Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Promoting native pollinators from property to landscape – 24 February 2023

Posted on 31 January, 2023 by Hadley Cole

In 2023 Connecting Country is hosting a series of events celebrating the pollinators of our region as part of The Buzz Project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria. We launch the project with a presentation with Dr Mark Hall (Senior Biodiversity Officer at City of Greater Bendigo) in Campbells Creek VIC on Wednesday 15 February 2023. Following the launch, we will host a field trip in Harcourt VIC with Mark on Friday 24 February 2023. Mark completed his PhD on how the composition of wooded habitat in modified landscapes affects bird and pollinator assemblages and has also investigated pollinator diversity, health, management and contribution to crop production. To learn more about Mark – click here

We will spend a morning out in the field with Mark to meet local pollinators, explore their habitat, and learn to identify some of the local pollinator heroes. This event will be at a private property in Harcourt VIC.

 

Join us for a fascinating morning out where will explore both a garden and bush setting in search for pollinators and their homes.

Field trip: Promoting native pollinators from property to landscape
When: Friday 24 February 2023, 10.00 am to 12.00 pm
Where: Dja Dja Wurrung Country, Harcourt VIC (details will be provided on booking)

Bookings are essential as spaces are limited. To book your free ticket – click here

BYO morning tea and drinking water. We will be outside for the whole two hours so please wear sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.

If you haven’t yet booked your free ticket for the presentation with Dr Mark Hall on ‘Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do’, there are still spaces available. To learn more and book – click here

The Buzz project is funded by the North Central CMA through the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants.

 

                 

 

Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do?

Posted on 25 January, 2023 by Hadley Cole

In 2023 Connecting Country is excited to present ‘The Buzz project: promoting pollinators of central Victoria‘. This project celebrates the pollinators of our ecosystems and encourage us all to learn more about our local pollinator heroes. Globally we have seen a serious decrease in pollinators, which has implications for ecosystems, agriculture and in turn the food we eat. There is still much to learn about the pollination services insects and other pollinators provide for food crops and the natural environment. However, we understand that fragmentation of habitat leads to a decline in pollinator activity.

To launch the Buzz project, Connecting Country is pleased to present ‘Native pollinators on your property: who, where and what they do‘, a presentation by Dr Mark Hall, Senior Biodiversity Officer at City of Greater Bendigo.

Dr Mark Hall (Senior Biodiversity Officer, City of Greater Bendigo)

Dr Mark Hall completed his PhD in 2018 on how the composition of wooded habitat in modified landscapes affects bird and pollinator assemblages, under the supervision of Andrew Bennett (La Trobe University) and Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University). He has since investigated pollinator diversity, health, management and contribution to crop production. Since 2020 Mark has partnered with the Upper Campapse Landcare Network to identify habitat and floral preferences of pollinators (bees, flies, wasps, butterflies and beetles), and guide effective restoration across the Upper Campaspe region in central Victoria. He is currently the Senior Biodiversity Officer with the City of Greater Bendigo.

 

Join us for an evening to learn about this fascinating topic, and find out which pollinators you might see across our region and the many ecosystem services they provide for our natural landscape.

When: Wednesday 15 February 2023, 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm

Where: Dja Dja Wurrung Country, Campbells Creek Community Centre, 60 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC 

Bookings are essential. To book please – click here

Supper will be provided and you will also receive a free copy of the ‘Insects of central Victoria’ booklet thanks to the Mount Alexander Shire Council.

The Buzz project is funded by the North Central CMA through the 2022 Victorian Landcare grants.

 

           

 

 

Celebrating our 2022 volunteers and donors – and a quiz!

Posted on 13 December, 2022 by Ivan

Connecting Country celebrated our amazing collective of volunteers and donors at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens Tea Room last Sunday 11 December 2022, with an evening of trivia, conversation and tasty treats. We couldn’t achieve what we do without our amazing volunteers and donors, and are most grateful for their support.

The relaxed evening celebrated community, volunteering and donating. Our Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton, provided a summary of our substantial monitoring achievements for 2022, which were only made possible through our volunteers and donors. Our management committee is run by volunteers, our monitoring programs rely on skilled citizen scientists, our landholders give time and resources to landscape restoration, and others help with events, Landcare, engagement, plant guards and in countless other ways. We appreciate their dedication to our collective vision of restoring landscapes across central Victoria.

It was a great pleasure to host the thank-you celebration. The delicious and creative catering was much appreciated. Jess and Hadley ran an entertaining game of ecological trivia, 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 Jane R and Duncan for setting up and helping the event run smoothly, and to all staff for assisting with setup.

We are blessed to have an engaged and enthusiastic community who support us. If it wasn’t for your contributions, we simply could not continue to collect valuable long-term wildlife data, engage our community in caring for local landscapes, support Landcare, or empower landholders to manage their land as wildlife habitat.

To everyone who has helped Connecting Country in 2022: a huge 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

Volunteer celebration trivia – play along!

If you didn’t attend our event, we have published the trivia questions to test your knowledge against the region’s best! Answers are provided at the bottom of the page.

  1. What does ‘pigeon-toed’ mean in humans?
  2. Phaps is a genus of native Australian pigeons, the most abundant and widespread of which is Phaps chalcoptera. What are the Phaps species commonly known as?
  3.  What is the collective noun for a group of quails?
  4. What are the two common names of the largest lizards that occur in the Mount Alexander area? (bonus points for latin names!)
  5. True or false: Kangaroos emit far less methane via flatulence than other, similar sized mammals?
  6. What does ‘going on the Wallaby’ mean?
  7. What possum species is rated as ‘vulnerable’ in South Australia, but is a major introduced pest in New Zealand.
  8. In 2019 a native Queensland mouse, the Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola), was formally declared to be extinct. Why did this extinction make world headlines?
  9. Professor Wood Jones was an academic polymath, who in the early 20th century had a seminal influence on Australian biology. “Though once a familiar animal to settlers whose homes were in the more wooded districts, P.penicillata is unknown to the rising generation of country people … it seems a remarkable thing that so well equipped a carnivore should have been reduced to a state bordering on extinction in so comparatively short a time” – 1923. He argued that humans were descended from tarsiers, not apes, and opposed Darwinism. What was his first name?
  10.  What are the Dja Dja Wurrung names for the three Mounts in the local region?
  11.  What is the name of the ancestral creator in Dja Dja Wurrung dream time culture?
  12.  Who wrote: ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, 0f ragged mountain ranges, 0f droughts and flooding rains.’
  13. December 2022 is the 20th birthday celebration of what local event?
  14. December 2022 is the 171st-anniversary celebration of what local event?
  15. Which of the following is not a genus of Australian native wallaby grass? (a) Amphibromus (b) Austrodanthonia (c) Danthonia (d) Rytidosperma?
  16. What is the official date of National Wattle Day in Australia?
  17. What species of prickly wattle, endemic to the south-eastern Australian mainland, has common names including ‘kangaroo thorn’, ‘hedge wattle’?
  18.  Bush regeneration work targets the most degraded areas of a site first. True/False

(scroll down for the answers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

  1. Answer: Feet point inwards
  2. Answer: Bronzewing 
  3. Answer: Bevy (‘covey’ or ‘quail’ also accepted)
  4. Answer: Sand Goanna (Varanus gouldii) and Lace Monitor (Varanus various)
  5.  Answer: True
  6.  Answer: Travelling around, usually looking for work
  7. Answer: Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
  8. Answer: It was believed to be the first mammal extinction caused by anthropogenic climate change
  9. Answer: Frederic
  10. Answer: Leanganook, Lalgambook and Tarrengower – but Yapenya (aka Mount Barker) was also accepted
  11. Answer: Bunjil, The Wedge-tailed Eagle
  12. Answer: Dorothea Mackellar
  13. Answer: Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
  14. Answer: The 171st anniversary of the Monster Meeting itself being celebrated the same day – what other surprises might be in the pipeline?
  15. Answer: Danthonia – but this was highly controversial and created lots of heated discussion from the experts!
  16. Answer: 1 September
  17. Answer: Acacia paradoxa
  18. Answer: False – bush regeneration generally targets the best native vegetation for protection first

 

Eltham Copper Butterfly workshop and walk – 14 January 2023

Posted on 6 December, 2022 by Ivan

Did you know Central Victoria is home to the largest known population of the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly in the world? The Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida) is only found in Victoria, Australia, and is restricted to several sites around Castlemaine, Bendigo, Kiata (near Nhill) and Eltham.

It is one of the rare good news stories within the extinction crisis in Australia. The Eltham Copper Butterfly was considered extinct in the 1950s until rediscovered at Eltham in 1986. This butterfly has a fascinating ecological relationship with Sweet Bursaria plants and Notoncus ants, and lives in bushland at several locations around the township of Castlemaine.

Connecting Country is teaming up with local butterfly lover Elaine Bayes, from the Wetland Revival Trust, to deliver an Eltham Copper Butterfly event on Saturday 14 January 2023 at 9.30 am. Come along and learn about our very special local butterfly and what we can do to help this threatened species. Elaine will give a presentation about the unique life cycle and importance of this species and an update on her latest butterfly monitoring results, followed by a guided walk through some Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat. Adult Eltham Copper Butterflies are active during warm weather, so if we’re lucky we may see one.

You will:

•    Hear all about the incredible life cycle of Eltham Copper Butterfly from local ecologist Elaine Bayes.
•    Learn about how to identify this species from similar butterflies.
•    Find out about butterfly monitoring and how you can help.
•    Join a guided walk through butterfly habitat at the Botanical Gardens Bushland Reserve.

Bookings are essential – click here

This is a free event with morning tea provided. Numbers are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment!

When: Saturday 14 January 2023, 9.30 to 11.30 am
Where: Tea Rooms, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens: Downes Rd, Castlemaine VIC
Bring: Sturdy shoes, water, a hat, sunscreen and weather-appropriate clothing.

To book: click here

Bursaria for butterflies project

This workshop is part of Connecting Country’s Bursaria for Butterflies project, which aims to protect and enhance priority habitat for the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly around Castlemaine VIC. We will achieve this through practical on-ground actions to reduce threats and improve the quality, quantity and connectivity of available butterfly habitat. We will work with key landholders to protect and restore priority butterfly habitat on their land. We’re supporting local landholders to control threats (including weeds and rabbits) and revegetate their land, focusing on the butterfly’s host plant, Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

Sweet Bursaria is a small prickly shrub that produces abundant small white flowers through summer. It’s a great habitat plant for wildlife and essential for Eltham Copper Butterflies. On warm spring nights their caterpillars climb Sweet Bursaria plants to feed, accompanied by their special attendant ants.

Historically, survey efforts and management actions have focused on public land, yet we know there is potential Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat on adjoining private land. This habitat is under threat, particularly from urbanisation, weeds, changed fire regimes and grazing.

This project is funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources as part of the Environment Restoration Fund and Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan.

Enjoy these beautiful pictures of our Eltham Copper Butterfly taken by Elaine Bayes. To learn more about the Eltham Copper Butterfly – click here

 

 

Restoring the wonderful wetlands of northern Victoria – 16 November 2022

Posted on 9 November, 2022 by Frances

Our friends at Newstead Landcare Group are hosting a special presentation by Damien Cook, local wetland expert and ecologist with Wetland Revival Trust.

Restoring the wonderful wetlands of northern Victoria
Wednesday 16 November 2022 from 7.30 – 8.30 pm
Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC

All are welcome. Entry is by donation to Wetland Revival Trust to aid purchase of Wirra-Lo wetlands near Kerang, home to many threatened species including the Growling Grass Frog.

Read on for more details from Newstead Landcare Group.

Wonderful Wetlands

On Wednesday 16th November Damien Cook from Wetlands Revival Trust will be giving a very interesting presentation on his work restoring the wonderful wetlands of Northern Victoria.

President of Newstead Landcare, Asha Bannon says, ‘Damien is an excellent presenter with over 30 years experience in restoring and managing wetlands. Everyone is welcome to join us at Newstead Community Centre at 7.30 pm. The talk will go for about an hour with a cuppa afterwards’.

‘Gold coin donations on the night will go towards a fund to purchase and manage a very special group of wetlands called Wirra-Lo which is 160 km or so downstream from us on the Loddon.’

Damien Cook, Restoration Ecologist and Director of Wetland Revival Trust

 

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 35 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna ecology, identification, and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and the revegetation of terrestrial grassland and woodland ecosystems.

The Wetland Revival Trust has been working with the current owners Ken and Jill Hooper since 2014 to repair and preserve the precious wetlands of Wirra-Lo, one of the last strongholds of the nationally vulnerable Growling Grass Frog in northern Victoria and its wetlands support breeding habitat for the endangered Australasian Bittern.

Damien adds, ‘The woodlands at Wirra-Lo are home to Grey-crowned Babblers, another threatened species. To date 127 species of wildlife, including 100 species of birds, 12 species of reptiles and 8 species of frogs, and 126 species of indigenous plants have been observed at Wirra-Lo.’

The Trust for Nature covenanted property is also of high cultural significance, supporting an Aboriginal oven mound. The Trust engages with the local Aboriginal community to provide training and employment through restoration and management activities.

Frances Cincotta
Newstead Landcare Group

To download a flyer about the Wirra-lo wetlands – click here
For more information on Wetland Revival Trust – click here

 

Fabulous phascogales with Baringhup Landcare – 20 November 2022

Posted on 9 November, 2022 by Ivan

Our friends and volunteers at Baringhup Landcare Group are delivering a fascinating November 2022 excursion to check nest boxes at a property in Baringhup VIC. They hope to find the elusive Brush-tailed Phascogale in the next boxes, and increase awareness of this threatened species. Baringhup Landcare are a community group that aims to provide knowledge to help sustainably manage our land, resources and environment. They encourage active community participation in environmental improvement and protection. Please read on for more information from Baringhup Landcare Group.

Fabulous Phascogales event: survival in a modified landscape

If you live in or around Baringhup, you may have been lucky enough to encounter the elusive Brush-tailed Phascogale, or Tuan. This medium-sized marsupial has a large, black, bottlebrush tail and is listed as ‘threatened’ in Victoria.

For our November excursion, we will join Connecting Country’s Jess Lawton in checking nest boxes at a property in Baringhup. We will meet at the Baringhup Supper Room (Baringhup Hall, Cnr Alfred St and Willis St, Baringhup VIC) on Sunday 20 November 2022 at 9.30 am, where we’ll travel in convoy to a property nearby in the hope that we can find a Brush-tailed Phascogale at home!

Jess will explain the monitoring process and discuss how landscape attributes influence Phascogale occurrence. On return to the Supper Room we’ll hear from Jess on the biology and ecology of the Brush-tailed Phascogale, her research on the occurrence of this species in a modified environment, and how you can help this threatened species to persist.

Brush-tailed Phascogale (photo by Jess Lawton)

 

Please bring sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and wear stout walking shoes (as there will be some walking over uneven ground).

All welcome! Tea and coffee provided. RSVP would be appreciated on the numbers below. The trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

Connecting Country has installed 450 nest boxes to provide habitat for the Brush-tailed Phascogale through the Mount Alexander Shire. The boxes are monitored every two years, and volunteers are being sought to assist with continuing this important collection of data on the species’ occurrence. More information on Connecting Country’s nest box program – click here

For further info contact Baringhup Landcare’s Kerrie Jennings (0400 102 816) or Diane Berry (0403 020 663). RSVP welcomed to help with planning.

Baringhup Landcare Group

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 launched

Posted on 9 November, 2022 by Hadley Cole

During October 2022 Connecting Country presented the Landcare Sticky Beak Tour to celebrate the amazing Landcare and friends groups of the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria. We kicked off the month-long sticky beak into Landcare with a meet and greet event in Campbells Creek on Saturday 8 October 2022.  Amazingly the sun came out for us, and volunteers and community members from the region joined us for a lovely and convivial morning out.

Representatives from 12 Landcare groups from across the region participated on the day, offering a great opportunity for not only community members to connect with the groups, but also for the groups to connect with one another. We began the morning at Honeycomb Reserve in Campbells Creek with a brief introduction and history of Honeycomb Bushland Reserve from Matt McEachran, Natural Environment Officer from the Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Honeycomb Bushland Reserve exists largely due to the efforts of McKenzie Hill Action and Landcare Group and Friends of Campbells Creek back in 2016. The two groups then joined forces with Connecting Country and Mount Alexander Shire Council to develop a management plan for the reserve, which saw weeds removed and indigenous flora re-introduced to the site. Honeycomb Bushland Reserve offers an inspiring example of how Landcare groups across our region have worked to protect and enhance biodiversity in the very heart of our neighborhoods.

Local Landcare and friends groups set up tables at the event displaying their work (photo by Ivan Carter)

Hadley (Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator) introducing the Landcare sticky beak tour map (photo by Ivan Carter)

We then took a walk with Landcare legend Ian Higgins down to Campbells Creek to explore the work of Friends of Campbells Creek, whose members have lovingly restored the creekline for over almost 30 years. We stopped off at a wildflower enclosure – an area that Friends of Campbells Creek fenced to protect plants from grazing pressure. Since fencing the area in 2019 they have introduced 100 species of indigenous plants. The enclosure offers an insight into the diversity of understory and midstorey wildflowers that can grow in a bush setting when disturbance and grazing pressure are limited.

To read more about the wildflower restoration at Honeycomb Bushland Reserve – click here

We also visited a site closer to the creek line that has been restored and replanted with tussock grasses. It is now a sweeping plain of native grasses providing habitat for local wildlife.

Friends of Campbells Creek is a local environment group who have demonstrated enormous commitment to the local landscape, bringing benefits for the entire community. To learn more about the work they do, their program of events and how to get involved, head over to their website – click here

Ian Higgins talking with event participants among the tussock grass (photo by Ivan Carter)

We are very grateful to Ian Higgins from Friends of Campbells Creek for volunteering his time to take us all on a walk, and sharing his vast knowledge of local plants and how to restore them.

As part of the tour, Connecting Country worked with local Landcare and friends groups to create a Sticky beak tour map, which shows the location of Landcare work sites across the region. The map empowers anyone at anytime to take themselves on a self-guided tour and explore the wonderful work of these volunteer groups.  Please see the map below for more detail.

We finished the Sticky beak tour launch with morning tea and a meet and greet with Landcare and friends groups from across the region. Thank you to all the Landcare and friends groups who took part in the Sticky beak tour during October 2022.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

                 

 

Book now! Caring for large old trees – 19 November 2022

Posted on 8 November, 2022 by Ivan

It is just over a week until our special free event on Saturday 19 November 2022 at 2.00 pm. Join us for brief AGM formalities, yummy afternoon tea and our special guest presenter.

Join us to learn about how to care for local old trees, and their incredible value as biodiversity hotspots in our landscape.

Australian Owlet-nightjars need large old trees (photo by Geoff Park)

The iconic big trees that dominate our rural landscapes are silently disappearing, dying out from age, drought, disease, disturbance and climate change. Without action they will not survive or regenerate. We will lose these islands of biodiversity so essential to wildlife and farm productivity.

Connecting Country is working to engage the community to value large old trees and support landholders to adopt sustainable environmental practices that protect their trees, helping them fence to exclude stock, control weeds and pest animals, install nest boxes, and revegetate to restore diversity and ensure the next generation of paddock trees.

Our very special guest speaker is Chris Pocknee, an experienced wildlife ecologist from Biolinks Alliance, speaking on caring for large old trees.

Chris is an ecologist with a passion for understanding the threats facing native fauna and ecosystems, and how we can address these issues. Chris grew up in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and completed his MSc at the University of Melbourne in 2017 before completing an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in NSW. Chris recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, where he studied the impacts of fire and feral cats on the endangered northern bettong. He relishes collaborative ecological work, and is passionate about empowering communities to conserve and recover local biodiversity. Chris loves exploring the outdoors, camping, wildlife photography and football.

Everyone is welcome!
For catering and logistical purposes, booking is required – click here


AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM 2022 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 Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation for their invaluable support of our ‘Caring for large old trees’ project.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Harcourt Valley Landcare Group

Posted on 3 November, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we celebrated the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria. Although it is now November we will continue our ‘sticky beaking’ into the wonderful work of Landcare in the region.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Harcourt Valley Landcare Group.

Harcourt Valley Landcare Group are a welcoming group of volunteers of all ages dedicated to preserving and revitalising the Harcourt valley environment. In September 2022 they celebrated their 25 year anniversary, which is a remarkable achievement!

 

The Harcourt Valley Landcare Group aims to inspire, inform and support the community to protect and enhance the local environment. They have ongoing projects and working-bees on the last Sunday of each month.

The group has worked on a variety of projects including reviving the Silver Banksia population in the Harcourt valley, increasing habitat for the Blue-banded Bee, the granite rock circle at the Oak Forest, Harcourt, and restoration of a section of Barkers Creek in Harcourt known as the Tollgate Bridge. You can take a walk along the Barkers Creek restoration site and enjoy the group’s work. To access the site head to corner High St and Bridge St in Harcourt VIC.

To read more about Harcourt Valley Landcare’s projects head over to their website – click here
For their latest updates you can also visit their Facebook page – click here

Harcourt Valley Landcare Group (photo by Robyn Miller)

To view the group’s stunning new brochure online, which was put together in celebration of their 25 year anniversary – click here

To become a member of the group or find out more about their working bees please email: info@harcourtvalleylandcare.org

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

 

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

               

 

Coming soon: Caring for large old trees and AGM 2022

Posted on 2 November, 2022 by Frances

Please join us for this special free event on Saturday 19 November 2022 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities, yummy afternoon tea and our special guest presenter.

Join us to learn about how to care for local old trees, and their incredible value as biodiversity hotspots in our landscape.

Australian Owlet-nightjars need large old trees (photo by Geoff Park)

The iconic big trees that dominate our rural landscapes are silently disappearing, dying out from age, drought, disease, disturbance and climate change. Without action they will not survive or regenerate. We will lose these islands of biodiversity so essential to wildlife and farm productivity.

Connecting Country is working to engage the community to value large old trees and support landholders to adopt sustainable environmental practices that protect their trees, helping them fence to exclude stock, control weeds and pest animals, install nest boxes, and revegetate to restore diversity and ensure the next generation of paddock trees.

Our very special guest speaker is Chris Pocknee, an experienced wildlife ecologist from Biolinks Alliance, speaking on caring for large old trees.

Chris is an ecologist with a passion for understanding the threats facing native fauna and ecosystems, and how we can address these issues. Chris grew up in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and completed his MSc at the University of Melbourne in 2017 before completing an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in NSW. Chris has recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, where he studied the impacts of fire and feral cats on the Endangered northern bettong. He relishes collaborative ecological work, and is passionate about empowering communities to conserve and recover local biodiversity. Chris loves exploring the outdoors, camping, wildlife photography and football.

Everyone is welcome!
For catering and logistical purposes, please register your attendance – click here


AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM 2022 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 Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation for their invaluable support of our ‘Caring for large old trees’ project.

 

Landcare Sticky Beak Tour October 2022 – Victoria Gully Landcare Group

Posted on 27 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Victoria Gully Landcare Group.

Victoria Gully Landcare Group comprises residents who live close to to Victoria Gully, which starts in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park south of Castlemaine and meets Forest Creek at Greenhill Avenue, Castlemaine VIC. The group formed in 2010 and hold working bees that aim to restore the gully to a more natural state and provide a bushland connection from Forest Creek to the National Heritage Park. 

Affectionately known by locals as the ‘the gully’, Victoria Gully accommodates a range of recreation and aesthetic needs including children’s play, walking and bike riding. From the south the gully starts as a narrow, deeply-incised channel then widens to an open, grassed valley with a jumbled topography resulting from historical gold sluicing. This valley is home to a large mob of kangaroos and an intermittent unnamed creek runs along the east side.   

The south head of the gully contains good quality box-ironbark forest, including Clinkers Hill Bushland Reserve, where the group has focused on cleaning up rubbish, removing large weeds, and regular removal of English Broom seedlings.  Mature Yellow Box trees dominate on the sluiced alluvial gravels. Landcare work here is evident in the absence of broom, resulting in the slow return of wattles, peas such as Pultenaea and Daviesia, and other native plants.  

In 2010 the open valley was a nightmare of gorse, broom, blackberries, thistles and rubbish. The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) has responded to the group’s interest interest in the gully with substantial weed and rubbish removal over the years. This has enabled Victoria Gully Landcare Group to concentrate on planting and maintaining two exclusion plots and a frog pond enclosure.

The Victoria Gully Landcare team working hard in ‘the gully’ (photo from the Connecting Country archive)  

DELWP has supported the group’s efforts by providing plants, materials and the frog ponds fencing.  In 2020 DELWP installed a further large exclusion plot along the east side of the valley, near the railway line, and kept responsibility for planting and maintenance. The group’s plans for the future include nest box installation, and dispersed planting in hollows and banks of the central alluvial mining area that kangaroos are unlikely to access. 

Victoria Gully can be accessed from the west via Dawson St off Preshaw Street, or from the east via Dawson Street off Ross Drive, in Castlemaine VIC. Please see the following map for details.

From the south, Clinkers Hill Bushland Reserve (not included in the map) can be accessed via Preshaw Street.  

Map of Victoria Gully Landcare Group’s sites in Castlemaine VIC

 

To find the contact details for Victoria Gully Landcare Group (or your local Landcare group) head over to the Landcare groups contact page on Connecting Country’s website – click here

 

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

                          

 

Landcare Sticky Beak Tour October 2022 – Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group

Posted on 21 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group. 

Barkers Creek Landcare  & Wildlife Group (BCL&WG) work to protect and restore their local natural environment. The group is committed to celebrating and building their sense of belonging to the Barkers Creek community.

They maintain a balance between working on public and private land and members properties. The primary focus is ‘on ground works’ (monthly working bees) together with a ‘splash’ of educational and social activities.

Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group members. Photo from Barkers Creek Landcare Facebook page.

The group established in 1996 and has a vibrant mix of members  and there are often half a dozen or so children at each working bee which not only adds to the fun but instills a belief in the next generation of landcarers.

 

 

 

 

The group are currently working to put together the third management plan for a bushland reserve called the Natural Features Bushland Reserve in in the heart of Barkers Creek. They are hoping to achieve a significant ‘ecological’ restoration of this 35.5 ha parcel of bush, working closely with land managers Parks Victoria and other local community and environment groups. 

Join Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group on Sunday 23 October at 9.30 am at the Peelers Rd entrance to the Natural Features Bushland Reserve, Barkers Creek VIC (please see the map below for more details) for a working bee or just a sticky beak to see what the group are up to!

 

Map of Natural Features Bushland Reserve, Barkers Creek VIC. Photo from Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group website.

 

For more information on the group’s projects or to get in contact with them head over to their website – click here or their Facebook page – click here

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

       

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group

Posted on 20 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group. 

Muckleford Catchment Landcare, also known as Muckleford Landcare, take a holistic approach to caring for the land. They work to improve water quality in the Muckleford Creek and its tributaries, conserve soil in the Muckleford Creek catchment, and create a healthy and viable balance between farming and biodiversity. They also encourage co-operation between landholders within the catchment, as well as harnessing local knowledge and expertise to improve the environment.

30 m wide habitat corridor created by Muckleford Landcare (photo by Beth Mellick)

Recently Muckleford Landcare has been working with a Muckleford landholder to build a 30 metre wide habitat corridor that connects a bush block on one side of the property to a bushland reserve on the other side. The project involved some fencing, as well as ripping the site in preparation for planting. To read more about this project head over to the July 2022 edition of the North Central Chat, published by the North Central Catchment Management Authority – click here 

To check out the site of this ‘Building habitat across the landscape’ project, head out for a drive to Muckleford School Rd, Muckleford VIC, and you will see the work that has been completed opposite the Muckleford Bushland Reserve. Please see the map below for more details.

Muckleford Landcare work to assist landholders to access funding for land improvement projects on their properties. They have a wealth of information on the costs involved for improving biodiversity and building habitat corridors on your property.

For more information please contact Muckleford Landcare via email ( or mucklefordlandcare@gmail.com).

Building Habitat across the Landscape, Muckleford Landcare project map.

 

Wildflower walk

On Sunday 23 October 2022, Muckleford Landcare are heading out for a wildflower walk from 10.00 am – 11.30 am. To join the walk, meet at the end of Sinclairs Lane, Muckleford VIC. This is a perfect opportunity to get out and meet the group while enjoying the wildflowers. For more information head over to the Muckleford Catchment Landcare website – click here

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

     

 

Book now! Connecting Country AGM 2022 and guest speaker

Posted on 17 October, 2022 by Ivan

Now is the perfect time to book for our AGM 2022 and ‘Caring for large old trees’ event. After two years of online AGMs, we finally meet at the magnificent Campbells Creek Community Centre in person. Hurrah!

Please join us for this free event on Saturday 19 November 2022 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities, afternoon tea and our special guest presenter. As usual, it will be much more than an AGM!

Our theme is ‘Caring for large old trees in our landscape’ and we will feature a special presentation. Read on for details.

Large old trees: Caring and sharing their future
Chris Pocknee – Landscape and Biodiversity Conservation Ecologist with Biolinks Alliance

Chris is an ecologist with a passion for understanding the threats facing native fauna and ecosystems, and how we can address these issues. Chris grew up in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and completed his MSc at the University of Melbourne in 2017 before undertaking an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in NSW. Chris has recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, where he studied the impacts of fire and feral cats on the Endangered northern bettong. He relishes collaborative ecological work, and is passionate about empowering communities to conserve and recover local biodiversity. Chris loves exploring the outdoors, camping, wildlife photography and football.

Join Chris to learn about how to care for old trees in our landscape, and how vital they are to a host of woodland birds and other wildlife.

Everyone is most welcome! Please register your attendance for the meeting – click here

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM 2022 documents are available for download:

Our independant financial audit report 2022 is  in progress and will be available in early November prior to the AGM.

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 Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation for their invaluable support of our ‘Caring for large old trees’ project.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Golden Point Landcare

Posted on 12 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Golden Point Landcare.

Many local residents will be familiar with the popular swimming spot at Expedition Pass Reservior in Golden Point, affectionately known as ‘the res’. Well, this special area has its very own Landcare group who care for the surrounding bushland.

Golden Point Landcare Group started back in 1994 and has worked in the Forest Creek catchment from Expedition Pass Reservoir to the Monster Meeting site in Chewton. They have partnered with private landholders and the various government agencies who have managed the crown land over that time.

The current public land manager is Parks Victoria and most of the catchment is in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park.

The group’s main focus has been pest plant and animal management through funded projects complemented by community education programs. These activities place emphasis on helping the recovering landscape from the impacts of gold exploration starting back in 1851.

Sign post at Chinaman Point Road site (photo by Marie Jones)

One of Golden Point Landcare’s ongoing restoration sites is at Chinamans Point and Trapps Gully, which will be part of the Monster Meeting site walk. To check out some of the work they have been doing in this area, head to the intersection of Chinamans Point Road and Ammons Road in Golden Point VIC, and take a walk along the walking track.

They have the support of the ‘Chewton Chat’ community newspaper to keep everyone up to date with what is happening.

The Forest Creek walking track starts in Castlemaine, meanders through Chewton and follows the creek upstream to Expedition Pass Reservoir, passing through areas cared for by multiple Landcare groups. The amazing landscape restoration work that Landcare groups have achieved over the years means that everyone can enjoy our bushland and its creatures. But there’s always more to be done!

For more information on Golden Point Landcare Group or to become a member you can contact Jennifer Pryce via email (j.pryce@bigpond.com) or phone (0423 900 590).

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Tarrangower Cactus Control Group

Posted on 10 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Tarrangower Cactus Control Group.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group is based in Maldon with the single objective to control Wheel Cactus plants in our local natural environment. The group originally formed in 2005 to help Parks Victoria control the infestations of Wheel Cactus in the Maldon Historic Reserve and to increase awareness of this weed species within the local community. They still focus on community education and landowner motivation, and continue to assist Parks Victoria to treat Wheel Cactus. 

 

This particular species of cactus was introduced from Mexico and is a declared Noxious Weed and a Weed of National Significance. The seeds are spread mostly by birds and is spreading quickly to other areas in the Mount Alexander Shire. Wheel Cactus is highly damaging for both our native plants and animals, and local primary industries. It is a very difficult plant to destroy or control, so it is vital to stop the spread of this highly invasive weed to new locations. 

Local Wheel Cactus infestation (photo by Lee Mead)

The photo of the Wheel Cactus infestation shows how dense and impenetrable infestations of Wheel Cactus become when untreated. 

To see the Cactus Warriors in action check out their video on our website –  click here

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (also known as the Cactus Warriors) holds community field days around the Maldon district on either private properties or public land managed by Parks Victoria. These field days are open to everyone interested in learning how to control this noxious weed, and are advertised on their website and Facebook page.

The group can also loan out equipment and provide independent advice and assistance.

If you would like some information about or assistance with Wheel Cactus, please contact the Cactus Warriors via their website – click here  

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites!

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group

Posted on 6 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

 

As part of the Landcare Sticky Beak Tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group.

McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group work to protect and restore the natural environment in the McKenzie Hill and Diamond Gully area, highlighting its unique features for the benefit of the community now and for future generations.

 

As well as protecting and restoring biodiversity, the group has a vibrant and diverse membership of volunteers with a focus on social enjoyment and inclusiveness.

McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group member working hard. Photo by Amelia Stuparich

 

McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group have completed plantings and weed control at a site known as Seventy Foot Hill Reserve on Diamond Gully Road, Castlemaine VIC. Take yourself for a stroll and see what they have been up to this October! The wildflowers will be out and on display this time of year.

 

 

 

Please see the map below for directions on how to get to Seventy Foot Hill Reserve.

 

 

Map of work sites. Image from McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare Group brochure. Click image to enlarge.

 

To contact McKenzie Hill Action & Landcare group head over to our Landcare group contacts page on our website – click here or via their Facebook page – click here

This October, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites!

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour – Book Now – Saturday 8 October 2022

Posted on 3 October, 2022 by Ivan

The Mount Alexander region Landcare sticky beak tour is a celebration of Landcare and friends groups across the region! Many of the natural spaces you can experience in our beautiful region have been lovingly brought back to life and cared for by the incredibly dedicated network of Landcare and friends groups of the region.

Our Landcare sticky beak tour provides an opportunity for our local Landcare and environment groups to showcase their work both online over the month of October 2022, and in person at the launch on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Honeycomb Reserve (end of Honeycomb Rd), Campbells Creek VIC from 10.00 am to 12 noon.

Connecting Country will launch the project in partnership with local Landcare and friends groups, with a walking tour in and around sites in the Campbells Creek area. This is a great opportunity to hear about the activities of local Landcare groups, meet some of the Landcarers and share their stories. Everyone is welcome and morning tea will be provided. Sturdy walking shoes and drink bottles are recommended.

Please book to assist us with planning.

To book for this free event – click here

If you have questions about the Landcare sticky beak tour please contact Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator, Hadley Cole – hadley@connectingcountry.org.au

This project is funded by North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of the Victorian Landcare Grants.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Castlemaine Landcare Group

Posted on 29 September, 2022 by Hadley Cole

 

As part of the Landcare Sticky Beak Tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Castlemaine Landcare Group.

 

Castlemaine Landcare Group volunteers hard at work (photo by Gerry Egan)

 

Castlemaine Landcare Group (CLG) has been running for 20 years and has achieved a great deal along Forest and Moonlight Creeks, close to the centre of Castlemaine VIC.  An area of gorse, blackberry and other weeds, has been transformed into a place of natural diversity and beauty. There is always more to do to encourage indigenous flora and fauna and deal with the ever-present weed challenges. CLG are a welcoming and well-organised group, and are always pleased to see new volunteers join their regular working bees.

To explore some of CLG work head to the Happy Valley (or Leanganook) walking track alongside Forest Creek, from Happy Valley Road to Colles Rd, or the stretch of Moonlight Creek from Happy Valley Rd downstream to Forest Creek. This is a beautiful part of the local environment and showcases Castlemaine Landcare’s work over 20 years. The area is shown on the map below, with marked access points (eg. E2) and our names for work areas (eg., The Copses). This area stretches for about 1 km, and can be approached as one walk, or in parts.

 CLG has about 40 members plus a number of other regular helpers.  They work predominantly on the Crown Land along the creek reserves, with some involvement of neighbouring landholders. Working bees are usually held every fortnight. 

Further details can be found on the CLG website (castlemainelandcare.org.au) or Facebook page (facebook.com/CastlemaineLandcare)

This October, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites!

A happy Kookaburra enjoying the scenery (photo by Gerry Egan)

The Sticky Beak Tour was made possible through the Victorian Landcare Grants with the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

 

Announcing Connecting Country AGM – 19 November 2022

Posted on 26 September, 2022 by Ivan

Connecting Country is delighted to announce our Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2022. After two years of online AGMs, we finally meet at the magnificent Campbells Creek Community Centre in person. Hurrah!

Please join us for this free event on Saturday 19 November 2022 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities, afternoon tea and our special guest presenter. As usual, it will be much more than an AGM!

Our theme is ‘Caring for large old trees in our landscape’ and we will feature a special presentation:

Large old trees: Caring and sharing their future
Chris Pocknee – Landscape and Biodiversity Conservation Ecologist with Biolinks Alliance

Chris is an ecologist with a passion for understanding the threats facing native fauna and ecosystems, and how we can address these issues. Chris grew up in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and completed his MSc at the University of Melbourne in 2017 before undertaking an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in NSW. Chris has recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, where he studied the impacts of fire and feral cats on the Endangered northern bettong. He relishes collaborative ecological work, and is passionate about empowering communities to conserve and recover local biodiversity. Chris loves exploring the outdoors, camping, wildlife photography and football.

Join Chris to learn about how to care for old trees in our landscape, and how vital they are to a host of woodland birds and other wildlife.

Everyone is most welcome! Please register your attendance for the meeting – click here

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM 2022 documents are available for download:

Our independant financial audit report 2022 is  in progress and will be available in early November prior to the AGM.

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 Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation for their invaluable support of our ‘Caring for large old trees’ project.