Memories of a rural childhood – Z is for zoological visitors


Zoological Visitors

Over the years, we had many zoological visitors. Some were probably always present, others were seasonal visitors and a few were just seen once or twice.

Black cockatoos – infrequently seen in pairs
Blue cranes (white-faced herons) – in pairs
Blue wrens – often seen flitting in the bushes near the creek
Echidnas – sometimes seen crossing paddocks or roads
Goanna – I’ve only seen the one
Koala – we found one in a holly tree one day
Kookaburras – their laughing call makes it easy to identify where they are
Lizards – lots of skinks; once a lost shingleback wandered in
Magpies – regularly serenading everyone with their songs
Mopoke Owls – often heard at night
Parrots and Lorikeets – often seen in fruit trees
Platypus – rarely spotted in the creeks
Possums – lovely from a distance but not good on the roof!
Snakes – rarely seen except when baled with the hay
Tadpoles – often found in dams and scooped into jars till they grew legs
Wedge-tailed eagles – rarely seen, soaring overhead
White cockatoos – new visitors, noisy and destructive, in large flocks
Wombats – far too often seen dead beside the road

Memories of a rural childhood – Y is for yo-yos and the yard



Schoolyard games seemed to have irregular cycles. Yo-yos, jacks, marbles, swap cards, skipping, hula hoops were all popular at various times of the year. Not every family could afford them all of course, so there were always some performing and others watching. Those who had the fancier yo-yos could make them do impressive tricks whilst the rest of us had to be content with more basic movements.

The Yard

The “yard” was a fenced area beside the house in which the younger children in the family could play. There was a plum tree and a swing and room to run around.

Memories of a rural childhood – X is for axe and algebra



OK, I’m cheating here a bit, but an axe was a very important tool during my childhood. Without an axe to split firewood we would have had no cooked food and no heating in winter. Dad used a chainsaw to cut the logs into sections but an axe was needed to get it to a useful size. If Dad was busy with other farm tasks, when the wood ran out, Mum went out and split it with the axe herself!


A sort of cheat here too. I remember our grade 6 teacher telling us that we would be learning a new subject called algebra in high school the next year. I was quite intrigued by his explanation about using the letters “x” and “y” instead of numbers and looked forward to this interesting new challenge.


Memories of a rural childhood – W is for worms and water



Giant worms are not something you see every day. Some of them live in very damp areas near the creek at the bottom of our hill. They rarely come to the surface and so are not often seen. Sometimes people have heard a gurgling sound as they have moved along their tunnels. Not me, unfortunately!

The only time I remember seeing more than one of these giant worms was after a tall mountain ash tree fell over near the creek. Several worms were hanging from the roots which were now a fair way up in the air. The worms appeared to be at least 1.5 metres (5 ft) long but may have stretched after death.

Note: The worms in our area are thought not to be the same species as the well-known giant Gippsland earthworm (Megascolides australis). 


Some time later, one of our cows fell into an unexpected hole near these roots. She was completely underground with just her head at ground level and was only discovered when the current milking cow was reluctant to leave her. It was a great challenge and took many hours to extricate the cow from the hole. Dad and a couple of neighbours dug a series of steps in the hope that she could be persuaded to walk up out of the hole. She was not at all cooperative until they lowered a bucket of water and she had drunk her fill. Then it was easy. She walked up the steps gingerly at first, then more confidently. Once out of the hole she wandered off to eat some grass, the only external evidence of her ordeal being a scrape mark on her flank.