Beginners Outing to Pound Bend

23 September 2017
Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers: Species Count: 50
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Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Local knowledge revealed a Tawny Frogmouth sitting on a nest close by, which provided an interesting start for those assembled in Pound Bend car park on a hot Spring day. Lots of Rainbow Lorikeets and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were observed noisily claiming nesting hollows in the surrounding eucalypts.

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Rainbow Lorikeets. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Little and Long-billed Corellas were also in the car park area, giving an opportunity to compare their distinguishing features.

Little Corella, Pound Bend
Little Corella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas were also found.

Laughing Kookaburra, Pound Bend
Laughing Kookaburra. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Walking upstream along the river track a number of smaller bush birds were heard and sighted, including Eastern Yellow Robin, Laughing Kookaburra, Golden Whistler and several species of honeyeater.

Golden Whistler (M), Pound Bend
Golden Whistler. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A Whistling Kite and a Brown Goshawk were also spotted from this track. Some fortunate members also saw a silent Shining Bronze-Cuckoo calmly perched in a bush close to the path. Fan-tailed Cuckoos were also heard and seen.

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Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo by Alan Veevers

Everyone enjoyed seeing a White-faced Heron nesting high in a tree on an island in the river. Had an adult bird not been sitting on it, the unremarkable nest might have been passed over with a cursory glance.

White-faced Heron on nest, Pound Bend
White-faced Heron on nest. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Fewer birds were evident on the higher inland slopes, but good views were had of Spotted and Striated Pardalotes. On returning to the car park a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was sighted as it flew quickly along the river.

Spotted Pardalote (F), Pound Bend
Spotted Pardalote. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch a short walk was taken towards the tunnel exit where a flock of White-winged Choughs flew across the river and landed in nearby trees. Finally, some members drove the short distance to the Gold Memorial car park and took a short walk along Andersons Creek. White-throated Treecreepers were heard but not seen and a Collared Sparrowhawk flew overhead, bringing the day’s raptor total to four.

A total of 50 species were recorded for the day, with the number of actively nesting birds reminding us that Spring had finally arrived.

See the full bird list: BM Sep 2017 Bird List Pound Bend

 

 

Weekdays Outing to Rigby’s Wetland

20 September 2017
All photographs by BirdLife Melbourne member, Graeme Dean
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White-faced Heron

A fine breezy day with blue sky changed to cloudy and the wind became cold, causing everyone to don windproof overclothing. There were 22 rugged up participants with Graeme Hosken leading the group. Haversham Avenue, where the cars were parked, is suburbia on one side with the reserve facing it and so initial birds were simply a few flyovers and such garden birds as Red Wattlebird and Common Starling. We started walking to the south and started listing birds as we entered the reserve. Waterbirds flying over included Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Australasian Darter and Pacific Black Duck.

Australian White Ibis - Graeme Dean
Australian White Ibis

Later the ponds yielded Royal Spoonbill in breeding plumage, Black Swan, Australian Pelican, both Chestnut and Grey Teal and initially a lone Eurasian Coot which became at least 20 on the adjacent water.

Australian Pelican - Graeme Dean
Australian Pelican

Purple Swamphens foraged singly and Dusky Moorhen and both Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebes were represented by solitary sightings. Cormorants were present – Little Pied, Little Black and Great – flying over, fishing and perched plumply while digestion proceeded. Water levels were high after recent rains and the absence of exposed mud meant neither crakes nor rails was detected.

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Little Pied Cormorant digesting its catch

A Swamp Harrier flying over was announced by alarm calls and we later watched it quartering the reed beds. It, plus Brown Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel made up the raptor sightings for the walk. Several areas had been planted and protected with extensive netting which in one area made the sighting of a Great Egret through the netting challenging. Welcome Swallows swooped and in some places were joined by Fairy Martins whose mud bottle nests were detected below the bridging of one of the outlets.

Fairy Martin - Graeme Dean
Fairy Martin collecting mud for nest

No one saw a Little Grassbird but the population must have been considerable to judge by the amount of calling heard. Glimpses were obtained of Golden-headed Cisticola and Australian Reed-Warbler among the grass and reeds. Eastern Common Froglets were the most frequently heard frogs. A Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo really needed scoping as it perched distantly but those with powerful bins considered it identified.

Superb Fairy-wren - Graeme Dean
Superb Fairy-wren

A welcome lunch break was taken at the eastern East Link service area (coffee, toilets and hot food) much appreciated on a carry-lunch walk. Bush birds were encountered once we left the edge of the water and Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler and both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes joined the list. Honeyeaters included New Holland and Yellow-faced as well as Eastern Spinebill and Noisy Miner. White-browed Scrubwrens were glimpsed in the undergrowth while Superb Fairy-wrens were common throughout the walk. Grey Butcherbird and Grey Currawong called, Grey Fantails were common and only a couple of Willie Wagtails were detected. A female Flame Robin was seen by many and Red-browed Finches often foraged beside the path.

Red-browed Finches - Graeme Dean
Red-browed Finches by path

Introduced birds were “the usual”, Common Myna, Starling and Blackbird plus Spotted Dove and Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove.

Grey Fantail - Graeme Dean
Grey Fantail

In all 59 species were detected and there were smiles all round as people planned to add the area to their walking lists. We thanked Graeme heartily for sharing the knowledge he had gained during the Melbourne Water surveys.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

BirdLife Melbourne Education report

August 2017

On Tuesday, 1 August Gay Gallagher addressed the ladies of the Bulleen Baptist Pathways Church. About 50 ladies attended to hear her speak about attracting birds to their gardens. Great interest was shown and many questions followed. I thank Gay for standing in for me on this occasion.

On Thursday, 3 August Sally Heeps attended Lauriston Girls School in Armidale. She spoke to the Grade one girls about which birds they may see in their backyards. The chosen birds were those featured on the Victorian Birds in Backyards poster. The girls got very excited when they saw one that they recognised. Thanks Sally.

Karkarook Park in Cheltenham was the latest venue for the Hawthorn U3A’s monthly bird walk on Friday, 18 August. The day was very, very windy and cold and all birds were taking shelter (especially bush birds).  Eleven people attended and they saw 27 species.  The best birds were Hardheads, Caspian Tern and two Black-fronted Dotterel. A Black Swan was on a nest very close to the pedestrian bridge on the approach to the main lake – hope it survives people, push-chairs and dogs! Pat Bingham led this walk and the following photographs were taken by Hawthorn U3A member Sue Wilson. Thank you Pat and Sue.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Weekdays outing to Long Forest Reserve

5 September 2017
Photographs by Bevan Hood, member BirdLife Melbourne

 

 

 

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Grey Fantail

The weather forecast could best be described as dire, with rain, hail and wind among the expected attractions. Still, there were nine slightly apprehensive birdwatchers gathered by the reserve entrance. Graeme Hosken was leader and his experience from several years of surveys allowed him to take an optimistic stance. The reserve is in a rain shadow which results in mixed flora, including Mallee due to the dry conditions. The creeks have cut through the sedimentary rocks and the resulting valleys were sheltered from the strongest of the wind gusts. Still there were few birds around the entrance and we walked some distance before the occasional calls of Superb Fairy-wren and Spotted Pardalote gave way to glimpses of Brown-headed Honeyeaters and Grey Fantails. An Australian Raven called in the distance and the closer calls of a White-eared Honeyeater were not the usual “chock” but more complex so both of these caused some discussion. Recent rain had fallen, if the greening of moss in patches was any evidence and Echidnas’ broad scratches showed in many of the ant mounds we passed. The ‘Steep Track’ lived up to its name and required careful planning and placement of feet. However the creek at the bottom was actually flowing and bird twitters were frequent though sightings were mostly of fairy-wrens and fantails. A lone Australian Wood Duck was the closest to a water bird for the walk. Our walk was cut short, however, when we arrived at the ford to find it well covered with water – gum boots might have crossed but no one was wearing them – so we turned back and eventually lunched by the entrance. Here the birding had improved compared to the morning and small flocks of honeyeaters flew past us while we sat.

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Laughing Kookaburra

After lunch we drove the few kilometres to Lake Merrimu where the wind was whipping up white caps on the water surface and scopes would have been made useless by excessive wind judder. Initially few birds were seen but then flocks of cockatoos, Little Corellas and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, flew over calling. Then we started adding more – Common Starlings on a wooden gate, Magpie-larks in the paddock, a flock of Little Ravens against a stormy sky. Welcome Swallows demonstrated their aerial ability as they swooped near and through a wire fence. Then we watched carefully as two White-plumed Honeyeaters harassed a Red Wattlebird. Were they defending a nesting site? A Willie Wagtail foraged near a grazing cow. The western sky looked threatening and so we called it a day.

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Grey Fantail

The bird count was 30 species in total – 22 for Long Forest and 11 for Lake Merrimu – and we thanked Graeme for sharing his knowledge of this unique area. By the way, it didn’t rain on people till they had left the reserve well behind.

Diane Tweeddale, coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

Beginners outing to Jells Park

26 August 2017

Leaders: Hazel and Alan Veevers
Species count: 64
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Grey Butcherbird. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

It was a fine but cool morning as 42 members set off to walk around Jells Park Lake. A lone Nankeen Night-Heron was sighted through the bushes and on closer investigation this proved to be a group of four adults and one juvenile. An early distant view of a single Tawny Frogmouth was later followed by two more separate views of pairs of them, making a total of five individuals for the day.

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Tawny Frogmouth. Photo by Alan Veevers

There was a great deal of activity around the lake with dozens of Australian White Ibis nesting on the islands and on the edges of reed beds, often on communal rafts which they had constructed from dead twigs. Australasian Darters, Great and Little Pied Cormorants were also nesting, but in much smaller numbers. Interestingly, their nests were constructed from live twigs, complete with leaves.

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Australian White Ibis. Photo by Alan Veevers

Freckled, Blue-billed and Pink-eared Ducks were amongst the less common species on the lake.

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Pink-eared Duck. Photo by Alan Veevers

A Great Egret was spotted on a small pond to the left of the track, fishing amongst dense red weed, apparently oblivious to the activities of the nearby Purple Swamphens.

Freckled Duck, Jells Park
Freckled Duck. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

Parrot species were plentiful, with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas being the most noticeable as they jostled for nest hollows.

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Purple Swamphens. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After completing the lake circuit a short walk was taken along the track towards Norton Park. Two Cattle Egrets could be seen among livestock in the distance and a Nankeen Kestrel was seen hovering and diving, then perched in a far-off dead tree.

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

This was the only raptor seen during the day. Noisy Miners were dominant amongst the smaller bush birds and it was a challenge to find other species. A friendly Grey Butcherbird was an exception.

Great Egret, Jells Park
Great Egret. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

After lunch the members drove to Carpark 4 where profusely flowering Ironbarks were attracting birds, most surprisingly including a pair of Princess Parrots (presumably aviary escapees).

Eastern Rosella, Jells Park
Eastern Rosella. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A final short circuit walk was taken where good views of Australian King-Parrots and Musk Lorikeets were the highlights.

King Parrot(M), Jells Park
Australian King Parrot. Photo by Eleanor Dilley

A total of 64 species was recorded for the day – an excellent result for a suburban park in August.

See the full bird list here: BM Aug 2017 Bird List Jells Park

Weekday outing to Sherbrooke Forest, Dandenong Ranges

Date & Time: 21 August 2017     10.00am to 1.30pm

Persons Attending: 13   Species Recorded: 17

A very cold and wet start for the walk through Sherbrooke Forest. Temperature range from 4°C to 8°C with misty rain for most of the morning.

Rhonda Miller was the outing leader and with her local knowledge of the forest we did a circuit from the car park in Sherbrooke Road via Sherbrooke Falls, return. Walking tracks very muddy and bird activity and their calls minimal. Eastern Yellow Robin and White-browed Scrubwren were first additions to the ‘list’. Crescent Honeyeaters were feeding and calling high in the Mountain Ash trees. A bit hard on the neck muscles trying to identify the species as the light was also poor. A group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were disturbed as we crossed the bridge near the falls. It was hard work detecting movement in the forest due to the poor light conditions although a couple of Swamp Wallabies observed our presence.

Recent scratching along the edge of the track indicated both Lyrebirds and Wombats had been active earlier in the morning. Only a feint call of a Lyrebird enabled a tick for this species.

Lunch back at the picnic area under a flowering Wattle as we were joined by several Crimson Rosellas at our feet looking for tit-bits, but they were unlucky. After lunch we decided to visit the Ray Littlejohn’s memorial a few hundred meters along Sherbrooke Road. The memorial, a seat facing the forest, was donated by the Bird Observers Club in the early 1960’s for the work Ray had done on the study of the Lyrebirds in Sherbrooke in the 1930-40’s. In his book, Lyrebirds Calling from Australia (1943), he quoted; the Lyrebird is the largest of the world’s songbirds, certainly the most efficient one of this country. Little did he know as recent discoveries have shown that the Lyrebird is the ‘top’ of all the worlds’ songbirds.

Walking back to the picnic area, Grey Shrike-thrush, Magpie and Eastern Spinebill took the ‘list’ total to seventeen for the outing.

Our thanks to Rhonda for leading the outing on such a cold and damp day.

Graeme Hosken for Diane Tweeddale who is holidaying overseas.

Note: Re Ray Littlejohn’s book, Lyrebirds Calling (1943). The Lyrebird’s song was first recorded in the early 1930’s with a direct broadcasts from Sherbrooke in 1932,1933 and 1934 to ABC studios in Melbourne.

In 1934, about 34 minutes of singing was recorded on ‘sound-film’.

View the bird list for the day: Sherbrooke WO Blog Rep 21AUG17

July 2017 Education Activities

Picture 1

On Friday 21 July, Pat Bingham lead 15 members from the Hawthorn U3A on their monthly bird walk. This month the venue was Rigby’s (Dandenong Creek Wetlands) where they saw 31 species. They saw a Swamp Harrier, Flame Robins (including three lovely males) and 50+ Red-browed Finches. The pondages were very full and overflowing, so there were very few wading birds but they did see two White-faced Herons squabbling in a tree adjacent to Dandenong Creek, very close to a tree where they have previously nested. Are they planning to nest there again?

Picture 2

Thanks Pat and thank you Sue Wilson (U3A Hawthorn) for your photos.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)

Beginners Outing to Lysterfield Lake

23 July 2017
Leader: Robert Grosvenor; Species Count: 45
Golden Whistler (M), Lysterfield Lake
Golden Whistler, male. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Twenty eight hardy birders braved the very strong and cold wind to attend the beginners outing at Lysterfield Lake.

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Magpie-lark, male. Photograph by Eleonor Dilley

While waiting for all attendees ,Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Purple Swamp Hen, Magpie-lark and Rainbow Lorikeets were viewed in the carpark. A Masked Lapwing was spotted closer to the Lake’s edge.

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Masked Lapwing. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

On the reccie more Kangaroos were seen than birds and it looked like this outing would be more of the same as the first twenty minutes went by before we sighted our first bird – a Brown Thornbill, quickly followed by a White-eared Honeyeater.

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Eastern Grey joey. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

There were long periods of inactivity until we would come upon a small hot spot. The first of which produced excellent sightings of Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, both male and female Golden Whistlers and the two birds of the walk, a male Rose Robin and a Brush Bronzewing.

Unfortunately not all the beginners were able to see both. The Rose Robin surprised everyone when it appeared in a tree at eye level not more than two metres in front of us but did not stay for long. Still, many of the group got their first look at this beautiful bird. The Bronzewing skulked in the undergrowth, making sighting difficult before it was disturbed and flew off.

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Little Pied Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

The strong wind was keeping the small birds hidden but in a more protected spot we found Superb Fairy-wren, Silvereye and Spotted Pardalote.

Venturing down to the edge of the lake enabled us to see Musk Duck, Hoary-headed Grebe, Hardhead and Coot all on the water, before returning to the main track.

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Little Black Cormorant. Photograph by Merrilyn Serong

Again there was a long period of inactivity with only a Grey Butcherbird heard and a Little Raven overhead. We were now back at the lake wall where Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Australasian Grebe and Dusky Moorhen were seen.

With the wind howling across the lake we were all glad to break for lunch and find an area out of the wind to partake of some refreshments.

After lunch we walked to the eastern end of the carpark and a short distance along the Logan track. In the more open fields we saw Straw-necked  and White Ibis, Wood Duck, Cattle Egret and in the distance a few Red-rumped Parrots.

Common Bronzewing (F), Lysterfield Lake
Common Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Returning to the carpark we had excellent views of another Brush Bronzewing together with a number of common Bronzewings.

Brush Bronzewing (M), Lysterfield Lake
Brush Bronzewing. Photograph by Eleanor Dilley

Overall 45 species were seen for the day which, considering the wintery conditions, was noteworthy.

See the complete bird list for the outing: BM July 2017 Bird List Lysterfield Lake

 

 

 

Weekdays Outing to Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

12 July 2017
Photographs by Dianne Tweeddale
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Reflections on a still morning

It was cold as we set off from our homes. Not as chilling as a week previously but still very low temperatures. Sixteen braved the still, cold but sunny morning and Jane Moseley led us. We checked out the Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie Larks, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens on the grass beside the car park and also noted Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds, Rainbow Lorikeets and the inevitable Noisy Miners in the surrounding trees.

Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks
Purple Swamphen and Australian Wood Ducks

On the adjacent wetland there were a couple of Pacific Black Ducks and teal. It was some of the latter which occasioned close examination and discussion. The Chestnut Teal were readily counted but the two or three paler birds catching the sunlight, which teal were they? Careful attention to the plumage decided Grey Teal. It was that frequent “Which teal is that?” discussion. Our visitors and newcomers had been promised darters and Lillydale Lake did not disappoint. As we were moving out the first darter was pointed out and from then on we admired and compared male and female Australasian Darters both near and far. We kept our eyes out for Azure Kingfishers which had been seen a few days previously but the first location drew a blank. On the boardwalk we watched an Australasian Grebe warm its fluffy backside in the morning sun before we passed the structure which has been voted “world’s worst bird hide”. It consists of a fence with rectangular holes cut at different heights which look out onto an impenetrable stand of tall vegetation. Still, after we had dismissed it we rounded the corner and started to check the lake and the reed beds. The cry went up “Pink-eared Duck!” and there they were. Two pinkies which had not followed the rains inland. Voted bird of the day on the spot.

Black Swans feeding
Black Swans feeding

Then we wondered if we’d been a bit premature with the award when an Azure Kingfisher was sighted, not on its previously-favoured nest box but on a farther one and from which it flew to a low perch and afforded everyone good or brief views. Spotted Pardalotes called but it seemed that only a couple of watchers at a time were able to chalk up good views. Still, most people had seen them well by day’s end. Grey Shrike-thrushes gave their beautiful single winter calls and Grey Butcherbirds were finally seen as well as heard. The south-western wetlands are undergoing “rectification works” and new plantings are covered with nets so that no birds are currently using that area. Five years should see an improvement. The lake supports lots of fishers, the darters, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and humans on the banks and occasionally in boats. It wasn’t all waterbirds. As well as the lorikeets mentioned above there were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, Crimson (adult and immature) Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas and Australian King Parrots (male and female).

resting Australian Wood Ducks
Resting Australian Wood Ducks

After lunch we walked out to Bellbird Park where a pair of Black Swans paddled unconcerned by our presence while they cropped the pond plants. Walking back added Eastern Spinebill, then White-faced Herons and finally a Laughing Kookaburra to our list which numbered 45 species at the end of the walk. Very creditable birding for a cold mid-July day. We thanked Jane most enthusiastically for all her preparations and leading.

Diane Tweeddale, Coordinator BirdLife Melbourne weekdays outings

June 2017 Education activities

On Wednesday 7 June, Bill Ramsay did a presentation at the Hawthorn Library for their Everyday English Class which is run as part of the Library’s Multicultural Program. The audience consisted of seven women plus the Coordinator. Usually she expected 12 but a few had pulled out. Bill spoke about “Attracting birds to your garden and what you may hope to see”. There was a fair bit of audience interaction and questions during the presentation which was a good sign. This was the purpose of such presentations and everyone seemed appreciative of Bill’s efforts.

Approximately 50 people were present when Sally Heeps addressed the Mill Park Garden Club on Friday 16 June. Sally’s topic was ‘Attracting birds to your garden naturally”. They seemed to enjoy hearing how to attract birds by plantings and liked identifying the birds which did visit their gardens. Sally also talked a little about nest boxes, and digressed into how the changes in natural vegetation can impact bird species – how the Kinglake fires opened the canopy to birds of prey. The Club donated $50 to BirdLife Melbourne in appreciation of our work.

On the same day – Friday 16 June, Pat Bingham led the Hawthorn U3A monthly Birdwalk to Norton’s Park & Shepherd’s Bush. They had a lovely sunny morning with 17 participants. 27 species were sighted including three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos chewing up pinecones, a female Scarlet Robin and several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos exploring tree hollows and raucously defending their choices. Then for the lucky late leavers, they had a Peregrine Falcon circling over the car park.

Sue Wilson from the Hawthorn U3A group supplied the following photos.

 

Thank you to all the above people.

Janet Hand, BirdLife Melbourne Education Coordinator (Phone: 9842 4177)