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The rosella's last walk (an eco parable)

  • 30 April 2018


On the Monday evening following Easter Sunday we go for a walk along a clifftop above the Ninety Mile Beach in East Gippsland, Victoria. This stretch of land is deeply familiar to my husband, a place where remnant bush edges up to domestic house blocks and stretches down to the beach below.

The ti tree and banksia bushland forms part of the scant wild space remaining in coastland slowly eroded by development.

Only two days before, we had stopped in our tracks, mouths agape, before a barren wasteland of house blocks cleared for sale. Standing under an amputated canopy of green we gazed at empty sky and bare ground. The bulldozers had left nothing to chance; shattered sticks lay across churned dirt.

The first section of the walk we regularly take passes the front yards of a mixture of holiday houses and permanent dwellings. Public access along the clifftop passes their balconies and glassed frontages; windows stare blankly out to the saltwater. Any tree that impedes the view here is summarily topped.

Hurrying across the mown cooch grass verges, I always feel a little exposed, as if I am intruding on private views of the vast ocean. A viewing deck for whale spotting reminds me this is indeed public land.

Andy, my husband, walks not far ahead of me. At the threshold of the bushland he ducks under a ti tree branch. As I stoop to follow him, a small movement on the grass catches my eye. At the corner of the house block on the cusp of the bushland are two brightly coloured birds.

A vibrant lime green bird with blue and red markings at its throat lies prone and unmoving on the grass. The other bird, in the familiar reds and blues of the crimson rosella, is scrabbling along the ground, some inches from its companion.


"As Andy and I stand up from stooping towards the birds our arms brush. We are reluctant to leave. Shyly we ask one another, 'Did that just happen?'"


I speak my husband's name. He stops and turns. 'Look,' I whisper. His eyes follow my hand and take in the birds on the grass, one probably dead, the other twisted with injury. Andy steps out of the ti tree and lifts his eyes, scanning the house and yard.

No obvious cause of injury is visible. The birds are not close to the windows of the house where they may have stunned themselves