Committee of Management
Brendan Sydes: President
Brendan is a Castlemaine resident and a member of the McKenzies Hill Action and Landcare Group. He is an environmental lawyer and was a founding member of Environmental Justice Australia, a not-for-profit community legal centre specialising in environmental law. He has advised a range of Landcare, community groups and conservation organisations on environmental legal issues. He now lectures in environmental law and water law at Latrobe University and the University of Melbourne. Brendan has a strong interest in biodiversity conservation and the role of the community in ecological protection and restoration at the landscape scale.
Marie Jones: Secretary
Marie lives near Expedition Pass Reservoir and became an inaugural member of Golden Point Landcare when she and partner John had a ‘tree change’ and moved into the area in 1994. Her involvement in the box-ironbark forest and natural resource management extended when she spent eight years on the Natural Resource Management Committee with the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA). Marie was a founding member of Connecting Country and the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forest, and part of their management committees since their inception. Her passion is connecting the community with the surrounding natural environment and encouraging the regeneration of our native bushland. It might just be working, as right next to the walking track along a very altered Forest Creek landscape a Blue Caladenia orchid appeared!
Max Kay: Treasurer
Max is a fifth-generation resident of Yapeen, and his family have farmed in the Yapeen and Guildford area since the 1840s. After completing undergraduate studies in accounting and economics and post graduate studies in agricultural economics, Max pursued a career in banking, working in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Max and his family permanently relocated to Yapeen in 1987 where, until his retirement in 2001, he worked in agribusiness and commercial lending in Bendigo and Ballarat. He then ran a beef cattle farm until 2020 and now leases his property to a neighbour. Max is a member and former Committee member of Guildford and Upper Loddon Landcare Group. He is involved in many local community projects and is Secretary of the Guildford Cemetery Trust.
Christine and her husband, John, have a beef fattening property at Faraday. They previously ran an irrigated beef, cropping and walnut property at Pyramid Hill. Christine was a founder member of the Loddonvale Landcare Group, a forerunner to the Loddon Plains Landcare Network. Christine is a former board member and Deputy Chair of North Central CMA and has served as a Councillor and Mayor at Loddon Shire, as well as Board member and Chair of the Goldfields Library Corporation. Christine is currently the secretary of the Sutton Grange Landcare Group and member and Treasurer of the Landcare Victoria Incorporated Committee of Management. She is also a committee member of the Faraday Community Association.
Deborah is a long-time resident of Mount Alexander Shire, and an original member of the Sutton Grange Landcare group in the early 1980s. She now lives on 40 acres at Green Gully, near Newstead. The restoration of this land is newly underway, with the aim of developing habitat for bushland birds. Deborah has taught at the tertiary level and worked to establish the Loddon Mallee Women’s Health Service in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and spent 11 years managing the development and growth of the Castlemaine Steiner School and Kindergarten. She brings strong organisational skills and an interest in assisting community-based organisations plan for long and sustainable futures. She is currently completing a PhD in creative writing.
Stephen Oxley Stephen Oxley “retired” to Guildford in 2021 after spending 30 years in Canberra where he worked in senior executive roles, including half of that time in the Federal Environment Department. He’s been a leader in marine conservation, world and national heritage, sustainable natural resources management and threatened species protection (among other things). He has a long-time interest in securing a better future for Indigenous Australians. He has also worked as a journalist and editor. Stephen joined Connecting Country because he was impressed by the work of this grassroots organisation and felt his experience might be useful. Really, he just likes to get his hands dirty!