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 max@connectingcountry.org.au.

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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 clare@knco.net.

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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24th August 2014 – Direct Seeding Workshop in Campbells Creek

The Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare group would like to invite landholders interested others to participate in an information day on  direct seeding techniques on Sunday 24th August, 2014.

The day’s activities will be a demonstration of the advantages of direct seeding of native plant species.  It will be a great opportunity for land owners looking for an economical way to restore native vegetation on their properties.

The workshop will be presented by experienced local direct seeding experts Ian Higgins & David Milsom.

Two methods will be demonstrated to attendees.  A manual technique ideal for small scale applications.  Also, a mechanical method suited to any large scale revegetation project.

Demonstrations start at 10.00am and go through the morning until 12 noon.

Demonstration site location: 250 metres South of the end of Lewis Drive, Castlemaine.  Follow the signs along the walking/cycling trail.  Parking available.

A light lunch will be supplied for attendees.


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Welcome new CC committee members


Malcolm Trainor and Saide Gray

At the July 2014 Connecting Country committee meeting, two applicants were endorsed as new members of the committee – Saide Gray and Malcolm Trainor. Both have been long-term supporters of Connecting Country, and also regular attendees at our talks and field days.  Welcome and thank you!

A summary of the backgrounds of these two new committee members, and also summaries for the rest of the committee, is available on the CC website (click here).

The current committee continues through until the Annual General Meeting, which is to be held in early-mid October 2014 (more details to follow soon).

Saide and Malcolm have replaced Maurie Dynon and Lynne Josephs, who both tendered their resignations from the committee for family reasons. Thank you to both Maurie and Lynne for their contributions – and particularly Maurie who was one of the founding committee members of Connecting Country back in 2008-09, and has been a significant contributor to the organisation ever since.  Maurie will maintain a link with Connecting Country through his tireless work with the Guildford Upper Loddon Landcare group.

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2014 Communities for Nature Funding Opportunity now open

Screen-Shot-2014-08-08-at-11.14The Victorian Government has launched the 2014 Communities for Nature Small to Medium Grants funding opportunity. The grants aim to support practical action by community groups, schools, and volunteer organisations to deliver measurable environmental outcomes through on-ground works.

The Funding Opportunity will provide $3 million to community groups seeking one year grants of up to $50,000 (GST inclusive). Projects that will be completed by 31 December 2015 are eligible for funding.

Applications can be submitted online up until 4.00pm Monday 1st September 2014.

More information can be found on the DEPI website  You can also contact the Grants Information Line on 1300 366 356 between 8.30am and 5:00pm Monday to Friday.

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