ABC projects

We help the ABC from time to time. This includes publicity for their annual National Science Week online mass participation projects, such as:

  • 2023 – Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound
  • 2022 – Australia’s Favourite Tree
  • 2021 – Hoot Detective
  • 2020 – Carbon Counter
  • 2019 – The Aha! Challenge
  • 2018 – Virtual Reef Diver
  • 2017 – Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey
  • 2016 – Wildlife Spotter

Media releases below.

Magpie swoops top spot in poll to find Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound

Did you ‘call it’? Or do the results ruffle your feathers?

The magpie’s warbling has won over the nation, taking out number one in ABC’s search for Australia’s Favourite animal sound. The call of the magpie was a clear winner, attracting over a staggering 36% of the votes in the final round.

“The magpie’s warble is part of almost every soundscape in Australia,” says Dr Dominique Potvin, a behavioural ecologist and senior lecturer in Animal Ecology at the University of the Sunshine Coast. “Its song has regional dialects, developed through learning from older generations. So it’s an ancient song, but it keeps evolving. Magpies come together to sing these melodies in a duet or chorus by family groups, letting others know the territory they occupy,” says Dominique.

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Birds soar high in poll to identify Australia’s favourite animal sound.

Banjo frog hops into the top 10. Cicada holds tight.

Is your favourite still singing? Or did it ‘croak’?

Vote now for your favourite from the remaining animal calls.

Over 90,000 voters have made their voices heard in the search for Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound.

Birds perch high in the top 10, with voters expressing their affection for the songs of the magpie, kookaburra, lyrebird, whipbird, butcherbird, black cockatoo, boobook and the fairy wren.

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What is your favourite animal sound? Cast your vote in our national poll

Koo-koo-kaa-kaa, crawk, howl… nationwide project to proclaim Australia’s favourite call of the wild.

Media contacts: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426; or Tanya Ha, or 0404 083 863.

Participate at: from 31 July.

Do you love the summer night sounds of cicadas? Or the outback howl of dingoes? Are you intrigued by the lyrebird’s mimicry or the mating croaks of frisky frogs?

The search is on to find our most-loved Aussie animal sound. This National Science Week, ABC Science wants people to go online to eavesdrop on the animal kingdom, explore the wonder and science of bioacoustics, and vote for their favourite call of the wild.

“Bioacoustics – the study of the sounds of wildlife – is really important for science,” says ecologist and science communicator Dr Jen Martin.

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Give me a throne among the gum trees – river red gum crowned Australia’s favourite tree!

Snow gum and ghost gum close behind

National poll ranks Australia’s 33 favourite native trees

Over 265,000 votes cast throughout August

Media contacts: Laura Boland,,

0408 166 426; or Jane Watkins,,

0425 803 204

More about the winners at:

Australians have chosen the river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) as their favourite native tree in ABC’s national poll.

“The river red gum is the perfect Australian tree. No two trees are the same, and each has its own personality. I love the way the twisted limbs, the gnarly hollows and dead wood, and all the scars and broken branches reflect a tough life but one well lived,” says Professor Tim Entwisle, botanist and Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

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Wattle be Australia’s top tree?

Flame tree, Moreton Bay fig and ghost gum remain among top 10

Take a stand and vote for your favourite in the final round

Ten trees are left in the search to find Australia’s favourite tree

Winning tree to be crowned on Friday

Media contacts: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426; or Jane Watkins, or 0425 803 204.

Australia’s top 10 trees have come in all shapes and sizes, from the slender mountain ash to the bulgy boab. They are found in a range of environments, from the river red gum of the inland waterways to the snow gum of the high country.

Across the nation, over 80,000 votes have been cast, as Australians picked their most loved native species in the second round of voting, awarding the top 10 most loved trees, including:

  • golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), which adorns Australia’s coat of arms and is currently in bloom 
  • Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), a mid-east coast native only pollinated by fig wasps
  • river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), which provides shade along inland waterways like the Murray-Darling catchment
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What is your favourite tree? Cast your vote in our national poll

Karri, tea tree, river red gum… nationwide project to crown Australia’s most loved species.

The poll opens on Monday 1 August. The list will be cut to the top 20 on Friday 12 August, then 10 finalists on Friday 19 August, and the winner will be announced on Friday August 26.

Images available for media use

Meet the 33 contender trees

Participate at: from 1 August.

Mountain ash at Lake Tali Karng
Credit: Claire Gilder

Do you love the water-bulging boab or the towering mountain ash, the world’s tallest flowering tree? Are you intrigued by the carbon capturing power of grey mangrove ecosystems or the ‘living fossil’ story of the Wollemi pine?

The search is on to find Australia’s favourite tree. This National Science Week, ABC Science wants people to go online to explore the wonder and science of the plant kingdom, and vote for their favourite tree.

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Australia’s Favourite Tree: the contenders

Images available for media use.

Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) — a long-lived wattle with cream ball-shaped flowers. Native to eastern states and SA, it’s now also found in WA, often as a feature or shade tree. Blackwood is used for furniture and guitars; and by Indigenous people for food, medicine and weapons.

Boab (Adansonia gregorii) — found in the Kimberly, WA and western NT, Australia’s boab has a huge bottle-shaped trunk that stores water: just one of the reasons this is an important tree for the local Indigenous people. The boab is deciduous during the dry season.

Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) — a large, symmetrical ancient conifer native to Qld. It has huge cones containing large, delicious seeds traditionally roasted and eaten by Indigenous people. Weighing up to 10kg, these cones can be a hazard when they fall.

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Australians find owl hunting good for science and soul under lockdown

12,000 Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owl calls found so far

Media contacts: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858; or Tanya Ha, or 0404 083 863.

Is that a dog barking? Or a Barking owl?

Hundreds of Australians have found thousands of owl calls by listening to short recordings made in nature reserves. 

They’re helping researchers identify and map native Australian owl species through the Hoot Detective project.

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Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives

Nationwide project aims to map Australia’s favourite predator birds

Media contacts: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858; or Tanya Ha, or 0404 083 863.

A Barking owl fluffing its feathers, or ‘floofing’. Credit: Dr Nick Hamilton

“I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.” Macbeth, William Shakespeare.

Is that an owl hooting? Or a car?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

The project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O) for National Science Week. It will commence online on Monday 9 August at and run until the end of August.

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls. For more about each species, visit

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