Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Sponsor a community planting day: Seeking YOUR help for 2023 National Tree Day

Posted on 31 May, 2023 by Ivan

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now, and we need your help!

We are partnering with local Landcare groups and Mount Alexander Shire Council to deliver a National Tree Day event on Sunday 30 July 2023. The day will be open to everyone to participate and will include planting indigenous plants for habitat and learning more about our local landscape.

The tree planting event aims to empower the younger generations of our community to take direct action in healing the land and tackling climate change. This is what they have asked for. Mount Alexander Shire Council recently surveyed young people in our local area. Our young people reported they want opportunities to plant trees, make homes for wildlife and to undertake practical actions to address climate change.

Photo by John Ellis


How you can help: sponsor a community planting day! 

We are raising funds to purchase local native plants and host a Community Planting Day on National Tree Day 2023, to support the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook community – young and wise – to help heal the land. Through this project, we aim to connect people of all ages with nature and restore degraded bushland.

The sponsored plants will be provided by local indigenous nurseries. You can sponsor the day by donating funds to go towards the purchase of the plants, stakes and guards. If you wish, you can attend the community planting day, get your hands dirty and plants the plants you have sponsored. However, if you can’t attend the event, your contribution will be guaranteed and the community will plant for you! Let’s work together to protect and restore our local biodiversity and nurture the land for our future generations! Donate today – click here

Photo credit: John Ellis


Degraded bushland

The Mount Alexander region of central Victoria has a long history of removing native vegetation for gold mining, agriculture, and timber and firewood harvesting, leading to many areas of degraded bushland, with little understory, or suitable habitat. In Australia, it can take hundreds of years for trees to form natural hollows. Due to the profound environmental change caused by European colonisation and the gold rush, many trees in our region are still young and have little understory or ground cover. Connecting Country has nearly two decades of experience in restoring these landscapes, and will oversee the event, to ensure the maximum benefit for our local wildlife and community.

Much of our bushland has been turned over and lacks understorey species. Photo: Asha Bannon


Donate today via our Give Now page – click here

We are reaching out to our community for support to purchase a selection of local native trees, shrubs and groundcovers, to allow us to restore bushland and support our younger generations and local community. Donating to our ‘Trees for our next generation’ campaign provides excellent value for your investment: 

  • All plants purchased using the funds raised during this campaign will be from local nurseries that specialise in indigenous plants to this region. This is vital to ensure plants are adapted to local conditions, support local wildlife whilst supporting local businesses.
  • Experienced volunteers from Landcare will be supporting the planting, making this an effective and highly efficient project.
  • Our 15-year track record of landscape restoration and monitoring demonstrates the importance and relevance of this project and the excellent outcomes for local wildlife and community education.
  • Restoring degraded bushland, which was turned upside-down during the gold rush, is an important community engagement activity and allows people who deeply care about our landscape to take direct action.
  • The project will allow donors who wish to be involved on the day to plant a local native plant on National Tree Day, as well as passionate volunteers and younger generations.
  • This project will support young people to undertake practical actions to address climate change and biodiversity loss – a key issue that young people are acutely aware will profoundly affect their generation.

Any funds raised above our target will go directly towards purchasing plants for other Landcare groups in our region.


Photo Credit: Leonie van Eyk

Donate today via our Give Now page – click here

We have a secure payment system and all donations (>$2) to Connecting Country are tax deductible.

Can’t donate? Here are some other ways you can help

  • Attend the community tree planting event, and volunteer to revegetate the sponsored plants
  • Share our campaign with your friends and networks.
  • Retain leaf litter, logs, and trees (especially mature trees) on your property, as these provide foraging and den resources for wildlife
  • Consider doing revegetation or installing nestboxes on your property
  • Contribute to restoring healthy forests by joining your local Landcare or Friends group. To find a group near you – click here


2023 Landcare Link-up – sharing stories in Taradale

Posted on 24 May, 2023 by Hadley Cole

The 2023 Landcare Link-up is coming up on Saturday 17 June 2023 and everyone is welcome!

As part of Connecting Country’s ongoing support for Landcare groups in the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region, we coordinate an annual Landcare Link-up to provide groups with an opportunity to get together, learn, share and connect.  It’s also a great opportunity for anyone not yet engaged in Landcare to learn more about what’s involved.

The theme for this years Link-up event is ‘Sharing Stories’ and will be held in Taradale, starting with gentle walk through Barkly Park followed by afternoon tea at the Taradale Hall.

Taradale Landcare Group are kindly co-hosting the event and will walk us through their Rediscover Barkly Park project.  Barkly Park is public land with hidden conservation values and offers a wonderful space for Landcare activities and for the wider community to connect with nature.

The group has been working hard to promote Barkly Park through educational and engaging walks throughout 2022/23 and a mini celebration festival earlier this year.   They have plans to care for and restore the site for both community and animals to enjoy for years to come.  We will hear from group President, Brian Bainbridge, who will present the plans and processes behind the Rediscover Barkly Park project.   Brian has decades of experience in restoring landscapes and connecting people with nature through various volunteer and paid roles.  It’s sure to be an interesting and engaging event.

Barkly Park, Taradale VIC. Photo by Taradale Landcare. 




Following the visit to Barkly Park, we will head over to the Taradale Hall to hear more interesting stories from Landcarers in the region and enjoy a lovely afternoon tea together.

Bookings are essential for catering purposes. To book your place, please -click here

For any inquiries please email: or call the Connecting Country office on: 0493 362 394

We thank the North Central Catchment Management Authority for their support of this event.


Sorry Day & Reconciliation Week – 27 May to 3 June 2023

Posted on 23 May, 2023 by Hadley Cole

Every year National Sorry Day is 26 May and is then followed by Reconciliation Week. This years’ Reconciliation Week is held from 27 May  – 3 June 2023 and the theme is ‘Be a Voice for Generations’. Reconciliation Australia recognises Reconciliation Week as ‘a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.’ To learn more about reconciliation in Australia – click here

Our friends and project partners at Nalderun have sent us some information about their local events for Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week 2023. The week of events will commence with the 2023 Sorry Day commemoration at Castlemaine Secondary College oval on Friday 26 May 2023 at 10.30am. Please read on for details provided by Nalderrun about this important week for our community.


Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation, with support from Friends of Nalderun present:

The 2023 Sorry Day Commemoration
Where: Castlemaine Secondary College oval, Castlemaine VIC
When: Friday 26 May 2023 from 10.30 am

Introduction and MC: Vic Say & Zeppelin
Smoking and Welcome to Country ceremony: Aunty Paulette Nelson
Address by the Mayor: Rosie Annear and Castlemaine Secondary students
Guest speaker: Kelly Blake Wadawurrung woman

For the full program of events for Nalderun Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week 2023 please see below.

Nalderun is a Dja Dja Wurrung word which means ‘all together’, because we believe by moving forward together we can make the change needed for our children, our mob and the wider community in the Mount Alexander Shire region of Victoria to thrive. We are Aboriginal led and run – we know what our Community needs, as we are apart of it. For 10 years we have seen our children become stronger, proud and deadly. We know our future, and the future for our children’s children is safe, having created programs and ways of being and teaching now. We want you to join this journey in this two-way learning space. We look forward to walking forward together. We invite you to support us in caring for Culture, Country and Community and to meet the needs of our mob, and the ever-increasing commitment to support these changes in the broader community, which builds respectful and reciprocal relationships for all.’

To learn more about the amazing work of Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation head over to their website – click here or check out their youtube channel – click here

Connecting Country acknowledges the Jaara people, the custodians and caretakers of this land. We recognise their continued care of Country for millennia and pay our respects and gratitude to elders, past present and emerging. We extend this acknowledgement to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


An ode to Landcare volunteers – Transforming local landscapes

Posted on 16 May, 2023 by Ivan

This week is National Volunteer Week (15 – 21 May 2023) and Connecting Country would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our many Landcare volunteers actively working to protect and restore the natural environment across the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region. We could not achieve what we do without you!

At its heart, Landcare is about caring for land so that it will support our society and maintain our natural resources for generations to come. Depending on where you live that might mean looking after a farm, nature strip, local bush reserve or waterway – all kinds of land. Through Landcare, individuals and communities get the support, knowledge and resources necessary to do this work. In the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region, we are lucky to have over 30 community groups working with hundreds of volunteers, many who have been contributing for multiple decades.

In particular this year, we pay tribute to local Landcare legend, Maurie Dynon, who passed away in March 2023. Maurie was a well-respected and loved member of Guildford Upper Loddon Landcare Group for almost 30 years. He also contributed many volunteer hours to Connecting County, as a member of the founding committee and to the Landcare Steering Group. He swore by the power of a cuppa in connecting community and through his determination and many cups of tea, he recruited many Guildford and Yapeen landholders to get on board local restoration projects, helping to transform the local landscape to benefit both farmland and habitat in the local area.

Joining Landcare is a great way to meet your neighbours and get involved in grassroots environmental action that helps to build resilient landscapes. As Maurie has been quoted as saying; “Landcare is great fun! You’re meeting new people all the time with different outlooks, from different walks of life and you learn something from all of them.”

To find a group near you or find out how you could get involved, visit the Landcare page on the Connecting Country website – click here or contact the office at or ph: 0434 362 394.

Maurie Dynon and his wife Lois (both dec.) with Maurie’s beloved Landcare Ute. Photo from the Connecting Country archives.


Post Office Hill Action Group member Andrew with Chewton Primary School student Orlo, working together to revegetate Post Office Hill Reserve in Chewton VIC. Photo by John Ellis.



Bird of the month: White-fronted Chat

Posted on 18 April, 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.

White-fronted Chat (Epthianura albifrons)

Despite being quite common in certain areas, I get excited when I see a White-fronted Chat because they are not so common in Mount Alexander Shire. A very striking bird, especially the male with it’s distinctive black and white colouring. The female is a bit more grey and brown, but still has the beautiful white chest and belly with the stunning black chest stripe.

The White-fronted Chat’s range extends across the southern parts of Australia, avoiding the driest areas, Tasmania and some of the larger islands in Bass Straight. Locally they can be found on the Moolort Plains, along the edges of wetlands such as Cairn Curran and Lignum Swamp. This kind of habitat is typical for them as it’s essentially open grassland around open damp and possibly saline patches of ground.

Foraging amongst seaweed on Port Fairy beeches is where Damian Kelly took a photo of this male White-fronted Chat.

So, what is it that makes White-fronted Chats attracted to open areas of habitat? That would be food of course! They wander around, but don’t hop, foraging for insects and occasionally seeds, on the ground and in low shrubs. If startled, they will fly a short distance to a prominent perch such as a branch or fence. I’ve usually seen them perched on fence wires.

White-fronted Chats usually stay in one place all year round, however weather and food availability will encourage them to move when necessary. Banding recoveries have been from less than 10km from the original site where the bird was banded, indicating they don’t move far.

Female White-fronted Chat, with her grey head, on a fence wire, a very typical perch for this species.

Interestingly, behavioural studies at Laverton Saltworks in southern Victoria, revealed that White-fronted Chats are quite an adaptable species. Often they will be in flocks of 30 or so birds, with pairs often foraging together, they also communally roost when not breeding. Cooperative breeding (where non-parent birds help raise chicks), is not apparent in this species and breeding pairs may change over the years. However, they nest semi-colonially, with several nests close together. Essentially there will be a whole lot of breeding pairs, who are a bit fluid about who they are paired to, hanging out together most of the time, but doing their own thing.

The adaptability of the White-fronted Chat is highlighted in their breeding, being opportunistic in drier country, largely in response to rain and food availability. However, in wetter coastal areas breeding is seasonal. The nest is cup-shaped and usually, three eggs are laid. Both parents will brood and feed the chicks, and hopefully, a Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo won’t find them, to parasitize the nest with their egg.

To listen to the call of the White-fronted Chat – click here

Jane Rusden
Damian Kelly


‘Our land at contact’ event: Tuesday 18 April 2023

Posted on 13 April, 2023 by Ivan

Our friends and project partners at the Newstead Landcare Group are excited to be hosting Professor Barry Golding at an event on 18 April 2023 on the environment around Newstead at the time of European contact. The event will be an intriguing exploration of historical and early botanical records that may be vital in our restoration efforts and planning of revegetation works. Please see details below, provided by Newstead Landcare Group.

Our land at contact

Last October, we were very excited about Prof. Barry Golding’s presentation on the environment around Newstead at the time of European contact. Alas, a lot of rain and rising floodwaters meant a last minute cancellation. We are now very pleased to announce that Barry will be presenting on this subject for us this April. Barry has combed through historical records to put together a vivid and moving picture of how the land around Newstead and its environs may have looked prior to contact.

The arrival of Europeans in Australia produced profound changes across the continent. It can be hard to know exactly what the landscape looked like before this dramatic upheaval. The documents left by the earliest intruders can give us a few clues. Professor Barry Golding of Federation University has combed through historical records to put together a picture of how the land around Newstead and its environs may have looked prior to contact. From the extensive permanent ponds on the Loddon containing literally tonnes of Murray Cod to the vast meadows of Yam Daisies (Myrnong), some of the descriptions Barry has found give us a glimpse of the extraordinary richness of our neck of the woods.

Ancient River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Photo Barry Golding

Come along to our presentation on Tuesday April 18th when Barry will present what he’s learned about the extraordinarily rich and diverse vegetation communities that once adorned our landscape and the marvellous wildlife on this land and in the rivers.

The presentation will start at 7.30pm at Newstead Community Centre. All are welcome to attend, gold coin donations appreciated.


The Buzz project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria

Posted on 14 March, 2023 by Hadley Cole

The Buzz project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria, is a Connecting Country project funded by the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants, that aims to celebrate and expand community knowledge on the smaller heroes of our local ecosystems, the insect pollinators.

The project was launched with a presentation from local entomologist and bee specialist Dr Mark Hall, Senior Biodiversity Officer at the City of Greater Bendigo, on Wednesday 15 February 2023 at the Campbells Creek Community Centre. The presentation focussed on the various native pollinators we may see in the local area and was titled ‘Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do?’

We had a wonderful turnout to the presentation with up to forty enthusiastic attendees who came along with fantastic questions. Mark spoke of the many pollinators present across the landscape from native bees, to flies, butterflies, moths, and beetles. He spoke of the importance of connectivity between gardens, roadsides, and bushland of native vegetation to help build corridors for pollinators to move and plenty of wooded areas for them to nest in. We learnt of the specific adaptations native bees have formed to pollinate indigenous plants and how introduced insects such as honey bees cannot perform the same pollination service as efficiently as the native pollinators.

Following the presentation, we then went out on a field trip with Mark to a private property in Harcourt on Friday 24 February 2023. The field trip was titled ‘promoting native pollinators from property to landscape.’ Thirteen enthusiastic participants came along to learn of the various monitoring techniques we can use to investigate the pollinators occuring on our properties, Landcare sites and in our backyards. The beautiful property of Lois from Barkers Creek Landcare and Wildlife group did not dissapoint! Although it is late in the season for many insects, we discovered a range of insect pollinators in Lois’s garden and the bushland on her property. A couple of species of Blue banded bees were on show, as well as the Imperial Jezebel (Delias harpalyce) butterfly that feeds on misstletoe, a few dragonflies were noted however were very difficult to catch with the net as they zip about so fast! The most exciting discovery was a Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus) found in one of the insect traps. As the cuckoo part of the name suggests, the native Cuckoo Bee will take over the nests of Blue Banded Bees by laying their eggs in with those of the Blue Banded Bees. Although the Cuckcoo bees are not the friendliest of bees they are very beautiful and Mark reassured us that they appear to exist in smaller numbers than many of the other native bees.

So far The Buzz project has been a wonderful success, bringing together community members, nature enthusiasts and Landcarers with a common focus of learning more about the various native pollinators occurring across the local landscape, where they live, how they behave and the types of pollination services they provide.

Connecting Country would like to thank Dr. Mark Hall for his brilliant contributions to The Buzz project. The knowledge he has shared with us all will go a long way to building a greater understanding of the native pollinators of the region. A big thank you also goes to Lois and Geoff for sharing their beautiful property in Harcourt for the field trip.

If you or your Landcare group are interested in learning more on how to monitor and survey insects across the region please get in touch by emailing

We will host one final event later in the year in Spring to wrap up The Buzz project, so stay tuned for more details!

This project was funded through the Victorian Landcare Grants and the North Central Catchment Management Authority.



We need your help! Mapping our old trees of central Victoria

Posted on 28 February, 2023 by Ivan

We are excited to announce the arrival of our new mapping portal, that aims to assist 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‘ which aims to engage the community on the importance of old trees across the landscape and how to protect them. Within the mapping portal you will also find an updated species list that will assist with the identification process of the large old trees.

Over the next three years (2023 – 2025), we will continue to host community workshops and develop engagement resources such as the mapping portal and a video. We will also work with local landholders to implement 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 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 a larger science database.

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 to 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)



FOBIF exhibition opening this Saturday: Newstead Arts Hub

Posted on 21 February, 2023 by Ivan

Our friends and project partners at Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) are turning 25 and to celebrate are opening their photography exhibition this Saturday at the Newstead Arts Hub. The show will feature an incredible array of nature-based photographs from community members and FOBIF supporters. We would like to thank and congratulate FOBIF on 25 years of campaigning for better management of our natural assets and educating the community of their significance.

FOBIF photography exhibition opening: Saturday 25 February 2023

Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) is holding an exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub (8A Tivey Street, Newstead, Vic) to mark 25 years of campaigning for a better future for our forests and promoting their value.

There will be 20 nature photos by members and supporters, historical material about FOBIF, drawings by Chewton Primary School students, and a geological display.

A seventy-page catalogue of the exhibition with extra historical material will be available for sale as well as FOBIF’s six published books and nature cards. All photos will be for sale with proceeds going to FOBIF. 

The exhibition will be open over 3 weekends, (25 & 26 February, 4 & 5 March, 11 & 12 March 2023) and Labour Day (13 March 2023) between 10 am and 4 pm. 

Alison Pouliot, well known fungi expert and engaging speaker, will open the exhibition at 10.30 on 25 February 2023. One of FOBIF’s founding members, Phil Ingamells, will also speak. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. 

You can find out more about the exhibition on the FOBIF website ( or ring Bronwyn Silver 0448 751 111.

Jane Rusden. Crested Shrike-tit

Choughs. Patrick Kavanagh