Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria


Frederick McCoy lived at 'Maratima' near Brighton Beach, a location that had only recently become accessible by steam train from Melbourne, but was still wild and home to many now-disappeared indigenous species.

Writing about the Pobblebonk, or Common Sand Frog, McCoy's obvious familiarity makes it easy to imagine the ruddy, self-important Professor digging up frogs for relaxation on a Sunday afternoon in the ample grounds of his beachside retreat.

Today his observations of this once-common animal jar with the contemporary reality of a privileged bay-side suburb; dominated by bituminised, tree lined streets, double story neo-Georgian villas and exclusive shopping strips.

The oddest characteristic of this species is its habitually burying itself seven or eight inches under the surface of the light sandy soil of Brighton and other similar localities in the south coast, where it may be dug out any day in considerable numbers; only coming out by night to feed on the large nocturnal spiders which abound on the surface at the same time.

These localities, in which the Sand-frog most abounds, are entirely waterless, and the habit of burying itself in the sandy ground by day keeps it from the scorching rays of the sun, while the habit of coming to the surface and running over the ground by night introduces it to the snakes, which in such arid plains one would expect to have little chance of meeting batrachian food, of which it is evident they are very fond, from the abundance of the remains found on opening them.

Historical Voices:
Pobblebonk, Limnodynastes dumerilli, by Arthur Bartholomew.