Posted on 30 January, 2020 by Frances
We thought it might be nice for our friends and supporters to get to know the team at Connecting Country, in case you don’t already. Over the coming blogs we will feature each member of our dedicated Connecting Country staff team, including a little about their interests and why they joined Connecting Country.
Here is an overview of our current staff and when you’ll usually find them in the office.
- Frances Howe – Director (Monday to Thursday)
- Asha Bannon – Landcare Facilitator (Monday to Thursday)
- Jacqui Slingo – Landscape Restoration Coordinator (Monday to Thursday)
- Bonnie Humphreys – Landscape Restoration Coordinator (Mondays and Thursdays)
- Ivan Carter – Engagement Coordinator (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
- Jess Lawton – Monitoring Coordinator (Mondays and Tuesdays)
We also want to let you know that our wonderful Asha Bannon will be taking extended leave from mid-March to September 2020. During this time, the very capable Jacqui Slingo will take over as Landcare Facilitator, while local expert Bonnie Humphreys takes the lead as Landscape Restoration Coordinator.
Posted on 29 August, 2019 by Ivan
The wattles were blooming like crazy for the strong crowd of nearly 50 people at our ‘Wonderful World of Wattles’ event on Saturday 24 August at Campbells Creek in central Victoria. It was a day to remember, with sunny weather and two excellent guest speakers to educate participants about the beauty, benefits and biodiversity of the Acacia (wattle) species in our region. Connecting Country, Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests partnered to deliver the event, which was part of our larger ‘Prickly plants for wildlife’ project funded through the North Central Catchment Management Authority.
The event kicked off indoors with retired academic and botanist Rod Orr, who has spent many years volunteering at the Bendigo Field Naturalists Club. Rod provided an excellent overview on the ecology and biological function of wattles. The audience was fascinated to learn that wattles can produce their own nitrogen fertiliser through nodules in their roots, allowing them to live in extremely low-nutrient soils. This explains why they are so useful in colonizing disturbed sites and degraded landscapes, like central Victoria!
The second part of the educational event was a walk and talk with Campbells Creek identity Ian Higgins, through the Campbells Creek Reserve at the end of Honeycomb Road. This site proved perfect for the keen audience to test their skills in identifying the large array of Acacia species that had been re-established at the site. Ian pointed out some of the finer skills in how to differentiate between species. He also gave the group a lesson in growing Acacias from seeds, and managed to get the audience to complete some direct seeding in a site dominated by Phalaris grass!
For those who could not attend, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests have developed an excellent 112 page book for sale, suited to beginners. In plain language, and generously illustrated, it presents 21 Acacia species that flourish in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. A general introduction explains different features of wattles, helping in identification and appreciation of these tenacious and beautiful plants.
Many thanks to Gen Kay, who generously volunteered her photography skills to capture the following images on the day.
Posted on 16 April, 2019 by Asha
Over 130 people attended the popular Camp Out on the Mount last weekend! Every year we invite people to gather for a fun night of camping and learning, to celebrate the beautiful Leanganook/Mount Alexander and the work that Landcare and Friends groups do all year round.
Saturday evening commenced at Leanganook Camping Ground with a beautiful Welcome to Country from Aunty Kerri Douglas representing Dja Dja Wurrung. She invited everyone to take off their shoes and connect to country around the campfire. Harcourt Lions Club prepared and served a delicious BBQ to the crowd. Once the coals in the campfire had settled in, the Mellick-Cooper family carried on tradition by setting up their damper-making table for all to share.
As the sun set, Mike Hayes from Parks Victoria gathered a group of about 50 together to set out on a spotlighting night walk through the bush. The group included all ages from babies to teenagers to adults. The group spotted two Brush-tailed Possums – a delight for everyone, but especially special for our visiting students from France!
On Sunday morning, campers were woken by a chorus of birds and a sunny morning. Things kicked off again with morning tea provided by Murnong Mummas, followed by a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony with Uncle Michael Bourke. With a further welcomes from Maree Edwards MP, Connecting Country, Little Habitat Heroes, and Harcourt Valley Landcare, local legend George Milford then facilitated a discussion between local experts, including Terri Williams (Bendigo TAFE), Michael Bourke (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation), Ian Braybrook and Marilyn Bennet (authors of ‘Sarah’s search – a silk odyssey’). They spoke about the values of the mount from the perspectives of the environment, culture, and heritage.
Local musician Eva Popov delighted us with her song, ‘Seeds that grow’, encouraging everyone to join the chorus around the campfire. The song is about the mount and the revegetation planting done by Little Habitat Heroes.
Little Habitat Heroes volunteers ran a lovely Bush Playgroup where kids could do things like play with clay and colour in pictures of wildlife while listening to the talks and singing.
Keen participants then joined a special activity to clean native Tree Violet seed ready for planting, kindly donated by Frances Cincotta from Newstead Natives. All were encouraged to take some seed home to grow their very own Tree Violet, which provides habitat for native birds and other wildlife.
To wrap up the weekend, everyone was invited to make their way down to the Old Silk Worm Farm site to see the heritage ruins and the amazing land restoration work done. Work so far includes pine removal at past Camp Out on the Mount events, and revegetation of 900 plants by Little Habitat Heroes with support from Connecting Country. Free ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ t-shirts, designed and printed by Big Tree T-shirts and funded by Mount Alexander Shire Council, were a great souvenir for people to take home.
This free annual event was organised by Connecting Country, Little Habitat Heroes and local Landcare groups, supported by funding from North Central Catchment Management Authority through the Victorian Landcare Program, and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests. Connecting Country and Little Habitat Heroes would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped to make the weekend a success, including everyone who volunteered their time to make sure things ran smoothly.
Posted on 21 December, 2017 by Tanya Loos
It has been quite a year at Connecting Country! We would like to warmly thank all of our friends and supporters, our landholders and volunteers, the many groups we work with, and our funders for their ongoing involvement and support of Connecting Country.
We have some exciting on ground works and community engagement programs planned for 2018, and we very much look forward to announcing these early next year.
Bonnie and Tanya have compiled a gallery of flora and fauna pics from the year to scroll through. Many of these photos have been sent in to us by you, our subscribers (thank you!). The beauty, colour and variety of these photos is a testament to the rich and abundant landscape we live in, and to our enthusiasm for capturing this beauty.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a peaceful holiday season, and a wonderful 2018…
Posted on 22 December, 2016 by Connecting Country
2016 has been an exciting year for Connecting Country staff and committee of management. We have been busy helping landholders with on-ground works, supporting landcare, monitoring populations of plants and animals and engaging with our community of amazing supporters, members and volunteers. We are all so proud to have had the opportunity to work with the people and environment across the Mount Alexander region to do all of these activities.
In 2016 we focused on raising the profile of woodland birds and growing our partnerships with fellow organisations. This enabled us to work cooperatively with the Friends of Box Ironbark Forests, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Mount Alexander Shire Council, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Parks Victoria, Castlemaine Festival of Gardens, Castlemaine Agricultural Society and of course lots of our local landholders and volunteers. We would like to thank all involved and our project funders over the last twelve months.
We have also been planning for our future and 2017 promises to be as invigorating. We currently have ten projects on the go and look forward to continue rolling them out into the New Year. We are particularly looking forward to the Camp Out on the Mount event, celebrating the achievements of the the Connecting Landscapes program which concludes in June and a workshop series around Water in our Landscape. Watch this space to find out more!
We have created a snapshot from 2016 events and activities in the gallery below, see if you can see you!
PS. Please note our office will be closed from the 24th of December 2016 until the 3rd of January 2016.
Posted on 30 May, 2016 by Connecting Country
The Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests exhibition, Trees in the Mount Alexander Region, is moving to the new Newstead Railway Arts Hub after a month at TOGS café in March.
The show in Newstead will run throughout June 2016. It will include the photos from the TOGS show and a slide show which will have at least one image from people who sent in photos for the FOBIF Flickr site after a call for photos in January. There are 25 framed photos which are all are for sale with proceeds going to FOBIF.
The Arts Hub show will be open at weekends and the Queens Birthday holiday (Monday 13 June). Opening hours are 10 am to 4 pm. The address is Dundas Street, Newstead (directly across from Railway Hotel). If you would like to view the exhibition outside these days/hours, or help with staffing the show, contact Bronwyn Silver on 5475 1089.
The opening will be at 10.30 on Saturday 4 June 2016. There will be refreshments and everyone is welcome. Bernard Slattery from FOBIF will open the show.
Posted on 26 February, 2016 by Connecting Country
The exhibition has been coordinated by the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) and aims to highlight the amazing variety to be seen in our local indigenous trees. Even those trees of the same genus—for example, Eucalyptus—can exhibit a wild variety of shape and colour, as well as providing a home and other resources for an extraordinary diversity of wildlife.
The exhibition photos have been selected from over 125 that were submitted to FOBIF during December and January. In June 2016 the exhibition will have a second showing at the new local arts venue, the Newstead Railway Arts Hub. At this latter exhibition, at least one photo from each contributor will be included in a continuous slideshow.
Togs Place can be found at 58 Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine. Photos will be for sale, with proceeds going to FOBIF to cover costs.
(Also of interest to tree-lovers, the Bjarne K Dahl Trust and the Royal Society of Victoria are presenting a one-day symposium in Mebourne on 18 March 2016 highlighting eucalypt diversity and conservation. For further details, see their website – CLICK HERE)
Posted on 24 September, 2015 by Connecting Country
Via Geoff Park, Ken Hartup has made us aware of a wonderful exhibition of nature photographs by leading amateur photographer and long-time resident of Newstead, Alan Jesse Hartup (1915 –2004), which will be opened at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub on Saturday 10 October 2015 at 3pm. Viewings thereafter are by appointment through until the 24 October.
This exhibition is largely of bird life in Newstead and the surrounding districts, from Alan’s vast array of black and white photographs and colour slides. This selection of 20 works of black and white and prints from colour slides, span over 60 years of Alan’s impressive output. Beginning with his beloved 35m Voigtlander camera, he progressed to the brilliant level of work he achieved with his Mamiya and Rollieflex 2¼ square cameras and his great ability with dark room techniques.
Alan has been represented widely in amateur circles and has been a central figure in promoting, selecting and judging photography in Victoria and interstate. In preparing for this exhibition we have been reminded what a wonderful legacy Alan has left with images of the beauty and richness of our surroundings. He was a man at one with the natural world and one who took a vital interest in our environment and how to care for it. The exhibition was prompted by local field naturalists Geoff Park and Mrs. Joan Butler.
The attached flyer has further details (CLICK HERE).
Posted on 16 March, 2009 by Connecting Country
The Norman Wettenhall Foundation is giving away prizes to groups (to the value of $300) and to individuals (to the value of $150) who enter information about where they have seen Brush-tailed Phascogales (Tuans) in the Mount Alexander region. Click here to view the interactive mapping tool provided by Spatial Vision. Enter your Phascogale (Tuan) sighting and you are automatically in the draw. Competition closes 26th March. The prizes will be drawn at the Connecting Country Reference Group meeting 26th March.