Recreating the Country blog
Homo sapiens first arrived in Australia about 60,000 years ago when the climate was colder and dryer. Evidence suggests that the Wadawurrung people have lived in the Geelong region more than 40,000 years. At that time the world was in the grips of the last great ice age.
'Ark' Australia, home to a remarkable and unique mix of plants and animals, was about 4km south of where it is today. It had been slowly drifting north for 30 million years after breaking away from Antarctica.
'Ark' Australia was then part of a greater land mass called Meganesia which included Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania and the low plains in between.
Its time to climb on board our amazing time machine and travel back to the Barrabool Hills in the far south of the great continent of Meganesia. We arrive in late summer on a perfect windless day. The undulating hills are much as we know them today though we notice the animals are much larger and we are surrounded by a forest of tall acacias.
H G Well’s classic story ‘The Time Machine’ explores the idea of visiting past worlds in a beautifully crafted time machine.
A far less romantic way of discovering past worlds relies on the sciences of geology and paleontology. These methodical and often painstakingly slow disciplines provide windows into past worlds through fragments of evidence found in ancient rocks
There is a lot of ancient history hidden in the rocks of the Barrabool Hills and this history has played an important part in developing its unique landscape and vegetation.
Let’s imagine we have borrowed the amazing time machine and it has carried us through many millennia in a matter of seconds to a time 135 million years ago when it all began.
We’ve arrived and we’re mystified because we’re sitting in total darkness and the air is sharp and cold. We zip up our windcheaters and pull down our beanies to keep out the chill of a deep arctic winter in Gondwanaland.
We shine our torches into the eerie darkness and see snow under the ghostly silhouettes of trees hugging the edge of a shadowy frozen lake. A dog sized animal ambles past sniffing the air curiously, its paw prints in the snow are strangely reptilian.
Stephen Murphy is qualified in Geology and Environmental Management and has been a nurseryman and a designer of natural landscapes for over 30 years. He loves the bush, supports Landcare and is a volunteer helping to conserve local reserves.