Plant of the Month: What’s in the Box?

This month I’m back to our rather slow series of keys to the Eucalypts of the Hunter. if you’ve missed (or forgotten) I’ve previously done keys to Ironbarks, Scribbly Gums, Mallees, Bloodwoods (Corymbia) and the Apples (Angophora). This month we’re looking at the... read more

Plant of the Month: Not a Murder Chicken!

Despite being named for their leaves resemblance to the feathers of the Cassowary Casuarinas are unlikely to attempt to disembowel you should you startle one while out bushwalking, unlikely, but no guarantees. While they may look like pine trees, Casuarinas (and... read more

What’s in a Name? Critter Time

So far we’ve looked mostly at plant names and what they mean but as an equal opportunities columnist I figured I’d better do something for the critter lovers amongst us and translate a few animal names Echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus Tachy – fast, -glossus... read more

Plant of the Month – Grains

Sigh, I was wr….. Not exactly right…. You know how you’ve been telling people stuff for almost 30 years and no one’s ever corrected you and finally you get around to trying it and…… Grains have been quite a common food item across many cultures, high in carbohydrates... read more

News from Dungog Common Landcare

Dungog Common Landcarers were able to capture a very rare sight while out on the common this month- not only the Cynanchum elegans (White-flowered Wax Plant-  Endangered under the EPBC Act) in flower, but wait…. also the caterpillar of the moth that lays her eggs on... read more

Bird of the Month: Eastern Koel

The Eastern Koel- previously called the Common Koel is not so common in its rearing behaviour. It’s called brood parasitism and I personally find it fascinating. This photo was taken recently of a fledgling koel squawking for food from the little wattlebird surrogate mother. 

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Plant of the Month: Lotions and Potions!

I generally keep away from the medicinal uses of native plants as there’s a lot of cultural significance and sometimes ceremony attached to the use and preparation of them, but there are a few I refer to as “first aid plants” which I find are quite useful to have a... read more

Ask a Plant Nerd: Grass

Grasses and lots of other plants can tell us a lot about soil type, fertility, moisture, land use, fire history, salinity and so on, it’s not an exact science but knowing plants and some of their ecological requirements helps us to understand our sites better and to better manage them. 

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Plant of the Month: Arr, me scurvy dogs!

Ok, so it’s a little early for International Talk Like a Pirate Day but one issue for pirates, other seafarers and more than a few landlubbers was the disease of scurvy brought about by lack of Vitamin C in the diet, this was a big issue in the Royal Navy till young Jimmy Cook had lemons, limes and sauerkraut as mandatory dietary items for his underlings as they bobbed about the world’s oceans (“no dessert for you till you’ve sucked on a lemon”). 

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What’s in a Name? In the lap of the Gods.

One of the more common practices in botany and zoology is to name a species after a Greek or Latin god or figure of legend, here’s a few of them.

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Fire Ants

You may have heard of a sighting of fire ants on the North Coast of NSW.

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NSW DPE Koala Survey

The NSW DPE would like to invite Landcare community members to participate in the first field-based, statewide koala baseline survey in NSW.

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Growing Together: A Flourishing Month for Landcare Plant Distribution!

In the heart of Muswellbrook, our Landcare nursery has been buzzing with activity this month as we proudly distributed a whopping 1150 plants to eager Landcarers. The green thumb community is thriving, and the total number of tubestock plants shared among Landcarers... read more

A Koala Tree Effort

Deloitte Ltd has recently donated a few thousand trees to Aussie Ark and Hunter Region Landcare Network.  The trees donated to Aussie Ark will be used to enhance the mid story areas in their enclosures providing habitat for the smaller critters Aussie Ark is breeding,... read more

Plant of the Month: Looking for some hot stuff…

If you’re a late Boomer or early Gen Xer you’ve probably now got this earworm going (Millenials and Gen Y or Z should watch as well to see what cool music really is), this month we’re looking at some native herbs and spices (some of which have been used in our current... read more

The Marvels of Australian Mistletoe: Busting Common Myths

Australian mistletoe plays a crucial role in supporting biodiversity, punching above its weight in ecological significance

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Plant of the Month: Would you like a cuppa?

When you’re out of tea (or coffee) you’ll pretty much use anything and that must have led to some interesting experimentation by the first colonists, I’m guessing many were tried with some very interesting results before settling on some more or less acceptable “tea” making species.

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Donkey Orchids at Greta Central Park

HRLN held its first working bee with volunteers at Greta Central Park this month. Greta Central; during the session, we discovered a beautiful patch of donkey orchids, Diuris punctata.  

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Plant of the Month: Ouch, Spiky!

One of my favourite groups of plants are the Epacrids (recently lumped in with the Ericaceae), small shrubby plants with small spiky leaves, parallel venation and tubular flowers with five petals, these can be roughly divided into dry fruit and fleshy fruit with the fleshy fruited ones usually being pretty tasty.

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Cane Toad season is fast approaching, and we are on the lookout.

Think you have seen a cane toad? They can be easily mistaken for large native frogs.

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Plant of the Month: In the Grip of the Grape

You may not know it but Australia has quite a few native members of the grape family (Vitaceae). We’re all familiar with Vitis vinifera (and other table and wine grapes) but less well known is that Australia is home to around 30 members of the Vitaceae family, occurring in all mainland states except South Australia (though I think they make up for it with production of Vitis vinifera).

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Plant of the Month: Fruits of the Forest

Another vegetation type which is high in numbers of edible plants are the rainforests, we’ve previously talked about the Magenta Lily Pilly (Szyzigium paniculatum) and Sandpaper Fig (Ficus coronata) Plum Pine, (Podocarpus elatus) (Gurra-warra – Kattang) Also... read more

Flyways: The Story of Migratory Shorebirds on ABC iView

Flyways: The Story of Migratory Shorebirds on ABC iView Flyways tells the story of the world’s most incredible athletes – shorebirds – and documents the pressures placed on these birds by climate change and ever-expanding human development. Watch the... read more

Plant of the Month: Vegetable Chicken

Where there’s water there’s food, this also applies with salt water, saltmarshes generally having a few edible species either in them or nearby, generally growing in salt water are the halophytes, these plants suck up salt water and retain the salt in their leaves.... read more

Shorebird Feature: Winter Shorebird Count

Mid-May to mid-August is the Australian Winter Shorebird Count, with optimal sightings predicted for July 1st. Shorebird Guardians, twitchers and interested citizen scientists are encouraged to submit their surveys any time within that period, via the Birdata app or... read more

Woodland Bird Feature: Regent Honeyeaters Update

With the final Regent Honeyeaters that were being monitored as part of the 2022 captive release seemingly leaving the vicinity of the Tomalpin Woodlands, the hunt is now on to find where they have gone – and – where other Regent Honeyeaters are! Right now, as you’re... read more

World Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 13 is the first of two World Migratory Bird Days in 2023. These annual celebrations fall on the 2nd Saturday of May and October to mark the departure and return of migratory bird species, as they journey to their breeding grounds and back. World... read more

Plant of the Month: “You can eat it, but it tastes like…”

Following on from our recent Bush Foods day at Blandford I’m taking a break from trying to identify Eucalypts and looking at some of our local bushfoods. Within the Hunter there would be well over 200* species of native plant which are or have been recorded as edible,... read more

Woodland Bird Feature: Honeyeater Migration

Australia has the most complex array of bird movement and dispersal in the world. It is still poorly understood. Whilst other terrestrial continents have very clearly defined seasons with large-scale migrations of birds to go with those extremes of winter and summer,... read more

Plant of the Month: Lomandra longifolia

Member of Wollombi Landcare, Andrea Lang has written a short and entertaining article about how to gather and grow this creek-side helper, so please enjoy the article and get your Lomandra on! Lomandra is the backbone of many a revegetation project because of its... read more

Plant of the Month: Ironbarks

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town, He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down. He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop, Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop. “‘Ere! shave... read more

The Woodland Plant Helping Regent Honeyeaters from then Brink of Extinction

With less than 300 birds left in the wild, the Regent Honeyeater is a bird in dire need of help. These stunning birds will travel vast distances in search of food sources that provide high yields of nectar. Spotted Gum, Broad-leaved Ironbark, and Swamp Mahogany are... read more

Shorebird Feature: Bar-tailed Godwit

Last month, migratory shorebirds made global news headlines for setting a new World Record for the longest continuous migratory flight.  Previously held by another Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica subsp. baueri), the juvenile flew for 13 560km over the Pacific... read more

Woodland Bird Feature: Regent Honeyeater

Did you know that the most important habitat for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater is here in the lower Hunter Valley? Last month the local wild population was boosted with the release of 50 zoo-bred birds in the Tomalpin Woodlands, south of Kurri... read more

Paddock Trees for Koalas

Do you have isolated paddock trees on your property, or remnant vegetation that can potentially provide stepping stones for koalas and other fauna? Our Landcare networks on the Mid Coast are currently looking at properties within Koala ARKS for potential future... read more

Plant of the Month: Who’s a Sap?

The next group of Eucalypt like trees we’re looking at are the bloodwoods. The bloodwoods derive their common name from the large amount of sap they produce, previously listed in the Eucalyptus they were split off into the Corymbia genus in the 1990’s. Apart from the... read more

Landcare Sightings: Eastern Bearded Dragon

Spotted by Victoria, one of our Project Officers, whilst putting in the leg work for Camera Trapping at Congewai. This handsome Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata) was found up a tree, basking in the last of the afternoon sun. You can find these bearded dragons... read more

Turtle Monitoring Citizen Science

During November, the researchers at would like everyone to be out and about near their local waterways, keeping an eye out for turtles crossing roads and helping them get to the other side safely, looking for sightings of turtles emerging to nest... read more

Shorebird Feature: Beach-nesting Birds

Nesting season has begun for our local beach-nesting birds! These shorebirds and seabirds are extremely vulnerable to disturbance from people during this time and, unfortunately, these warmer months are also when humans flock to the beaches. Disturbance during nesting... read more

Woodland Bird Feature: The Noisy Miner (a native nuisance?)

The noisy miner is one native species that has benefited greatly from human alterations to woodland and forest habitat, enabling it to increase in abundance and distribution. In short, the Noisy Miner has become an overabundant species. Why is this a problem? Large... read more

Plant of the Month: She’ll be Apples!

Within the Eucalypts and close relatives the common names of many of the groups do make a bit of sense, Ironbarks, Stringybarks, Boxes are all named for their bark, the Bloodwoods are so named for the large amount of sap they produce but what about these things called... read more

September Shorebird Feature

Some say Spring has sprung a little early this year and some flowers and birds may agree with you! Observations of Beach-stone Curlews and Far Eastern Curlews have already been reported on our shorelines from mid-August.  With the ‘official’ beginning of Spring, comes... read more

Winner of Australia’s Favourite Tree Announced

Take me to the river… “The contest is over, the dust has settled and one magnificent tree stands above the rest.  It twists and turns as it gathers water from deep underground, reaches for the sky and sends generous branches in improbable directions.  For... read more

Woodland Bird Feature: Spring is in the air – literally!

Have you noticed the warmer days already? Don’t take any notice of that thing on the wall that thinks spring starts on the 1st of September; spring is well and truly underway by then! There are (I think) at least two springs; the first being “early spring”, which... read more

Plant of the Month – Mallees

Plant of the Month: “I don’t mind at all if you call me a Mallee Boy.” The famous song by John Williamson refers to the Mallee Region of Western Victoria an area famous for it’s stunted multi-stemmed Eucalypts known as Mallees. The Mallee growth form is a fairly... read more

Plant of the Month: Not Rocky, the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa)

Spring is just around the corner, you may not believe me but it is, and that means the wildflowers will be out soon. One of the more spectacular ones in this area (the Upper Hunter) is the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa) a spectacular yellow lily to around 70 cm in... read more

Shorebird Article Series:

This month we defer to a wonderfully informative series of Shorebird Articles written by Neil Fraser of Tomaree Birdwatchers, published by the EcoNetwork Port Stephens. Featuring survey results, maps and handy links; this series is a must-read! Pictured: Bar-tailed... read more

Wing Threads – The Adventures of Microlight Milly

Images source: Amelia Formby (AKA ‘Microlight Milly’) is now 3 weeks into her 20 000km flight around Australia, to raise awareness, educate and “to inspire action to protect the habitats of our amazing migratory shorebirds.” The project, titled ‘Wing... read more

Return of Native Flora & Fauna at Hunter River Reserve

They were heard long before they were seen – the ya-hoos and babbles of a gregarious family of Grey-Crowned Babblers (Pomatostomus temporalis subsp temporalis). The vulnerable Eastern subspecies of babbler moved through the Woodland at Hunter River Reserve,... read more

Plant of the Month: Brigalow

A dandy old horsernan is Brigalow Mick-Which his name, sir, is Michael O’Dowd -Whatever he’s riding, when timber is thick,He is always in front of the crowd.BRIGALOW MICK by Harry (“Breaker”) Morant Images from: Aside... read more

Shorebird Feature: Double-banded Plover

breeding pulmage –  image source non-breeding plumage – image source Charadrius bicinctus You may think that Winter isn’t a good time to spot migratory shorebirds.  It’s true, the majority of migrants have voyaged to the Northern... read more

Promote Landcare: Facebook Events

We are fortunate enough to have funding for our local groups to host workshops. While our groups may be enthusiastic about having a workshop, Landcarers don’t always have the skillset to undertake local marketing for their event. In this upcoming series, we will... read more

Woodland Birds Feature: Woodland Wander

With support from Hunter Local Land Services under the National Landcare Program, HRLN hosted a “Woodland Wander” excursion at Poppet Head Park during the April school holidays. The event was a great success, attended by almost 30 enthusiastic kids from Nulkaba OOSH’... read more

Plant of the Month: The Tale of White Beard

Common in heathlands and sandstone areas the Bearded Heaths (Leucopogon spp) look fairly unremarkable till coming into flower and fruit. The Bearded Heath gets it’s botanical Genus Leucopogon from the  Greek “Leuco-” meaning white and “pogon” meaning beard, for once... read more

What’s the difference between native, indigenous and endemic plants? And why is it important?

These terms confuse a lot of people, so let’s just take a minute to clear things up. ‘Native’ is a general term for plants that occur naturally in a country but not necessarily across the whole of that country.  ‘Indigenous’  – Indigenous species are categorised as a... read more

Death Adder Snakes

Adder, Yes, Mathematician, No. For all the time I’ve spent wandering through the bush (in thongs or even barefoot when young) I rarely see snakes, most of my encounters with them have been around areas of human activity (including a baby Brown Snake I had to catch and... read more

Plant of the Month: Big Bad Banksia Men

Big Bad Banksia Men Australian author May Gibbs cast the “Big Bad Banksia Men” as the villains of many of her stories, looking at the cones of the Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) it is quite easy to imagine them as heads of some creature (though I think casting them... read more

Bell Frog Planting & Survey Results

In collaboration with Local Land Services (LLS) & National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and under the guidance of University of Newcastle (UoN), we conducted after-dark frog surveys in Kooragang Wetlands National Park.  These ran in conjunction with our... read more

Shorebird Workshop Results

With support from Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, HRLN hosted another successful shorebird training workshop on Saturday, March 19th, and here are the outcomes;   The Port Stephens workshop was... read more