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Australia Decoded

Victoria's Riflebird

A Male Victoria's Riflebird in Daintree, Queensland
Greg Schechter from San Francisco, USA

V-sign—a rude gesture of contempt involving making upward-thrusting movements with the first and second fingers, palm facing inwards.


vacant possession—a property law which refers to a legal obligation to ensure that a property is in a state fit to be occupied at a given point in time. Vacant possession is most commonly known of on the sale and purchase of residential property and many find that, on the purchase of a new home, they do not obtain vacant possession as desired. The concept is also an essential element in the grant and termination of leases and other tenancy agreements. It is a topical issue for lawyers and surveyors along with estate agents and others connected to land and buildings.

Valley of the Giants—a grove of tingle trees in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, part of nearly 16,000ha of wilderness. The tingle trees can be viewed from the Tree-top Walk, a suspended track that is built 38m above ground and runs for about 600m through the tops of the forest.

van Diemen, Antony—(1593–1645), or Antonius, Dutch colonial governor, was born in Culemborg in the Netherlands. After moving to Amsterdam in 1616 he became a servant of the Dutch East India Company and sailed to Batavia (Jakarta), capital of the Dutch East Indies. By 1626 he was Director-General of Commerce and member of the Council for the Indies, and in 1635 he was appointed Governor-General, his appointment taking effect on 1 January 1636. Van Diemen is best remembered for his efforts to foster exploration of the then-conjectured land to the south. Van Diemen decided in August 1642 to send Abel Janszoon Tasman in search of the Great South Land. In November 1642 Tasman's ship spotted land, and soon found a large territory which Tasman named Van Diemen's Land in honour of his patron. This was the name the island retained when British settlement began there in 1803, and under which it became a byword for horror in England because of the severity of its convict settlements, such as Port Arthur and Macquarie Harbour. The name Van Diemen's Land acquired such odium that when it became a self-governing colony in 1855 one of the first acts of the new legislature was to change its name to Tasmania. But the old name lingered for many years and Tasmanians were referred to as Vandemonians until the turn of the century.

Van Diemen Gulf—a gulf between Arnhem Land, of the attached Cobourg Peninsula and Melville Island in the Northern Territory. It is connected to the Timor Sea in the west by the Clarence Strait (near the city of Darwin), and to the Arafura Sea in the north by Dundas Strait (between Melville Island and Cobourg Peninsula). It stretches over an area of about 14,000km². Rivers draining into the Gulf include the South Alligator River, the East Alligator River and the Adelaide River. The gulf is a semi-enclosed embayment with two ocean openings. Dundas Strait, the opening in the north, is around 26km wide at it's narrowest and has a maximum depth of 130m. In comparison the west entrance, Clarence Strait, is shallower and is intertwined with reefs and islands that rise up from a maximum depth of only 30m. The south-east portion of the gulf is relatively shallow, with depths typically around 8-10m deep.

Van Diemen's Land—the name given to Tasmania in 1802 by its European discoverer, Abel Tasman, in honour of the governor of the Dutch East Indies, Anthony Van Diemen. From 1802 onward, both the British Government and Governor King in Sydney Town were eager to establish a presence on the island. This was for several reasons: to prevent the French laying claim to part of the new colony; to provide supervision of foreign (primarily American) sealing operations in the region; to establish a penal settlement to relieve the overcrowded Sydney region, and to provide another place to grow necessary provisions. Van Diemen's Land was divided into two separate colonies, at the Forty-second Parallel. Each colony had a lieutenant governor who came under the authority of the Governor in Sydney, but each was responsible for his own administration. Two settlements were established, one in the region of Hobart and one at the mouth of the Tamar River at George Town. A small band of Van Diemen's Land Company personnel arrived at Circular Head in October 1826 aboard the Tranmere, together with livestock, supplies and equipment. They were the first Europeans to attempt to settle the rugged and remote north-west corner of Tasmania. The system of issuing free grants came to an end in January, 1831. The foundation of a settlement in Port Phillip by a number of the more energetic inhabitants of Launceston, reacted most beneficially upon the prosperity of the northern portion of Van Diemen’s Land; and at the same time the development of its internal commerce and industry was materially promoted by the construction of roads, wharfs, bridges, and other public works, by convict labour. In place of a fortnightly mail between Hobart Town and Launceston, there was already a postal delivery in the two places twice a week in 1835, and the journey had been reduced from seven days to nineteen hours. The penal settlement at Macquarie Harbour had been relinquished, and the convicts were deported to Tasman’s Peninsula, with some important modifications of the brutal system of treatment to which they had previously been subjected. The name was officially changed to Tasmania on 17 December 1855, to distinguish the colony from its earlier history as a penal settlement.

Van Diemen's Land Company—obtained its charter of incorporation from the Imperial Parliament in 1825, to cultivate lands and to rear flocks of sheep. The Van Diemen's Land Company had been formed two years previously by a group of London-based businessmen. Their proposal was to establish a successful wool-growing venture on the island then known as Van Diemen's Land to supply the needs of the British textile industry. They received a grant of land comprising upwards of four hundred thousand acres in the north-western portion of the island, for which the company was to pay an annual quit-rent of four hundred and sixty-eight pounds sixteen shillings, with the option of redeeming it at twenty years’ purchase. Banks were established in Hobart Town and Launceston, and the first land sales took place in the year 1828; but at so inconsiderable a price that seventy thousand acres alienated during the next two years, only yielded twenty thousand pounds to the Treasury. Indentured labourers brought out from Britain and convicts made up the bulk of the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s workforce. In July 1832 there were 41 convicts assigned to the Circular Head establishment and the number rose to 73 in 1833. The barracks were built by the Van Diemen’s Land Company to house their assigned convicts. They were withdrawn in the 1840s and the company turned its attention to attracting tenant farmers to the property. Only the ruins can be seen today but they are imposing and solidly built.

Vandemonia—(hist.) Tasmania.

vandemonians—Tasmanians were, back in the colonial era, known as 'van demonians'. This was certainly the name used on the gold fields for troopers recruited from the ranks of Tasmanian convicts for the purpose of suppressing unruly diggers—and from there the name became more widespread.

vapours—tears; a fit of crying: e.g., She's got the vapours because she didn't get her own way.

variable-barked bloodwoodEucalyptus dichromophloia, better known as Corymbia dichromophloia, a medium-sized tree with a characteristic bloodwood-type trunk: flaky on the lower trunk, smooth on the upper trunk and branches. This tree has creamy-white flowers, coming out around the end of the wet. It is a tree of open woodland and hilly country. Also known as small-fruited bloodwood.

varied sittela—occurs throughout Australia wherever there are dry woodlands, avoiding open desert or rainforest. The Varied Sittella has very different plumage patterns east to west, north to south. The southern race has a black cap (male) or black head/white throat (female). Other races have a gray or white head, or have a black cap/white underparts, or black head/streaked underparts. Southern birds have a cinnamon wingstripe but northern birds have a white wingstripe; these wingstripes are best seen in flight. It has long been known that the groups hybridize where they meet but many checklists considered them separate species through the 1970s. Research then showed that the races merge into each other where they meet, and that the plumage differences do not act as isolating mechanisms. Thus, varied sittella is a single biological species. They forage in a wide variety of dry woodlands: eucalyptus, mallee, or acacia scrub.

variegated fairy-wrenMalurus lamberti, the breeding male is brightly coloured—the crown and sides of the head are blue, and the shoulder patch is a rich chestnut. The depth and variety of colours in the male varies among the four subspecies, distributed across the Australian mainland. Non-breeding males, females and young birds are blueish or brownish grey. They measure 12—14cm, half of which is the long, blue-grey tail. The variegated fairy-wren is the most widespread of the nine species of fairy-wrens found in Australia, being absent only from Cape York Peninsula, Tasmania and the extreme south-west corner of Western Australia. Habitats include forest, woodland and shrubland where it feeds on insects and a small amount of seeds, mainly around the base of small shrubs, seldom straying into the open. The small groups consist of an adult female and younger or non-breeding birds. As they have a wide range, variegated fairy-wrens have been recorded breeding in almost every month of the year. The nest is an oval-shaped dome, constructed of grasses, and placed in a low shrub. The female alone constructs the nest and incubates the three or four eggs, but is assisted by other group members in feeding the chicks.

vascular plants—the vast majority of the plant kingdom are vascular, with tubular, water-conducting cells called xylem tissue. Unlike nonvascular plants, they have true roots, stems and leaves. Some references place all the vascular plants in a separate phylum or division called the Tracheophyta. Most botanists now subdivide vascular plants into 9 divisions. More primitive vascular plants that reproduce by spores but without seeds are called pteridophytes, and include the 4 divisions Psilophyta (whisk ferns), Lycophyta (club mosses), Sphenophyta (horsetails), and Pterophyta (ferns). Seed-bearing vascular plants are called spermatophytes and include the primitive gymnosperms (with immature seeds or ovules naked and exposed directly to pollen) and the more advanced angiosperms (with ovules enclosed in an ovary that ripens into a fruit). Gymnosperms include the 4 divisions Cycadophyta (cycads), Ginkgophyta (maidenhair tree), Gnetophyta (mormon tea & the bizarre South African Welwitschia), and the Coniferophyta (conifers). The angiosperms are placed in the single division Anthophyta, which includes all the flowering plants and 90 percent of all the plant kingdom.

VB—(see: Victoria Bitter).

Vegemite—is considered as much a part of Australia's heritage as kangaroos and Holden cars. It is made from leftover brewers' yeast extract (a by-product of beer manufacture) and various vegetable and spice additives. It is very dark reddish-brown, almost black, in colour, and one of the richest known sources of Vitamin B. It's thick like peanut butter, it's very salty, and it is definitely an acquired taste. Australian children are brought up on Vegemite from the time they're babies. It is said that Australians travel all over the world with at least one small jar of Vegemite in their luggage, for fear that they will not be able to find it. Dr Callister invented the first Vegemite spread for the Fred Walker Cheese Company. With its unusual and unique flavor, sales were slow. In 1928 Vegemite was renamed and registered as Parwill in an attempt to boost its sales, but it was only sold as Parwill for a short time in Queensland. The name was withdrawn in 1935, the original name was reinstated and Walker used the success of his processed cheese to launch a new campaign to revive Vegemite. The company launched a 2-year coupon redemption scheme whereby a jar of Vegemite was given away with every purchase of other products in the Fred Walker Cheese Company. Australians tried the product and loved it. Also in 1935, the recipe and manufacturing methods were sold to Kraft Foods, and it has been wholly owned and made by American companies since. In 1939 Vegemite received endorsement from the British Medical Association, which allowed doctors to recommend it as a Vitamin B-rich, nutritionally balanced food for patients. In World War II, soldiers, sailors, and the civilian population of Australia all had Vegemite included in their rations. Soldiers’ Vegemite came in three sizes: seven-pound tins for the platoon, eight-ounce tins for soldiers on the go, and half-ounce rations for behind enemy lines. The main change to the original recipe in recent years has been to reduce the salt content from 10% to 8%. Today, 22.7 million jars of Vegemite are manufactured in Australia every year—that's 235 jars per minute. Vegemite is in nine out of ten pantries in Australia. The name can now be applied jocularly to people, especially children: e.g. Aren't you a clever little Vegemite!

vegies—1. vegetables. 2. vegetarians.

velvet—highly profitable, pleasant or advantageous position.

vent (one's) spleen—show, express (one's) anger.

veranda bed—a bed in a veranda room.

veranda chair—squatter's chair.

verballed—attribute a damaging statement to (a suspect).

verbicide—the act of killing or mutilating the meaning of a word. It comes from the Latin verbum (‘word') with suffix –cide (‘cutting, killing, or slaying'). A letter in the Melbourne Argus in 1894 complained that ‘laziness in speaking makes Australians habitual verbicides'. But a better example is the word ‘gay'. Its older meaning (going back to the 12th century) was ‘disposed to joy and mirth'. When it was taken over by the homosexual community, its older use became impossible, and died.

Vermin Fence—(see: Rabbit-Proof Fence.)

Verticordia—a genus of very showy Australian plants, a number of which are well know in the cut flower trade. The vast majority are confined to Western Australia, with two or three occurring in other states. Verticordia is Latin for "turns the heart", presumably the effect on the botanist who named the genus. The flowers are commonly referred to as morrisons or feather flowers.

vertosols—these soils shrink, swell and crack as the soil dries. Vertosols are used for extensive dryland agriculture where rainfall is adequate, and irrigated agriculture. Problems of water entry are usually related to tillage practices and adverse soil physical conditions at least partly induced by high sodium in the upper part of many profiles. Also known as black earths; grey, brown and red clays; cracking clays.

vest—(of land) the transfer of ownership or control of land. Vesting depends upon the circumstances, as indicated by the following : 1. The act of placing ownership of land in a person or body— for example, ownership may be vested in the Crown of private freehold land designated for public recreation reserves. 2. The act of planning control of Crown land in a government agency for a specific purpose, under a special Act (e.g., a Port Authority Act, or Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act). 3. The act of placing control of reserved Crown land in a specified body, under the Land Act 1933 (e.g., vesting a reserve in a local government). The term "vest" is replaced by "manage" in the Land Administration Act, 1997.

vetted—make a careful and critical examination of (a scheme, work, candidate etc).

VFL—Victorian Football League—Australian Rules football.

Victoria—the second most populous state in Australia, and the smallest on the Australian mainland. Its capital city, Melbourne, was the main city of the Victorian gold rush in the middle of the nineteenth century and soon outgrew even Sydney, though this has since been reversed. After Federation, Melbourne served as the national capital until the establishment of Canberra. Much of the Victorian/New South Wales border is formed by the Murray River, which flows east to west from its source in the Snowy Mountains, into South Australia. Victoria abuts the jurisdictions of New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT. The Tasmanian islands lie just south of Wilson’s Promontory. Victorian marine waters lie at the south-eastern corner of a large continental landmass and at the northern boundary of a wide shallow strait, Bass Strait, with open ocean to the west and east. In comparison with most Australian states and territories, Victoria has a relatively short coastline, commonly cited at 2,000km. To the north-east lies part of the Great Dividing Range. The state now known as Victoria was once the territory of 38 Aboriginal language groups that had occupied the region for at least the last 60,000 years.

Victoria Bitter—or VB as it is commonly called, is the most popular beer sold in Australia, both on tap and packaged. Despite its name, it is technically a fairly standard commercial lager rather than a bitter, although one which has perhaps slightly more bitterness than many. It was introduced in the mid-1960s with an innovative television advertising campaign featuring an orchestral score, images of working-class Australians at work and play, and a voice-over by notable Australian actor John Mellion.

Victoria Bonaparte bioregion—Phanerozoic strata of the Bonaparte Basin in north-western Victoria are mantled by Quaternary marine sediments supporting samphire—sporobolus grasslands and mangal, and by red earth plains and black soil plains with an open savannah of high grasses. Outcrops of Devonian limestone karst in the west support tree steppe and vine thicket. Plateaux and abrupt ranges of Proterozoic sandstone, known as the Victoria Plateau, occur in the south and east, and are partially mantled by skeletal sandy soils with low tree savannahs and hummock grasslands. In the south east are limited areas of gently undulating terrain on a variety of sedimentary rocks supporting low snappy gum over hummock grasslands, as well as gently sloping floodplains supporting paperbark tea-tree low woodland over annual sorghums. Dry hot tropical, semi-arid summer rainfall.

Victoria sponge cake—named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as "sponge cake", though it contains additional fat. A typical Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated apart from a dusting of icing sugar. However the Women's Institute do not class this as a Victoria sponge. Their version only has raspberry jam as the filling and is dusted with caster sugar, not icing sugar. A Victoria sponge is made using one of two methods. The traditional method involves creaming caster sugar with fat (usually butter), mixing thoroughly with beaten egg, then folding flour and raising agent into the mixture. The modern method, using an electric mixer or food processor, involves simply whisking all the ingredients together until creamy. Additionally, the modern method typically uses an extra raising agent, and some recipes call for an extra-soft butter or margarine. Both the traditional and modern methods are relatively quick and simple, producing consistent results.

Victoria (Fossil) Cave—the most fossil-rich of the Naracoorte caves. Six fossil deposits have been identified in Victoria Cave, the richest being in a section known as the Fossil Chamber. Over a period of more than 500,000 years, sediment and animal bones filled the Fossil Chamber through an opening in the ceiling, forming an enormous cone-shaped pile within. The cave acted like a huge, natural pitfall trap, as the animals that fell in were trapped. Over time, this pile of skeletons grew with more animal remains and sediment, until the pile reached the ceiling and the entrance became blocked—about 15,000 years ago. The pile contains the greatest number, most diverse and the best-preserved fossils of this time period in Australia. So far, with more than 30 years of excavation and research, there have been over 5,000 specimens catalogued, with only about 4% of what is estimated to be 5,000 tonnes of bone-rich sediment. Over 90 different animal species have been identified. These were central to the 1994 inscription of the Naracoorte Caves National Park to the World Heritage list.

Victoria Plains tropical savannas—a region of interchange, receiving monsoonal rains in the north, and then grading into the arid landscapes of Central Australia to the south. The ecoregion mostly consists of extensive plains, punctuated with some small areas of sandstone outcrops such as the Bungle Bungle Ranges. Dominant vegetation is eucalypt woodland with a grassy understory, although lancewood and bullwaddy vegetation harbors rainforest elements, and small pockets of mesic vegetation are found throughout the ecoregion, in riparian strips and in sheltered gorges of the Bungle Bungles. However, overgrazing, land degradation, alterations in fire regimes, weeds, and feral stock all remain concerns.

Victoria Range—one of three main ranges in the Grampians region, now contained by the Grampians National Park. Among the many rock art sites in the Victoria Range are the 'Cave of Hands', 'Camp of the Emu Foot', 'Cave of Fishes', 'Fertility Cave', and 'Glenisla Shelter'. Early Aboriginal tribes in the area included the Buandik (Buganditj) and the Jardwa (Jarwadjal). The Victoria Range is about 40km long and extends from SH7 at the Rahu Saddle north to where it joins the Brunner Range. There are several valleys and routes that provide access into the area. The Victoria Range has deep forested valleys and extensive open tops to about 1600m. Vegetation is mostly beech forest at lower altitude and areas of tussock tops along the range. The largest river valley, the Waitahu, is open in its lower reaches but has only small clearings above the Montgomerie River confluence.

Victoria River District—for much of its length, the Victoria River channel supports dense, riverside vegetation characteristically including a diverse range of often rainforest-associated species. This strip provides the major habitat for a range of birds such as the channel-billed cuckoo, koel, shining flycatcher, dollarbird, little shrike-thrush, crimson finch and lemon-bellied flycatcher, and such species extend into relatively low-rainfall areas only or typically along these relatively lush riparian strips. The most distinctive main environments are the riparian strips of the Victoria River itself (and other main rivers in the region), the sandstone ranges, tussock grasslands on black soil (basaltic) and eucalypt woodlands on limestone (loam) soils. Dense stands of cane grass occur alongside some stretches of the river, and these support the restricted purple-crowned fairy-wren, a species considered susceptible to habitat degradation through bad pastoral management. The sandstone ranges and outcrops of the Victoria River District are neither as extensive nor as rugged as those of the north Kimberley and Western Arnhem Land, and hence tend to support a smaller set of sandstone biota, although this is still generally notably different from that of the VRD lowlands. Characteristic vertebrate species include the Ningbing antechinus, splendid tree-frog, white-quilled rock-pigeon (all at the eastern edge of their predominantly Kimberley distribution); the nabarlek, short-eared rock-wallaby and the sandstone shrike-thrush.

Victoria River Downs Station—also often called Victoria Downs and often referred to as The Big Run, a pastoral lease that operates as a cattle station. It is located about 102km south-east of Timber Creek and 252km west of Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. Currently Victoria River Downs has an area of 8,900km2 The property was once the world's largest pastoral property with an area of 41,000km2, but following much of the land being resumed it is now less than half it's former size, and less than half the size of the current largest, Anna Creek station. The station has been operating for over 100 years and is currently owned by Heytesbury Pty. Ltd. The station was originally established in 1880 by Charles Fisher and Maurice Lyons who stocked the property with 20,000 head of cattle that had been overlanded from Wilmot by Nat Buchanan. The lease had been granted by the South Australian government in December 1879 for an area of land 15,890 sq km. Fisher ran into monetary problems and following legal battles the property was awarded to Goldsbrough Mort & Co. Ltd in 1889. In early 1900 Goldsbrough sold the lease and the stock for £27,500 to a syndicate consisting of Forrest, Emmanuel & Company and the Kidman Brothers. In 1893 the station was carrying an estimated herd of 23,000 cattle; by 1894 the station occupied an area of 21,000 sq km, carried 30,000 head of cattle and some 500 horses The station was shipping cattle at this time to Batavia via Singapore along with other stations in the area; in 1894 the station shipped 2,205 head for which they were paid £7717. By 1901 the station was carrying about 30,000 head of cattle; by 1907 Victoria River Downs was stocked with an estimated 69,350 head of cattle. The Sidney Kidman company Bovril Australian Estates purchased Victoria River Downs in 1909 along with another two stations, one being Northcote and the other in Western Australia near Wyndham called Carlton Hill for a total of £200,000. By 1923 the size of the property was estimated at 33,929km2 making it the largest property in the Northern Territory at the time. Parts of the property have since been carved up, leaving an area of 12,000km2. William Buckland, a Melbourne businessman, purchased the property in 1955 and then sold again in 1960 to Hooker Corporation. In 1984 the station was sold again, this time to Peter Sherwin for A$11.6 million. Kerry Packer had sought to buy the property and had negotiated the sale agreement with Hooker but the Northern Territory government invoked it's right of veto sale of large parcels of land and instead gave Sherwin approval. Sherwin was subject to a takeover bid by Elders in 1988 and Elders gave a 17.4% share in the property to Robert Holmes a Court, by 1989 Holmes a Court owned all of Victoria River Downs which today trades as Heytesbury Beef. The station and surrounding areas were pounded with heavy rains in February 2010, receiving 747mm over the course of the month. The original homestead, which is located some kilometres south of the current Victoria Downs homestead, is now listed as part of the National Estate.

Victoria sandwich—(see: Victoria sponge cake).

Victoria's riflebirdPtiloris victoriae, one of three birds of paradise in Australia. Victoria's is the smallest of the riflebirds, measuring 23cm-25cm. Its plumage has an iridescent purple sheen, which becomes blue-green on the head and more bronze on the lower breast. The throat is velvety black, with a metallic green-and-blue triangular patch in the centre. The female has a pale eyebrow, and the buff underparts are faintly barred with brown. The call is a loud ya-as. Male Victoria's riflebirds have a magnificent courtship display which culminates with him encircling her with his wings followed by copulation. They do not pair bond and the female raises the young on her own. Also known as the lesser riflebird and Queen Victoria riflebird. Victoria's riflebird is found only in southern Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.

Victorian Aborigines Advancement League—(VAAL) was the first Aboriginal organisation established in Victoria. It played a major role in Aboriginal affairs when it was established, and continues to play a major role today. It was formed in 1957 to "achieve citizenship rights for Aborigines throughout the Commonwealth". It has also played an important role in lobbying the governments to ensure that Koories have been given their rights in education. The VAAL set up an Education Trust Fund in 1961 and just six years after the Fund was established, the number of Aboriginal children attending secondary school had increased from thirty-three to 243. While the VAAL was not an education organisation, it was very important to the way the Koorie community became politically organised and was the forerunner for many of the organisations established and achievements of today.

Victorian Act—(see: Chinese Immigration Act 1855 (Vic)).

Victorian Alps—or 'The High Country', is the region roughly encapsulated in the triangle created between Melbourne, Bairnsdale and Wangaratta. This area is another of Melbourne's playgrounds since it provides excellent skiing in winter and exhilarating walking, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, sailing, water skiing, mountain biking and horse riding throughout the rest of the year. There are ten major ski resorts, some with Alpine Villages, with Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek being popular. The ski season nominally extends from June to October and snowboarding and cross country are perused as well as the more traditional downhill skiing.

Victorian ashEucalyptus regnans, known variously by the common names mountain ash, Victorian ash, swamp gum, Tasmanian oak or stringy gum, is a species of Eucalyptus native to south-eastern Australia, in Tasmania and Victoria. Historically, it has been known to attain heights over 114m, making it one of the tallest tree species in the world and the tallest flowering plant. Victorian Botanist Ferdinand von Mueller described Eucalyptus regnans in 1871. An evergreen tree, Eucalyptus regnans is the tallest of the eucalypts, growing to 70-114.4m, with a straight, grey trunk, smooth-barked except for the rough basal 5-15 metres. The leaves are falcate (sickle-shaped) to lanceolate, 9-14cm long and 1.5-2.5cm broad, with a long acuminate apex and smooth margin, green to grey-green with a reddish petiole. The flowers are produced in clusters of 9-15 together, each flower about 1cm diameter with a ring of numerous white stamens. The fruit is a capsule 5-9mm long and 4-7mm broad. It occurs in cool, deep soiled, mostly mountainous areas to 1,000m altitude with high rainfall of over 1,200mm per year. They grow very quickly, at more than a metre a year, and can reach 65m in 50 years, with an average life-span of 400 years. The fallen logs continue supporting a rich variety of life for centuries more on the forest floor. Unusually for a eucalyptus, it tends not to recover by re-shooting after fire, and regenerates only from seed. The seeds are released from their woody capsules (gumnuts) by heat and for successful germination the seedlings require a high level of light, much more than reaches the forest floor when there is a mature tree canopy. Severe fires can kill all the trees in a forest, prompting a massive release of seed to take advantage of the nutrients in the ash bed. If, however, no fires regenerate an area, the trees die off after about 400 years and are replaced by other species. Eucalyptus regnans is the tallest of all flowering plants, and possibly the tallest of all plants, although no living specimens can make that claim. The tallest measured living specimen, named Centurion, stands 100m tall in Tasmania. Historically, the tallest individual is claimed to be the Ferguson Tree, at 132.6m, found in the Watts River region of Victoria in 1871 or 1872. The tallest specimens of this and many other species encountered by early European settlers are now dead as a result of bushfires, logging and advanced age.

Victorian gold rush—a period in the history of Victoria between approximately 1851 and the early 1860s. The first discoveries were made 30km north-east of Melbourne, near Ballarat and in what is now known as Specimen Gully. This find was published in the Melbourne Argus on 8 September 1851, leading to a rush to the Mount Alexander or Forest Creek diggings, centred on present-day Castlemaine, claimed to be the richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world. These discoveries were soon surpassed by bigger ones at Ballarat and Bendigo, and more finds in a number of other locations around Victoria followed. First to be obtained was the 'easy' gold; that which was to be found on the surface. This was followed by exploitation of alluvial gold, usually in creeks and rivers. The seekers used gold pans, puddling boxes and cradles to separate this gold from the dirt and water. When this ran out underground mining began. The mines ranged from a single person, to teams and eventually to large mining companies. The miners followed the underground reefs of gold. At Walhalla alone, Cohens Reef produced over 50 tonnes (1.6 million tr oz) of gold in 40 years of mining. As of February 2004, that would be worth $800 million. The gold rush had a large influence on Melbourne, on Victoria, and on Australia as a whole, touching every aspect of society. The influx of wealth that gold brought soon made Victoria Australia's richest state by far, and Melbourne the nation's largest city. Although most goldfields were exhausted by the end of the 19th century, and although much of the profit was sent back to the United Kingdom, sufficient remained to fund substantial development of industry and infrastructure. The Eureka Stockade, an armed protest/revolt over what the miners perceived as unfair policing and harsh taxation, is widely regarded as important in Victoria and Australia's democratic development. It is reflected in the architecture of Victorian gold-boom cities like Melbourne, Castlemaine, Ballarat, Bendigo, Ararat, Maldon and Beechworth. The last major gold rush in Victoria was at Beringa, south of Ballarat, in the first decade of the 20th century. Gold mining later virtually ceased in Victoria, not because there was no more gold, but in the main because of the depth and cost of pumping. The First World War also drained Australia of the labour needed to work the mines. However, as of 2005 the recent increase in the gold price has seen a resurgence in commercial mining activity; mining has resumed in Bendigo and exploration proceeds elsewhere.

Victorian Midlands bioregion—an extensive area of foothills and isolated ranges comprising the lower inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, extending from north-eastern Victoria to Casterton in western Victoria. Large areas of the region were cleared during the gold rushes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so today it is characterised by patches of woodland and forest interspersed with a rural landscape with modified pastures and some cropping. Vegetation includes most of the box-ironbark woodland in Victoria, as well as substantial areas of eucalyptus forests and woodlands with a grassy ground layer. The flatter and more fertile areas of the Victorian Midlands have been substantially cleared for agriculture, principally sheep and beef cattle grazing. Timber harvesting remains an important land use, though the forests were extensively cut for timber to meet the demands of the gold mining industry of last century. In the less fertile parts of the Midlands, substantial areas of native vegetation remain today in good condition, for example, within the Grampians National Park.

Victorian State flag—was created as a colonial flag: a British Blue Ensign with the badge of the colony added to the blue field. Because some of the Australian state badges were originaly created to represent the Governor (as distinct from the Colony) they generally showed some element of British royal heraldry—the main criteria being that it be different from similar badges used in other parts of the Empire. The Crown Victoria badge represented the status of the Governor as representative of Queen Victoria in the colony. Victoria adopted the Southern Cross in 1870 initially for use on the HMCS Nelson, one of the early warships of the Colonial Navy. The Southern Cross had become fairly well associated with Australia during the 19th century. Theoretically the Victorian badge (a crown above the five stars of the southern cross] was on a disc, but the disc was the same colour as the field, blue. This caused the British Admiralty some consternation, who suggested the Victorian badge should be redesigned as the southern cross on a blue shield on a white disc. In a rare display of independence (with respect to flags) the Victorian government unilaterally approved the flag design anyway. Over the following decades, the Southern Cross "grew" outside of the nominal disc area, and eventually the pretence of the disc disappeared.

Victorian tree-ferns—tree-ferns is a generic term for ferns with trunks. There are six types of native Victorian tree-ferns: soft tree-fern ('man-fern' in Tasmania) Dicksonia antarctica; rough tree-fern (or prickly tree-fern) Cyathea australis; slender tree-fern C. cunninghamii; prickly tree-fern C. leichhardtiana; skirted tree-fern C. X marcescens ; and Australian king-fern (or Australian tree-fern) Todea barbara. Generally, only the following two taxa are available for commercial wild-harvest (other than geographically significant populations) subject to certain site-harvesting conditions: Cyathea australis and Dicksonia antarctica. Due to their significance, the commercial wild-harvest of other native Victorian tree-fern taxa is restricted to various forms of salvaging. A range of tree-ferns, both native and exotic are traded in Victoria.

Victorian Volcanic Plain—an extensive, undulating, basaltic plain in south-western Victoria, stretching from Melbourne west to Portland, south to Colac and north to Beaufort. It is characterised by vast open areas of grasslands, small patches of open woodland, stony rises denoting old lava flows, the low peaks of long-extinct volcanoes dotting the landscape and numerous scattered large, shallow lakes with extensive wetlands. There are nine lakes in the Victorian Volcanic Plain, including Lake Corangamite and Lake Murdede, which are included in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. The grassland communities are floristically rich, usually dominated by kangaroo grass with a wide variety of perennial herbs. The open and fertile grassy plains were one of the first areas settled for agriculture in Victoria and native grasslands are now reduced to a few thousand hectares in extent. The major land use is agriculture, especially sheep and cattle grazing and cropping.

village bike—promiscuous woman, girl of loose morals who is willing (or commonly believed) to have sex with anybody in town.

Vinnies—St Vincent de Paul.

visiting card—any article or thing that is usually recognisable as the owner's.

vitamiser—electronic blender for pulping.

volcanoes—pimples, acne.

Vombatus—Many giant marsupials were probably still flourishing when people first came to Australia, at least 50,000 yeas ago. By this time too, the two kinds (genera) of wombats living today—those with bare, leathery noses, the Vombatus genus, and those with hairy noses, the Lasiorhinus genus (Greek lasio, hairy; thinus, nose)—were wideley established over the country. These genera first appeared about two million years beffore the arrival of humans.

vote of no confidence—a vote showing that the majority do or do not support the policy of the governing body.

vulnerable species listing—species that may soon move into the 'endangered' category, if causal factors affecting their numbers continue. Included are species of which all, or most, populations are decreasing because of overexploitation, extensive destruction of habitat; species which are seriously depleted; under threat from severe adverse factors throughout their range; and species with low or localised populations and dependent upon a limited habitat that would be vulnerable to further threats.

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