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Birdlife of Lake Wendouree Ballarat – Musk Ducks

Lake Wendouree in the centre of ballarat supports a plethora of beautiful and important avian life, great for an every child wins a prize sort of bird watching experience, as there is always plenty to see- as the lake rarely disappoints by beiing devoid of life. It’s always rather the exact opposite- full of life, both creature, and human. (Obsessed joggers and bikers could possibly also be classed as strange creatures also)

Not half bad considering that lake wendouree is a man made lake, which is essentially filled with class A treated water. A.k.a treated sewage.


According to the city of ballarat council website, our favorite lake wendouree is essentially around ~25% genuine sewage pond. Nonetheless, we love it in all its recycled and slightly pongy glory, even though only rowers and musk duck lake wendouree underbill wattleunsuspecting birds are the only ones who ware willing to brave swimming in it.  (no wonder the acquatic weed grows so fast!!!)

While walking and picnicking on the lakes banks this weekend, we encountered quite an unusual, and distinctly different duck.

Otter like, and greasy in appearance, with a distinctive flap of skin, or wattle beneath its bill, and a spiky, but muscly beaver like tail, was a short billed, banded duck.

I’m quite a fan of ducks in general, and I couldn’t decide if it was the most interesting looking duck i had ever seen.. or.. well.. the ugliest.

Watching it attempt to flop out of the water, and over the shallow lakebank, I don’t think I have ever seen a more awkward and ungainly duck than the musk duck.

It was absolutely and utterly useless on land, and pretty much tripped on its own feet, doing an almighty beakplant into the mud after two ungainly and wobbly steps.

Apparently, these WP_20170820_14_28_27_Producks can be quite aggressive, and are shunned by other lakelife.. i didn’t see any real evidence of this, as we followed it about, trying to figure out if it was a strange mutant, or a genuine rare breed.

It’s fat tail, and muscular body did suggest that the musk duck is a rather meaty and tasty bird however.. and we speculated how it would be served in a Chinese restaurant… the reality is its probably as tough as old boots though, like every he native bird that isn’t extinct yet.

Looking on Wikipedia, a few interesting facts about this odd looking and awkward bird are:

That it is an excellent diver and can submerge for 60+ seconds, but is absolutely hopeless on land, so will rarely exit the water (which we saw ample evidence of, both on land, and on the water, where it vanished with a slight ripple, and miraculaously popped up again 20-30 metres away a number of times.

Their name emanates from the fact that the musk duck absolutely reeks of a musky odour during breeding season and are promiscuous, are lone wolfish and antisocial outside of it, eat yabbies, small fish, and the eggs of other birds, and can live and breed for in excess of 20 years.

In confirmation of our thoughts on this duck’s culinary potential, wikipedia also reports that they are bad eating, and are not prized at all for their edibility.


The courier ran a story on the musk duck a couple months ago, describing the male musk duck as a “prowling” scary creature that was shunned by the rest of the bird community on the lake, as it is so aggressive it would even pick a fight with a black swan…. a bit of an exaggeration.


Ian Simsen also showcases some wonderful photos of the musk duck, like the one below on his blog, which is well worth checking out:


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The Turret Cafe Sturt Street Ballarat Victoria

WP_20170712_14_23_16_ProDropped in for a coffee and cake at the Turret Cafe ballarat on Sturt street, just down from the base hospital.

As usual, there was a lot of activity, with people both staff and customers scurrying about everywhere, and nomming into delicious looking lunches.

The atmosphere in the cafe is absolutely beautiful, refurbished in a sympathetic style that highlights the history and charm of the building the turret his housed in – “linden”- upstairs is accommodation that can be booked out on air B&B under the name No.1 Errard boutique accommodation.

As we waited patiently for service, mouthwatering fragrances wafted from the sorely tempting looking lunch options as the waitresses rushed about, but sadly we just didn’t have time to stop long enough to enjoy the offerings properly.

The refrigerated cake cabinet was what we were here for though- numerous sumptuous and some rather unique treats, baked in house beckoned!

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We went with one of the more unusual and exotic offerings- a “Croissant” and raspberry cake…

And that was what it was- literally.. but they failed to mention in the description the best part- the fact the Croissants were drowned decadently in dark chocolate fudge sauce, cocoa and the layers of raspberries were interlaced with huge chunks of high quality chocolate. Its quite a creation worth experiencing, and it truly is an absolutely exceptional triumph for the patisserie staff behind the scenes.

Coffee was great too, staff are wonderful. Needless to say, we plan to come back, and try out those meals as soon as possible too.



802 Sturt Street
Ballarat, Victoria 3350

Tel: 03 53344744
Fax: 03 53344722


Ballarat Botanic Gardens Zoo Shelter sculptures

WP_20161203_20_14_50_ProHave you ever been in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens, near the old derelict sound shell, and noticed all these funny looking concrete shell like structures dotted among the trees and lawns?

When first sighted, an incorrect assumption could very easily be made that they are part of some kind of very expensive, obtusely meaningful and symbolic art installation that cost ratepayers a fortune somewhere in the distant past. What the concrete “Sculptures” actually are, is some remaining relics of the former zoo that used to exis
t on the site, dating back to the 1960’s.

SadlWP_20161203_20_15_00_Proy, the structures just exist, and stand there, cordoned off in a little gravel and post surrounded patch, with no interpretation panels to help people figure out the mystery.

The area is a very popular dog walking area for Lake Wendouree residents, and we engaged in some idle chit-chat with some of the canine owners, none of which had any inkling as to what the concrete shapes on the lawns were… apart from the fact that one owners little dog loved hiding in one when it rained to shelter from the elements.

Interestingly, here I found a story that when the zoo closed down, one bloke was lucky enough to obtain the concrete “house” shell which used to shelter the dingoes on display when the zoo closed down and was dismantled.

Other research I have done suggests that the zoo had on display 2 polar bears, eagles, and big cats of some WP_20161203_20_15_33_Prodescription, including a tiger.

Over the years in Ballarat and the Pyranees region, an urban myth exists that a Puma was running about in the bush, with multiple sightings, and even pawprint castings made to verify its existence.

Incidentally, Warramwang Vineyard releases a very special vintage wine every year called “Black Puma” which celebrates the urban legend of the big cat being loose in the wine region.

Big Cat sightings in the Victorian Bush around Melbourne and into central and western Victoria have been reported for over 60 years, though no absolutely definitive or conclusive evidence has come to light.
A theory exists that they cats may be descendants of big cats brought to Australia by american soldiers who kept them as platoon mascots during the second world war, and that they were released rather than sold or destroyed.

An interesting Herald sun article  published in response to an alleged recent sighting in December 2016 chronicles the major suspected spottings of the cats around Victoria.

Bernie Mace, a Natrualist Based in Toorlangi has been researching and documenting the sightings for a period of over 30 years. He believes that eventually an accidental roadkill, or clear, reliable footage will eventually surface to prove the existance of the cats in Victoria.


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