Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

2012 Connecting Country Education Program

Posted on 9 February, 2012 by Connecting Country

The 2012 Education Program explores the idea that efficient production and care for nature go hand in hand. It includes workshops, lectures, discussions and field trips, and will throw some interesting questions at participants: Can farmers get paid to look after nature? How can conservation measures help long term farm efficiency? Does revegetation really make farmland more resilient?

Commencing on Monday the 27th of February, the program will first travel to Maldon, Chewton, Sutton Grange and Guildford to present a nest box watch workshop series. This will be followed by a lecture on the benefits of biodiversity in agriculture with Dr Dennis Saunders (Research Fellow CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences) on Tuesday 20th of March. Other sessions will cover practicalities like identifying native vegetation using Victorian Standards with Paul Foreman (Bush Heritage Australia) and Ian Higgins (North Central Catchment Management Authority) on Saturday 25th of March, followed by Establishing goals for revegetation initiatives by Prof Ary Hoffman (Bio21 Institute – University of Melbourne) on Tuesday 8th of May, and finish with Using native grasses and shrubs for pasture, presented by Graeme Hand (STIPA Native Grasses Association) on Friday 25th of May. A panel discussion on the economic opportunities related to farming for nature will also be held on Wednesday 18th April where the public can quiz some of the active local organisations such as Australian Carbon Traders, Trust for Nature, Connecting Country, Bush Broker and Land for Wildlife.

The program is open to all members of the public. Evening sessions are free, however the first two field days are $10 per person to cover transportation. For more information and to RSVP please contact or call the Connecting Country office on 5472 1594. Full details of the program and a registration form can be found here.


Want to Develop a Whole Farm Plan?

Posted on 10 December, 2011 by Connecting Country

DPI’s FarmPlan21 team are holding a FREE accredited training course (six four-hour sessions) for interested landholders.

Topics covered include SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats); Soils and Land Classing; Weed Identification and Management; Biodiversity; Development of Action Plans; Review Whole Farm Plan; and Computerised Mapping.

Date: 8 February to 14 March 2012

Venue: Maldon Community Centre, Francis Street, Maldon

RSVP: 11 January  2012

A light supper will be provided.

Visit this site for an expression of interest form.

For further information, please contact Kevin Moschetti, Project Officer – Whole Farm Planning, FarmPlan21; telephone: 03 5430 4804, mobile: 0409 351 286 or email:


Volunteering, workshops and field days

Posted on 26 October, 2011 by Connecting Country

Re-monitoring the Box Ironbark Thinning Trials

A re-monitoring of the Parks Victoria Box Ironbark Thinning Trials that begun in 2005 is currently underway in four locations across the Box Ironbark estate, including Castlemaine. The company undertaking the monitoring, Australian Ecosystems, is in need of some volunteers to assist with the Castlemaine monitoring work as the re-growth due to the recent rains has been extraordinary.

The field work requires agile, fit and enthusiastic volunteers with a good sense of bush safety. No botanical skills are required although a field sheet will need to be filled in. The days may be long and the ability to read a compass will be an advantage. The surveys are to be undertaken between Monday 31 October though to 9 November 2011 and monitoring is expected to be undertaken in two stints of 3-5 days. The location is the Castlemaine Diggings National Historical Park.

Contact Damian Cook at 0402 127 933 to find out more information and/or to volunteer as a monitor.


Eucalypt ID Workshops

The Eucalypt Identification Workshops are now booked out for Castlemaine and Maldon but spaces are still available for Sutton Grange and Newstead. Click here for more details about the course and booking information.


Reminder about Chilean Needle Grass Workshop

The Tarrengower Cactus Control Committee is hosting a workshop to help people identify and control the Chilean Needle Grass weed this Sunday 30 October from 10.30am – 12.30pm. Click here for more information.


Eucalypt Identification Workshops

Posted on 19 October, 2011 by Connecting Country

Greg Guy

Connecting Country is presenting half day Eucalypt Identification Workshops in four locations across the Mount Alexander region.

Each workshop aims to provide participants with the skills needed to identify some of the common eucalypt species to be found in the region. They will include a classroom-based discussion on the biology of our local eucalypts, with a special emphasis on our rare and endangered species and a ‘walk and talk’ session to identify some local eucalypts in their natural habitat.

Participants will be provided with an identification workbook and also a copy of Leon Costermans’ ‘Trees of Victoria and Adjoining Areas 6th Edition Field Guide’.


Presenter:  Greg Guy, botanist and lecturer from Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE

Sunday 6 November (Maldon)
Sunday 13 November (Castlemaine)
Saturday 26 November (Sutton Grange)
Sunday 27 November (Newstead)

Time:   1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where:   Directions and a map will be emailed to participants prior to the workshop.

Cost:   $5 per person

Refreshments:   Light snacks and Tea/Coffee provided.

What to bring:  Bottle of water, Sun protection (sunscreen and hat), and appropriate shoes and clothing (long sleeves and trousers) for the field trip.

Bookings are essential as places are limited so be quick to reserve a spot! To reserve your place, contact or call 5472 1594.

Connecting Country has received support from the Bjarne K Dahl Trust to develop and implement these eucalyptus workshops (


Community Workshops: Castlemaine and Wedderburn

Posted on 13 October, 2011 by Connecting Country

Landcare and community groups are invited to attend an enjoyable interactive workshop conducted by ‘change consultant’ Les Robinson. The workshops are about harnessing the power of reinvention to spark new zest and enthusiasm in your Landcare or community group. The workshops will include communication ideas for groups and give groups the opportunity to share their own ideas.

Castlemaine Workshop
When: Saturday 22 October 2011, 10.00 am to 3.00 pm (Lunch provided)
Where: Castlemaine Senior Citizens Rooms, Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine, VIC 3450

Wedderburn Workshop
When: Sunday 23 October 2011, 10.00 am to 3.00 pm (Lunch provided)
Where: Wedderburn Community Centre, 24 Wilson Street, Wedderburn, VIC 3518

For further information please refer to the flyers on the North Central section of the Victorian Gateway Website.


Researching Forest Creek

Posted on 19 September, 2011 by Connecting Country

Historian, Robin Ballinger, at Campbells Creek Community Hall

Sixty-five people turned out at Robin Ballinger’s talk on the environmental history of Forest Creek on 8 September. Robin used many early documents and maps to demonstrate the interaction between the indigenous people, squatters, goldminers and the local environment.

She outlined the early geological history of the Forest Creek and the relationship between the Aboriginal people, the Dja Dja Wrung, and the land prior to white settlement. Robin then described the impact on the landscape and the Jarra people of the mass influx of squatters which followed the 1838 publication of Major Mitchell’s diaries.

This pastoral development was followed by the gold rushes and the devastation of Aboriginal life continued. Gold mining had an enormous impact on the landscape in a very short time. However, while in 1852 there were 25,000 people, by 1854 Forest Creek was virtually deserted. The easily-obtained gold had all but gone.

From the 1850s onwards, the actual course of Forest Creek was changed. The creek was straightened to facilitate mining operations and reduce flooding in the town. The emphasis continued to be on controlling the creek, not controlling mining.  An 1871 report emphasised this utilitarian approach to the environment. Revegetation was advocated to address the forest devastation noted in this report but only because future mining operations would need timber.

Robin also drew attention to the conservation efforts that began in the 1930s and continue to this day.  She concluded by raising the question of what exactly are we trying to preserve given that we cannot hope to restore Forest Creek to its original state.

The talk was the last of the three formal Connecting Country educational talks for 2011, although details are soon to be published on a revegetation evening to be held on 13 October and a series of Eucalyptus identification workshops in Oct/Nov. However, Connecting Country is now also planning its 2012 educational program. If you have any comments on this years’ program or suggestions for next year, let us know by calling Chris or Krista on 5472 1594.


Three Fascinating Field Trips

Posted on 13 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

This year’s Connecting Country Education Program treated participants to three fascinating field trips around Mount Alexander Shire.

In May, Phil Dyson from the North Central Catchment Management (CMA) provided an insight to how landscapes are formed with his geology and soils tour. From the anticlinal fold in Lyttleton St in Castlemaine to the top of Mt Alexander, we learnt about the main rock types in the Mount Alexander Shire landscape and how these were formed.  We observed how geology, soils and vegetation interact to produce differing impacts on land use.

Phil Dyson points out interesting landscape features from the top of Mt Alexander.

‘The bush is more than just bush’ was the theme of our Yellow Box Woodland tour with Paul Foreman (Bush Heritage) and Ian Higgins (North Central CMA) in June.  At an idyllic woodland site tucked away in the Irishtown forest, we learnt how to recognize different vegetation communities and habitat characteristics. Ian and Paul highlighted that the disturbance history of local vegetation communities is different, which means some are more rare and more damaged than others.

Paul Foreman assists participants with completing a vegetation assessment.

Elaine Bayes (BRIT TAFE and Department of Sustainability and Environment) and Damien Cook (Australian Ecosystems) inspired all participants by their knowledge of, and passion for, waterways and wetlands, our final field trip. We followed the Loddon River from Glenluce to Newstead learning how to assess waterways and observing how land use changes as you move downstream. At the Moolort Wetlands we saw the abundance of birds, and other aquatic plants and animals, that have been thriving over the past few months after these areas filled with water for the first time in over a decade.

Damien Cook highlights the wetting and drying cycle at the Moolort Wetlands.

Connecting Country would like to send a huge thanks to all participants, our wonderful presenters, and, especially, to Deirdre Slattery who developed the program.

This year’s education program is not over! We have two more free evening talks on the bill. Arn Tolsma from the Arthur Rylah Institute will talk about the role of fire in Box Ironbark Forests on the 25th of August. The history of Forest Creek and its impact on the landscape will be explored by Robyn Ballinger on the 8th of September. These events will be held at the Campbell’s Creek Community Centre and kick off at 6.30pm with soup provided by the Growing Abundance Project. Click here for further information.


‘Vital Signs’: Training in Communication and Group Skills

Posted on 13 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Mount Alexander Sustainability Group (MASG) is conducting a communication and group skills program, Vital Signs, in July and August. The program  aims to ‘support community workers and volunteers by increasing their communication and interpersonal skills and providing mentoring and support to assist them in their work within the community’. Click here for more information.


Registrations open for Box Ironbark Ecology Course

Posted on 13 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Registrations are now open for a five-day residential Box Ironbark Ecology Course. It is aimed at people interested in gaining a general understanding of ecological processes and principles. The course which is based at Nagambie commences on Monday 10 October and concludes on Friday 14 October 2011.  More information including a description of the course, list of instructors, course fees, location details and the application form can be accessed by clicking here.


Ecology Field Days

Posted on 18 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The first two Ecology Field Days run by Connecting Country will take place soon. The Geology and Soils day has been booked out but there are some spaces still available for the Yellow Box Woodlands day. Bookings are essential. Contact contact Krista on 5472 1594 or

29 May: Geology and Soils (Phil Dyson, North Central CMA)
We will visit sites that will give us an overview of the main geological influences in Mt Alexander Shire. We will explore the mysteries of soils, the relationships between soil and geology, and consider how have the different geologies have shaped our use of the land.

5 June: Yellow Box Woodlands (jointly led by Ian Higgins from Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare and North Central CMA, and Paul Foreman from Bush Heritage Australia and Blue Devil Consulting)
We will explore two sites to see an area of old yellow box woodland and one that has been greatly altered by land uses. We will learn about the interactions of trees, shrubs, herbs and fungi at each site and consider what opportunities each offers for animal habitat.

Both sessions run from 9am to 1.30pm. Transport is provided and the cost for each day is $10. For full details click here.


Connecting Country Education Program 2011

Posted on 21 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Connecting Country Education Program for 2011 has now been finalised. There will be field days on Geology and Soils, Yellow Box Woodlands and Rivers and Streams and evening talks on Fungi, Fire and Cultural Heritage. A flyer about the program can be downloaded here and full details and an application form can be found here.