Sept–Oct 2014 – ‘Spring into Nature’ events from TFN

spring-into-nature‘Spring into Nature’, is an event series organised by Trust for Nature. Trust for Nature is a not-for-profit conservation organisation that has developed unique ways to permanently protect remnant vegetation on private land.

Trust for Nature is inviting the general public to experience some of the most remarkable environmental conservation properties in Victoria, each offering a special sanctuary to native flora and fauna in need of protection. People will have the opportunity to chat with landowners who have permanently protected their properties, enjoy guided walks and talks, and learn about practical land management techniques that help protect precious wildlife.

north-central-spring-into-natureThere are nine events throughout Victoria this September and October. The North Central Victoria event will be held on 9 September in Kotta which is south-west of Echuca and an hour and 15 minutes from Bendigo.

A list of  all events, dates and details can be found on the Trust for Nature website  and the Spring into Nature brochure can be found here.

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15 Sept 2014 – School concert about Forest Creek

Castlemaine Primary School and Chewton Primary School are producing a school concert entitled Still Waters.  It is the story of Forest Creek told by all the students from both schools.

The story will cover the geological history, the aboriginal heritage, the gold mining era, and finally the regeneration and revegetation along the creek.  The Brush-tailed Phascogale will be a main character throughout the show, beautifully representing the success of on-going environmental restoration along the creek.

The concert will be held at the Capital Theatre, in Bendigo on the evening of Monday 15th September.  Time and booking arrangements are yet to be confirmed and will be posted on this website as soon as they are available.

This concert follows a strong focus in recent times on the regeneration of Forest Creek by a number of local Landcare groups (Chewton LC, Castlemaine LC and Golden Point LC) and Connecting Country. The Connecting Country report Forest Creek Action Plan can be downloaded here.

Continue reading

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14 Sept 2014 – Victoria: before & (just) after European colonisation

On Sunday 14 September, Eliza Tree is giving a presentation entitled:

Australia Felix, or Indigenous Cultural Landscape, Jaara country, before the goldrush & William von Blandowski: Insights from an outsider’.

Eliza Tree is a well-known local artist and historian who has undertaken research on Victoria prior the Gold Rush with particular reference to Indigenous culture and Major Mitchell’s 1836 expedition. Details of the afternoon event which will take place in Harcourt can be found here. While most people have heard at least a little about Major Mitchell and his explorations, William von Blandowski is little known and his contributions under-appreciated.  He was one of Victoria’s first scientists, and led an expedition in 1857 from Melbourne to the Murray River. Continue reading

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6 September 2014 – Do you have a head-scratching plant?

Do you have a head-scratching plant on your place?

That’s a plant which looks like it might be a weed – but you’re not sure. And you don’t want to pull it out in case it’s a nice friendly native – but you don’t want to leave it there if it’s a going to take over the place in a couple of years!

Often we want to know what a plant is when it is still very small and easy to control - like these Cape Broom (Genista monspessullana) seedlings coming up in a Castlemaine garden.

Often we want to know what a plant is when it is still very small and easy to control – like these Cape Broom (Genista monspessullana) seedlings coming up in a Castlemaine garden.

If that scenario sounds familiar to you, then ‘Landcare in The Library’ can help! On Saturday 6th September there will be a ‘Weed or Native?’ plant identification drop-in session in the Castlemaine Library foyer between 10am and 2pm.

Experienced local botanists Paul Foreman, Ern Perkins, Bonnie Humphries & Karl Just will be on hand during the session to help solve your mystery plant woes. Just bring along some sample leaves/flowers/fruits from the plant you want identified. Alternatively you could bring some photographs of the plant.

Remember, if you don’t know what it is then it could be a native so don’t pull out the whole plant – samples are good! And if it’s an orchid you would like identified, just take some photos as they’re too vulnerable to be damaged.

While you’re there you can have a look at the range of botanical resources available at the library to help you in the future. There will also be free local flora guides, weed guides and other resources to take way.

Contact: Max Schlachter – 5472 1594 or

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Mount Alexander Shire Community Grants

Each year Mount Alexander Shire Council allocates funding to support a range of local community-based projects and initiatives through the Strengthening Our Community Grants Scheme. The funding round for the 2014-2015 financial year opened on 22 August 2014, with applications closing on Friday 26 September 2014 at 4pm.

There is a Sustainability & Natural Environment category as part of the grants scheme. In this category there are grants up to $3000. Applicants are asked to address one or more of the following themes:

  • Climate change, greenhouse & energy
  • Land & biodiversity
  • Urban development, planning & sustainable transport
  • Waste & resource efficiency
  • Water

The Council’s Environment Strategy Action Plan (4.6MB download) sets out specific objectives against the above themes.

More information and the application form can be found on the MAS website.

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31 Aug 2014 – Cactus Control Field Day

wheel-cactusThe Cactus Group’s next Field Day will be held next Sunday 31st August 2014. It will take place in Goughs Range Road south of Maldon, starting as usual at 10.30 am. The way to the site will be signposted from the corner of the Maldon-Newstead Road and Goughs Range Road. A map showing the location can be downloaded here.

For further information ring Tony Kane on (03) 5475 2973.

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Crown Water Frontage Licences

We have become aware that the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are now renewing crown water frontage licences across Victoria.  Licence holders should receive a letter and information package from DEPI soon.  This letter is being sent to around 10,000 licence holders across Victoria.

The following information has been provided by DEPI regarding the licence renewal process – which makes for an interesting read about how these areas are managed, irrespective of whether you have property with water frontage or not.  If this is relevant to you and you’d like further information, you can contact the DEPI Customer Service Centre 136 186 or visit the DEPI website . Continue reading

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Birdwatchers aplenty at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens

The Castlemaine Botanic Gardens has been all aflutter with burgeoning birdwatchers this month! A Beginners Workshop was held on the 2nd August 2014, followed by an Intermediate Birdwatching Skills Workshop on the 16th.

The workshops were presented by Tanya Loos, Habitat for Bush Birds Project Coordinator and Geoff Park, bird photographer and naturalist from the Natural Newstead blog. Both keen birders, it was interesting to note that the key messages of both workshops were quite similar!

  •  Get yourself at least one field guide to the Birds of Australia (The ‘Pizzey and Knight’ was the preference of the presenters, but they also acknowledged that the others were also very useful – Simpson and Day; Slater; Morcombe).
  • Use the field guide and observations in your local area to get to know the features of the main woodland bird families (groupings) such as thornbills, whistlers and robins.
  • Use your field guide to nut out key features such as field marks and behaviour. Field marks are the particular feather patterns, coloration, size, shape, bill structure, etc that help us distinguish closely related groups of birds.
  • Knowing what are our typical local species also helps. It narrows down the range of possibilities for a new unknown bird that you have seen or heard.

Write-ups and photos of the workshops, and a list of resources are available: Beginners Birdwatching  and Intermediate Skills.

It was really inspiring and heartwarming to see how everyone is keen as mustard to get out in the field and enjoy birdwatching, and bird monitoring. To this end, a Community Bird Monitoring Kit is in preparation. This kit will have a  list of local bird species and families, a how-to guide on bird monitoring, an Excel data-recording template for those of you who are computer-orientated, and hard copy data-sheets as well.  Coming soon!

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Update on the Green Army programme

On 2 August 2014, the Federal Government announced that the Green Army is ‘open for business‘.  Successful Project Sponsors were announced, as were the successful applicants to become Service Providers.  They have also put a call out for young people (aged 17 to 24) to join a Green Army team.  The details are available on the Green Army website (click here).

Connecting Country shared community concerns about some elements of the Green Army program and decided not to seek funding in the first round but will instead wait and see how the program develops.

Some of the projects announced in Round 1 are in the North Central catchment area (click here to see the full list).  The nearest to the Mount Alexander Region is the Bald Hill Conservation Project near Kyneton (with the Macedon Ranges Shire Council being the project sponsor).

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24th Aug 2014 – Aboriginal Landscapes of the Baynton and Sidonia districts

On Sunday 24th August the people of Baynton, Sidonia and surrounding districts are being offered a rare opportunity to learn about how Aboriginal people lived in the area up until 180 years ago.

Baynton Sidonia Landcare group is holding a seminar titled “Aboriginal Landscapes” and is delighted that some members of the Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (TCAC), who are Traditional Owners of this part of Victoria, will be offering some Aboriginal cultural workshops. Dr Gerry Gill, formerly of La Trobe University, Bendigo, will also give an illustrated talk and show a film he has recently made.

The Seminar will run from 2 pm to 8 pm on Sunday 24th August at the Baynton Hall, Darlington Road, Baynton. Participants are advised to wear warm clothes as some sessions will take place in a marquee. The Seminar is free and refreshments (including dinner) are provided.

Booking is essential, as places are limited, by phoning Clare on 54 234 152 or emailing

aboriginal landscapes

Taungurung cultural objects laid out for workshop participants to examine and admire.

Ms Trish Terry, Country and Community Strategic Initiatives Coordinator with the TCAC, said, “We are so pleased to be working with a Landcare group like the Baynton Sidonia group. People in the community are becoming increasingly interested in and curious about Aboriginal cultural heritage and it is great when a Landcare group acts as a conduit for that information to get out into the community. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

After a Welcome to Country, members of the Taungurung Clans will run workshops on Stone Tool Making and Story Telling. Continue reading

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