had grazing rights. It was virtually an isolated area of peace and beauty.

Late summer 1939 Dad decided to take the family to Jimmy’s  creek for a weekend fishing. This was a real treat for us as we had never had the luxury of Holidays.  Mum and dad were too busy working hard to feed and clothe the family. You can imagine our excitement to be going camping for a weekend. No luxuries, not even a tent. We slept under the stars – Beautiful! I can remember making a hammock by opening up the sides of a wheat bag, plaiting ropes to each end to tie it to  trees. Then at Jimmy’s creek finding two trees close enough together to tie the hammock to! Sometimes a rope would break or come undone and one would end up on the ground. As far as I can remember our camping equipment was very basic – a blanket, billy, shovel, matches, dish, frying pan and dad’s Coleman lantern (its strong light lit up a vast area). No tents, stretchers, swags, sleeping bags or torches. We had never even heard of torches then -they didn’t come on the scene until well after world war 2. No luxuries such as showers and toilets like at the present day Jimmy’s ck camping ground. There was cold running water to wash in – the river.

Thursday after school I helped dad dig and collect worms for bait – dad digging and me collecting. Friday night when we arrived home from school the gear was loaded onto our A model Ford ute and off we went. I can recall stopping once on the way down to walk in from the road to see a burntout sawmill (Sandersons, I think). About all that remained was the steam boiler. When we crossed  Jimmy’s creek we drove in off the coast road through the trees and there were no tracks except the ones we were making. A camp was selected with Jimmy’s ck on the north and the Wannon creek on the west. Hammocks were attached to trees,  firewood collected and then off fishing.  Our rods were either a length of bamboo or a stick of titree just long enough to drop the hook and  sinker under a cork float into the little stream. It didn’t take long to catch enough black fish for our tea. The largest of the fish were about 20 cm long. The fish were gutted, rolled in flour and into the frying pan. When they were cooked the flesh came off the backbone, the other bones were so small and fine they were just eaten,-there was no way they would stick in your throat. The fish were accompanied by spuds baked in the ashes – no alfoil wrapping – a bit of ash or charcoal never hurt anyone.

I can remember my first night under the stars. There were many strange sounds and things that “went bump in the night”. It was the sounds of the roos and other animals as they moved around – not a big bad bogeyman!

All day Saturday and Sunday morning were spent up and down the river fishing. We mainly fished in the Wannon. Apart from the black fish there were the menacing little “mountain trout” which used to sneakily suck the worms off the hook without you knowing. These were a very small fish about 6cm long fully grown.  Then there were “prickly backs”. These were like a yabby, up to about 15cm or so, but “prickly” like a lobster. We learnt by watching the float you could tell what was taking the bait. If it was a mountain trout there was a very slight movement of the float. Prickly backs tended to drag the bait and float away, whilst black fish pulled the float down. If it was a mountain trout or a If it was a mountain trout or prickly back at your bait you moved to another spot. Once Mum thought a prickly back would be a change from black fish for her tea so she cooked one but alas there was practically no flesh inside the shell – so no more prickly backs.

It was real fun stumbling along the river bank and over fallen logs particularly after dark when following Dad and being blinded by his Coleman. I doubt if Mum thought it was so much fun – firstly she didn’t like fishing (it was OK eating them) and secondly she had to wash our clothes when we got home. Our clothes were always fairly black after a weekend on burnt ground and pushing through burnt ti tree etc. Sadly our weekends at Jimmy’s  Creek came to an end when petrol was rationed in World War II.

I often wonder whether there are still black fish, mountain trout and prickly backs at Jimmy’s Creek. Also wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy those quiet, peaceful and relaxed times again in the Grampians away from the hustle, bustle, cars and hordes of people in a hurry who now over run the area and dash around as if there was no tomorrow without time to “smell the roses”?

Lesley Bennett

Tree Clearing

Most VNPA members will be aware of the recent appalling loss of around 880 large old eucalypts as part of the duplication of the Western highway between Ballarat and Stawell. The trees were felled in the section between Beaufort and Ararat. Many of the trees had hollows used by birds and other animals.

VicRoads had approval only for the removal of the 221 trees they estimated would need to be cleared. But this did not include many more ‘scattered’ trees in the path of the road, which were felled for debatable safety reasons. Pressure from a local group, Western Highway Alternative Mindsets (WHAM), forced VicRoads to admit the mistake and revise plans for the next section to be widened, between Buangor and Ararat. The VNPA applauds WHAM members’ energy and persistence in the face of a powerful bureaucracy. The revised plans include using concrete and wire rope barriers to stop vehicles running off the road and hitting a tree, rather than removing the trees themselves, and so narrowing the area to be cleared. These design improvements are positive, but won’t do much to reduce the impact of the road through hilly land. The best option is to minimise road widening as far as possible, and focus on behavioural change to increase

safety. …. The power and speed of modern cars, and the increased traffic from a growing population, as well as a ‘safety at any cost’ policy, are related issues. Another major problem is that VicRoads was exempted (in an unfortunate move by the former Brumby government) from having to gain permits for removing native vegetation. Yet in many parts of Victoria, roadsides often have the best, or sometimes the only, native vegetation remaining. The VNPA believes that, like anyone else, public authorities such as VicRoads should have to obtain permits for clearing native vegetation, and that VicRoads must give the protection of existing native vegetation a much higher priority.

We are in grave danger of losing the ecological and habitat value of our roadsides, as well as their variety, character and beauty – not to mention their importance for carbon capture and storage.

[From Park Watch Magazine – VNPA]

Technology Supports Data Collection

Graeme Johanson reports on new ways of Collecting and sharing information about Nature.

Two new portable technologies – the digital camera and the smart phone – have changed the way in which volunteers can collect data in the field. Both technologies are used regularly by Dr Russell Best of the Australian Plants Society Victoria (APSV). When interviewed for our research project, he said that the digital camera had made a huge difference. He went on: “The other big technical

change has been the iPhone. The amount of information you can collect is phenomenal.” The phone also gives him a GPS location. More and more digital repositories collect data about nature for public use via the internet. A large group of people can collect and collate much more information than a single dedicated group of employed specialists. Every year the ‘Birds in Backyards’ survey collects data for the Birdlife Australia website – see The main Australian database is the Atlas of Living Australia (, funded by the federal government.

BowerBird, begun in 2013 and hosted by Museum Victoria, contains masses of Victorian flora and fauna data, and brilliant photographs sent in by nature lovers. A visit to its website ( is a visual treat. NatureShare ( is two years older, and primarily the work of Russell Best. Members can help each other to identify specimens loaded on to the growing database. These repositories are still developing as they become better known.

……………………An aim of future research is to describe the relationship between citizen and professional scientists, and explore the ramifications of trust between them. To make full use of each individual and group contribution to big data, trusting collaborations are essential. The citizen science community is very interested in our research. We have applied for further funding, alongside Museum Victoria and the Atlas of Living Australia. If readers are interested and would like to see our published papers about the project, please contact

[Courtesy Park Watch Magazine – VNPA]



By J. W. AUDAS, F.L.S., F.R.M.S., Assistant, National Herbarium, Melbourne.

(Read before the Field Naturalist’s Club of Victoria, 15th Jan., 1919.)

As noted previously the spelling of some plant names is erratic, due to the difficulty the OCR programme had with Latin words. And some names of course have changed in the last 90 years.We left our group camped beside Rosea Ck, some distance below Calectesia Falls.

Making an early start in the morning, and following the stream downward, rough country was encountered for four or five miles. The water in the creek became much iron-stained, and presented quite a brown appearance. Hereabouts Humea elegans (now Calomeria sp or Incense bush. ed) grew abundantly, but no flowering specimens of it were available, as it blooms later in the season. When in full bloom it is a very fine sight, its wide-spreading, drooping panicles and innumerable shining, rose-coloured flowers, which sometimes vary to white, rendering the plant a valuable acquisition in gardens, where it flourishes without any particular attention. Boronia polygalifolia, Scaevola aemula? , Correa aemula?, and Hakea ulicina also grew in considerable quantities along the banks of the stream. It is worthy of mention that in this particular locality several shrubs grew larger and more luxuriantly than as usually met with. For instance, Dillwynia ericifolia attained a height of fully ten feet, whereas in many districts its usual height is not more than three to four feet. It was quite surprising to see Micromyrtus microphylla grown into a large shrub about eight feet in height, this shrub, as a rule, attaining only a couple of feet. Calytrix sullivanii, which is a very ornamental shrub, was unusually large and robust, being about twelve feet in height ; this shrub is peculiar to the Grampians, and grows readily under cultivation. Leucopogon thymifolius, also peculiar to the Grampians, had attained a large size, some plants noted being fully six feet in height, while on Mount William, where it grows abundantly, the average height is about eighteen inches. As the creek emerged into flat country, nice specimens of Prostanthera denticulata were found in different colours— namely, bluish-purple and lilac. Here Restio tetraphyllus made its appearance. The scrub hereabouts was almost a tangle, caused by the twiner Marianthus bignoniaceus connecting all forms of vegetation. From a spectacular point of view it was most picturesque, with its pretty, bell-shaped, orange flowers showing up well amid the different shades of green. Veronica Derwentia, a very graceful shrub, was in full bloom, and its racemes of pure white flowers, a foot in length, were beautiful to behold. Here we left the creek and followed the Serra Range in a northerly direction, travelling through rough country which has seldom been trodden by the foot of man. On the lower stretches of the hills a fine forest of Acacia mollissima was passed through, the majority of the trees reaching a height of eighty feet, and in some instances having a diameter of two feet. Travelling was slow here on account of the dense and tall growth of Banksia marginata, Callitris rhomhifolia, Cassinia aculeata, and Acacia verticulata, while further on Acacia verniciflua and Kunzea parvifolia occupied acres in extent, the crimson flowers of the latter making a gorgeous sight. Amid this crimson mass it was remarkable to find one bearing white flowers. Advancing into more open country we passed through fine patches of the following heaths, viz.: — Styphelia adscendens, Astroloma conostephioides, A.humifusum, and A. pinifolium, in fruit. Several emus were observed feeding on the berries. A little further on we came upon shrubs which had just recently been rooted up (evidently by wild pigs), as the foliage was not at all withered. From this point we struck out for a track which led from the Victoria Valley round the end of Mount Difficult to Hall’s Gap.

To be concluded next issue.







You may have heard or read about the exciting news that there is photo confirmation of at least one live quoll in the Grampians national park. One of the remote cameras set up near the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby release site has captured a clear image.


Among the many questions is: is this a lone male come from a known population to the south (eg Mt Eccles) in search of a female, or is it part of a local group? The former seems possible, but unlikely, as it is over 100km. The possibility of a local group is great news, and there’ll be more camera work of course. By the way, they did check whether the local zoo had had any escapes.

It is also good to have it confirmed that the fox baiting programme does not affect quolls.


quoll image002 quoll image001

So many congratulations and thanks to the skills of Daryl Panther who sets up the cameras, and to the thoroughness of Ryan Duffy, Ben Holmes and all the local team in recognising they had something very unusual on their screens.


Nature In The Serra Range

By J. W. AUDAS, F.L.S., F.R.M.S., Assistant, National Herbarium, Melbourne.
(Read before the Field Naturalist’s Club of Victoria, 15th Jan., 1919.)

[In our March edition we left the botanising group on the top of Mt Rosea on the first day of their two day trip in early November.]

As the country began to dip towards the Victoria Valley a fine patch of Melaleuca squamea in full bloom was met with, and in the gullies below Bauera sessiliflora was a magnificent sight. Grevillea rosmarinifolia, with its pretty rose-coloured blooms, and Trymalium Daltonii were also growing in the gullies ; the latter is a very early blooming shrub, and is at its best in July. The four Brachylomas native to Victoria were also found growing in this locality ; they were B. ericoides, B. daphnoides, B. ciliatum, and B. depressum. Following the creek which flows towards the Victoria Valley, we passed large patches of Pultenea Benthami, also P. rosea, both of which are peculiar to the Grampians. Some of the latter shrubs were especially fine here, growing to the height of fully eight feet, which is most unusual, as this plant is usually low-growing. Still keeping to the creek, we passed a peculiar rock known as ” The Monument,” adjacent to which were some fine patches of Lhotzkya genetylloides, Sprengelia incarnata, Thryptomene Mitchelliana, Melaleuca decussata, Calytrix Sullivani, Correa speciosa, and Epacris impressa ; the latter was a magnificent sight, in colours light and dark pink, and I was surprised to find it in profuse bloom at so late a period of the season. Leaving ” The Monument ” in the rear, the creek increased in size and volume of water, owing to the many tributaries joining it. On the banks was seen Epacris paludosa, with its beautiful

heads of wax-like flowers, while further down a large patch, some acres in extent, of Calectasia cyanea, or what is locally known as “Satin-flower,” presented an unusually pretty scene. Its blue flowers are delightfully glossy, and make beautiful bouquets, which last for months. Another attractive feature here was the abundance and variety of Helichrysums, the well-known everlasting daisies ; the three best noted were H. baxteri, H. bracteatum, and H. Blandowskianum, the latter being one of the most attractive everlastings. Its clusters of flower-heads are borne on stalks of almost equal whiteness, which make it valued for wedding bouquets and wreaths. Near at hand a fine waterfall was met with, fully a hundred feet in height. Mr. D’Alton was of opinion that this waterfall was not previously known, so we bestowed on it the name of Calectasia Fall, in honour of the beautiful plant growing near by. Further afield some very large patches of Boronia pilosa in full bloom was passed through, and the strong perfume emitted from this plant, especially when trodden upon, was very noticeable. For the next few miles we passed through very rough, rugged country, which made travelling extremely arduous, and on the way we noticed that the creek we had been following, and which we named Rosea Creek, on account of the large quantities of the beautiful Pultenea rosea growing near its source, had been much flooded at some previous time, as in some places the soil had been scoured out completely, while large heaps of debris were accumulated along its course. As dusk was drawing near, we decided to camp for the night, and a sheltered spot was chosen. Soon a large fire was blazing, and the billy boiled, and we were very tired and much in need of our evening meal. After partaking of same we proceeded to make things comfortable for the night by strewing ferns and eucalypt branches on the ground, over which we spread our blankets. It was necessary to keep a large fire going all the time, as the night was extremely cold.

 [Next issue will continue the report, with their second full day among the wildflowers. As noted last time the spelling of some plant names is erratic, due to the difficulty the OCR programme had with Latin words. And some names of course have changed in the last 90 years.]

The missing fauna of the Grampians – Quolls By Mike Stevens with Eric Barber


Official wildlife database records are poor when attempting to understand the historic habitat ranges of many wildlife species. This creates difficulties when investigating the potential for large-scale fauna restoration opportunities across landscapes such as the Grampians. Common questions arise; What species used to occur in the landscape? How abundant were they? What was there habitat preference? Why did they go extinct?

My search started when comparing the data of previous small mammal captures by Seebeck1 in the 1970’s, or Cockburn2 in the 1980’s with recent small mammal trapping in the Grampians3. It is clear that species such as Long Nosed Potoroo, Southern Brown Bandicoot and Smokey Mouse have declined. This is in addition to the species already locally extinct such as White Footed Rabbit Rat, Southern Bettong, Western Barred Bandicoot and New Holland Mouse found by Wakefield4 in the 1960’s in Grampians cave deposits and the loss of poorly documented species such as Quoll5,6 and Dingo7.

However, nothing will replace local knowledge that can only be achieved through time spent working, living, exploring, studying and listening to a landscape. In Eric Barber, the Grampians has a custodian of local knowledge only earned through a long family connection with stories passed from his father, uncle and grandfather combined with a library of references only collected through a passionate career in natural history.

Eric’s oral history and advice has pointed me in the right direction to help paint the picture on Quoll in the Grampians landscape.

Eric accounts that many species that are rare or extinct today were common back in the 1800’s and 1900’s and were not noteworthy to write or document about being considered abundant and vermin. This makes establishing historic habitat ranges difficult when catastrophic disease possibly contributed to exterminating quolls on the mainland between 1901-19038,9. To this point, the presence of both species of Quoll in the Grampians (Eastern and Tiger) has provided many years of conjecture to agree if the species were actually present or not as official documentation is poor.

Eric explains that Quoll were once widespread. Supporting this valuable local oral history is research about to be published by David Peacock and Ian Abbot that has unearthed over 40,000 quoll records hidden in grey literature and family diaries from across Australia. This work includes local Grampians accounts such as; 1872 Mr Macpherson of Vermont noted that his father killed a large Tiger Quoll at the head of the Glenelg River (in the now Grampians National Park); 1875 – a Tiger Quoll was killed at Billgana in the Ararat district in the act of ‘devouring a good sized chicken’; 1882 – The Ararat Advertiser account for Eastern Quolls being trapped and killed during the lambing season in the Mount William district; 1885 – Eastern Quolls were also ‘very abundant’ in western Victoria with an author touring the region frequently seeing their ‘white-spotted carcasses lying about stations where they had been killed in traps’; 1898 – a toddler was scratched on the leg by an Eastern Quoll whilst in the Grampians (all accounts from Peacock and Abbot, unpublished data).

The evidence is now clear for the Grampians and surrounding area. A Tiger Quoll skull was recently found in a cave in the Victoria Range in March 2012. Eric provided me with the memoirs of Mrs M. Bodey5 from circa 1900 who writes from Walmer along the Wimmera River of native cats in their hundreds, unearthing and eating corpses in graves and attacking people in beds!

Over the past few hundred years land clearing has isolated the Grampians, fire regimes have been altered and the introduction of fox and cat combined with sport hunting of species such as Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby10,11 have changed the presence of native mammals we now have. However, imagine if we could play a role in large-scale restoration of our unique wildlife similar to ambitious attempts and plans in the UK or the USA?

I continue to research the missing wildlife the Grampians and am particularly interested in Dingo. Any information, family diaries or oral history accounts of Dingo (or Quoll) would be gratefully received. Please contact if you would like to provide any information.


Thank you to Eric and Evie Barber for kindly passing on information, obscure references and pointing me in the right direction. Thank you to David Peacock and Ian Abbot for use of Grampians quoll records prior to formal publication of their quoll database.


 1 Seebeck, J.H. (1976). Mammals in the Pomonal area, Grampians. Victorian Naturalist 93. 138-147.


2 Cockburn, A. (1981). Population regulation and dispersion of the smoky mouse, Pseudomys fumeus II. Spring decline, breeding success and habitat heterogeneity. Australian Journal of Ecology6, 255-266.


3 De Bondi, N., White, J.G., Stevens, M., and Cooke, R. (2010). A comparison of the effectiveness of camera trapping and live trapping for sampling terrestrial small-mammal communities. Wildlife Research37, 456-465.


4 Wakefield, N. A. (1963). Mammal remains from the Grampians, Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 80, 130-133.


5 Bodey, M. (c.1900). ‘The early Wimmera’. Personal memoir. Personal communication.


6 Wakefield, N.A. (1974). Mammals of Western Victoria. In Douglas and O’Brien (Eds.), The Natural History of Western Victoria, pp. 35-51.


7 Carter, S. (1911). ‘Reminiscences of the early days of the Wimmera’. (Norman Brothers Printers: Melbourne.)


8 McQueen R. 1960. Native Cats on Wilson’s Promontory. Victorian Naturalist, 77, pp 206-207.


9 Paddle, R. 2002. The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine. Published in Australia by Cambridge University Press


10 Fountain, P., and Ward, T. (1907). ‘Rambles of an Australian naturalist’. (John Murray, London.)


11 Lobert, B. (1988). The Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) in the Grampians National Park and Black Range, Victoria. Part 1 – Survey. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 64. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Heidelberg, Victoria.



June 2013 Natural values updates from Ryan


Research Projects: There is an impressive list of projects being undertaken at the moment: birds, aquatic creatures, small mammals, importance of unburnt patches, Chytrid fungus survey of frogs, cinnamon fungus research, impact of sallow wattle infestations. To take just one of the research projects that has been borne out of the 2012 Grampians Bioscan, demonstrating the direct management benefits of our Museum Victoria and Parks Victoria partnership/relationship. It will assist us to understand the re-colonisation of Smoky Mice after a significant disturbance event such as the February 2013 Fire Complex.  The research provides us with a unique opportunity to learn and adapt our fire regimes and predator control program to help protect this species. The project is funded by Museum Victoria with in-kind and material support from the Grampians Ark program. There’s some great pictures and further information on:

Brushtail Rock Wallaby update

Autumn health check trapping was suspended as we suspected one of the female wallabies had 'young at foot', which is good news. The female in question is the longest persisting wallaby at the site, hopefully she can pass on behaviours she has learnt at Moora Creek onto her offspring. 
- We are currently using a new fox control trap close to Halls Gap in order to determine if it will be useful to deploy within the Rock-wallaby site. The trap is called a 'collarum' and is a non-lethal neck-hold trap. This trap has several advantages in that it is target specific (should only be triggered by a fox); does not need a toxin (like 1080); and as it captures and holds a fox we would be able to confirm we have removed a fox from the wallaby colony. We have special permission to use these traps from DEPI and are the first to seek permission to use them in Victoria.


FOGG member and keen internet surfer Kornelis Sietsma has passed on a fascinating site which I’m slowly exploring:

A group in the USA has digitised all the early editions of the Victorian Field Naturalists Club newsletters, from 1892 onwards. There’s a lot of useful observations on the Grampians there, plus insights into the biodiversity of our State 110 years ago. The accounts are often long and chatty, so for this issue just an introduction.

May 1892 :
This Club was founded in 1880 for the purpose of affording observers and lovers of Natural History regular and frequent opportunities for discussing those special subjects in which they are mutually interested; for the Exhibition of Specimens ; and for promoting Observations in the Field by means of Excursions to various collecting grounds around the Metropolis.

There followed a list of invertebrata obtained during “the excursion to the Grampians”. Spiders, butterflies and beetles I gather. Ive passed it on to FOGGS insect expert to look at for next issue.
So far I haven’t been able to find who led the excursion or where they went, but I’ll keep digging. Next time wildflowers of the Grampians from 1919 I hope.
Also another still relevant note: In 1919 Wisons Prom was the State’s only National Park, and the Field Nats were its zealous protectors.
” In connection with the National Park, during the year the Government received applications to throw open this
proclaimed sanctuary for the preservation of the native fauna and flora for purposes of tin mining. A large and influential deputation (on which this Club was strongly represented) waited on the Minister of Mines to oppose this application, and their efforts were partially successful.”

BOOK REVIEW ‘The Victorian Bush its ‘original and natural’ condition’ by Ron Hateley

Wendy Bedggood

I recently purchased a copy of ‘The Victorian Bush its ‘original and natural’ condition’ by Ron Hateley. It is an extremely interesting book and I urge all who are interested in conservation and history to read it.
Ron was brought up in Kiata where his father Keith was a prominent field naturalist. Ron went to Creswick and trained in Forestry then later was a lecturer there. His book was published some time in the past 12 to 18 months, and sadly he died earlier this year.
He questions and discusses widely held views of ‘the original and natural’ condition of our bush. He looks at issues such as
6. The extent of pre 1788 tree cover.
7. The extent and frequency of fire stick farming and was it as broadly used by aboriginals as some experts imply?
8. The effect of native fauna in the dynamics of the natural ecosystem
9. Wombats in Victoria
10. Tornadoes in Victoria
11. Our limited knowledge of pre1788 ‘Ecological Vegetation Communities’

The book is presented as observations and experiences of early explorers and settlers. Ron found that there was a wealth of information in obscure colonial books and journals, newspaper accounts, early artwork and personal diaries, of early settlers and explorers.
He has used Major Mitchell’s diaries to describe some of the landscapes he travelled through in the 1830’s before widespread white settlement, with the Grampians and Wimmera well featured.
As a scientist he has referenced his quotes and he has an extensive bibliography which could be a source of much further reading.
I strongly urge people to buy or borrow this book for some insight into our natural environment, past and present.
The book is published by Polybractea Press in Melbourne and can be ordered from their website