Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Ecology artworks at Falkner Gallery until 25 March 2018

Posted on 5 February, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Two beautiful exhibitions by talented local artists are on now at the Falkner Gallery in Castlemaine: Margaret Cromb showing ‘Bushland’ and Greg Somerville showing ‘…stitched to everything…- musings of an errant ecologist.’

Margaret is one of Connecting Country’s most avid bird survey volunteers and we are really delighted that Margaret is generously donating 50% of the net proceeds of her exhibition sales to Connecting Country! Thanks Margaret – you are already so generous with your time!

Margaret’s ‘Bushland’ exhbition is a series of  watercolours and woodcuts that describe the natural environment of Central Victoria. Margaret writes: ‘I consider myself to be especially blessed to live in an area surrounded by extensive forests and I continue to enjoy exploring them and becoming more familiar with the birds and animals which inhabit them. I have been involved over many years with Landcare especially in the Casey/ Cardinia area where I came from. More recently I have become involved with Connecting Country and its bird-monitoring program. Spending time in the bush looking for birds and being immersed in the environment is a great joy to me. I am impressed with Connecting Country and its focus on restoring natural habitat by educating and supporting landowners. So it is a pleasure to be able to donate to its activities through this exhibition.’

The works depict bushland scenes, individual trees and wildflowers, often including local birds. Margaret’s characteristic layering of colour washes can be seen in her representational portrayals of the local environment, about which she is so passionate.

Upstairs, Greg Somerville captures the local environment with different media – textiles and photography – but with similarly powerful effects. His training and early work as a biologist has led him to use the insights of science, especially ecology and Chaos Theory, in his artistic output. Greg writes:‘The imagery I utilise is grounded in the patterns, textures and minutiae of the bioregion in which I live. They are also informed by my knowledge of biological structures, the energies and relationships found in ecosystems, within the micro and macroscopic….The patterns of water drops on leaves, the way lichen spreads on sandstone or the manner in which trees co-inhabit the landscape is every bit as revelatory as the great texts, painting or musical composition.’

His abstracted quilted works and his photographs use detailed patterns, textures and layers to suggest the complexities and subtleties of nature.

Both exhibitions are on now and continue until 25 March 2018, with 50% of the net proceeds from Margaret’s work being donated to support Connecting Country.

Please note Falkner Gallery’s revised hours for 2018: Wed 1-5, Thurs–Sat 11-5 and Sunday by appointment. The gallery is at 35 Templeton St, Castlemaine.


What’s under that tile? – reptile and frog monitoring at Campbells Creek

Posted on 14 December, 2017 by Frances

You may think ceramic roof tiles belong on roofs, but we have another use for them. Ceramic roof tiles also make great shelters for reptiles and frogs.

On Friday 8 December 2017,  we gathered at the Campbells Creek walking track to admire the beautiful creekline restoration work achieved by Friends of Campbells Creek. The aim of the workshop was to check the tiles previously set out as part of Connecting Country’s citizen science monitoring program for reptiles and frogs. This program involves arrays of ceramic tiles set out on both private and public land across the shire. For some more information on our  reptile and frog monitoring program click here. 

Peter Johnson (PJ) from Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) demonstrated how to safely check monitoring tiles, and helped us identify the creatures we found. At the first monitoring site we found several native garden skinks (Lampropholis guichenoti) sheltering under the tiles, along with numerous scorpions, centipedes, beetles, slugs and ants. Unfortunately we discovered the second monitoring site had been ‘tidied up’, with the tiles piled into a neat stack! Asha and the rest of the team reset the tiles and took this as a valuable lesson in the challenges of doing scientific research.

It was a perfect day for reptile and frog monitoring – not too hot or too cold. Although we didn’t find frogs or larger reptiles, Peter suggested that it takes time for the tiles to become suitable habitat for these animals. Experience suggests the tiles are first colonised by invertebrates, then increasing numbers of reptiles and frogs move in over several years. So we can expect tile monitoring to get more exciting as monitoring continues!

Over some morning tea, Peter shared more of his knowledge and experience about reptile and frog identification and conservation. We thank Peter and DELWP for their support in running this event.

If you would like some ceramic tiles and instructions on how to set up reptile and frog monitoring on your property, please contact Asha Bannon at Connecting Country.

The following images were captured on the day by our director, Frances Howe.


Natural History Photography Workshops with Alison Pouliot in 2018

Posted on 14 December, 2017 by Tanya Loos

Alison Pouliot is a photographer, nature writer and educator who has been involved in Connecting Country on and off for many years. Her fungi and photography workshops are always well attended and book out rather quickly! Alison has sent us through a list of a rich and varied natural history photography workshops and seminars for summer 2018.

Hygrocybe sp – a tiny specimen by Alison Pouliot

For further information about each of these workshops please see Alison’s website: 

31 January 2018 – Snake Valley – The science and art of nature photography

9 February 2018 – Otway Ranges – A murder of crows

18 March 2018 – Lockwood South – Focus on trees

24 March 2018 – Trentham – Through a forest wilderness

31 March 2018 – Trentham – Fungi in Focus

Bookings may be made at