The far southeast corner of mainland Australia, known as East Gippsland, is a region of mountain eucalypt forests, lowland dry scleraphyl woodlands, coastal heaths and, in sheltered locations, pockets of temperate rainforest. It is to one of these pockets that this recording takes us.
The tanin-stained waters of an esturine creek flow silently, almost imperceptibly, soon to join the lower reaches of the Wallagaraugh River. Its banks are lined with a gallery forest of tall euclypts and dense shrubby understory. Occasionally a fish splashes in the dark water.
In the predawn darkness, a Yellow-bellied Glider calls while parachuting among the treetops, a Sooty Owl gives a distinctive whistle, a Koala grunts distantly and the first birdsong is heard. As the dawn chorus gathers pace, Yellow Robins, Golden Whistlers, Honeyeaters, Kookaburras, Wonga Pigeons, Fantails and Whipbirds join in.
After the chorus ebbs, we hear the delicate song of Rose Robins, the tinkling of Bell Miners, Lyrebirds, King Parrots, Spinebills, Lewin Honeyeaters and Currawongs, while Bassian Thrushes give high-frequency trills while foraging among the leaf litter close by.
It really is a spectacular palette of bird sounds. This continuous recording ends with the sharp, piping calls of a tiny Azure Kingfisher and it flies like an irridescent arrow up the waterway.
This recording was made during a field recording workshop I facilitated in the far east of Victoria. On this particular morning, we'd all arrived before dawn at a place where coastal rainforest flanked a small waterway.
I suggested participants make their own recordings using various techniques. Some deployed microphones on tripods, while others clipped small binaural mics around their ears, so as to record the rainforest exactly as they heard it while sitting silently.
Meanwhile, after leaving my own microphone rig a distance away to have its own adventure, I concentrated on engaging with folks, discussing the soundscape and sharing ways of capturing what we were hearing. I had no thought at the time of sharing my own recording beyond those who were there - it was just good fun.
But listening back some time later, I found myself enjoying the recording so much I wanted to make it available. It was a spectacular morning. I particularly like the Bassian Thrushes, which can be heard foraging and calling right by the microphones on occasion.
After featuring an Azure Kingfisher on the cover, I was delighted to recognise one calling in flight at the very end of the recording - a perfect conclusion to the album.
Update: In late 2019, the place this recording documents was devastated by wildfire. Flames consumed everything down to the waterline. At nearby Mallacoota, the world saw footage of residents seeking refuge on beaches while pyrocumulous clouds turned day into night.
This is a tragedy from which the forests of east Gippsland, especially those wet forest habitats heard here, will take a long time to recover from, if they ever do.
It is sad that this recording documents what is possibly a lost habitat.
released March 23, 2019
Double Creek (tributary of Wallagaraugh River), Croajingolong National Park, Far East Gippsland, Victoria
Andrew is a master wildlife field recordist. For over 30 years, he and partner / photographer Sarah Koschak have been
documenting the voices of the world's ecosystems and wild creatures. The resulting recordings have been published through their dedicated label: Listening Earth...more