Hobsons Bay World Migratory Bird Day 2019

This is the 6th year I’ve celebrated World Migratory Bird Day with my community.

Hobsons Bay has wetlands that support several species of migratory shore birds; ones that travel every year from the Arctic Tundra, where they breed, along the eastern edge of Asia all the way to us, where they spend the summer. Their survival is precarious as the habitats on which they depend are given over to industry.

Our event has grown from small beginnings. In 2014 the Newport Community Choir startled a Friends group on a weeding and planting day, with a song about the Eastern Curlew, and now, a few years later, we are firmly in the council calendar. This year, as enthusiasm and support has grown, there were two events. Actually, if you count me and Sarah telling bird stories at children’s story time in the Altona Meadows Library - its three!

The big day began in the Newport Community Hub and was child focused. Our rangers are pretty passionate about the importance of engaging young people. This is the ranger’s event and they have the support of local musicians, artists and scientists.

In the afternoon at the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre in Altona, a second wave of people gathered for the launch of the Overwintering Project - a print project run by the indefatigable artist, Kate Gorringe-Smith.

I was madly snapping away with my phone camera, harvesting as much of a record of the day as I could. Enjoy and be inspired to create conservation events in your community.

Unfortunately, not captured on the day, was the Newport Community Choir singing a song about the East Asian Australasian Flyway and the journey of a tiny bird - the Red-necked stint. This song was written especially for us by local author Fiona Price and set firmly in Hobsons Bay. Its a gem and such a delight to sing. Yes I’m in the soprano section!

Jackie Kerin
Stone the Crows Festival - Wagga Wagga

This is the second time Sarah and I have been guests at this festival. When we were invited again, we didn't give it a thought - just 'yes'. The memory of this extraordinary event has stayed with us.

Stone the Crows is a gathering of mobile homes and caravans, a festival for the grey nomads. Rigs descend onto the site from the four corners of the continent. Participants enjoy workshops, entertainment and they catch up with each other over meals and games.

We took our two shows: The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Tales from the Flyway and Sarah delivered two workshops: Learning the Violin and Using Libraries on the Road.


And over four nights we told bedtime stories at the Cocoa Club.


I also had the pleasure of participating in the radio play: We Were There: the story of Galliopli. This is a piece written by Jim Haynes using only the words of people who were actually there, taken from diaries and letters; deeply moving and heart breaking.


The warmth, hospitality and good natured vibe of Stone the Crows is the work of Chrissy Eustace, Jim Haynes and Grant Luhrs and the team they assemble. What bowls us over is meeting so many people who are so switched on and engaged in life; while some of us grow less adventurous with age it seems that there are others who grow wings.


And some never lose their taste for ice cream!

Jackie Kerin
The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is a show developed by me and my wonderful collaborator, Sarah Depasquale.

Wandering through our local botanic gardens, the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, we asked ourselves the question, 'Where did all these exotic plants originally come from and how did they get to Australia?'

We discovered that part of the answer was 'the Wardian case', or as we like to say: 'The Amazing Case of Dr Ward!'

The problem of carrying botanical specimens on board ships had been ongoing for centuries. Then in 1833, Dr Ward (a plant enthusiast) experimented with sending some plants in a sealed glass and wooden case from London to Sydney and back again. The experiment was success and the transportation of plants was revolutionized and the terrarium craze was also sparked.

Sarah and I have found our delight in this story to be infectious. The Hobsons Bay Men's Shed need little persuasion to make us a couple of scaled down replica cases.


Loraine Callow (who works part time at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens managed by the Hobsons Bay City Council) created a glorious set of illustrations for us to use in a Kamishibai (Japansese wooden storytelling box).


Dr Luke Keogh (environmental historian and curator with a special interest in the global movement of plants in the 19th and 20th century) offered advice and encouragement and Nan McNab (editor and author) kept a close eye on us as we developed the story.

Jackie Kerin