Historical information

The Australian Spotted Crake can be found the south-east and the south-west of Australia. It is unlikely to be seen in Queensland or Tasmania and frequents much of New South Wales, Victoria and north-eastern South Australia. They reside in wetlands and are often found in dense growths of plants. The Australian Spotted Crake is a timid bird which flicks its tail as they walk. If disturbed, they may run away in a crouched position with their tail raised.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Victoria, as well as individuals such amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

This specimen is a small, stocky bird with yellow legs and bill. The Australian Spotted Crake has grey colouring on its neck and an orange on the nape of its neck. The torso and rear are striped with black and grey/cream colours and have white spots along the rear. The specimen has brown feathers on the wings. It stands on a wooden platform in a standing position with a paper identification tag tied around its left leg.

Inscriptions & markings

19c Spotted Water Crake. See Catalogue, Page, 35.