Jacky Whites waterhole where one time the Bullocky's watered their stock when on the long drive.
The Apsley District is Unique
The area was once under the sea. The sea retreated about 2 million years ago causing the distinctive sandy ridges and wetland areas to be formed. It also laid down the limestone for groundwater storage.
Now the large red gum trees, which grow on heavy clay soil, are interspersed with bulokes which are scattered among stringy bark scrubs, sandy ridges, and wetlands of various types and sizes.
Due to the variety of soil types, farming is very diverse. The country lends itself to stock and crop production. The groundwater is used for stock, domestic and irrigation supply.
A Special Feature of the Apsley district is the runaway holes or soaks.
Some wetlands collapse when holding a full complement of water and the water disappears at a rapid rate into the groundwater system.
Newlands Lake can hold water for many years and when the runaway hole becomes active it can empty the swamp in several days. History books state that people have lost their lives when this phenomenon occurs.
Wetlands Apsley's lifestyle has been based around its wetlands. The wetlands are splendid during time of year with aquatic flowers, reeds, sedges and rushes. The bird life is amazing.
There is thought to be over 2500 wetlands in Victoria's Southwest. Many of these are located in the Apsley area. This area has been referred to as "Kakadu without the crocodiles."
Wetlands come in many sizes and forms. Some contain permanent water are very large and deep and referred to as Lakes or deep freshwater marshes. Others are small and shallow and contain water for short periods. These are often referred to as Freshwater meadows.
Apsley's lifestyle has been based around its wetlands especially nearby Newlands Lake.
Wetlands are areas of natural beauty where people can enjoy yabbying, camping, canoeing, duck shooting, bird watching, fishing and skiing.
Wetlands have a high habitat value. They are home to frogs, water-bugs, reptiles, fish, waterbirds and many plant species. Apsley area is one home to Growling Grass Frogs, Brolgas and Freckled Duck which rely on wetlands for their survival.
As Apsley's groundwater levels are affected by rainfall, the local wetlands are thought to be an integral link with our groundwater system. Runaway holes (eg the one at Newlands Lake) and soaks are evident in the Apsley area.
Wetlands are known to be natural cleanser and purifier hence Apsley's groundwater is of exceptional quality.
Apsley Wetlands are also the upper catchment of the Mosquito Creek which feeds into the Ramsar Sites of Bool Lagoon and Hacks Lagoon in South Australia via 3 waterways. Koijak, Thompson and Yalla Creeks.
Although rainfall has been sparse over the past few years and dried up the wetlands, they still remain a key element of Apsley persona.
Reference: Wetlands the Heart of the South-west Wimmera Department of Natural Resources and Environment 2000.
"Owing to the richness of the district in both forest and water, birdlife is unusually abundant and varied." This quote was taken from William Ruth's award winning essay in the Victorian Centenary Essay Competition in 1951, which is published as The Romance of a Selection Victoria's Western Border Country 1850-1950.
The open farmland in the district has many larger species - magpies, kookaburras, cockatoos, parrots, ravens. Often seen are the birds of prey especially the majestic wedge tailed eagle. Kites, falcons and hawks are also prevalent. On closer inspection smaller birds do inhabit these areas - chats, quails, finches & wrens.
The wetlands support myriad of birds, including ibis, cormorants, coots, spoonbills, swans and cranes to mention a few.
The stringy-bark forest encourages many smaller species - wrens, robins, tree creepers, and honeyeaters to name a few. The Red Tail Black Cockatoo and emu also frequent here.
At night the eerie call of the mopoke is evidence one of many varieties of owls.
The Bush Stone Curlew, frequents open woodland and will either crouch near the ground and camouflage among sticks or run/fly away when an intruder approaches. Their unique call, an eerie and mournful "kerloo", imitates the sound of a woman being strangled and is usually uttered after nightfall and especially on moonlit nights. The nocturnal birds stand 55cm tall, having long legs, large eyes and a long stout bill.
The local Kowree Farm Tree Group (Landcare) is presently seeking sites to fence out their worst predators - the fox.
The Red Tailed Black Cockatoo, RTBC population found around the Apsley district is a separate species to the RTBC found throughout northern Australia. It is a very large (50-64cm) black cockatoo which has a distinct harsh "kree" call. They lay a single egg in large hollow dead red gums usually between October and March. The birds also feed on stringy-bark and buloke seeds. This subspecies is endangered due to habitat clearing and loss of suitable nest trees. The Kowree Farm Tree Group has been funded by the World Wildlife Fund to actively protect and enhance these birds.
The Brolga, also referred to as the native companion it is renowned for its graceful dancing. These large birds (70 -130cm) are most commonly seen on shallow wetlands and flooded areas but can also be seen on grasslands and crops. Brolgas feed on a wide range of food including large insects, reptiles, frogs and small mammals, especially rodents.
Reference: The Romance of a Selection Victoria's Western Border Country 1850-1950, William Ruth and The Glove-box Guide to Wimmera Wetland Birds, WCMA 2004
Native Vegetation - Flora
Apsley District has a huge variety of trees and native vegetation.
The varied landscape and soil types provide the right environment for a vast assortment of trees/shrubs to grow.
Springtime is special when the Stringy bark scrubs come alive with colour. The wildflowers including heaths and orchids are beautiful.
The wetlands are splendid at this time of year with aquatic flowers, reeds, sedges and rushes. Flowers consist of Broughton Pea, Wallaby Grass, Fairy Aprons, Swamp Billy-Buttons and Yellow Stars.
Hollow red gums are a feature of the West Wimmera Shire. They are protected as they are nesting sites for the Endangered Red Tail Black Cockatoo.
Bulokes are also special as they produce the favourite feed source for the RTBC. The RTBC also feeds on Stringy-bark seeds.
Large tree varieties include:
Red Gums White Gums Stringy Bark Messmates Apsley Moonahs (Ti-Tree) Buloke Grey Box Banksia Wattles Hops Bush Lignum