Active Ingredient: Orlistat
In 1953, out at Happy Hollow Farm on the Plenty River in Greensborough, twelve-year-old Christopher Bell found a tree-frog in his canoe, named it Algernon, and kept it as a pet. As he wrote in a letter to the Weekly Times, he marvelled as it changed colour from fawn to brown to green.
Christopher grew up to be a medical scientist who worked for part of his career in the department of physiology at the University of Melbourne.
Both of those frog-loving boys won a ten-shilling prize for publication of their letters—which was more money than you could make out of frogs in any other way in Melbourne at that time.
When the summer heat dried up its worm pits and frog breeding grounds, the Melbourne Zoo used to advertise for entrepreneurial boys to supply buckets of worms and frogs and yabbies to feed the hungry platypus and the reptiles that emerged starving from their winter hibernation: the going rate in 1950 was two shillings for a jam tin of worms; between sixpence and three shillings for a dozen frogs, and sixpence a dozen for yabbies.
But in the 1950 s, frogs were often used in the same sentence as mosquitoes and smells, as symbols of the heartbreak suburbs where housing construction outstripped proper drainage and sealed roads.
From the swampy ground in Brighton and South Melbourne to the water-logged sand pits of Springvale. From Deer Park on the Keilor Plains to the grassy ground at West Heidelberg, where tiger snakes gorged themselves on the frogs that bred in the drains.
As the Elwood canal flooded the housing developments that grew up at its margins, and the Maribyrnong broke its banks, again, the sound of frogs croaking was now the signal of poor urban infrastructure rather than the siren of bucolic bliss.
As the city spread east and west, north and south, the gentle and mesmerising sound of the frog became a clamour rather than a lullaby. As the suburbs spread, the frog switched from a simple beauty silhouetted against a backdoor fly-screen at dusk, to a nuisance in the backyard swimming pool.
At the same time, along with the latest in scientifically designed school architecture with radiant floor heating and tubular desks, the young ladies at Tintern Girls Grammar School in East Ringwood were privileged to have a new school that boasted a wildlife sanctuary and a frog pond to encourage outdoor as well as indoor education.
So how did that change happen in a fairly short space of time?
So, by 1990 frogs were listed as a category of animal that was in decline, and in the mid-to-late 1990 s we discovered that the chytrid fungus, which is a fungus that affects amphibians, and quite severely in some cases — particularly upland amphibians — had arrived in Australia.
Ecologists regard them as an indicator species of general ecological health.