A glimpse of Ballarat before European settlement can be had along the western side of Victoria Park, where several species of wildflowers are making an impressive display in grassland.
The main species are milkmaids (white), chocolate lilies (mauve) and bulbine lilies (yellow). They impart a pleasant fragrance on a warm day.
These plants give us an idea of the type of country taken up by the first Europeans settling in Ballarat in the late 1830s. Kangaroo grass, wallaby grass and other native grasses remain there also.
In lesser numbers are rice flowers, bossiaea, sun orchids, golden moth orchids, sundews, speedwell and others – all benefiting from the wet spring and producing more flowers than usual.
There are no yam daisies in the range of Victoria Park’s native wildflowers. They were probably there originally, having since been grazed out of existence by rabbits, hares and sheep.
In other parts of Victoria Park there are everlastings, trigger plants and other remnant natives, all pieces of a picture of Ballarat before European settlement and a valuable but largely unrecognised part of the city’s heritage.
Other places are providing a similarly good display.
The quaintly-named Sparrow Ground, off Spencer Street in Ballarat East, is a colourful spot worth a look.
A long-term advocate for birds and their habitat, Wallie Coles of Brown Hill died last month. He was known for his conservation efforts, especially along the Yarrowee River upstream from Brown Hill.
Wallie co-founded the local bird observers’ branch (now Birdlife Ballarat) in 1983 and attended most of its functions until ill health prevented him doing so a few years ago.
He was well-known for his ability to imitate a wide variety of bird calls, which he used to bring birds closer for easier viewing.
Wallie was contacted by bird watchers from all over the world because of his wide knowledge of Australian birds and birding places.
Tiny 2mm flies attracted to lights at night have been submitted for identification. They were thought to be biting.
These little dark-coloured insects are drain flies. They are a minor nuisance, but do no actual harm inside, nor do they bite. They are silent in flight, due to their fringed wings.
They hold their wings tent-shaped above their bodies when at rest, rather than spread out like normal flies, or flat above the body like mosquitoes. Their larvae live in damp, sludgy places.
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