Imbolc in Melbourne, Australia


Here are the results of my research and observations of this unique part of the world at this time of year.



According to the six-season calendar we are now moving into 'Early Spring' and it is slowly warming up. On the seven-season calendar for the Upper Yarra Valley, we remain in Wombat Season until the end of August.

The Skies
Days The air is warming and the fragrance of flowers becomes increasingly noticed by our senses. The temperature averages between 6 and 13 degrees C. Sunrise ~ 7:15 a.m. Sunset time ~ 5:30 p.m. Throughout the wintry time, north-westerly breezes prevail over Melbourne, whereas the summer winds are more likely to be southerly.

NightsThe temperature can hit zero degrees C on the mountain and snow may fall. While he was alive, my aboriginal friend, Gaparingu Naputa would tell the tale of The Eagle for August. Called Totyarguil, (the constellation we call Aquila) is visible throughout this time, in the Northern Sky, along with the other bird constellations. The Eagle includes the star Altair, which is also sacred in the Vedic System. Throughout spring the constellation of Scorpius ranges across the southern sky.

Indigenous flora and fauna

Flowering Several Wattles including the Silver Wattle (mid-July-end Sept), Hedge, Golden, Cootamundra, Mt Morgan and Myrtle Wattles begin to bloom. The Cinnamon Wattle (Acacia leprosa) will stay in flower until December. Also yellow, the little Guinea flower (Hibbertia riparia), peaks from August to November. The Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata), also begins to bloom and will stay in flower until February. In moist, forest gullies, from late winter to early spring, the Southern Sassafras displays its beautifully scented creamy flowers. Several purplish flowers appear as well: the purple coral pea (Hardenbergia violacea), which is a climber, and two flax-lilies – the Tasman (Dianella tasmanica), which has blue star-shaped flowers & large blue or violet berries after flowering and the pale one (Dianella longifolia), which is similar. The purple Sarsaparilla, Native Violets & Common Hovea also begin flowering in August. Austral Indigo, with their pink to purple pea-flowers makes a beautiful show between August & December. These two colour schemes combine in the spiny-headed Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia), which is a large tussock plant with tall spikes of creamy-yellow scented flowers with purple bases. Koolunga Reserve has at least two orchids visible during this time: the Tall Greenhood & Nodding Greenhood. Scrub Sheoaks are unusual because some of them, but not all of them, possess the floral parts of one sex only. The males are identifiable by their rusty brown flowers, whilst the females have crimson flowers. Tree ferns begin to unfold their new fronds.

Animals, Our two monotremes: the echidna and the platypus are thought to share a common heritage, distinct from other mammals. The echidna lays one egg in autumn, with the baby developing in the pouch for three months. The mother then takes it out and puts it in the den, some time in July. Antechinuses breed in July or August. Bandicoots also begin breeding in winter but have a long and prolific season during which the females commonly bear three litters. Towards the end of this season their progeny will also have begun to breed. Possums have two breeding seasons per year, peaking in autumn and spring but not exclusively. Some young brushtails will be evicted from their homes and in need of a box-home and food from a human family. Frogs can be heard in the wetlands. The potentially threatened and totally protected, Dwarf Galaxias fish begin to spawn in our local waterways. The eggs will be deposited on a suitable surface, the underside of a leaf being a particular favourite. Humpback whales come up from Antarctica to breed and begin to appear around Warrnambool.

Birds, Mating and nesting begin during this time. Magpies, Ravens, Grey Butcherbirds, Straited Thornbills and Superb Fairy-Wrens are visibly active throughout Imbolc, and the parrot family is out in full force. Pretty little lorikeets can be seen feasting on the Banksia flowers. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos squawk overhead as they create wide circles in the sky. Gangs of Black and Yellow Cockatoos visit our home from time to time to strip the seed pods off the Hakea Tree. I once watched a solitary Magpie think about challenging the ‘invaders’ but realizing it was no match for their size, simply sat and stared in amazement at them. Noisy Miners call loudly at dawn and Blackbirds sing their territorial songs. Tiny wild ducklings appear throughout spring and we must watch out for them on our roads. In late winter/early spring, the Pallid Cuckoo, known as the 'Harbinger of Spring' migrates to the southern parts of Australia, where it breeds. They lay their eggs in the nest of other birds and feed on large orange and black hairy caterpillars.

Insects, Cocoons may be seen on gum leaves and the first moths appear mid August. King crickets lay eggs in the banksias.

Imbolc, Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne, Australia
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