Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

5 Dec 2012 – Celebrate International Volunteer Day

Posted on 29 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

Mount Alexander Volunteer Network has organised a Volunteer Expo at the Castlemaine Market Building on Wednesday 5th December 2012. The day will start at 11 am with an official launch followed by a celebration morning tea.

There will also be a Volunteer Thank You Dinner at the Castlemaine Town Hall from 7 pm where people can enjoy a delicious 2 course meal and live entertainment from Ghouls Gambit and acclaimed jazz diva Meg Corson. The dinner will be free of charge for volunteers and community workers. Bookings are needed by Monday 3 December.

Volunteers are vital for the success of Connecting Country and many other local organizations.  This is a great local way in which people can be acknowledged for their contribution.

For bookings or enquiries please contact the Mount Alexander Volunteer Network by email to or telephone 0425 323 005.


New edition of ‘Chat’

Posted on 29 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

The latest edition of the North Central CMA newsletter North Central Chat is now available and can be downloaded here. The issue includes information on a new North Central Waterwatch Fish Field Guide, a new publication about Dung Beetles and a mystery photo from our landcare facilitator, Max Schlachter.


1&2 Dec 2012 – Annual Bird Count Weekend – Helpers requested

Posted on 23 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club (CFNC) have been involved in the Annual Bird Count Weekend for more than a decade.  Now organised by BirdLife Australia, the annual event involves birdwatchers from across Australia recording as many individual bird species and individuals as they can within a set period and within their defined area (for us, it’s within a 40km radius from central Castlemaine). This year’s event is being held on the weekend of the 1 and 2 December.

With the recent launch of Connecting Country’s Woodland Bird Programme, and following our recent bird identification training day, Connecting Country are hoping to put at least one or two teams together for one or both of these days (depending on interest) to help out the CFNC.  Or you could join one of the CFNC teams on the Saturday morning.  You don’t need to be an expert – each team will have at least one person experienced in bird identification. Birding novices are encouraged!  It promises to be a lot of fun and a great way to learn more about birds of the local area. And also provides important knowledge about the health of the local bird community.

If you are interested or would like more information, contact Kerryn ( or Chris ( by Thursday 29 November.


25 Nov 2012 – Cactus Control Field day

Posted on 21 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

The last Cactus Control field day for 2012 will be held next Sunday 25th November at 55 Waldrons Lane off the Baringhup Road (look for the signs).

As usual the morning will start at 10.30 am and finish about 12.30 pm, and will be followed with a sausage sizzle.  As this is the last field day there will be something special on the barbie and feel free to dress in a festive mood.

After the sausage sizzle, the AGM will take place.  Everyone is invited to attend.

On behalf of the Committee, Tony Kane would like to thank everyone who has helped to make this a great year. Tony writes that ‘we pride ourselves on being a no pressure community-based group and it seems to be working’.


Calling Seed Collectors

Posted on 15 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country’s Connecting Landscapes programme will be looking to purchase locally-collected indigenous seed for our 2013 direct seeding program. Direct seeding is a method of establishing native vegetation by sowing seed directly into the soil. Most often a machine is used due to the scale of these plantings, but landholders can sow seed in small patches by hand. This method can be a cheaper and effective way to revegetate some properties. Connecting Country’s programme can also support funding for direct seeding for eligible landholders.

Connecting Country will need several kilograms of local provenance seed for its 2013 winter/spring sowing program. We would like to hear from Commercial Seed Collectors who can assist us fill this order. We are able purchase directly or through Seeding Victoria (formerly the Creswick Seedbank).

Acacia and Eucalypt seed ready for sowing

Currently we have projects at Muckleford, Walmer (sedimentary soil), Taradale and North Harcourt. Seed collectors are advised to speak to Jarrod Coote from Connecting Country closer to the picking time for further information on the types and provenances of seed we are after.

Enquires to or 03 5472 1594 (Tuesday to Friday).


3 Dec 2012 – Myrtle Rust Information Session

Posted on 14 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

Myrtle rust was detected in Victoria for the first time in December 2011. It is a serious fungal disease affecting the plant family Myrtaceae, which includes eucalypts, lilly pilly, bottlebrush and many other Australian native species. The disease is of serious concern due to the ease in which it spreads.

The City of Greater Bendigo is hosting an information session on Myrtle rust, its characteristics, impacts and control measures.

Participants will learn more about:

  • myrtle rust biology
  • recognition of symptoms
  • hosts
  • treatment methods
  • hygiene and
  • minimisation of spread

The information session will take place on 3 December from 10 am to 12 pm at the Capital Theatre, 50 View Street, Bendigo. Further information on Myrtle Rust, future training sessions and resources is available from the Department of Primary Industries.


‘Communities for Nature’ Small Grants Now Open

Posted on 14 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

A Small Grants round of the DSE Communities for Nature programme opened on Saturday 10th November. It will close on Wednesday 19th December. Grants are up to $10,000.

Guidelines and the application form are available on the DSE website.




9 Nov 2012 – Learning about wetlands of Victoria’s volcanic plain

Posted on 7 November, 2012 by Connecting Country

Damien Cook will be the guest speaker at next Castlemaine Field Naturalist meeting on Friday 9 November. His presentation is entitled Wetlands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain.

Damien is a restoration ecologist with a keen interest in plant and frog taxonomy, wetland processes and geomorphology. He has studied natural history for over 25 years and has worked as an ecologist, project manager and environmental educator for the last 20 years.  Damien is a member of Connecting Country’s Expert Advisory Group, and along with his partner Elaine Bayes, has led fascinating Connecting Country fields days in 2010 and 2011.

Under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Seasonal Herbaceous wetlands of the Lowland Temperate Plains were recently recognized as a critically endangered ecological community.  While the local Moolort Plains are some nearby examples of these type of wetlands, there are hundreds of others known about, particularly in the zone of western Victoria bounded by Colac, Warrnambool, Ararat, Ballarat and Hamilton.  These wetlands predominantly occur on private land, and most have been significantly modified from their pre-European condition.  Damien’s talk will cover these wetland systems in more detail, including aspects of their ecology, biota, distribution and formation.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend. The meeting commences at 7.30pm, and is being held in the hall behind the Uniting Church in Lyttleton St, Castlemaine.  Attendance is free.

Sweet Grass Wetland in the creator of Mt Anakie

The excursion the next day will be to an interesting area of diverse forest near Blackwood, departing from the Octopus building on Duke St (opposite the Castle Motel) at 10am.

For those who would also like to visit some of the Moolort Plains wetlands, the North Central CMA is hosting an excursion on the 2 December.  More details are available by clicking here.


Connecting Country’s 2011-12 Annual Report and AGM

Posted on 29 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

On Tuesday 23 October 2012, Connecting Country held its Annual General Meeting at the Buda Homestead in Castlemaine.  Staff, committee members, land management groups and volunteers were acknowledged and thanked for their superb contributions to the organization during the preceding year.  There were eight nominations for the eight positions on the Committee of Management, with all nominees therefore elected unopposed for the year ahead.  Attendees were also treated to inspirational talks at either end of the formal AGM proceedings, with Kane Weeks speaking about the new Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprise and Sam White talking about the environmentally sustainable practices that he’s implementing at his family farm in Sidonia.  The minutes from the AGM are available by clicking here.

The other exciting aspect of the evening was the launch of Connecting Country’s inaugral Annual Report.  An electronic PDF copy of this Annual Report, which covers our acheivements for the 2011-12 year and introduces our aspirations for the year ahead, is available by clicking here (2.2 MB).  Please let us know if you have any problems downloading it, or if you’d like to discuss any aspect of its contents.


10 Nov 2012 – Field Day on Texas Needle Grass

Posted on 25 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

Would you know if there’s Texas Needle Grass on your place? 

On the Saturday 10th November a new project will be launched in Malmsbury called ‘Needle Grass – A Community Response’. It aims to raise community awareness of the serious threat Texas Needle Grass poses to both private and public land in the Malmsbury/Langley/Taradale district. The grass, which looks almost identical to some native Spear Grasses, has been spreading in the area for many years and has recently increased rapidly with the wetter seasons. Some grazing land in the area has been rendered unusable by its presence.

Sea of Texas Needle Grass infesting a property on Post Office Road, Malmsbury. This is part of the project area. The photo is courtesy of John Walter.

This project is the first in the area to specifically tackle Texas Needle Grass. It will do so by raising community awareness of its presence, and the threat it poses, and also by mapping its occurrence on private land and roadsides so that future control work can be planned effectively.

A field day will be held near Malmsbury on Saturday 10th of November to launch the project and will include a demonstration of an EcoBlade – a brand new piece of technology (there is only a handful in Victoria) that can slash weeds and apply herbicide to cut stems at the same time. We’ll also be visiting some healthy Needle Grass infestations on the day. If you think there might be Needle Grass on your property or roadside, or you don’t know what to look for, then this event could be a real help. Click here to view more details of the event on the Connecting Country events calendar. Continue Reading »


25 Oct 2012 – How to Identify Chilean Needle Grass

Posted on 18 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

Chilean Needle Grass is a Weed of National Significance. It can degrade farmland, harm sheep and lower the value of their wool.  It can also invade and damage natural ecosystems.  It is one of a range of exotic needle grasses that have been of concern to a local working group (click here for more information on this group).

You are invited to attend a free workshop that is being held to learn how to identify Chilean Needle Grass and what to do about it on Thursday 25th October at 5pm at the location between 11 & 13 at McEwan Street, Castlemaine (entrance to the land behind).

Matt Sheehan – National Weed Spread Prevention Coordinator will facilitate the workshop which will include identification and removal of Chilean Needle Grass. BYO weeding tools (e.g. kitchen knife), gloves and insect repellent.

More information is available from McKenzie Hill Landcare & Action Group (ph. 5470 5556).

This workshop is part of an eradication and control program funded by Victorian Landcare Grants Program.


29 Nov 2012 – Secrets to Successful Groups

Posted on 17 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

A training session on ‘Secrets to Successful Groups’ will be held in Bendigo on 29 November. The session is organised by the Farm Tree and Landcare Association and is free for all Landcare members. For a list of modules that will be covered and booking and location details see the flyer here.


21 Oct 2012 – Free Campbells Creek Event

Posted on 17 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare Group has organised a Free Community Event for Saturday 21 October.

This is a family day for people to relax and enjoy themselves with a variety of activities and a chance to see hidden parts of the creek and celebrate the progress that has been made.

For more information click here.



Upcoming Connecting Country Events – Places Available

Posted on 16 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

It’s a busy time of year, with lots of things to do.  Below is a selection of activities that you can get involved with through Connecting Country.

A few weeks ago, Connecting Country was pleased to announce a series of Eucalypt Identification Workshops, funded through the Bjarne K Dahl Trust (see earlier webpost – click here).  The first of these workshops was held last Friday in Maldon, and was very well received.  There are four sessions still remaining (including this Sunday in Newstead), each with a few places available.  To reserve your spot, contact or call (03) 5472 1594.

We were also pleased to announce that a Bird Identification Workshop will be hosted by our resident bird specialist, Dr Kerryn Herman, at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens  from 10am to early afternoon on Sunday 28th October (click here for earlier webpost).  There is no cost for attendance and a light lunch will be provided. RSVPs are requested for catering purposes to or (03) 5472-1594.

Connecting Country is holding its Annual General Meeting on the evening of Tuesday 23 October (click here for earlier webpost).  We are very happy to announce that the guest speaker will be Sam White of Sidonia ( who will be talking about his family-owned pasture-grazed beef farm business, his vision for the 2000 acre property and a bit about the projects that he has been undertaking with the support of Connecting Country.  Supper to be provided.  The meeting commences from 7pm at the Garden Room of the Buda Historic Homestead, 42 Hunter St, Castlemaine.  Members and non-members are welcome.

 Participants at the Maldon 2012 Eucalypt Identification workshop.


Position Available – Crew Leader

Posted on 8 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

We are seeking a Crew Leader for Connecting Country’s new program – Connecting Landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region.

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to make the natural world a better place? Do you want to get people involved in the solution?

If yes, then this could be the job for you.

Connecting Country is seeking a suitable candidate to lead its new environmental Works Crew. With funding from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund, Connecting Country is implementing a long term program to protect and enhance native vegetation at a number of sites across the Mount Alexander shire and immediate surrounds in central Victoria.

For more information on the program, and also for a copy of the position description including key selection criteria, click here. The role is a full time, fixed term position.

Applications with a curriculum vitae and addressing the Key Selection Criteria should be marked “Confidential – Connecting Landscapes Crew Leader” and be submitted to “Connecting Country, PO Box 437, Castlemaine, VIC, 3450” by Sunday 28th October 2012 or by email to

For more information regarding the project and the position, contact Jarrod Coote on (03) 5472-1594 or email


28 October 2012 – Bird Identification Workshop

Posted on 7 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

As a part of Connecting Country’s Threatened Woodland Bird Programme, we are holding a workshop to introduce interested community members to the experience of “birding”.

Many people are passionate about the birds on their land, but either don’t have the confidence to identify them or don’t really know where to start to learn the skills needed for bird identification.  This workshop designed to provide a starting point, beginning with the basics of equipment and recording techniques, followed with an overview on how to identify groups of species and some individual birds; in particular those of conservation significance in the Mount Alexander region.

It is hoped that the skills provided during the workshop will encourage and inspire participants to get involved with the community monitoring programme being developed by Connecting Country, as well as encourage participation in the Annual Bird Count, run by BirdLife Australia (previously BOCA) and locally coordinated by the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club in December.

The important information

When: Sunday 28th October 2012, from 10am until early afternoon (though could go longer for those participants who wish to go further afield to test their new skills)

Where: The Old Tearooms, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.  A map of the location is available here.

Who:  The workshop is being run by Dr Kerryn Herman, Connecting Country’s Woodland Bird Programme coordinator.  All interested persons are encouraged to come and “get their bird on”, however content will be directed towards an adult audience.  Bring your own binoculars if you have them, and wear shoes and clothes suitable for walking around parts of the botanic gardens (potentially including the woodland area on the other side of the waterway).

A light lunch will be provided, so please RSVP for catering purposes:, (03) 5472-1594.

To download a flier about this event click here. This workshop is run to coincide with National Bird Week


23 Oct – Connecting Country’s Annual General Meeting

Posted on 6 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

When: From 7pm, Tuesday 23rd October
Where: Garden Room, Buda Historic Homestead, 42 Hunter St, Castlemaine

Please join us in some wine and supper and celebrate our previous 12 months of Connecting Country. During the formalities of the AGM, we will be hearing from the President Marie Jones, receiving updates from the Treasurer Elvyne Hogan and electing the Committee of Management for next 12 months.  The full AGM agenda can be downloaded here.  The minutes from the previous AGM are available here.

In addition, we shall have special guest speakers – with the details on these to follow soon. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

If you are interested in being on the Connecting Country Committee of Management, or nominating someone else, the committee nomination form can be downloaded here. Completed forms must be posted to Secretary/Public Officer, Connecting Country Inc., PO Box 437, Castlemaine VIC 3450 by the 16 October 2012.  Alternatively, a scanned copy can be emailed to the Secretary/Public Officer of Connecting Country (  (NB: For those that received a copy of the nomination form in the mail, it has an incorrect return postal address on it – it should be PO Box 437 not 347.  Please let us know if you’ve already posted it to 347).

It’s also time to renew your membership for the 2012-13 year! Although membership is free, existing Connecting Country members still need to renew their membership on an annual basis. New membership applications are also encouraged.  In order to do this, the following documents can be downloaded:

For AGM catering purposes, please RSVP to or call Naomi or Chris on 5472 1594 by Tuesday the 16th of October.


Sunday 7 Oct 2012 – Barkers Ck Local Action Plan Launch and BBQ

Posted on 4 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

A section of Barkers Creek that the Landcare Network is managing.

Barkers Creek Clean-up Project Officer, Michael Luke, in consultation with the Barkers Creek Landcare Network has developed a ‘Local Action Plan’ for Barkers Creek. Helpful feedback from the public was received during the draft period, for which Michael and the Network are very grateful.

To celebrate the successful development of the plan, the Network is hosting a launch event, consisting of a free community BBQ and ‘walk and talk’ session along an adjacent section of Barkers Creek.  The launch is being held on Sunday October 7th from midday to 2pm at ‘Stanley Park’, located at High Street, Harcourt (opposite the BP service station).  The BBQ is free and everyone is welcome.  Non-alcoholic drinks will also be provided.

A PDF version of the Local Action Plan can be downloaded here. Copies of the Plan will  be available for viewing at the launch.

For more information about the launch or the Action Plan, email or call 5472 1594.


12 & 13 October 2012 – Castlemaine Rural Event

Posted on 1 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

The Norman Wettenhall Foundation and the Bjarne K Dahl Trust are presenting a Castlemaine Rural Event on the Friday 12th and Saturday 13th of October. The two days are packed full of activities including a Eucalypt identification session, a botanical illustration workshop, bird watching, dinner with guest speaker at Buda, and an historical talk by Raimond Gaita.

The full program including costs and registration details for the various activities is available here. There are a small number of  spaces remaining. If you are interested in participating contact Beth Mellick on phone on 5472 1316, 0431 219 980 or email



Native Grasses: Short Courses Now Open

Posted on 1 October, 2012 by Connecting Country

Would you like to improve your native grass identification skills? Are you interested in learning more about managing native grasses? 

Expressions of interest are now being accepted by the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) for two native grass identification short courses. The two-day courses are expected to be held in Bendigo during November 2012 and will cover identifying features, importance and ecology of Australian grasses.

One course will cater for professionals working in agriculture and natural resource management, with the other course tailored to farmers, Landcare members and Trust for Nature covenanters.

The interactive courses will be presented by local botanist and ecologist Paul Foreman and will involve lectures and hands-on experience in the laboratory, followed by a field trip.

Expressions of interest are required no later than Monday 15 October, 2012. Please note that expressions of interest will only be accepted from people living in the North Central CMA region. Places are strictly limited.

The courses are funded by the Australian Government’s Regional Landcare Facilitator project hosted by the North Central CMA, the Victorian Government’s Landcare Program and Trust for Nature.

For more information contact Communications Officer, North Central CMA on (03) 5448 7124  or email: