Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Ochre Archives Newsletter - Issue No. 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of ‘Ochre Archives’. The Newsletter is a little later than we’d planned. On 1st February 2007 we assumed responsibility for directly managing the farm and Phillip has ramped up his activities in generating off farm income in the land regeneration arena as well. Here’s our latest batch of discoveries and actions.

Feedback on Ochre Archives No. 3
Our thanks go to Mikla Lewis for identifying the plant species with blue flowers pictured in Ochre Archives No. 3. It was a Rock Isotome (Isotoma petraea) which was used by Aborigines as a substitute or addition to 'Pituri' - "a highly valued stimulant used for ceremonies, operations, socially and for spiking waterholes to aid the capture of game".

Flora & Bird Survey November 2006
Tamsin Martin from Ecolens based at Millthorpe visited “Ochre Arch” and conducted a flora and bird survey. Tamsin’s visit was coordinated by Andrew Zelnik from the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. We have yet to receive the output from the visit, but were pleased that Tamsin was able to identify a species of plant located to the west of Lookout Rock. The plants are called Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia) and the reeds from these plants were once used by Aborigines for weaving.

Findings from recent trips to the farm
Trees and Shrubs

The 2 Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus) trees shown in the picture have shed almost all of their leaves except for some right at the tips of the branches. We suspect this is in response to the extended dry period, and hope they recover when we do get decent rains.

Rock Formations
We’ve come across the rock below in the Middle Hill paddock and named it ‘Bear Rock’. Wallabies & Kangaroos use it regularly for shelter.

We now know of two natural arches on our property. This one is located in one of the creeks in Ghost Valley, and is quite different to Ochre Arch.

Following rain in November we found this Eastern Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis) wandering along the creek in the Spring Paddock. It was about 500 metres from the nearest water point.

Last week this Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona Barbatawas) ‘sun-baking’ on bare ground in the Middle Hill Paddock.

Blue - green alga has developed in the Crayfish Dam.

Some other (less toxic) alga is evident in the Native Pasture Paddock dam.

We thought that the second spring on the farm had dried up, but one morning noticed the area surrounded by birdlife. On close inspection it became apparent that the birds were sourcing water from a small hole about 15cm below ground level. Amazing!

On 16th February 2007 with the help of some visiting friends we saw a Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica) near Lookout Rock, taking the total species count to 62 so far.
When we compared the Atlas of NSW Wildlife threatened species list against our ‘birds seen on Ochre Arch’ list we discovered that we have at least 7 species that are rated as ‘Vulnerable’ on our farm.

Small Scale Experimentation
Phillip read somewhere that worms love to eat cardboard. We’ve set up a very simple experiment, placing some cardboard on bare ground to see what happens over time.

In Closing
Once again, feedback is most welcome, via email to

Until next time!

Kind regards… Phillip & Jan Diprose

Link to: Ochre Archives Newsletter No. 3

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