Wednesday, May 30, 2007

FRIDAY'S HISTORY LESSON: KARMAI and KORUMBURRA.

In South Gippsland Victoria, there is live the World's Longest Earthworm, known as "Mining Karmai". That is the Aboriginal name for the Earthworm, which can grow as long as 3 metres plus. The worm was discovered approximately 100 years ago so far as it can be ascertained.This worm is only found at Korumburra, Loch and Warragul in the Bass River valley.

The Karmai Giant Worm Festival held in March every year, in the lovely little township of Korumburra. A street parade and a festival with food (no, not with Karmai to taste!) and singing and local produce can be enjoyed. Also, one lucky lady becomes the Earthworm Queen!!

Korumburra is situated in a region of rich dairying country amongst the scenic backdrop of the Strzelecki Ranges. The town was an important black coal mining centre in the late 1800s, however the industry declined, with the final mine closing in 1958.
Korumburra is centrally located to a number of attractions in the area including Wilsons Promontory National Park, scenic drives and bush walking activities in the Strzelecki Ranges, and the re-created coal mining tourist village of Coal Creek, just south of the town centre. The South Gippsland Tourist Railway, which runs a collection of historical diesel locomotives and rail cars between Nyora and Leongatha, passes through Korumburra.

The Karmai live in moist soils under open forest. Therefore, they are endangered due to clearing of forests, agriculture, soil compaction due to developments and of course, habitat fragmentation.
To the farmer's of Gippsland, the Karmai are known as "'Farmer's Friend' or 'Nature's Plough' . This is because of the beneficial effects the earthworms have on soil fertility. They have the ability to break up organic materials and mix them into the soil, therefore increasing the microbial activity in the soil, they also increase the amount of water the soil is able to hold by their burrowing activity, therefore oxygenation of the soil and the plant roots for agricultural purposes is also beneficial.

In order to help the worm, the people of the South Gippsland area have done a number of things. They knowledge that the Karmai are usually found within 40 metres of creek banks, the population know to protect this habitat by fencing the area off and therefore not allowing cattle or people to tread over it. Being careful when fertilising and using insecticides. Ploughing has to be done very carefully, just bruising the soft outer of the Karmai kills them.

Farmers know when they have Karmai on their properties. A simple test is to stamp around during a wet period and listen. If there are worms there a sloshing sound can be heard as the Karmai retreat into their tunnels. Reportedly, it sounds like when a plug has been taken out of the bath!!

Also, flooding creates a problem sometimes, and the Karmai can be sen on top of the ground because of this. For the farmers, sometimes the Karmai can be seen as a bit of a pest at times, tunneling into their dam walls and therefore creating cracks along the way. Their tunnels go as deep as 2 metres from the surface, and are about 2cm in diameter.
Karmai lay large amber colored capsules, just like the ones here in the image provided. These are 4-8 cm in length and about 2cm in diameter. The egg capsule is made of a tough, semi-transparent, horny material called chitin, which gives it the appearance of being made of plastic and resemble cocktail sausages in shape. They are laid close to the soil surface at an average depth of 20cm.
The worm itself has 300-500 body segments, and the first one third of the body (including the head) is dark purple with the remainder of the body being a pinkish-grey colour. As seen in the second image.

The Big Earthworm can be found at the Wildlife Wonderland 10 minutes before Phillip Island. From the road, you can see a large pinkish model of an earthworm. Inside, there is the Giant Earthworm Museum, which allows visitors to crawl through a magnified worm burrow and walk through a simulated worm's stomach. Outside is an animal park with a number of wildlife displays. There is also a Great White Shark display, truly awesome for kids young and old :)

By people helping to protect and conserve the habitat of the Giant Earthworm, they not only help to improve the soil and the land that sustains us, but also help to conserve an important part of the South Gippsland Heritage. It is, after all, one of Australia's unique native animals.
BTW: I am one vote behind Hillbilly Mom right now, so could y'all kindly remember to go read the stories in this week's writing contestant writeinthethickofit.blogspot.com. It is open until Saturday night at 10:00. Kisses and huggs to those who have voted for me. I only want to win once so I can choose the next list of words for the next story writing. It is all for the fun of it :)

18 comments:

Mark said...

Texas got nothin' on Australia, Mate!

Jay said...

That is one big worm there! It's cool that they protect them, but ... ewwwwwe ... I wouldn't be holding one! LOL

Andrew said...

I visited the big worm place maybe fifteen years ago and although interesting, it felt a bit cheap. Perhaps it has improved. I don't know that these big worms are found anywhere else in Australia. Weird country.

Joe the Troll said...

Those egg capsules look just like red chilis! I'll never look at a red chili again without thinking of giant worms. Considering where I live, I'll be thinking of giant worms almost ever day now!

justacoolcat said...

Wow. I did not know worms grew so large.

I wonder what size fish I'd catch using it as bait?

poody said...

DANG IT I CAN ONLY VOTE ONE TIME!I tried but it won't let me do it again!

poody said...

This is so cool! I think Texas and Australia have a lot of things in common Cazzie!I am gonna go clean out the room of pain so you can come over for a visit!

mrsmogul said...

I was just looking at a worm before. GROSS! I've been on PUFFING BILLY! Went all through New South Wales and Queensland.

Honey said...

wow I love those worms.
craziest thing we have here in Belgium is a tomato throwing day but I don't think theres a tomato queen at the end of it.. what specail qualities does the queen of worms have to have i wonder?
thanks for the post, a great read.

Aidan said...

I loved the earth worm as a kid, and the Great white exhibition, not to mention the penguin tracker...
Taking me back a long way cazzie:) thanks.

Imagine trying to get it on the fishing hook.

Cazzie!!! said...

Mark, Texas got rodeo..that IS a bonus!

Jay, mew neither, ewwww.

Andrew, it is nt just yu. I said the same thing to other half, that the place was put together shabbily. The idea of presenting the worm like this is a good one though, and kids love it so.

Joe, howdy doody mate! I know, my kids think they look like cocktail sausages that hey love to devour. Never lookin' at 'em the same!! LOL

Justacoolcat, welcome!! Well now, I never thought of it that way. I lvoe to fish. In fact,I keep telling other half I want to buy another boat (we sold ous a few years back).


Poody, the room of pain..what gives? Spill it girl!! LOL.


MrsMogul, LOL, the worm is gross, but fascinating too. Puffing Billy is awesome, nothing like ash in your hair, LOL. I will come visit you later today.


Honey, lol, I just read yesterday that for many many years, as long as 500 years, tomatoes were classed as poisonous. So no one ever used to eat them. I just do not know how I would survive a day without them, I heart tomatoes!!


Aidan, I love trips down memory lane! LOL at getting the worm on a hook, OMG, too funny!!

Eve said...

That is one weird creature. Australia seems to be full of 'em. ;)

Keshi said...

Very interesting Caz!

btw I really dun fancy worms :) but I like to read stuff like this. TY!

Keshi.

Bruce Soy said...

Three meters for an earthworm? That's a serious worm alright. I love earthworms as they are so fantastic for the garden. Our little robins also love them though eating them all up as soon as possible. Nice history lesson Cazzie.

Bibi said...

Wow ... I think I'll skip the festival though. ;-) Not fond of things that squiggle.

The eggs looked like something you'd cut up and cook ... like chili peppers. Next time I prepare hot food, I'll be looking inside the pepper just to make sure!

Cazzie!!! said...

Eve, welcome, and yes, even the humnas are weird here, LOL.

Keshi, me neither, but it is interesting, and the festival is fun. Imagine this, and Italian ELVIS ..yep, singing on back of a trailer truck, LOL.

Bruce, welcome mate. Yes, I welcome worms into my garden too, I know my pop used to have loads of them in his veggie garden when I was a kid. I think I'd get a fright if I saw one of these suckers in mine though LOL.

Bibi, LOL, yes, I can understand that. The festivl is just to create awareness of the Karmai, but, they don;t actually have any live Karmai there. They do have a papier mache one there, like the Chinese Dragon at Chinese NY.
The big draw card, the Italian ELVIS, singing on back of a trailer truck, LOL. And, the fine produce from the local area, honey, milk, veggies, and, what would a festival be without waffles, dagwood dogs and fairy floss?

Andrew said...

I am not sure if it polite to this, but I just read this story on Coal Creek. http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/late-bid-to-save-heritage-village-up-the-creek/2007/05/30/1180205338505.html

or search theage.com.au for Coal Creek.

mudlo said...

So has Korumburra or it did have, maybe that's gone too