Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Benefits of ecological burns: webinar recording available

Posted on 19 May, 2022 by Ivan

If you missed the recent webinar on ‘The benefits of ecological burning’, you can now find it online to watch its entirety via YouTube. Ecological planned burning is a land management tool applied to promote positive benefits for a local environment, and certainly has its place in sustainable land management if implemented with appropriate skill and knowledge.

The webinar was delivered and recorded online on 8 March 2022, courtesy of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council as part of their larger ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project. The webinar explored how ecological burning is approached by local government and how this can be applied to other contexts. This well-attended event and was well received in the community.

 

Ecological burns – the benefits

These benefits include stimulating dormant seed banks in the soil profile, reducing the vigour or eliminating weeds, nutrient cycling and the removal of biomass….all of which promote biodiversity and ecosystem health. There are a range of factors that influence when and how an ecological planned burn can be conducted, but essential to the process is a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and how to moderate fire behaviour and extent.

Healthy Landscapes project

The Healthy Landscapes: Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities project aims to raise awareness in their community about sustainable land management practices that improve soil health, reduce exposure to climate risk, enhance biodiversity and increase on-farm productivity. It is being delivered as a partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, the City of Greater BendigoA Healthy Coliban Catchment project (North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water), Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network.

 

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club: May 2022 events

Posted on 4 May, 2022 by Ivan

As a monthly tradition, our friends at Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club (CFNC) hold a meeting with a guest speaker on the second Friday of the month, followed by a group excursion or field trip the following day. Castlemaine Field Nats provided the following details about their May 2022 meeting and excursion, which look very interesting and exciting. All are welcome to attend. For more information on CFNC, please visit their website – click here

Monthly meeting: Friday 13 May 2022 at 7.30 pm Uniting Church Fellowship Room, Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC

Feral deer – managing and monitoring
with
Peter Jacobs (Deer Project Officer for the Invasive Species Council)

Peter will talk about the emerging problem of feral deer in Victoria. The talk will discuss the identification and distribution of the 4 main feral deer species in Victoria, the economic, social and environmental impacts they are having, and the cost to the community.

Peter will also present on Victoria’s laws that protect feral deer as a game species and what strategic and tactical options there are for feral deer control in Victoria. This will include an overview of the control programs that are currently in place as well as what we need in the future to control this serious pest.

Our May monthly meeting will be held in person again. Members and guests can arrive at the hall from 7.15 pm and are welcome to stay after the meeting for supper and a chat. Please sign in on arrival.

Our guest speaker will follow the usual ‘observations’ session when members can share recent interesting sightings with an option to show a photo or two. If you have photos for the meeting, please email JPEG file(s) to Euan Moore at calamanthus5@bigpond.com by noon on the day of the meeting.

Excursion: Saturday 14 May 2022 from 10 am ALL DAY – Seeding Victoria and La Gerche trail, Creswick VIC

Seeding Victoria’s seed bank

Seeding Victoria Inc. is a not for profit, charitable organisation that manages several seed banks in Victoria. For our May excursion, we will be privileged to have a tour of Seeding Victoria’s seed bank at Creswick as recently featured in the ABC’s Gardening Australia. Dan Frost who manages this seed bank will explain how seed is appropriately sourced and maintained under strict conditions to supply revegetation projects. We will also learn how Seeding Victoria not only provides provenance-based seed sales but also a consultancy service for collection and caring for seed as well as site assessment and direct seeding advice.

The tour of the seed bank and discussion will take about 1.5 hours after which we will have a picnic lunch and a walk along the La Gerche Trail in the afternoon.

The La Gerche Trail is a 2.2 km long, easy walking track in the Creswick State Forest. The trail commemorates the work of John La Gerche, the first bailiff for the forest charged with halting the rampant cutting of trees for mining and fuel-wood and allowing regeneration of the forest. The trees planted by La Gerche are now over 100-years old and include a large variety, both native and introduced for experimental purposes. There are interpretative signs along the way.

La Gerche Gully Loop is a fascinating trial through exotic and native forests (photo: Parks Victoria)

 

Meet at the Octopus (Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel, Castlemaine VIC) at 10 am, or at the Seed Bank (co-located with the Parks Victoria complex in Sawpit Rd, Creswick VIC) at 10.50 am. We will meet at the old oak tree in the gardens near the Seed Bank. Bring lunch, chairs, sturdy shoes and water.

The field trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions or if there is a high fire risk.

 

Join us ‘Bird walk for beginners’ launch – 6 April 2022

Posted on 16 March, 2022 by Ivan

Come and help us celebrate the launch of our new brochure and bird walk, ‘Bird walk for beginners’, an easy walk along Leanganook Track and Forest Creek in Castlemaine VIC. The event and bird walk brochure aim to attract new birdwatchers, as well as celebrate the excellent restoration work that volunteers have achieved over the past few decades along Forest Creek. Bird walks are an ideal way to get people out enjoying and exploring the many natural assets we are blessed with here in central Victoria.

Bird watching is a great activity that almost everyone can enjoy, and this walk aims to increase the accessibility of bird walking in our region. We also feature a video of the walk presented by some engaging local bird enthusiasts, providing an in-depth view of the walk features for those less-abled or unable to visit the walk in-person. The COVID-19 lockdown period has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of new birdwatchers around the country, with a similar trend here in central Victoria. People are craving nature and the outdoors, prompting them to start their bird watching journey and enjoy the challenges of how to differentiate some of the trickier species.

Join us for a short, guided bird walk for all ages and abilities, and explore our new ‘Bird walk for beginners’ brochure, featuring QR codes to access bird and habitat information. The brochure launch event will feature a walk with local experts from BirdLife Castlemaine, Castlemaine Landcare Group and Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, and will highlight the excellent volunteer work along this section of Forest Creek and Leanganook Track.

The walk is approximately 1.5 km long and is located along a gently graded, well-maintained walking path.

We will stop at eight sites along the bird walk, providing excellent opportunities to visit some great bird watching spots, with experienced mentors to guide you through the morning. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and learn directly from mentors, and scan the QR codes in the brochure to learn more about the birds at each site.

When: Wednesday 6 April 2022 at 11.00 am

Where: Leanganook Track, corner of Colles Rd and Murphy St, Castlemaine VIC. To view a google map link – click here

Bookings: Bookings are essential and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Bird watching is a great way to connect with nature and the community (photo by Frances Howe)

 

This event is part of our ‘Birding for beginners’ project supported by the Victorian Government through Parks Victoria’s Volunteering Innovation Fund.

Please bring water and clothes for all weather to the walk, as you never know what autumn conditions may bring. All participants must adhere to health and safety requirements, including any current COVID-19 restrictions Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring water and snacks, as well as binoculars if you have some. Connecting Country will provide some extra binoculars to share if needed.

Bird watching is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying ways to enjoy our natural heritage. Recording your bird observations also contributes valuable data for scientific research and informed conservation decisions. Birds are often our key connection to the landscape. They are prevalent in most environments and tell us much about our surroundings and environmental health. Central Victoria is considered a birding hotspot and they often prompt you to explore wonderful places that you never knew existed!

 

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 6 March 2022

Posted on 3 March, 2022 by Ivan

Clean Up Australia is happening this Sunday 6 March 2022, including eight locations across the Mount Alexander region. Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. What was started 31 years ago, by an ‘average Australian bloke’ who had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard, has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event.

Local Clean Up Australia Day working bees on Sunday 6 March include:

  • Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare – Meet at Winters Flat footbridge from 8.00 to 10.00 am. For more information – click here
  • Golden Point Landcare – Expedition Pass Reservoir from  10.00 am to 12.00 noon. Bring gloves, bags provided. For more information contact Jen Pryce (ph: 0423900 590).
  • Sutton Grange Landcare Group – Meet at Sutton Grange Hall at 9.00 am. For more information contact Zane Tronson  (ph: 0410 597 485).

To view a map of Clean Up Australia Day working bees across the country, allowing you to search via postcodes and townships – click here

Rubbish dumped at Muckleford Bushland Reserve (photo by Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group)

 

‘Nature in Time’ exhibition at Newstead

Posted on 23 February, 2022 by Frances

Take a closer look! Visit a new exhibition at Newstead Arts Hub during March 2022.

Some moments pass too quickly, some things are too small for the eye to catch, some too ‘ordinary’ to be noticed. Photography helps us fix them in the mind, invites us to feel their unique weight and hold the memory.

Local photographers Patrick Kavanagh, Bronwyn Silver, Bernard Slattery and David Tatnall invite us to redirect our gaze at the ordinary and the fleeting in the Box-Ironbark region.

Patrick Kavanagh says  ‘I am so often amazed and moved by the natural wonders that surround me … the vastness of the night sky shown in this image … with my camera, I try to hold onto some of these extraordinary glimpses and share them.’

The Nature in Time photographers invite you to come to the Arts Hub and take a closer look!

When: 10 am to 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays from 5-27 March 2022, plus Monday 14 March 2022
Where: Newstead Arts Hub, 8A Tivey Street, Newstead, VIC

For more information – click here

Nankeen Kestrel by Patrick Kavanagh

Forest floor by Bronwyn Silver

 

Benefits of ecological burns webinar – 8 March 2022

Posted on 22 February, 2022 by Ivan

We recently discovered a useful upcoming event on the topic of planned ecological burns. Ecological planned burning is a land management tool applied to promote positive benefits for a local environment and certainly has its place in sustainable land management, if implemented with skill and knowledge.

This online event is on Tuesday 8 March 2022 from 7 pm. Please read on for further details, courtesy of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

What are hazard reduction burns, are we doing enough of them, and could they have stopped Australia's catastrophic bushfires? - ABC News

Ecological burns aim to bolster growth in native plant species and prevent serious bushfires (photo: ABC News)

 

Ecological burns – the benefits

These benefits include stimulating dormant seed banks in the soil profile, reducing the vigour or eliminating weeds, nutrient cycling and the removal of biomass….all of which promote biodiversity and ecosystem health. There are a range of factors that influence when and how an ecological planned burn can be conducted but essential to the process is a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and how to moderate fire behaviour and extent.

The talk will explore how ecological burning is undertaken in Local Government and how this can be applied to other contexts.

Zoom details will be sent to you prior to the webinar. To register – click here

The Healthy Landscapes project

The Healthy Landscapes: Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities program aims to raise awareness in their community about sustainable land management practices that improve soil health, reduce exposure to climate risk, enhance biodiversity and increase on-farm productivity.

This program is being delivered as a partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, the City of Greater BendigoA Healthy Coliban Catchment project (North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water), Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network.

 

Recognising our volunteers and donors: 2021 celebration

Posted on 23 December, 2021 by Ivan

We love our volunteers and donors and could not do what we do without them. Our management committee is run by volunteers, our monitoring programs rely on skilled citizen scientists, our landholders ensure landscape restoration is maintained, and others help with events, Landcare, engagement and in countless other ways. We appreciate their dedication to our vision of increasing, enhancing and restoring biodiversity across central Victoria.

With few opportunities for large grants to assist our projects, we have relied more and more on our volunteers, fundraising and donors, as well as diversifying our ‘fee for service’ model. We have been fortunate to receive generous donations from local families and organisations, which have supported our monitoring and restoration projects.

It was a great pleasure to host a humble thank-you celebration for our volunteers and larger donors on the evening of Wednesday 8 December 2021 at The Hub Plot, behind our office in Castlemaine, Victoria.

Although a chilly summer evening for central Victoria, we still enjoyed COVID-safe celebratory drinks and snack packs in the leafy Hub Plot garden. Our Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton, provided a short summary of our monitoring achievements over the last year, followed by plenty of chatting and laughter. Thank you to everyone who came and made it a wonderful evening with great company. Special thanks to Lou, Jane R, Brendan and Duncan for setting up and helping the evening run smoothly, and to Heather and Neil for the lovely venue.

We are blessed to have an engaged and enthusiastic community who support us to check in on our local biodiversity, and deliver monitoring, engagement, Landcare support and landscape restoration across our region. If it wasn’t for your hard work, we simply would not be able to continue our valuable long-term biodiversity monitoring, engage our community in caring for our local landscapes, or empower landowners to manage their land as wildlife habitat.

To everyone who has helped Connecting Country in 2021: a big thank you! We are so grateful for your support and encouragement.

To find out more about volunteer and donation opportunities at Connecting Country, please – click here

Please enjoy the following photos by Lou Citroen, capturing the beauty of our volunteer celebration on a chilly summer’s evening in Castlemaine.

 

Last chance to book: Woodland birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA – 4 December 2021

Posted on 3 December, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce we have five further tickets for our second of four free events in partnership with Djaara.

Our second event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Wildflower Drive, which is part of the Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC.

This event is the second of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Two further events in March 2022 will focus on nest boxes and providing habitat for marsupials.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park.
  • Explore the Wildflower Drive environment with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Wildflower Drive is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Greater Bendigo National Park.

The Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 4 December 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

AGM 2021 wrap up – Restoring landscapes in a changing climate

Posted on 2 December, 2021 by Jacqui

We were pleased to hold Connecting Country’s AGM on Saturday 13 November 2021, with the theme Restoring landscapes in a changing climate.

Frances Howe (Director – Connecting Country) gave an introductory presentation celebrating achievements of the past year, within the context of ongoing challenges. We followed this with a super-brief AGM led by Brendan Sydes (President – Connecting Country).

All existing committee of management members were re-appointed to the 2021-22 committee:

  • President: Brendan Sydes
  • Vice President: Sadie Gray
  • Treasurer: Max Kay
  • Secretary: Marie Jones
  • Christine Brooke
  • Deb Wardle
  • Karoline Klein
  • Malcolm Trainor

Congratulations to Connecting Country’s dedicated committee members and thank you for volunteering your time and skills to guide our work.

Guest speakers

We were thrilled to see a strong attendance of 40 community members, who spent the Saturday afternoon hearing from special guests: Bonnie Humphreys (Landscape Restoration Coordinator – Connecting Country), and Geoff Caine and Dona Cayetana, from the climate adaptation group at the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

Bonnie gave an interesting talk on ‘Future-proof our forests’, a project she manages for Connecting Country with support from the Ross Trust. We heard about the progress and challenges to establish two pioneering climate future plots in the Mount Alexander region. For background information on this project – click here

Geoff Caine, Program Manager for Community and Partnerships in DELWP’s regional climate change group, then gave an informative talk about the outlook for revegetation in the Mount Alexander region through the lens of climate projections for our region. 

Learn more

  • To read the minutes of the Connecting Country AGM 2021 – click here
  • To read the Connecting Country annual report 2021 – click here
  • To catch the AGM 2021 on video – please see the link below.

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.

 

Ten tickets left – Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA – Saturday 27 November 2021

Posted on 26 November, 2021 by Ivan

We now have ten more tickets available for the first of four free events in partnership with Djaara, which will be held this Saturday 27 November 2021. Please see booking details below. 

Our first event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Kalimna Park in Castlemaine, VIC.

This event is the first of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. A second Woodland Birds event is scheduled for Saturday 4 December 2021 at Wildflower Drive, Strathsfieldsaye, near Bendigo.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Kalimna Park in Castlemaine VIC.
  • Explore Kalimna Park with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Kalimna Park is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Kalimna Park.

The Mount Alexander region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 27 November 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Kalimna Park, Castlemaine, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA – 27 November 2021

Posted on 10 November, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce tickets are now available for our first of four free events in partnership with Djaara, with 10 tickets still remaining.

Our first event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Kalimna Park in Castlemaine, VIC.

This event is the first of four events in coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. A second Woodland Birds event is scheduled for Saturday 4 December 2021 at Wildflower Drive, Strathsfieldsaye, near Bendigo.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Kalimna Park in Castlemaine VIC.
  • Explore Kalimna Park with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Kalimna Park is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Kalimna Park.

The Mount Alexander region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 27 November 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Kalimna Park, Castlemaine, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Restoring landscapes in a changing climate – 13 November 2021

Posted on 21 October, 2021 by Frances

How do we plan for restoring and revegetating our fragmented habitat, in a time of climate change? What are the latest projections for our climate over the coming decades and how does this affect revegetation projects? Connecting Country are hosting an online event exploring this topic, combined with our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 13 November 2021 at 2.00 pm. This year’s AGM theme is ‘Restoring landscapes in a changing climate’ and Connecting Country has secured two guest speakers who will explore climate change projections for our region and how revegetation projects might look in the future.

Guest speakers at the event will be Bonnie Humphreys (Connecting Country) and Geoff Caine (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning). Bonnie will update the audience about Connecting Country’s mission to create two climate future plots in our region, with support from the Ross Trust. Bonnie is Connecting Country’s Landscape Restoration Coordinator and coordinates on-ground actions and ecological surveys. Geoff will be speaking on the latest climate projections for our region and the implications for biodiversity and revegetation. Geoff is a Program Manager (Community and Partnerships) at DELWP, focusing on climate change, energy and sustainability.

Landcarers and landholders in the Mount Alexander region are increasingly concerned about the future viability of their revegetation work, given recent weather patterns and future climate predictions. Many have seen their revegetation plantings die in recent years due to heat and water stress, and some have even stopped planting.

Connecting Country seeks to help address this issue and has secured funding through the Ross Trust to establish two climate future plots of 500 plants right here in Mount Alexander region during 2021-23. This ‘Future-proof our forests’ project focuses on two important species from our local area: Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) and Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

You may have heard the terms ‘climate future plot‘, ‘climate-resilient landscapes‘ or ‘climate-ready revegetation‘, but what do they actually mean? In simple terms, they refer to the use of climate change modelling to plan for revegetation, by using suitable indigenous plants sourced from places with climates similar to that predicted at the revegetation site in decades to come (usually hotter and drier places). This is a new and emerging revegetation technique.

Bonnie Humphreys (Connecting Country) will talk about how climate future plots work and the challenges of pioneering our first local plots. ‘We are working to include a variety of plant provenances, grown from seed from areas that are hotter and drier, as well as areas that are cooler and wetter’. ‘Even though our climate is predicted to become hotter and drier, there may be other genetic information stored within a particular provenance, such as ability to survive an insect attack, or frost resilience, which plants from the hotter and drier area do not have,’ said Ms Humphreys.

The project has selected plant provenances based on Bureau of Meteorology’s climate predictions for our region. These are paired to these predictions with species distribution and the availability of seed for our chosen plants. Connecting Country hopes the climate future plots will create seed production areas and provide climate-adapted seed for use in future revegetation projects. They will also help to identify individuals and provenances most suited to survive in our changing climatic conditions.

The AGM will include a brief presentation from staff and committee members about Connecting Country’s achievements over the past year, to allow supporters old and new to hear what Connecting Country does and plans for the coming year. All are welcome.

Bookings are essential for this online event. To make a booking – click here

To find out more about the AGM 2021 (including AGM documents) – click here

If you have any questions, please email ivan@connectingcountry.org.au or call (03) 5472 1594.

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.

 

Announcing Connecting Country AGM – 13 November 2021

Posted on 14 October, 2021 by Frances

Connecting Country is delighted to announce our Annual General Meeting 2021 (AGM). While we’d really like to meet up in person, an online meeting allows for unpredictable COVID-19 restrictions and opens the event to a broader audience.

Please join us for this free online event on Saturday 13 November 2021 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities and our special guest presenters. As usual it will be much more than an AGM!

Our theme is Restoring landscapes in a changing climate

Special presentations:

  • Future-proof our forests
    Bonnie Humphreys (Landscape Restoration Coordinator) and Ivan Carter (Engagement Coordinator)
    Join Bonnie and Ivan to learn about Connecting Country’s mission to create two pioneering climate future plots in our region, with support from the Ross Trust.
  • Climate scenarios and planning considerations for central Victoria
    Geoff Caine  (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
    Hear Geoff speaking on the latest climate projections for our region and the implications for biodiversity and revegetation.


Everyone is welcome!
 Please register your attendance and we will send you the link prior to the meeting – click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM documents are available for download:

Please note only current Connecting Country members can vote in the AGM. To become a member or renew your membership – click here

If you have any questions, please email info@connectingcountry.org.au

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.


 

The Great Southern Bioblitz: 22-25 October 2021

Posted on 19 August, 2021 by Ivan

For several years the iNaturalist citizen science platform has run the City Nature Challenge – a gentle competition between cities and regions around the world to see which location can collect and identify the most sightings of life-forms in their area over a week-long period each March.

In 2020 the Great Southern Bioblitz was born. This is a similar event to City Nature Challenge but held in October (southern hemisphere spring) when more plants are flowering, animals are more active and fungi are still plentiful. This year, the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club is hosting the Great Southern Bioblitz for our region of central Victoria, i.e., the Mount Alexander Shire and the eastern half of Hepburn Shire.

All are welcome and encouraged to contribute. You simply photograph as many plants and animals as you can within the region during the Bioblitz period, 22-25 October 2021, and load your sightings into iNaturalist via your phone or computer. Even if you are unable to record your own sightings you can still contribute by identifying the observations that others have uploaded.

Great Southern hemisphere bioblitz is a chance to engage with nature (photos: Euan Moore)

 

The Great Southern Bioblitz is not only fun, but an important way of recording the life-forms that are present in our area. Once you add a sighting to iNaturalist, others can help with or verify the identification. Data are then fed into repositories such as Atlas of Living Australia and state biodiversity databases such as Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.

To find out more:

  • Visit the Great Southern Bioblitz website – click here
  • Check out the 71 groups (10 in Victoria) taking part so far – click here

To download the iNaturalist app to your device or create an account on your computer – click here

The Great Southern Bioblitz is coming from 22-25 October 2021 (photo: Great Southern Bioblitz)

 

Training workshops

The Great Southern Bioblitz organising team has scheduled some training workshops to help people learn how to use iNaturalist and how to take part in the Bioblitz. This training will be useful beyond the Bioblitz as it will enable you to submit sightings from anywhere at any time.

Register for training at the following links:

  • A beginners guide for using iNaturalist
    Tuesday 17 August 2021 from 8:30 – 9:30 pm AEST
    To register – click here
  • Advanced tips for using iNaturalist
    Tuesday 7 September 2021 from 8:30 – 9:30 pm AEST
    To register – click here
  • A beginners guide for using iNaturalist
    Tuesday 28 September 2021 from 8:30 – 9:30 pm AEST
    To register – click here

 

A big thank you Euan Moore from the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club for the text and photographs for this article. To learn more about Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club – click here

 

Platypus mysteries to be revealed – Baringhup Landcare Group

Posted on 15 July, 2021 by Asha

See below information about Baringhup Landcare Group’s exciting upcoming event with the Australian Platypus Conservancy:

The platypus is one of the world’s most amazing animals.  This furry, warm-blooded mammal lays soft-shelled eggs like a lizard, uses its bill to navigate underwater, and sorts out arguments with the help of venomous spurs.  The platypus is also among the most popular of Australia’s animal icons – a great flagship species for freshwater conservation.  But what about the platypus’s own environmental needs?  How is the species faring in the wild?  And what needs to be done to ensure that populations survive in our local rivers and creeks?

Baringhup Landcare Group has arranged for Geoff Williams from the Australian Platypus Conservancy to share his knowledge of this amazing monotreme on Tuesday 3 August 2021 at Baringhup Community Hall starting at 7.00pm.  Visitors are welcome. Bookings essential (see below).

Geoff will highlight the features that make the platypus so special, explain its conservation needs and how to go about helping these animals. He’ll then give some hints on how to spot platypus in the wild and outline the possibilities of becoming involved in ‘citizen science’ programs to monitor local populations.

Geoff Williams has been studying platypus since 1994 when he helped found the Australian Platypus Conservancy, an organisation dedicated to researching platypus conservation needs.  Prior to his work with the APC, Geoff was Director of Healesville Sanctuary for five years from 1988 to 1993 and, before moving to Victoria, was Assistant Director of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo from 1985 to 1988. Geoff has presented numerous public talks on platypus at venues throughout Australia, including various universities, the National Museum in Canberra and the Melbourne Museum (on behalf of Australian Geographic).

Please note: To help manage COVID restrictions please booking via www.trybooking.com/BSPNW or contact Di Berry using the details below. COVID limits and regulations will apply. Bookings essential.

For further information, please contact:

Baringhup Landcare:

Diane Berry (Sec) 0403 020 663

Email: dianejberry@hotmail.com

Australian Platypus Conservancy:

Geoff Williams 03 5416 1478/0419 595939

Email: platypus.apc@westnet.com.au

 

Wheel Cactus community field day – Sunday 27 June 2021

Posted on 23 June, 2021 by Ivan

Old and new volunteers alike are invited to Tarrangower Cactus Control Group’s next Community Field Day on Sunday 27 June 2021. 

Read on for more details from the Cactus Warriors.

The morning’s activities begin at 10:30 am and end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat around 12:30 pm. We supply all the necessary equipment, so please come and join us for a rewarding morning in the outdoors. Just make sure you wear sturdy boots and long pants and sleeves for protection.

The location for this field day is at the eastern end of Bells Lane, Eastville VIC. To get there, head north out of Maldon along Bridgewater Rd. for 9 km, then turn right into Murphys Rd. Drive another 3 km and turn right into Bells Lane, and you’ll find us another 1.5 km along, on the side of the road in Bells Lane. The route will be well marked with our ‘cactus’ boards.

These events are COVID restriction-compliant and family-friendly, but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries or want to see a map for directions, please go to our website www.cactuswarriors.org  

Location: Bells Lane, Eastville VIC
15 km from Maldon via Bridgewater and Murphys Roads
Date: Sunday 27 June 2021
Time: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc. (TCCG) consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). TCCG, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, holds friendly and informal Wheel Cactus Control community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques, on the last Sunday of the month from May to October. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake and the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts. It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied. View the video below to catch the ‘cactus warriors’ in action.

 

How to identify and record deer sightings – Friday 25 June 2021 online

Posted on 23 June, 2021 by Frances

There is no doubt that feral deer have increased their distribution and impacts in central Victoria over the past decade. We have seen a sharp increase in sightings from our community and have had many conversations about their detrimental impacts on our native forests and woodlands.

Deer facts:

  • Feral deer are becoming a major pest species in Victoria.
  • There are six species across Australia (red, fallow, rusa, sambar, chital and hog).
  • Their numbers are increasing.
  • Local authorities need your help to map populations and report problems.
  • Everyone is encouraged to report all sightings.
  • For more information on the potential distributions of the six feral deer species – click here

We recently received the following message from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) regarding a training session on Friday 25 June 2021 from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm. Online.

Please read on for information about how to join DELWP’s online event.

Feral deer in the dry woodlands of Victoria (photo by ABC Victoria)

 

How to identify and record deer sightings: DEWLP

Dr Chris Davies from the Australian Deer Association will present the training.

Topics covered will include deer species, habitat preferences, behaviour and sign.

Chris will also cover the use of the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas Go data collection tool.

For those who aren’t able to participate due to the short notice of next Friday’s event, or others that may want to undertake the training through your networks we will schedule further training with more notification time.

________________________________________________________________________________

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+61 3 7019 2540,,322444677#   Australia, Melbourne

1800 571 208,,322444677#   Australia (Toll-free)

Phone Conference ID: 322 444 677#

 

Mount Alexander FOBIF long walk: 20 June 2021

Posted on 2 June, 2021 by Ivan

Our friends and partners at Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) have planned a 12 km walk across the iconic Mount Alexander in central Victoria on Sunday 20 June 2021, subject to relevant COVID-19 restrictions at that time. It will be a stunning walk through a variety of landscapes. FOBIF’s walks have a reputation for providing interesting insights into our local natural environment and biodiversity hotspots, led by local experts and passionate volunteers.

Mount Alexander, known as Lanjanuc to the Jaara Jaara people, has plenty of interesting geology and vegetation across the mountain.

Here are more details from FOBIF.

Mount Alexander long walk: 20 June 2021

This FOBIF walk will be just under 12 km which doesn’t sound very long but the majority is off-track negotiating rocks and other obstacles so is fairly slow going. In addition there is a sustained climb up past Black Wallaby Rocks and a short but steep descent from Langs Lookout, both of which require reasonable balance and fitness.

Walking at a moderate pace and including refreshment breaks we can expect to be out for between 5-6 hours allowing for time to enjoy the experience.

For our Bendigo neighbours we will start from the well known carpark on Harcourt-Sutton Grange Road by the water channel, aiming to arrive there about 9.50 am.

To do this we will need to leave Templeton Street, Castlemaine VIC at 9.30 sharp.

To whet the appetite pictures of two of the features, namely the large red gum and Black Wallaby Rocks are included.

For any queries contact Jeremy on 0409 933 046.

To visit FOBIF’s website – click here

 

 

Healthy dams event 2021 – last chance to book!

Posted on 25 May, 2021 by Ivan

We have just SIX tickets remaining for our Healthy Dams event on 5 June 2021, which is part of our Healthy Landscape project. Book now to avoid disappointment for what will surely be a great education event.

‘Healthy dams’ will be hosted by Connecting Country and local ecologist, Karl Just, who has a natural wonder and fascination with aquatic plants and animals, and their importance to farming and biodiversity. We have planned this in-person event at a stunning private property in Taradale VIC, which fronts the Coliban River and has several farm dams.

This event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The workshop will cover:

  • How to improve the health of dams and ponds.
  • Suitable plants for waterways and revegetation of aquatic areas.
  • Frogs, wildlife and improving water quality.
  • Options for stock management and nutrient management.

We will have the opportunity to tour two dams on the property and the Coliban River at the farm in Taradale.

Dams and ponds provide vital farm infrastructure, as well as habitat for many invertebrates, amphibians and birds, and sometimes even mammals. The workshop will explore how to create and maintain healthy waterways for the benefit of people, farm productivity and the natural environment.

The event will be on Saturday 5 June 2021 from 1.00 to 2.30 pm in Taradale, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here 

Healthy farm dams can boost farm productivity while supporting native wildlife and providing clean water (photo by Australian National University)

 

Catering for this event is BYO. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment.

Our Healthy Landscapes project is about helping our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, themselves and the broader landscape. We are also developing a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. This event is part of a series of educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

Our special presenter – Karl Just

Karl is an established ecological consultant and researcher based here in Castlemaine VIC. He has dedicated his time to providing environmental management plans for parks and reserves, conducting flora and fauna surveys and educating the community on improving our natural environment. He has a particular interest in the beautiful and threatened species, the Eltham Copper Butterfly, as well as searching for other endangered species in our region. Karl has a focus on wetlands and waterway surveys, as well as management planning.

 

 

Community Cactus Warriors field day – POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

Posted on 25 May, 2021 by Ivan

Our friends and partners at the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc. (TCCG) are having a Community Cactus Field Day on Sunday 30 May 2021, at the eastern end of Bells Lane, Eastville (north-west of Maldon, VIC). The morning’s activities begin at 10.30 am and end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat around 12:30 pm. TCCG supply all the necessary equipment, so please come and join them for a rewarding morning in the outdoors.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). TCCG, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, holds friendly and informal Wheel Cactus Control community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques, on the last Sunday of the month from May to October. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake and the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts.

It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied.

To catch the ‘cactus warriors’ in action on video – click here.

Please find read on for more details from TCCG regarding the field day.

Cactus warrior volunteers at work on a community field day (photo by Lee Mead)

 

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group sincerely thank all the volunteers who have helped control local Wheel Cactus infestations. Many community members have contributed to maintaining our ‘war on Wheel Cactus’ over the past years.

Volunteers have helped clear Maldon Historic Reserve of major infestations, helping to preserve our native plants and animals and restore our stunning park. Many local property owners have been assisted over the years by the cactus warriors giving valuable assistance and advice. There’s also been many devoted and passionate volunteers who have served on our committee, bringing an amazing range of skills and talent – thanks to all of you.

Old and new volunteers are all invited to our next Community Field Day on Sunday 30 May 2021. The morning’s activities begin at 10:30 am and end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat around 12:30 pm. We supply all the necessary equipment, so please come and join us for a rewarding morning in the outdoors.

The location for this field day is at the eastern end of Bells Lane, Eastville VIC. To get there, head north out of Maldon along Bridgewater Rd for 9 km, then turn right into Murphys Rd. Drive another 3 km and turn right into Bells Lane, and you’ll find us another 1.5 km along, on the side of the road in Bells Lane. The route will be well marked with our ‘cactus’ boards.

These events are Covid-safe and family friendly, but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries or want to see a map for directions, please go to our website at www.cactuswarriors.org

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc