Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Phascogale talk on Thursday 3 May 2018 in Maldon

Posted on 30 April, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Did you know that Duans wag their tails when excited and purr when they sleep?

Duan is the Dja Dja Wurrung name for the Brush-tailed Phascogale.

Come along to a free public talk to learn about the secrets of the Brush-tailed Phascogale. Hear about a new project using chainsaws to create artificial nesting sites for the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale in central Victoria.

William Terry from Southern Cross University will  present his local research into this fascinating species – Managing the impacts from development and urbanisation on the Brush-tailed Phascogale in the modified landscape of central Victoria.

When: Thursday 3 May from 7 to 8 pm
Where: Maldon Neighbourhood Centre, Corner Church and Edwards Streets, Maldon.
Bookings are not required.

Makarrata Garden Tarrangower is a community engaged sculpture project to research habitat of Powerful Owl and Duan, and to educate ourselves about the history of Dja Dja Wurrung people and celebrate their living culture. Makarrata is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice. For more information on this project, see


Details for rescheduled Camp Out on the Mount 2018

Posted on 26 April, 2018 by Asha

New details for the rescheduled Camp Out on the Mount are now available. Please follow this link to the Camp Out web page to stay updated:

Cooking damper at the 2017 Camp Out on the Mount

When: Friday 11 to Saturday 12 May 2018
Where: Leanganook Camping Ground, Joseph Young Drive, Mount Alexander Regional Park, Faraday
What to bring: Camping gear, food (Lions Club BBQ will be available on Friday night for a gold coin donation), weather appropriate clothes and sun protection.

CLICK HERE to visit the booking website – registering your interest is the best way to stay updated about any schedule changes.

Below is a run-down of the 2018 Camp Out weekend. You are more than welcome to attend some or all of the activities. If you have any questions, please call Asha on (03) 5472 1594 or email

PLEASE NOTE: In the event of severe weather warnings (e.g., storms or extreme heat), the Camp Out on the Mount will be cancelled.


Homes for birds and mammals: nest box workshop Sunday 6 May 2018

Posted on 26 April, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Are you considering enhancing your property by adding a few homes for wildlife? Rosellas, pardalotes, kookaburras and owlet-nightjars will readily use nest boxes. Many mammals will use them too, including possums, bats, sugar gliders and brush-tailed phascogales!

Autumn is an ideal time of year to install nest boxes, according to Miles Geldard, who has designed and constructed thousands of nest boxes. Animals are seeking warm and secure homes before winter.

If you already own nest boxes, or want to set some up on your property, come along to an afternoon workshop with Miles and Connecting Country in McKenzie Hill, near Castlemaine.

A Tuan in a nest box, by Jess Lawton


Sunday 6 May 2018 from 12:00 midday to 3:30 pm

Miles Geldard shares his extensive knowledge on the design, construction, installation and monitoring of nest boxes for wildlife

Includes light lunch, indoor presentation and nestbox check using a special camera

We will also have a very special door prize for a lucky attendee!

Connecting Country has an extensive nest box monitoring program. We encourage any landholders who are hosting some of the 400 nest boxes in the region to attend! For more on our nest box program click here.

Please RSVP including any dietary requirements by 2 May 2018 by email ( or phone (5472 1594).




Save the date – Camp Out on the Mount 2.0

Posted on 19 April, 2018 by Asha

Due to the severe weather warnings last weekend, we have rescheduled the 2018 Camp Out on the Mount!

The new date is Friday 11th May (starting late afternoon after school) to Saturday 12th May (finishing late afternoon). A new schedule for all of the activities and more details will be coming out next week, but please save this date in your diaries if you’d like to come.

Pine Assassins from Castlemaine Secondary College from the 2017 Campout


Saving the Silver Banksia presentation

Posted on 22 March, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Clearly there is a lot of love for the Silver Banksia in our region! About 60 people gathered in Harcourt on Monday 19 March 2018 to hear geneticist Adam Miller present the latest results from his genetic studies on Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) populations – hot off the press!


Adam Miller presents to a full house at the ANA Hall.

Dr Adam Miller is a geneticist from Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University. Adam has a wide range of research interests, including ecological genetics and genomics, wildlife conservation and environmental restoration, pest control, environmental stress and adaptation research. For the science buffs among you, Adam’s extensive publication history on Google Scholar can be found  here.

Adam’s talk was titled ‘Planting for the future through smart genetic management: Banksia Marginata as a case study’. The presentation was absolutely fascinating. Any genetics project needs a lot of preparatory explanation. I’d already taken seven pages of notes before we got onto the banksia project proper!

Banksia decline

Silver Banksias were once common all over the Victorian Volcanic Plains and the Mount Alexander area, but now we only have isolated populations of old individuals. The banksias face many threats. Recruitment of new plants is very difficult as young plants are eaten by rabbits or wallabies, and the young plants can’t grow through thick Phalaris grass. Herbicide spray drift from farms is another threat. However, Adam and other conservation geneticists believe that  loss of genetic diversity is a key driver in the extinction of species, and without active management we can’t be confident these species will survive climate change. If we can’t get it right for an iconic species such as Silver Banksia, the future looks grim for other struggling species, such as Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata).

Genetic diversity

Genetic diversity underpins the ability of a population to respond to environmental change. High diversity increases the chance there is enough variety for at least some of the population to cope with environmental changes. Low diversity increases the chance of extinction. The Central Victorian Banksia Working Group wanted to find out what is going on with the genetics of the surviving Silver Banksias. Are they genetically isolated? Are they in poor genetic health or in-breeding? Where is the best genetic material? Which plants should we collect seed from for replanting or creating a seed orchard?

After the presentation, people crowded around Adam and the screen to hear more!

Latest results

Analysis results for the Central Victorian banksia population showed:

  • All banksia populations in central Victoria are genetically isolated from one another, meaning populations are not cross-pollinating.
  • There is no current evidence of inbreeding – the genetic diversity of all the samples is still quite good! However, there is an imminent risk of inbreeding due to genetic isolation.
  • Managed intervention will be needed to prevent these populations from disappearing.

Analysis of the Victorian Volcanic Plains banksia population showed similar results.

What to do

Critical recommendations for saving Silver Banksias:

  • Manage the isolated remnants by mixing up genetics to reduce the risk of future inbreeding.
  • Select seed from multiple locations across the landscape. Selection and blending of seed from across the isolated populations – known as ‘multi-provenancing’ – will help provide the genetic diversity so desperately needed to cope with a changing climate.
  • Track plant provenances through time, so we can assess which ones survive better in this climate. This can be done on people’s properties or through establishing seed orchards.
  • Improve connectivity across the landscape to facilitate the movement of pollinators. We currently don’t know who the key pollinators are, but the genetic studies reveal there should be a maximum of ten kilometres between populations to allow cross pollination.

Thank you!

Harcourt Valley Landcare Group hosted the event along with the Central Victorian Banksia Working Group. Bonnie Humphreys (President of Harcourt Valley Landcare Group) thanks all involved, including the many volunteers who provided banksia samples and contributed to the project. The Wettenhall Environment Trust provided an amazing supper! The Kara Kara Conservation Network and North Central Catchment Management Authority also provided support and funding for the project. The presentation was made possible through funding from the National Landcare Program.

Many thanks to Adam for his thoughtful presentation, and to Bonnie for organising the event.


Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change visits landholders in Green Hill

Posted on 14 March, 2018 by Tanya Loos

On Friday 9 March, Lily D’Ambrosio MP visited one of our land restoration sites in Green Hill, south of Metcalfe. The Minister had just opened the La Larr Ba Gauwa Park, and wanted to see the work we’re doing locally to protect threatened woodland birds, with funding from the Victorian Government’s Regional Landscapes & Targeted Action initiative.

Landholders Rayleen Bailey and Huntly Barton hosted the visit to their beautiful 273 hectare property. With representatives from Connecting Country, Trust for Nature, Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), and the Minister’s team, it was quite a crowd on the quiet country lane! Huntly kindly offered to take the Minister to the top of Green Hill, where eagles nest, to view the incredible progress with weed control, fencing and revegetation. We all had a chat while Huntly and the Minister zoomed off into the distance in the all-terrain vehicle!

Kirsten Hutchison from Trust for Nature was happy to be there as the property will be placed under a covenant for long-term protection. Kirsten explains why the property is so significant:

This covenant (265 ha) is of high conservation significance as it contains ‘Greenhill’, a Scoria Cone (dormant volcano) of notable geological significance. Greenhill is a prominent landmark in the local landscape. The property contains two threatened ecological vegetation classes that are under-represented in the National Reserve System; Plains Grassy Woodland and Scoria Cone Woodland. Both are endangered in the Goldfields and Central Victorian Uplands Bioregions. The remnant native vegetation on the property also contains numerous very large old hollow eucalyptus trees that provide important habitat for local fauna species. The nationally endangered Matted Flax-lily Dianella amoena has been found on the property.

Previously Connecting Country have funded extensive weed control work and additional re-vegetation on the property through their on-ground works programs. The covenant has been funded through DELWP’s Biodiversity On Ground Action (BOGA) program.’

The property also hosts one of Connecting Country’s long-term bird monitoring sites. It is one of few River Red Gum woodland sites with good understorey vegetation, and significant for its records of Brown Treecreeper, Dusky Woodswallow and Restless Flycatcher. After the Minister departed, Tanya, Kirsten and Frances enjoyed doing a bird survey, recording breeding Dusky Woodswallows and numerous other species.

Many thanks to Jill Fleming from DELWP for the invitation, Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and team for visiting, and most of all Rayleen and Huntly for their warmth and willingness to share their property with us.

Please enjoy this gallery of photos taken by Tanya Loos, Frances Howe and Kirsten Hutchison.


Sharing Landcare Stories – February 2018 Landcare Link-up

Posted on 8 March, 2018 by Asha

For anyone seeking inspiration, there was plenty to be had at the Campbells Creek Community Centre last Monday. We had a great turnout of nearly 40 people representing 14 of our local Landcare and Friends groups, plus representatives from North Central Catchment Management Authority, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Parks Victoria, and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The event focused on groups sharing the work they’ve been doing for the last year or so. Based on some great feedback, we may be making this an annual theme!

Talks spanned the huge range of the amazing work local groups do, including weed control, planting, monitoring, promoting sustainable agriculture, advocating for our environment, preserving heritage, holding education events, installing signage and engaging community.

Landcare and Friends groups who presented included: Baringhup Landcare, Castlemaine Landcare, Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare, Golden Point Landcare, Guildford and Upper Loddon Landcare, Friends of Kalimna Park, Maldon Urban Landcare Group, Muckleford Catchment Landcare, North Harcourt-Sedgewick Landcare, Nuggetty Land Protection Group, Post Office Hill Action Group, and Taradale Landare. The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group also celebrated the launch of their new brochure, Weeds and your responsibilities (CLICK HERE for more info), with guest speaker Mayor Bronwen Machin.

Thank you to everyone who came along to our February Landcare Link-up and made it an enjoyable night. An extra special thanks goes to all our presenters, the wonderful volunteers who helped with setting up, packing up and doing dishes, and to Bonnie and Vivien for your photos (scroll the gallery below!).



Camp Out on the Mount 2018

Posted on 8 March, 2018 by Asha

The sun rising on Leanganook on the Sunday morning of the 2017 Camp Out on the Mount

Have you ever camped out on Leanganook (Mount Alexander)? This is your chance to camp out in a fun community setting, learn about nature and cultural heritage in our area, and water some young native plants that need care after a dry summer. We are once again working with several community groups to run the popular Camp Out on the Mount, a weekend event for people of all ages.

Please join us for a morning working bee on the Saturday, followed by an afternoon of activities to learn more about our environment and Aboriginal culture. Share in dinner, chatting and singing around the campfire, a heritage talk from George Milford, and a night walk in the bush with Parks Victoria. On the Sunday morning we will also be treated to a nature walk with Tanya Loos. Together, we will be caring for and learning about Leanganook, and celebrating the work that Landcare and Friends groups do for our environment all year round.

A huge thank you is due to the many community groups who are coming together to make this event so special. These include: the Camp Out Advisory Group, Harcourt Valley Landcare, Little Habitat Heroes, Parks Victoria, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests, Nalderun Upper Loddon Group, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Castlemaine Secondary College students, Harcourt Lions Club, and Connecting Country.

CLICK HERE to visit the booking website

CLICK HERE to download the flier

CLICK HERE to read the blog post about last year’s Camp Out on the Mount

When: Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th April 2018
Where: Leanganook Camping Ground, Joseph Young Drive, Mount Alexander Regional Park, Faraday
What to bring: Camping gear, food (Lions Club BBQ will be available on Sat night for a gold coin donation), weather appropriate clothes, sturdy shoes and sun protection. Please bring a bucket to the working bee if you can, this will help us water as many plants as possible!

Below is a run-down of the 2018 Camp Out weekend. You are more than welcome to attend some or all of the activities. Please let us know through the booking website which activities you plan to attend, as this will help us get an idea of how many people to expect.

If you have any questions, please call Asha on (03) 5472 1594 or email

This year’s Camp Out on the Mount is supported by funding through the Victorian Landcare Program.


Wonderful WA ecology at Castlemaine Field Nats AGM – 9 March 2018

Posted on 6 March, 2018 by Tanya Loos

The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club are happy to announce their Annual General Meeting and guest speaker Carol Hall.

Carol’s talk is titled Why is south-west Western Australia’s ecology so special? Carol took a wildflower tour of this part of the country in spring 2016. She says, ‘I have taken as the basis for the talk the huge areas of granite in the south-west, their geomorphology and the resulting number of micro-habitats both in the arid interior and along the wetter south coast’.

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place prior to Carol’s talk.

Date: Friday 9 March at 7.30 pm

Location: The Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine  

Members and visitors are all welcome, and there is no charge for attendance. Everyone is also welcome to stay for a cup of tea and a chat afterwards.


Silver Banksia of Central Victoria presentation 19 March 2018

Posted on 27 February, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Silver Banksias (Banksia marginata) once occurred in large areas across central Victoria, but are now limited to a few isolated locations. Are we at risk of losing this species from our landscape? Come along and find out.

Presentation by Dr Adam Miller (Senior Lecturer in Aquatic Ecology and Biodiversity at Deakin University).

Monday 19 March at 7.30 pm

ANA Hall, 7 High St, Harcourt

Please RSVP to Bonnie by Thursday 15 of March (email: or phone: 5472 1594)

Click here for the flier, with a map showing the location of ANA Hall. Tea, coffee and a light supper will kindly be provided by the Wettenhall Environment Trust.

This talk has been made possible through funding from the National Landcare Program.

The flower of the Silver banksia – immature, and mature on the right. By JJ Harrison ( – Creative Commons


Ecology artworks at Falkner Gallery until 25 March 2018

Posted on 5 February, 2018 by Tanya Loos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted on 14 December, 2017 by Frances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Natural History Photography Workshops with Alison Pouliot in 2018

Posted on 14 December, 2017 by Tanya Loos

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

Hygrocybe sp – a tiny specimen by Alison Pouliot

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

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

9 February 2018 – Otway Ranges – A murder of crows

18 March 2018 – Lockwood South – Focus on trees

24 March 2018 – Trentham – Through a forest wilderness

31 March 2018 – Trentham – Fungi in Focus

Bookings may be made at 


Getting to know our local weeds

Posted on 7 December, 2017 by Asha

Christine Brooke from the CC Committee welcoming everyone to the ‘Get to know your local weeds – Sutton Grange & surrounds’ workshop

Getting to know our local weeds was the focus of three workshops run by Connecting Country as part of our recent Landcare Network Grant. Bonnie and Asha partnered with 17 local Landcare and Friends groups to organise the workshops in Sutton Grange, Newstead and Chewton. A fourth workshop in Maldon focused on both native and invasive plants (you can read about the Maldon workshop HERE). The workshops were a great opportunity for Landcare and community members to learn more about their local weeds, and share their work, experiences and existing knowledge.

Following an opening by members of Connecting Country’s Committee of Management, we asked each participant to share where they were from and what they hoped to learn. Representatives of local Landcare groups also introduced their group and the work they do to manage weeds. This was personally one of my favourite parts of each workshop, hearing everyone’s weed stories and everyone chatting about their shared experiences. It was fantastic to see some members of neighbouring Landcare groups meeting for the first time.

Bonnie led an interactive talk covering ‘what is a weed?’, legislation governing invasive plants in Victoria, different lifeforms of plants, methods of weed control, and other things to consider when conducting weed control.

Bonnie helping a team with the ‘Who am I?’ weed matching activity at the workshop in Newstead

Based on feedback from Landcare groups,  12 noxious weeds were selected for our ‘Who am I? game. Each team received a set of cards with a ‘Who am I?’ description of a weed, and their job was to match it with a corresponding card with the name and picture of the weed. Everyone also received a template to record how and when to treat a few choice weeds, and take home to stick on their fridge.

We finished up with some quiz questions to test what everyone had learned during the workshop. Over a cuppa and some snacks, Bonnie helped identify weeds and other plants from samples or photos that people had brought. Feedback from the workshops was overall very positive: ‘I really enjoyed meeting others and learning new stuff ‘,  ‘It is a truly informative learning experience and introduced me to a number of local natives which I thought were weeds’, ‘I came away with renewed vigour and new resources ideas’.

A big thank you to everyone involved in the success of these workshops, especially to our presenters, helpers, and partnering Landcare groups.

This workshop is part of a Landcare Network project funded through the Victorian Landcare Program.


Tuan Talk by Jess Lawton – Newstead Landcare AGM

Posted on 17 October, 2017 by Asha

This Thursday evening, 19th October 2017, Newstead Landcare Group is hosting a presentation by PhD candidate Jess Lawton. Jess is studying the Tuan or Brush-tailed Phascogale, a threatened and declining species of the Box-Ironbark country. The presentation will start at 8pm at Newstead Community Centre and all are welcome. A gold coin donation would be appreciated.  Afterwards there will be supper and a brief AGM.

Jess says,

“The Brush-tailed Phascogale is a rare, threatened species, and is declining in Victoria. Our understanding of its conservation biology is limited because it is sparsely distributed, ‘trap-shy’, and has been difficult to survey using traditional techniques. We know that this species has a rapid reproductive cycle, whereby all males die of stress and exhaustion after their first breeding season. We also know that this species often has a large home range of up to 100 ha. Therefore, the current thinking is that it requires large areas of intact forest for a population to persist. However, this species still occurs in modified habitats, such as paddock trees, roadsides, and isolated remnant patches. The aim of my study is to see if the occurrence of the Brush-tailed Phascogale in a modified landscape relates to patch size and patch connectedness.

Connecting Country set 150 nest box sites in 2010 to provide habitat for this species through the Mount Alexander Shire. They have since monitored many of these nest box sites every two years, and now have a number of years of data on this species occurrence in the region. I selected 50 of these 150 sites, stratified according to landscape context (ie. the amount of tree cover surrounding each nest box site). Between April and June 2016, while Connecting Country conducted their nest-box checks, I set two cameras at each of these 50 sites.

In this study, I model the occurrence of Brush-tailed Phascogales in the Mount Alexander Shire with landscape attributes, such as the size of a forest patch, and a number of habitat attributes collected in the field, including forest productivity, forest structure, logs and leaf litter, and tree size and species.

One property near Axe Creek was home to a particularly active population of Brush-tailed Phascogales, and you can watch a video of the sort of footage we detected”


Getting to know plants of Maldon and surrounds

Posted on 12 October, 2017 by Asha

Intern Sarah Edwards has recently commenced her placement with Connecting Country and attended the ‘Get to know your local plants’ workshop in Maldon on Saturday the 7th of October 2017. This is her account of the afternoon:

Out of the 1100 plant species found in beautiful central Victoria, 60% of these are native species. These native plants are separated by their characteristics (flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, bark) and are crucial for the survival of the birds, bugs, marsupials and other native animals that are found here.

This was an invaluable workshop. When attempting to correctly identify plants using reference books, there is often a limited amount of information and pictures able to be displayed, making detailed identification a challenge. The last thing I would want to do is accidentally pull out a native plant that I thought was a weed. One of the values of this workshop was being able to use live plant samples to practise on and have experts (Bonnie Humphreys and Frances Cincotta) on hand to help.

We all undertook a series of activities, the aim of which was to use the brief descriptions and other clues provided to identify what a given plant specimen was called. Each table had different types of plants (eucalypts, wattles, pea flowers, prickly shrubs etc.) that share similar characteristics.

Working in small groups, we touched, inspected, smelt and viewed juveniles and adult plant samples and worked as a team to correctly name them. It was like trying to work out a puzzle. Some species were more difficult to identify than others and at times it was quite tricky (and prickly!) but collaborating with others made this activity very enjoyable.

There are two more plant identification workshops coming up that are focusing on local weeds in Newstead and Chewton. See for the details.


Spring at Pilchers Bridge event – Sat 7 October 2017

Posted on 2 October, 2017 by Tanya Loos

The Axe Creek Landcare Group would like people to know of their upcoming event “Spring at Pilchers Bridge”, a jam-packed program of expert speakers on the flora, fauna and management of Box-Ironbark forests.  The program includes:

  • A bird identification walk around the Trust for Nature covenanted property, Led by  Salli Dearricott, followed by a quick pancake breakfast
  • A video on Indigenous Burning techniques presented by Trent Nelson, Parks Victoria and  Mick Bourke, DELWP
  • Orchids of the Box-Ironbark Forests by  Julie Radford-Whitfield, Amaryllis Environmental
  • Bushfire Preparedness by a representative from the CFA
  • Wildlife, Habitat, and Nestboxes by  Miles Geldard, Wildlife Nestboxes
  • Flowering patterns of local Eucalypts by Bob McDonald, apiarist.

They have also asked us to let you know the following:

  • Lunch can be purchased from the Eppalock Primary School Sausage Sizzle.
  • Bring your own binoculars, sturdy shoes, camera and water bottle
  • Free entry, pancake breakfast, tea coffee and sunscreen
  • All welcome but no dogs please

 Saturday  7 October.       
8am to 4pm  at 178 Huddle Creek Rd, Myrtle Creek  

Enquiries: Chris Kirwan phone 5439 6494

For a flier of the event, click here.


Tuesday 17 October 2017 – CC’s AGM, film launch and special guest speaker

Posted on 21 September, 2017 by Tanya Loos

Georgia lives in Castlemaine with her husband Ben and whippet Henry.

Connecting Country members, supporters and other interested people are invited to our 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM), which includes a special presentation titled “kicking goals for conservation” by Dr Georgia Garrard plus the launch of our new short film!

Please help us celebrate the achievements on the past year, and look ahead to another exciting year of working with our local community. The evening is a great chance to catch up with our staff, committee and other friends.

The AGM will be held at the Newstead Community Centre (on the main street in Newstead, next to the supermarket) on Tuesday 17 October 2017.  We encourage people to arrive from 6.45pm, with the AGM formalities taking place from 7pm until 7.30pm. CLICK HERE for a copy of the agenda.

We are thrilled to launch a short film about Connecting Country filmed by Wild Melbourne. Approximately 3 minutes in length, it features Connecting Country staff, committee members and supporters in our quest to preserve habitat for woodland birds.

Following the film, we will hear from Dr Georgia Garrard. Georgia is a Senior Research Fellow in RMIT University’s Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group.  Through her research, she aims to find solutions to the challenge of conserving biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes.  Georgia’s presentation is titled Kicking goals in conservation – through better decision making and communication.  We are looking forward to hearing how Georgia’s research can help Connecting Country, Landcare groups and individual landholders plan and carry out conservation projects.

After Georgia’s presentation, a light supper and drinks will be served.

Important information regarding the AGM

If you are a current Connecting Country member over the age of 15 then you are entitled to vote on any and all relevant agenda items.  If you are unable to make it to the AGM, but still wish to cast a vote, then proxy forms are available.  These must be received at least 24 hours before the AGM is held.

If you are a current Connecting Country member aged 18 or over, then you are also able to nominate to join the Committee of Management.  If you are interested, you are encouraged to contact the current president – Brendan Sydes – to talk more about what is involved and the opportunities that are available (  A copy of the CC committee nomination form can be downloaded (CLICK HERE).

If you haven’t already, please renew your Connecting Country membership online (CLICK HERE). Contact Chris ( if you are unsure if you are a current Connecting Country member; if you’d like a proxy voting form; or if you’d like a copy of the 2016 AGM Minutes or 2016-17 Financial Statements to read before the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you all in mid-October!


Wildflower Show at Bendigo this weekend

Posted on 21 September, 2017 by Tanya Loos

The Bendigo Native Plant Group invite you all to come and enjoy the blossoms at their Australian Flower Show this weekend. The 2017 show is at a new venue and will be bigger and better than ever, involving six specialist native plant nurseries. Over 200 specimens on display;  book, pottery and photography sales.

Some beautiful blossoms from the 2016 Flower Show

23 & 24 September 2017
9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Kangaroo Flat Primary School. Olympic Parade, Kangaroo Flat

Entry fee: Adults $3

The Australian Flower Show 2017 is hosted by Bendigo Native Plant Group Inc.

Enquiries –   0400 149 319



Get to know your local plants: weed and native plant workshops

Posted on 15 September, 2017 by Asha

Learn how to identify plants such as Bridal Creeper at Connecting Country’s “Get to know your local plants” workshop series (photo by Bonnie Humphreys).

Connecting Country and local Landcare groups will be running four plant identification workshops over the next couple of months for community members. These free workshops will include the chance to chat with a botanist, meet members of Landcare groups over a cuppa, and learn identification tips through fun games.

Three of the workshops will be focused on how to identify and manage noxious weeds; the fourth will be focused on both native and invasive plant species. With workshops in Sutton Grange, Maldon, Newstead, and Chewton, there will be a workshop nearby for everyone to learn about the plants and weeds most relevant to their local area. You can also bring along photos or samples of plants (in a ziplock bag) if you’d like help from a botanist to identify them.

Details of the workshops are below, or you can contact Asha Bannon for more information at or 5472 1594.

Get to know your local weeds – Sutton Grange & surrounds
When: Saturday 23rd September 2017, 10am-12:30pm
Where: Sutton Grange Hall, 921 Faraday-Sutton Grange Rd
RSVP: by Wednesday 20th September for catering purposes

Get to know your local plants – Maldon & surrounds
When: Saturday 7th October 2017, 1pm-3:30pm
Where: Maldon Community Centre, 6 Francis St, Maldon
RSVP: by Wednesday 4th October for catering purposes

Get to know your local weeds – Newstead & surrounds
When: Tuesday 24th October 2017, 6pm-8:30pm
Where: Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons St, Newstead
RSVP: by Thursday 19th October for catering purposes

Get to know your local weeds – Chewton & surrounds
When: Wednesday 15th November 2017, 6pm-8:30pm
Where: Chewton Community Centre, Pyrnees Hwy, Chewton
RSVP: by Friday 10th November for catering purposes