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Murgheboluc Murmers

The flora and fauna of Murgheboluc is very rich, especially along the Barwon River and the two creeks that dissect the land, Native Hut Creek and Bruces Creek.   The region is described as ‘Victorian volcanic plain grassy woodland’, although European cultivation and grazing has reduced this to small pockets, many of which are along these waterways.

The residual grassland communities are usually dominated by Kangaroo Grass with a wide variety of perennial herbs.  There are many threatened plant species, often restricted to the narrow laneways, road or rail reserves and the river banks.  The region supports a wide variety of reptiles, birds of prey, water birds, perching birds and some ground-dwelling ones, and a few mammal species among which are wallabies, kangaroos, flying fox and koalas (not to mention rats, foxes, feral cats and the indestructible rabbit).  The monotremes survive:  there is a population of platypus in the Barwon River and the occasional echidna has been seen.

Down at the Murgheboluc Reserve the Corellas screech, flap and swoop and peck enthusiastically at the grass.  Rusty the dog has taken against the Corellas who invade his territory and make a racket when he tries to doze in the sun.  He leaps into the air and barks furiously as they pass overhead but never makes it high enough to catch one.  The foxes are smarter, they wait until the Corellas actually land, or so the feathery evidence suggest.

Unfortunately the Corellas have had a bit of a shock.  The Committee of Management at the Reserve decided the time had come to review the safety of the trees, a decision fuelled by the presence of fallen limbs on the ground and the knowledge that from time to time visitors had camped under them, sometimes in large numbers.  It was felt that some trees might have to go.

The advice of the Department was sought and two very knowledgeable young people arrived in their shiny four wheel drives and toured the Reserve.  The Corellas sensed trouble and flocked into a huge Cypress where they squawked and flapped restlessly looking down on the new humans and wondering when they could get back to the onion grass.   

The Departmental officers gazed upwards into the crowns of the trees, rapping their knuckles on the bark as they did so, nodding wisely and occasionally tut-tutting about a phenomenon called ‘self-pruning’.  Your author had thought this was something that cats and teenagers did but apparently trees do it too.

One of the Departmental officers was clearly more senior than the other when it came to condemning trees.  They spoke in low tones to each other rather like undertakers examining a new ‘client’ and then would turn to the Committee’s representative sadly, shaking their heads and move onto the next tree.  First it was a limb to go here and there, then the Silky Oak.  They examined the Peppercorns suspiciously.  The coup-de-grace was a massive Cypress, currently full of Corellas, that had clearly fallen on hard times and was in danger of falling on hard heads.  Whistling Kites nest at the top of this tree and the Committee was gently requested to remove it “before the Spring please”.

So the chains saws came and the heavy lifting equipment and the elevated platform and the men in hard hats.  The Corellas moved across the road to watch events.  The sound of the wood chipper reverberated across Murgheboluc and gaps appeared in the previously unbroken line of vegetation.

The Department kindly paid the Committee for signs to place on some of the remaining trees advising of the danger of camping under them.  Then the wind came.  The signs went up and a huge limb came down.  Your author looked ruefully at the Cypress saw dust and wondered if we had cut down the right tree after all.  Fortunately the Whistling Kites still whistle and the Corellas still swoop.