Wildlife of Victoria’s South-West¦BOOK REVIEW

A Guide to the Grampians-Gariwerd, Volcanic Plains,

Melbourne, and Surrounds.
By Grant Palmer and Jules Farquhar

Paperback | February 2024
ISBN: 9781486313051 | 416 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

ePDF | February 2024
ISBN: 9781486313068

This informative book covers native and introduced fauna across a large part of western Victoria, from the South Australian border to Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsular. It includes the Grampians/Gariwerd, some of the coast, and the plains. The introduction includes a map of the Aboriginal language groups of the region, something that most nature guides omit.

The first three chapters give an excellent overview of the bioregions, their distinctive geology and vegetation, major land uses, key conservation issues and how these factors affect wildlife. Many readers will undoubtedly focus on the book’s main section, Chapter 4, Species Accounts. This is written in a field guide style and covers terrestrial and marine mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians with an easy-to-follow format, including a small but clear photo of the species, a distribution map, common name, scientific name and, where possible, Aboriginal name/s. The text is factual but user-friendly and covers all key points, including species description, vocalisations (where applicable) and a summary of locations. Notes on distinguishing features of similar species are given in some cases (notably birds), which can be refreshingly helpful to the average naturalist.

Further information provided under the heading of Ecology includes feeding habits, social behaviour, seasonality, temperament (of snakes when encountered) and other useful field-related information that is scant in many field guides. Introduced species are covered separately at the end of the chapter in a more concise format; species accounts don’t have distribution maps and lack much of the practical information provided for native species. However, this is still an important part of the chapter, especially for visitors who don’t know whether the bird or rat they have just seen is native or introduced.

The final chapter of the book—Key Wildlife Viewing Spots — should also be particularly useful to most naturalists following the chapter on species. It describes good places to see the species described. It gives tips on access, walk tracks, and species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians to watch for—the sort of information that is usually restricted to bird field guides.

Wildlife of Victoria’s South-West is well researched and well presented, with text that is easy to read without losing any scientific validity. It’s a pleasure to read, and it should entice visitors and local naturalists to discover the unique and diverse wildlife for themselves.

Mike Griffiths