Call Out For Victorian Nature Stories!

environment-victoriaVictoria’s native species are under pressure. Too many are threatened or endangered, and the laws that are supposed to protect them aren’t working. But these laws are about to be reviewed by the Andrews government.

This is our chance to make sure the places we love and the plants and animals that live there are protected. Governments need to understand how important this is. Environment Victoria has put out a heartfelt plea to all Victorians. They want to hear our stories about threatened plants or animals we care about.

Helmeted Honeyeater, Victoria's critically endangered bird emblem

Helmeted Honeyeater, Victoria’s critically endangered bird emblem

Whether it’s the beach, the bush, the mountains or a beautiful river or lake, many of our amazing native plants and animals are under threat. Victoria has around 100,000 different species. Too many of them are in trouble – 21 percent of bird species, 18 percent of mammals, 39 percent of frogs and 21 percent of plants are listed as threatened in Victoria, and are on the downhill slide towards extinction.

This is staggering.  Even common species like Kookaburras, Willy wagtails and River Red Gums are not as common as they once were. The problem is that our plants and animals are losing their habitat. The areas that they can call home are shrinking as cities expand, logging destroys forests and agriculture becomes more intensive. And the laws that are supposed to protect them have proved powerless to stop the  decline in numbers. Too many species are on the path to extinction.

Now the Andrews government is reviewing our threatened species legislation, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, and this is our chance to strengthen the laws so that they really do protect our native plants and animals. Environment Victoria is planning their submission, and they need our help.

Have you got a threatened species story to share?

Blue Banded Bee

Blue-banded Bee – my favourite bee! Fabulous photo by Steven Riding

Some of Environment Victoria’s member groups have great stories to tell about their efforts to rescue threatened species. Like the Friends of Merri Creek, who have been working to help the Blue-banded bee save an endangered plant!

Blue-banded bees are one of the few insects that can pollinate the endangered Matted Flax-lily. Unfortunately the bees can only fly 300m at a time. The Flax-lily populations along the Merri Creek in Fawkner and Reservoir have thinned out so much that they are too far apart for the bees to travel from one to the next.


Matted Flax-lily

So the Friends of Merri Creek have raised over $25,000 to establish pollination ‘stepping stones’ between the populations to help the bees reach all the Flax-lilies and keep this important endangered species going. What an amazing project!

Environment Victoria will be using these stories to illustrate their submission – have you got one to share?

In 2017, we have a great chance to improve protections for our threatened species and make sure our natural environment stays healthy. So before the year wraps up, why not share a story about a plant or animal that’s important to you?

Almost There + Book Giveaway

These Saddles Will Soon Get A Workout

These Saddles Will Soon Get A Workout!

I’m putting the finishing touches on my new manuscript, which is due at Penguin on Thursday. This has been the hardest, but also the most satisfying book that I’ve written so far, with a broader focus than my previous novels. From Afghanistan’s last wilderness, to Australia’s great eastern escarpment, an epic tale of love, loss and redemption.Writing it has been an emotional roller coaster, and more than once I’ve found myself in tears.



So, you can imagine how pleased I’ll be to send it off, and turn my attention to things closer to home – like the beauty unfolding all around me. Spring is my favourite time of year, and I’ll finally have a chance to enjoy it! This post is dedicated to Pilyara, the beautiful property where I live, and the animals and plants that I share it with.

DSCF0626Pilyara has many forested areas, with spectacular grey gums, mountain ash, and messmate stringy bark trees towering overhead. Below grows a dense layer of smaller plants including correa, heath, dusty miller, and golden bush pea. Delicate ground orchids abound, and ferns fringe the creek, including tall tree ferns. An astounding range of birds are found here: honey-eaters, bower-birds, parrots, cockatoos, kookaburras, currawongs, whip-birds, willy-wagtails, magpies, herons, swallows, swifts, ducks, eagles and owls, just to name a few. We’ve even spotted a lyrebird once or twice.Native animals include wombats, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, kangaroos, possums, gliders,bush rats, antechinus,bats and platypus in the creek. We also have the odd goanna and snake.


Native Mint Bush

We received a grant from Victoria’s Healthy Waterways program, to finish fencing off the gullies and creek, and the work is almost complete. This will further enhance Pilyara as a habitat for native flora and fauna. Just talking about it makes me want to head off down to the creek! But no, first things first. Only a few more days work on the manuscript, and then the farrier comes to shoe the horses. (My present to myself for finishing!) Pilyara is only a few minutes ride from the Bunyip state forest, with its stunning scenery and heritage horse trails. Here are some photos taken today. Roll on Thursday!

I’m giving away a two-pack of my books. Leave a comment telling me your favourite native bird, or your favourite first line of a novel, to go in the draw. Let me know which two books you’d like. Closing date next Sunday 4th October. (Aust & NZ only) 





Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden




Sheba and Star