Life in a Hollow
CSIRO Publishing, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
When a branch falls from a gum tree, not many people give it much thought. Just more bush litter on the ground, probably a fire hazard in summers to come. But it’s what that branch leaves behind that offers new hope for new life, because from that scar on the tree trunk, maybe little more than a scratch or a tear, a home that can offer shelter for centuries can grow.
Beginning with beetles and other little insects who crawl into the cracks and lay eggs that hatch and eat the soft new wood, gradually over time with the help of the wind and the weather and skinks, bats, and birds the hole becomes a hollow that offers a home for generations of different species. In this beautifully illustrated new book from CSIRO publishing, teacher/author David Gullan not only shares the story of one such hollow but makes the reader aware of their importance in nature’s life cycles, and how fire, land clearing and storms can have a devastating effect on the availability of such important habitats. Given that it takes at least a century for a hollow to be large enough for some creatures to live in it, it’s a miracle that we still see some of the species we do! And given the weather events of the past few years, hollows (and nesting boxes) are going to be even more important.
Even though this is written in rhyme and at first glance, appears to be for a younger audience, it is one for all ages to build awareness so that the importance of nature’s nesting boxes is understood and protected. Perhaps older students could become Backyard Buddies and even build nesting boxes for the school’s playground trees. They may not last for centuries like a hollow, but there will be those, like the rosellas, cockatoos and kookaburras feeding outside my window right now, who will be very glad they made an effort.