May 20 is World Bee Day. A day to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to life on earth! Bees and their pollinator friends are in more and more danger each day due to human activity. This is a crazy thought when you consider that we now know that these hard-working friends are crucial to the survival of our ecosystems. One out of every 3 mouthfuls of food depend on pollinators such as bees. Adding to the dangers presented by human activity, is the fact that adult bees only live for about 6 weeks. Talk about a delicate situation we are in. On a lighter note, did you know some bees have a dance? Yup, they do! It is called the waggle dance. This special dance is a way in which bees can communicate information about flowers, like a flower that has lots of pollen and nectar. Clever little cuties!
Want to explore local flora in your backyard? Use the Common Heath activity sheet to help you identify one of our most significant pollinating plants.
Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is part of the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung People whose rights were recognised through a Recognition and Settlement Agreement with the State of Victoria in March 2013. The Dja Dja Wurrung People maintain a close and continuing connection to Djandak, their traditional Country.
Found at the heart of the central Victorian goldfields, this is a rare place where you can see real traces of days gone by. Take a trip back in time to the Victorian Goldrush era.
The discovery of gold in July 1851 brought tens of thousands of migrants to the Castlemaine area. At one point it was the richest goldfield in the world! Today, the Castlemaine Diggings holds fascinating tales of the area’s golden past. Much of the gold-rush era can still be seen. Explore abandoned mines and settlements among shady Box-Ironbark woodlands. From the remains of house sites and puddling machines, to the gold mines and gullies that yielded fortunes.
The Garfield Water Wheel near Chewton is the perfect place for families to start exploring the Diggings, with new interpretive signs and several short and longer walks exploring Dja Dja Wurrung and gold rush heritage among Box-Ironbark woodland. The spreading wattles are flowering, fungi are starting to pop up, and migratory birds are passing through, so don’t forget your cameras and binoculars! The nearby Eureka Reef Heritage Walk (1.8km loop) is also ideal for families. You can download heritage notes (factsheets) and maps for both here.
Whilst in the area you can lose yourself in the autumn glory of Castlemaine itself. Tree lines streets hold fun family experiences for all interests! Visit the beautiful Buda House, an authentic goldfields villa house. Three acres of heritage gardens surround this Museums Australia accredited museum. Also on the must do list is a wonder around the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, housing original 19th century features such as elm and oak avenue, taking in the incredible sight of the authentic steam heritage train linking the historic gold mining towns of Castlemaine and Maldon in Central Victoria (steam, whistles lights and all!) and a visit to The Mill; home of Castlemaine vintage bazaar, an artisan precinct and a must try food precinct comprised of individual small businesses offering a smorgasbord of delightful treats to feed the hungry explorer!
Castlemaine happens to be a SPECTACULAR place to enjoy the crunch of autumn leaves under your feet and have your breath taken away by the stunning pops of red, orange and gold foliage.
Check out the Junior Rangers Victorian Goldfields activity book to learn all about this historic area.
Look up, look down, look all around! There is so much to discover in Terrick Terrick National Park. The park’s diversity of habitats provide a home for many threatened plants and animals. It really is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.
The park is located 225km north-west of Melbourne, and 4km north of Mitiamo. One special feature of the park is its endangered grasslands habitat. The native grasslands of Terrick Terrick are some of the best in the state, and are even home to elusive and endangered Plains-wanderer. It is one of the few places in northern Victoria where the original landscapes and vegetation of the area are mostly intact.
The You Yangs, or Youang in language, is a very important place for Wadawurrung people. If you’re lucky, you might see Bundjil the Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring through the sky, keeping watch over the beautiful granite peaks in the middle of the plains. The You Yangs is a place where visitors can stop and appreciate culture and sustainability, as well as see an example of a special place that humans have long held a connection to.
Who doesn’t love a good, juicy cherry? Well, what if we told you that there’s a native cherry found throughout Victoria!? But, unlike the cherries you’re probably familiar with, this native cherry grows its seed on the outside.
The Cherry Ballart is a small tree that kind of looks like a European cypress. It has soft, drooping green branches and teeny tiny leaves. This plant is a partial parasite. It uses the sun to make its own energy (through photosynthesis) but collects extra nutrients to grow big and strong by tapping into the roots of its neighbours – kind of like eating your own food at recess and then taking your friend’s lunchbox when they aren’t looking!
Wadawurrung believe Bundjil, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, is their creator spirit. Bundjil created the lands, waterways, native animals, and people. With a wingspan of 2.3 metres, you can see Bundjil soaring in the sky from a long distance away.
Hey Junior Rangers,
My name is Ebonee Cook, I’m a Wadawurrung woman and I work on Country as a Community Engagement Ranger. Even though I work across the Geelong Area, I spend most of my time at the You Yangs and Serendip Sanctuary. I love my job because every day I get to connect with culture, educate the next generation about caring for Country and share knowledge with Junior Rangers and school students. It’s so much fun and really rewarding.
My favourite park is Youang, the Wadawurrung name for You Yangs Regional Park. Have you been there before? It’s a place on Wadawurrung Country where I feel strongly connected to my ancestors and to Elders who have walked before me. All around the park, I see evidence of their sustainable lifestyle and the ways that they have cared for and lived in harmony with Country through time.
Have you seen the rock platform at low tide in this special sanctuary? It looks just like a mushroom! Hidey-holes in the ancient rocks form mini habitats for lots of marine life. Each season brings new things to see, so make sure you visit Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary many times through the year.
Weedy Seadragons are masters of disguise. These gentle creatures love to hang out in Victoria’s shallow coastal waters – no wonder they are our state’s marine emblem!
Have you ever found a string of beads in a rockpool? No, not the kind of beads that your aunty wears! We’re talking about Neptune’s Necklace. This special seaweed is only found in southern Australia and New Zealand.