Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Our own Christine awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia

Posted on 2 February, 2023 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to learn that one of our committee of management members, Christine Brooke, has been formally recognised for her outstanding dedication and volunteering for the environment and local landscape restoration.

Christine was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia – a great acknowledgement for her decades of far-reaching volunteering and commitment to the environment. We are very lucky to have Christine’s commitment to Connecting Country, and benefit from her expertise and experience. The medal was granted on 26 January 2023 for her ‘service to the environment, and to the community’.

Christine has a long history of service, including representation on the North Central Catchment Management Authority, Loddon Plains Landcare Network (formerly Loddon Vale Landcare Network), Sutton-Grange Landcare Group, Australian Landcare International, Natural Resource Management Committee, North Central Goldfields Regional Library Corporation, Loddon Shire Council, Faraday Community Association and of course, Connecting Country. She has also won a number of awards during volunteering, remains an active Landcare volunteer, and deserves a big pat on the back!

The humble Christine told us ‘I am a bit overwhelmed by this because, as you all know, it is not one individual that gets things happening but everyone … as part of a team, of which I’m privileged to be a part’.

Christine has shared her expertise and knowledge across many volunteer organisations over her long career (photo courtesy of Bendigo Advertiser)

 

The mighty Chewton Chat community newspaper has published a terrific story about Christine, which we have included below. Great work Christine and thank you for your huge contribution!

Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) awarded for service to the environment and the community

When local volunteer Christine Brooke and her husband John moved to Faraday ten years ago, Christine already had a strong interest in working for the environment and the community.

Before long she had become involved with local groups Sutton Grange Landcare and the Faraday Community Association. Her roles in Loddon Shire as a councillor and mayor along with her time on the board and community group of the North Central Catchment Management Authority gave her an overview of how the community and the government agencies can work together successfully. She has been involved at national, state and local levels of Landcare.

This led to her being elected to the Committee of Management of the local landscape restoration organisation and Landcare Network, Connecting Country, working across the Mount Alexander region. And this is where all her skills of governance and accountability, her knowledge of natural resource management along with her understanding of how communities can work together are all used so effectively.

As Christine explained to the Chat, ‘Our communities are vibrant places to live, because of the tremendous amount of time and effort given by volunteers to make them so, from the environment, the arts, sport organisations and all the work of parents within our education systems. I believe we can all play a part to keep them that way.’

Chewton Chat
February 2023

 

Director reflections

Posted on 2 February, 2023 by Frances

The time has come for me to hand over my role as Connecting Country’s Director. I will miss many aspects of the work, but am delighted to transition the role to an excellent new Director – Lorene (Lori) Arthur. I’m sure Lori will bring a fresh perspective and energy, while I focus on my property and other personal projects.

A huge thank you to the Connecting Country staff and committee for your friendship and help, and to our volunteers and donors for your support these last five years. Our community is blessed with some remarkably generous, dedicated and knowledgeable people. I am incredibly grateful for the chance to be part of Connecting Country, all I’ve learnt and the people I’ve met.

I’ve loved collaborating with a great team on meaningful projects, while constantly learning. Although difficult times (given declining funding and a global pandemic), it’s been extremely fulfilling and always interesting. Our team has delivered some brilliant projects, while becoming a more streamlined and adaptable organisation. Connecting Country’s ongoing funding remains uncertain, but I am confident about its capacity to keep navigating the challenges.

Connecting Country’s achievements rely on its small but passionate and hardworking staff team. During my five years as Director, we’ve developed and obtained funding for 36 new projects, spanning on-ground landscape restoration, Landcare, monitoring and community engagement. In addition to all the work of delivering the projects, that represents an awful lot of grant applications and reporting! During my time we’ve completed 26 projects, with 14 current projects ongoing for 2023.

Connecting Country is now ready to embrace some compelling new opportunities. I am keen to stay involved, where appropriate, and look forward to continuing the journey as an active volunteer and supporter.

Connecting Country’s new Director (Lori) starts on 13 February 2023. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post introducing Lori.

Frances will still be involved with Connecting Country, including volunteering as a nest box team leader! (photo by Jess Lawton)

 

Promoting native pollinators from property to landscape – 24 February 2023

Posted on 31 January, 2023 by Hadley Cole

In 2023 Connecting Country is hosting a series of events celebrating the pollinators of our region as part of The Buzz Project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria. We launch the project with a presentation with Dr Mark Hall (Senior Biodiversity Officer at City of Greater Bendigo) in Campbells Creek VIC on Wednesday 15 February 2023. Following the launch, we will host a field trip in Harcourt VIC with Mark on Friday 24 February 2023. Mark completed his PhD on how the composition of wooded habitat in modified landscapes affects bird and pollinator assemblages and has also investigated pollinator diversity, health, management and contribution to crop production. To learn more about Mark – click here

We will spend a morning out in the field with Mark to meet local pollinators, explore their habitat, and learn to identify some of the local pollinator heroes. This event will be at a private property in Harcourt VIC.

 

Join us for a fascinating morning out where will explore both a garden and bush setting in search for pollinators and their homes.

Field trip: Promoting native pollinators from property to landscape
When: Friday 24 February 2023, 10.00 am to 12.00 pm
Where: Dja Dja Wurrung Country, Harcourt VIC (details will be provided on booking)

Bookings are essential as spaces are limited. To book your free ticket – click here

BYO morning tea and drinking water. We will be outside for the whole two hours so please wear sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.

If you haven’t yet booked your free ticket for the presentation with Dr Mark Hall on ‘Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do’, there are still spaces available. To learn more and book – click here

The Buzz project is funded by the North Central CMA through the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants.

 

                 

 

Do you give your time to protect nature?

Posted on 31 January, 2023 by Frances

Volunteers are vital to Connecting Country, as well as the many Landcare and environmental groups that work across the Mount Alexander region. We could not achieve what we do without our skilled and enthusiastic volunteers.

At Connecting Country we love our volunteers and work hard to keep them trained, safe and engaged. We aim to create an environment where both our organisation and volunteers mutually benefit from the volunteering experience, and are always looking for ways to improve.

Researchers at the University of Queensland are studying the benefits of volunteering, and what types of experiences and feedback help strengthen the capacity and motivation of volunteers, enabling them to continue making such a valuable contribution. As part of that project, they seek to survey environmental stewardship volunteers to explore their perceptions of volunteering and stewardship.

For more information about this research project – click here

Given Connecting Country’s role, we are happy to promote this interesting work and ask people to complete their survey. If you are an environmental volunteer and give your time to protect nature, please read on for details.

You are invited to participate in an online study to identify what motivates volunteers to participate in environmental stewardship programs, and what factors support the valuable contribution of people like you. The study is completely anonymous and takes approximately 10-12 minutes to complete. Everyone that completes the survey will be offered the chance to win one of two vouchers worth $300. The survey is being run by researchers from the University of Queensland with support from the NSW Environmental Trust.

The complete the survey or to find out more information –  click here

 

 

Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do?

Posted on 25 January, 2023 by Hadley Cole

In 2023 Connecting Country is excited to present ‘The Buzz project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria‘. This project celebrates the pollinators of our ecosystems and encourage us all to learn more about our local pollinator heroes. Globally we have seen a serious decrease in pollinators, which has implications for ecosystems, agriculture and in turn the food we eat. There is still much to learn about the pollination services insects and other pollinators provide for food crops and the natural environment. However, we understand that fragmentation of habitat leads to a decline in pollinator activity.

To launch the Buzz project, Connecting Country is pleased to present ‘Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do‘, a presentation by Dr Mark Hall, Senior Biodiversity Officer at City of Greater Bendigo.

Dr Mark Hall (Senior Biodiversity Officer, City of Greater Bendigo)

Dr Mark Hall completed his PhD in 2018 on how the composition of wooded habitat in modified landscapes affects bird and pollinator assemblages, under the supervision of Andrew Bennett (La Trobe University) and Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University). He has since investigated pollinator diversity, health, management and contribution to crop production. Since 2020 Mark has partnered with the Upper Campapse Landcare Network to identify habitat and floral preferences of pollinators (bees, flies, wasps, butterflies and beetles), and guide effective restoration across the Upper Campaspe region in central Victoria. He is currently the Senior Biodiversity Officer with the City of Greater Bendigo.

 

Join us for an evening to learn about this fascinating topic, and find out which pollinators you might see across our region and the many ecosystem services they provide for our natural landscape.

When: Wednesday 15 February 2023, 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm

Where: Dja Dja Wurrung Country, Campbells Creek Community Centre, 60 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC 

Bookings are essential. To book please – click here

Supper will be provided and you will also receive a free copy of the ‘Insects of central Victoria’ booklet thanks to the Mount Alexander Shire Council.

The Buzz project is funded by the North Central CMA through the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants.

 

           

 

 

Bird of the month: Black Swan

Posted on 25 January, 2023 by Ivan

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have the brilliant Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by Damian’s stunning photos.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Driving between Newlyn and Creswick in central Victoria during spring 2022, I was excited to spot a pair of black swans who’d built a nest in one of the many ephemeral wetlands that formed this last winter. On a subsequent drive along the same route a few weeks later, there were tiny cygnets being shepherded and protected by their parents.

Before the discovery of Australia by Europeans, they knew as fact that all swans were white. Karl Popper, the Austrian philosopher, used this lack of knowledge in his famous parable of the black swan. That is, all swans are white, until you find a black one. This is important to science because it illustrates the testability and potential fallibility of scientific hypothesis. In other words, a scientific fact is so until proven otherwise, and importantly, it is testable. This is what differentiates science from pseudo-science and belief systems.

Within Australia, the black swan is nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Of course, Australians have always known that not all swans are white. Back to the big, black and beautiful bird – maybe more amusing than beautiful, when feeding bum up in estuaries – but you get my drift.

Although Australia has only one swan species, the Black Swan, across the world there are 24 species of swans ranging from the arctic to South America. They are a large bird, with males weighing 6 kg and females 5 kg, and a wingspan of 160-200 cm. They take flight with feet running across the surface of the water and need 40-50 m to get airborne.

The bills of swans (and the related geese) are adapted for grazing. They are largely vegetarian and feed in shallow water and on land eating grasses, aquatic and marsh plants. They can be found in fresh, brackish and saline waters. They are able to clear the salt absorbed from feeding and drinking salt water from their systems by spending a few days in freshwater, where the salt is collected in special glands above their eyes, and then shed through the nostrils or nares.

One of only three swan species that inhabit the southern hemisphere, the large Black swan is an unmistakable water bird (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

Breeding may occur at any time of the year if conditions are favourable. The nest is usually a large, buoyant heap of vegetation up to 1.5 m across and 1.2 m thick. Clutch size ranges form 4-10 young, depending on conditions. Adults are generally sedentary in suitable habitat but young will move to new areas after breeding.

They are distributed widely across Australia wherever there is suitable water. The Black Swan has been introduced into New Zealand and there are vagrants in Papua New Guinea. They can be common in parks and gardens where there is water and will readily take food offered by people.

To read more on Swans and Karl Popper – click here
To listen to the call of the Black Swan – click here

Jane Rusden
Damian Kelly

 

Critically endangered butterfly appears right on cue

Posted on 24 January, 2023 by Ivan

Our recent Eltham Copper Butterfly workshop received a surprise visit from three flirty Eltham Copper Butterflies, with the enthusiastic crowd delighted to see the special butterfly ‘in-person’ at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens (Castlemaine VIC) on Saturday 14 January 2023. It was the first occasion most participants had seen an actual real-life Eltham Copper Butterfly, and was a tribute to the advocacy and management practices progressed by local ecologists to protect this iconic species.

The education workshop was delivered by the wonderful and passionate Elaine Bayes from the Wetland Revival Trust, and included a guided walk exploring the native woodland north of the botanicial gardens. Elaine delivered an informative and engaging presentation on the fascinating biology of the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly and its symbiotic relationship with Notoncus ant species. It was warming to hear Elaine’s enthusiasm about the mating cycles of this butterfly and her excitement that more populations may exist around our region, and could be discovered if we continue monitoring.

It was a very hot day, and Elaine warned us we were unlikely to see any butterflies on our short walk. However, within minutes of us entering their habitat, three Eltham Copper Butterflies miraculously appeared! They appeared unfazed by our presence, providing excellent photo opportunities.

The Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida) is only found in Victoria, Australia and is restricted to only a handful of locations. Until recently it was only found at several sites around Castlemaine, Bendigo, Kiata (near Nhill) and Eltham. It is a small and attractive butterfly with bright copper colouring on the tops of its wings visible during the summer flight season.

It is one of the rare good news stories within the extinction crisis in Australia. The Eltham Copper Butterfly was considered extinct in the 1950s until rediscovered at Eltham in 1986. This butterfly has a fascinating ecological relationship with Sweet Bursaria plants and Notoncus ants, and lives in bushland at several locations around the township of Castlemaine.

Historically, survey efforts and management actions have focused on public land. However, we know there is potential Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat on adjoining private land around Castlemaine. This habitat is under threat from urbanisation, weeds, rabbits, changed fire regimes and grazing. Connecting Country is currently working with local landholders around local butterfly populations to help protect remnant vegetation, control weeds and rabbits, and revegetate with Sweet Bursaria and other plants used by the butterfly.

Some interesting Eltham Copper Butterfly facts:

  • This unusual species due has a close symbiotic association with a group of ants from the genus Notoncus and the shrub Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).
  • Adult butterflies lay their eggs on the roots and stems of Sweet Bursaria. Once the eggs hatch, the ants guard the caterpillars (providing protection from predators), ushering the larvae to and from the ant nest at the base of the shrub, to feed on the Sweet Bursaria leaves at night.  In return, the ants feed on the sugar secretions exuded from the body of the caterpillar.
  • The butterfly prefers open flight paths and receiving direct sunlight. It likes vegetation with an open middle and understorey.

The workshop was funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources as part of the Environment Restoration Fund and Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan.

It was exciting to have the opportunity to learn about the latest monitoring results from Elaine and  see some Eltham Copper Butterflies in the field. We have received some terrific photos of the exciting sightings from Jo Douglas and Malcolm Mars, which we have included below. Thank you Jo and Malcolm, and well done to everyone who attended.

 

Contractor wanted: Seeking landscape restoration contractor for 2023

Posted on 23 January, 2023 by Ivan

Connecting Country is seeking expressions of interest for contractors to deliver on-ground actions for our 2023 projects on private land across the Mount Alexander region and surrounds.

We are looking for someone with skills to:

  • Plant tubestock and install coreflute guards and stakes.
  • Conduct plant maintenance watering.
  • Control weeds, with a focus on woody weeds such as gorse and blackberry.
  • Control rabbits.
  • Install fencing and exclusion fencing.

We currently have funding for around 50 days of contract work for planting, weed and rabbit control, plus 2 km of fencing, during 2023. There is also scope for more work subject to contractual arrangements.

Key requirements

Our ideal contractor(s) will have:

  • An Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • Demonstrated interest in landscape restoration in central Victoria.
  • Clear communication skills and ability to cultivate positive working relationships with staff and landholders.
  • Attention to detail and ability to follow instructions.
  • Good time management skills and understanding of project schedules.
  • Experience in revegetation planting with tubestock and guards.
  • Basic weed and plant identification skills.
  • Experience in weed control methods, including herbicide use, with appropriate training.
  • Experience in rabbit control methods such as baiting and warren fumigation.
  • Experience in farm fencing.
  • Solid understanding of health and safety systems and requirements.
  • Access to a suitable reliable vehicle and equipment.
  • Good availability throughout the 2023 planting season (April to July).

Plants and guards will be provided by Connecting Country. The contractor will be responsible for sourcing other materials such as herbicides and fencing materials.

We are keen to hear from both established businesses and keen individuals with relevant interests and skills. We may be able to provide some training and equipment to the right candidate.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact us via email (info@connectingcountry.org.au) by COB Friday 3 February 2023.

Please provide us with the following information in your email:

  • Your interest in working with Connecting Country.
  • A brief outline of your relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Your schedule of rates (cost per day) for planting, weed control, rabbit control and/or fencing. A quote for specific tasks will be agreed before starting work.
  • Your availability during 2023.
  • Your contact details.

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Bird walk for beginners – try the interactive walk now!

Posted on 12 January, 2023 by Ivan

Thank you for the positive feedback we’ve received since our recent launch of the ‘Bird walk for beginners’ along Forest Creek, Castlemaine VIC. We can report that over 100 people have accessed the new bird walk for beginners since our 2022 launch, but we want to see the numbers grow into 2023! If you haven’t tried the new interactive walk yet, now is a great time for a casual stroll along some great bird habitats. Mornings and evenings are a perfect time to see birds and avoid the heat on hotter days.

We are pleased to announce the printed birdwalk brochure is now available from Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre (44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC).

You can also download a copy – click here

Our ‘Bird walk for beginners’ brochure allows the community to access an easy, self-guided bird walk. The walk starts on Forest Creek in Wesley Hill and follows a gently-graded, maintained walking path for around 1.5 km. There are eight stops along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird-watching spots, with QR codes in the brochure help you learn about the sites, identify birds and link to further information.

Here is some of the lovely comments so far:

  • Congratulations on a very successful launch of the bird walk! A wonderful project, well executed. – Jenny
  • Well done to Connecting Country for creating this great idea and delivering it. You certainly showed the value of partnerships in the Shire … I hope the brochure takes off and that Landcare work can continue to help build up areas of interest for the community to enjoy. Thanks for all the work and liaising. It melts the borders between organisations. – Christine
  • This is a wonderful project – we downloaded and printed the brochure in b&w. We used our mobile phone to read the QR code and were delighted with the information and photos we saw. We look forward to doing the walk soon. Thanks to all involved. – Judy
  • A wonderful project, professionally executed as usual and a great launch. I know what I’m doing with the grandchildren over Easter. – Chris

 

Some of the dedicated contributors and supporters who played a role in creating the ‘Bird walk for beginners’ along Forest Creek in Castlemaine (photo by Eve Lamb)

 

Creation of the bird walk was a collaboration between Castlemaine Landcare Group, BirdLife Castlemaine District, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country, with support from Parks Victoria and Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Our ‘Birding for beginners’ project was funded by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

 

Seeking landscape restoration contractor for 2023

Posted on 22 December, 2022 by Ivan

Connecting Country is seeking expressions of interest for contractors to collaborate with us to deliver on-ground actions for our 2023 projects on private land across the Mount Alexander region and surrounds.

We are looking for someone with skills to:

  • Plant tubestock and install coreflute guards and stakes.
  • Conduct plant maintenance watering.
  • Control weeds, with a focus on woody weeds such as gorse and blackberry.
  • Control rabbits.
  • Install fencing and exclusion fencing.

 

We currently have funding for around 50 days of contract work for planting, weed and rabbit control, plus 2 km of fencing, during 2023. There is also scope for more work subject to contract arrangements.

Key requirements

Our ideal contractor(s) will have:

  • An Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • Demonstrated interest in landscape restoration in central Victoria.
  • Clear communication skills and ability to cultivate positive working relationships with staff and landholders.
  • Attention to detail and ability to follow instructions.
  • Good time management skills and understanding of project schedules.
  • Experience in revegetation planting with tubestock and guards.
  • Basic weed and plant identification skills.
  • Experience in weed control methods, including herbicide use, with appropriate training.
  • Experience in rabbit control methods such as baiting and warren fumigation.
  • Experience in farm fencing.
  • Solid understanding of health and safety systems and requirements.
  • Access to a suitable reliable vehicle and equipment.
  • Good availability throughout the 2023 planting season (April to July).

 

Plants and guards will be provided by Connecting Country. The contractor will be responsible for sourcing other materials such as herbicides and fencing materials.

We are keen to hear from both established businesses and keen individuals with relevant interest and skills. We may be able to provide some training and equipment to the right candidate.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact us via email (info@connectingcountry.org.au) by Monday 29 January 2023.

Please provide us with the following information in your email:

  • Your interest in working with Connecting Country.
  • A brief outline of your relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Your schedule of rates (cost per day) for planting, weed control, rabbit control and/or fencing. A quote for specific tasks will be agreed before starting work.
  • Your availability during 2023.
  • Your contact details.

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Mapping our old trees of central Victoria: we need your help!

Posted on 20 December, 2022 by Ivan

We are excited to announce the arrival of our new mapping portal, aimed at helping community citizen scientists to map the old, and often large, trees of central Victoria. The interactive mapping portal is part of Connecting Country’s larger project, ‘Regenerate before it’s too late‘ that engages the community about the importance of old trees and how to protect them.

Over the next three years (2023-25), we will continue to host community workshops and develop engagement resources such as the mapping portal and a video. We will also help local landholders with practical on-ground actions to protect their large old trees and ensure the next generation of large old trees across the landscape.

The community, including landholders, Landcarers and land managers, will be vital in mapping their favourite old trees of across our region. Anyone can access Connecting Country’s new online mapping portal. The portal uses BioCollect, an advanced but simple-to-use data collection tool developed by the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and its collaborators. BioCollect helps users collect field biodiversity data for their own projects, while allowing the data to be easily copied into the ALA, where it can be publicly available for others to use in research, policy and management. This allows individual projects to collectively contribute to ‘big science’.

We need your help!

The mapping portal is now open for any community member to record the old trees in your area. You will need to register with the Atlas of Living Australia (its easy and free), then upload a photo and enter the field details needed for the survey. The portal will ask you simple questions about the tree location, size, species, age (if known), health status and habitat value.

Trees can be tricky to identify, especially eucalypts. If you are unsure about the identification of the tree species, you can:

  • Use the to iNaturalist app assist with identification –  click here
  • Refer to a good guidebook, like those published by Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests – click here
  • Visit the Castlemaine Flora website – click here

To record your large old tree, or view the field survey questions and required measurements – click here

By recording large old trees you will help build our understanding of the large old trees in our region, and contribute to the largest biodiversity database in our country. As the database grows, you can also access the portal to learn about other wonderful large old trees in our area and view the photos.

We are most grateful for our generous project support from the Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation. The foundation aims ‘To encourage and support organisations that are capable of responding to social and ecological opportunities and challenges.’ To learn more about Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation – click here

Euan Jenny and Peter with a large old tree (photo by Beth Mellick)

 

 

Happy holiday ideas from Connecting Country 2022

Posted on 20 December, 2022 by Frances

On behalf of the Connecting Country team, we warmly wish all our subscribers a safe and festive holiday season. Once again, a huge thank you to our marvellous volunteers, members, landholders, donors and other supporters for your invaluable contributions during 2022.

The Connecting Country office will be closed for a short break from 5 pm on Thursday 22 December 2022 until Tuesday 3 January 2023, although some staff will be on leave until 16 January.

As we approach the end of 2022, we hope you enjoy a chance to celebrate and to connect with our special local environment. With this unseasonably cool and wet summer, there’s sure to be lots to see out in the bush.

If you’re looking for some time out or an activity to do over the holiday season, here is some inspiration:

  • Grab our ‘Birdwalk for beginners’ brochure and take a leisurely morning or evening bird walk along Forest Creek in Castlemaine – click here
  • Book in for our Eltham Copper Butterfly workshop on 14 January 2023 – only four places remaining! – click here
  • Get a copy of our ‘Landcare stickybeak tour 2022’ map and take yourself on an exploration of local Landcare work sites – click here
  • Catch up on Connecting Country’s recent achievements with our 2022 annual report – click here
  • Select a walk from Damian Kelly’s excellent book on ‘Castlemaine Bird Walks: A guide to walks and birds in the Castlemaine district’ – click here
  • Go exploring with Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forest’s ‘Twenty Bushwalks in the Mount Alexander Region’ book  – click here
  • Take photos of the bush in our region and submit your favourite to the ‘FOBIF turns 25’ exhibition by 1 February 2023 – click here
  • Download the INaturalist app and start recording, sharing and identifying the plants, animals and fungi in your local bushland – click here
  • Use the FrogID app to record frog calls and identify the many frogs enjoying our recent wet weather – click here
  • Stay tuned for Connecting Country’s new large tree mapping project.

 

Connecting Country staff team – past and present – celebrating the end of 2022 (photo by Frances Howe)

 

Connecting Country staff enjoyed a lovely summer evening together (photo by Tanya Loos)

 

Celebrating our 2022 volunteers and donors – and a quiz!

Posted on 13 December, 2022 by Ivan

Connecting Country celebrated our amazing collective of volunteers and donors at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens Tea Room last Sunday 11 December 2022, with an evening of trivia, conversation and tasty treats. We couldn’t achieve what we do without our amazing volunteers and donors, and are most grateful for their support.

The relaxed evening celebrated community, volunteering and donating. Our Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton, provided a summary of our substantial monitoring achievements for 2022, which were only made possible through our volunteers and donors. Our management committee is run by volunteers, our monitoring programs rely on skilled citizen scientists, our landholders give time and resources to landscape restoration, and others help with events, Landcare, engagement, plant guards and in countless other ways. We appreciate their dedication to our collective vision of restoring landscapes across central Victoria.

It was a great pleasure to host the thank-you celebration. The delicious and creative catering was much appreciated. Jess and Hadley ran an entertaining game of ecological trivia, followed by plenty of chatting and laughter. Thank you to everyone who came and made it a wonderful evening with great company. Special thanks to Jane R and Duncan for setting up and helping the event run smoothly, and to all staff for assisting with setup.

We are blessed to have an engaged and enthusiastic community who support us. If it wasn’t for your contributions, we simply could not continue to collect valuable long-term wildlife data, engage our community in caring for local landscapes, support Landcare, or empower landholders to manage their land as wildlife habitat.

To everyone who has helped Connecting Country in 2022: a huge thank you! We are so grateful for your support and encouragement.

To find out more about volunteer and donation opportunities at Connecting Country, please – click here

Volunteer celebration trivia – play along!

If you didn’t attend our event, we have published the trivia questions to test your knowledge against the region’s best! Answers are provided at the bottom of the page.

  1. What does ‘pigeon-toed’ mean in humans?
  2. Phaps is a genus of native Australian pigeons, the most abundant and widespread of which is Phaps chalcoptera. What are the Phaps species commonly known as?
  3.  What is the collective noun for a group of quails?
  4. What are the two common names of the largest lizards that occur in the Mount Alexander area? (bonus points for latin names!)
  5. True or false: Kangaroos emit far less methane via flatulence than other, similar sized mammals?
  6. What does ‘going on the Wallaby’ mean?
  7. What possum species is rated as ‘vulnerable’ in South Australia, but is a major introduced pest in New Zealand.
  8. In 2019 a native Queensland mouse, the Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola), was formally declared to be extinct. Why did this extinction make world headlines?
  9. Professor Wood Jones was an academic polymath, who in the early 20th century had a seminal influence on Australian biology. “Though once a familiar animal to settlers whose homes were in the more wooded districts, P.penicillata is unknown to the rising generation of country people … it seems a remarkable thing that so well equipped a carnivore should have been reduced to a state bordering on extinction in so comparatively short a time” – 1923. He argued that humans were descended from tarsiers, not apes, and opposed Darwinism. What was his first name?
  10.  What are the Dja Dja Wurrung names for the three Mounts in the local region?
  11.  What is the name of the ancestral creator in Dja Dja Wurrung dream time culture?
  12.  Who wrote: ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, 0f ragged mountain ranges, 0f droughts and flooding rains.’
  13. December 2022 is the 20th birthday celebration of what local event?
  14. December 2022 is the 171st-anniversary celebration of what local event?
  15. Which of the following is not a genus of Australian native wallaby grass? (a) Amphibromus (b) Austrodanthonia (c) Danthonia (d) Rytidosperma?
  16. What is the official date of National Wattle Day in Australia?
  17. What species of prickly wattle, endemic to the south-eastern Australian mainland, has common names including ‘kangaroo thorn’, ‘hedge wattle’?
  18.  Bush regeneration work targets the most degraded areas of a site first. True/False

(scroll down for the answers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

  1. Answer: Feet point inwards
  2. Answer: Bronzewing 
  3. Answer: Bevy (‘covey’ or ‘quail’ also accepted)
  4. Answer: Sand Goanna (Varanus gouldii) and Lace Monitor (Varanus various)
  5.  Answer: True
  6.  Answer: Travelling around, usually looking for work
  7. Answer: Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
  8. Answer: It was believed to be the first mammal extinction caused by anthropogenic climate change
  9. Answer: Frederic
  10. Answer: Leanganook, Lalgambook and Tarrengower – but Yapenya (aka Mount Barker) was also accepted
  11. Answer: Bunjil, The Wedge-tailed Eagle
  12. Answer: Dorothea Mackellar
  13. Answer: Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
  14. Answer: The 171st anniversary of the Monster Meeting itself being celebrated the same day – what other surprises might be in the pipeline?
  15. Answer: Danthonia – but this was highly controversial and created lots of heated discussion from the experts!
  16. Answer: 1 September
  17. Answer: Acacia paradoxa
  18. Answer: False – bush regeneration generally targets the best native vegetation for protection first

 

Connecting Country Director role – applications due

Posted on 12 December, 2022 by Frances

Just a reminder that applications for the role of Connecting Country’s Director are scheduled to close on Thursday 15 December 2022.

Perhaps you know someone who would make a great new Director? Please continue to circulate this opportunity via your networks and encourage anyone who is interested to apply, if they haven’t already.

For more information and to access the position description, please click on the following link.

 

Work with Connecting Country – Director role

 

FOBIF turns 25 exhibition

Posted on 12 December, 2022 by Frances

To celebrate 25 years of Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forest they are planning an exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub (8A Tivey St, Newstead VIC) from 25 February to 13 March 2023. There will be a new photo show, geology exhibits, children’s art, posters, pamphlets and photos about FOBIF’s history.

For the photo show, they are inviting FOBIF members and supporters to send an image/s that shows something about the local natural environment that they find interesting or special in some way. They would also like participants to write a short piece (100-300 words) explaining the choice.

So if you have a favourite photo/s of the bush in our region send them along to FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au) with a description. There is plenty of time to take new photos: the closing date for the submission of photos is not till 1 February 2023.

FOBIF will place all photos in a designated page on the FOBIF website. A FOBIF sub-committee will then select approximately 15 photos to be printed and framed for the exhibition. The text will be printed and displayed next to the photo. Photos will be for sale with proceeds used to cover costs.

If your photo is selected, as well as being included in the exhibition, you will receive a free copy of your photo.

For more information contact FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au) or phone Bronwyn Silver (0448 751 111).

To visit the FOBIF website to learn more about FOBIF and their activities – click here

Read on to enjoy two early contributions to the FOBIF turns 25 show.

Joy Clusker