Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Issue 69: Victorian Landcare and Catchment Management Magazine now available

Posted on 15 June, 2017 by Connecting Country

Issue 69 of the Victorian Landcare and Catchment Management magazine, which is a special feature on climate change, is now available online.

Among the stories in this issue:

  • Climate change – an opportunity to rethink, restore and reboot
  • Helping the grains industry deal with climate volatility
  • Victoria’s freshwater blue carbon stores
  • Five crowdfunding tips from the southern Otways
  • Introducing Landcare Victoria Incorporated

To read or download the current issue of the magazine visit .

All the other back issues (i.e. from issues 1-68) of the Victorian Landcare and Catchment Management magazine are now on the Victorian Landcare Gateway

Those who receive the magazine in hard copy will receive it in your letter boxes over the next week or so. Happy reading!


June 2017 – North Central Chat

Posted on 8 June, 2017 by Connecting Country

There’s lots happening in the region, even in the winter months. Click here to view the June 2017 edition of the North Central Chat and find out more about who is doing what in our region.


Help Little Heroes Plant New Habitat

Posted on 29 May, 2017 by Connecting Country

Little Habitat Hero, Sophie Haythorne, looks forward to planting on the 17th of June 2017.

A new story is being woven into the site of the Old Silkworm Farm on Leanganook, within the Mount Alexander Regional Park, this month, as a group of families and Landcare groups join together for the Little Habitat Heroes planting day on Saturday the 17th of June 2017, 9am-1pm. Open to all to participate, this ongoing initiative envisions 10 hectares of habitat regenerated on this historic site over the next few years.

Initiated by a group of new mothers in Castlemaine in 2016, Little Habitat Heroes, was a successful fund-raising campaign aimed at restoring native bush in honour of the region’s newest residents. Over $3,000 was raised by families and individuals, who were keen to see a beloved child in their life have the opportunity for a personal connection with nature.

This was matched with equivalent support from VicRoads to allow over 900 seedlings to be propagated ready for a wet winter start. Committed volunteers from Barkers Creek and Harcourt Landcare Groups, Connecting Country, and Little Habitat Heroes families and friends are providing their time generously to see the project succeed, with support from Parks Victoria.

“It’s amazing what a small group of committed people can achieve”, says Connecting Country Director Krista Patterson-Majoor. “From the start, when we were approached by the mothers’ group, we could see how closely aligned the project idea was with our organisation’s core objectives. We have been delighted to support the initiative, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the planting day, it will be a lot of fun.”

For many, especially the nearly-two year olds, the planting day will be their first-ever tree planting experience, and an opportunity to see a habitat emerge that will support charismatic fauna such as sugar gliders and woodland birds. The location is exciting to local ecologists too, as it is uniquely suited to trial the return of indigenous species such as the Silver Banksia which once occurred on Mt Alexander and large areas through central Victoria before the gold rush.

“Just by living their lives, our children will no doubt contribute to environmental loss, so this is a chance for us to give something back,” says Little Habitat Heroes mother Meg Barnes, “The planting day will also offer a way to meet like-minded people and spend time at a gorgeous site.”

Little Habitat Heroes Planting Day Details: 9am-1pm, Saturday 17 June, meet at Leanganook Picnic Ground in the Mount Alexander Regional Park. Everyone and all ages welcome. Morning tea provided, BYO picnic lunch which we’ll eat together. More information visit To join the planting day or learn more, RSVP to


Wednesday 31st May 2017 Fungi of Forests and Farms with Alison Pouliot

Posted on 29 May, 2017 by Connecting Country

International Fungi and photographic expert, Alison Pouliot, will be giving a presentation at the Ravenswood Valley Landcare Group’s next meeting on Wednesday 31st May 2017 at 7.30 pm at the North Harcourt Hall (corner of Chaplins Rd and McIvor Rd). Alison will talk on the role of Fungi supporting Eucalypts, including paddock and forest trees.  Every Eucalypt, and most other trees, form beneficial relationships with fungi.  Fungi also make farm soils more resistant to drought and disease.  Alison will also bring a display of local fungi.

Visitors are welcome – please email Secretary of the Ravenswood Valley Landcare Group, Tricia Balmer, on if you would like to attend.  Supper will be served after the meeting.


Exploring the possibilities of gully restoration

Posted on 26 May, 2017 by Connecting Country

Cassia and Deirdre ask participants do think about what they would do in the gully.

On Friday the 19th of May 2017, Barb Guerin, Cassia Read and Deirdre Slattery from the Victoria Gully Group led a fascinating workshop about seeing possibilities and setting priorities for the ecological restoration of the gully. This session was designed to help people to make decisions about land use and habitat creation in low-lying areas and had an emphasis on restoration in public land.

On a day which was forecast heavy rain, sixteen hardy attendees heard firsthand about how volunteers in environmental groups can make difference to habitat values on public land. Fortunately no-one got wet and lots was learnt  – for a full write up and additional resources please click here.

This workshop concludes our 2017 Water in our Landscape workshop series. We would like to offer our warm thanks to all of our participants, presenters and hosts. Thanks also to Naomi Raftery for the vision and coordinating three incredibly interesting sessions. This education program was made possible with funding received from the Australian Government.


Pre-1852 original indigenous trees in Maldon

Posted on 23 May, 2017 by Asha

Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora), estimated age 530 years, Bill Woodfull Reserve, Maldon (photo Frances Cincotta)

Bev Phillips has kindly provided this article about the amazing work Maldon Urban Landcare (aka MULGA) have been doing to protect the trees that have been around Maldon since before the gold rush. Anyone familiar with this landscape knows how precious our large old trees are, so thank you MULGA for helping look after them!

“The primary objectives of this project conducted by MULGA in 2017 were to obtain detailed records for original indigenous trees that were growing before 1852 (pre-European settlement) in Maldon, and to achieve long-term protection for these trees under the Mt. Alexander Shire Council Planning Scheme, or an appropriate alternative scheme.  The large, old indigenous eucalypt trees still surviving in the township of Maldon are of significant environmental and historical significance, and are rare examples of pre-European settlement vegetation in an urban setting. The recorded trees are estimated to be aged between 175 and 645 years old.

Initial work for this project was carried out by the late Wendy French in 2009-2010.  In early 2017 MULGA members, assisted by Frances Cincotta from Newstead Natives, conducted a detailed survey of trees with a circumference of at least 1815mm, measured at a height of 1.3m.  Sites surveyed were the Maldon Primary School, Maldon Hospital, Bill Woodfull Reserve, the Maldon Police Lockup land and St. Brigid’s Catholic Church.  In addition two trees on a private property and four roadside trees were surveyed.

Of the 61 pre-1852 original eucalypt trees recorded on public and private land in Maldon, 64% are Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box); there are 8 Eucalyptus goniocalyx (Long-leaved Box), 8 Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. vestita (Red Box) and 3 Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box).  49 trees are estimated to be 200-399 years old and there are 3 trees estimated to be aged 400-499 years and one tree 530 years. This means that 80% of the trees are estimated to have started growing between the years of 1618 and 1817.

In addition, MULGA members surveyed 36 pre-1852 eucalypt trees on parts of the Maldon Historic Reserve – the lower slopes of Anzac Hill, Pond Drive, and part of The Butts at the base of Mt. Tarrengower.  The species recorded are Grey Box (50%), Yellow Box (28%), Red Box (17%) and one tree each of Long-leaved Box and Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum).

CLICK HERE for more information and links to two maps which show the location of all of the pre-1852 eucalypts recorded.  There is also a brochure, Living Treasures, available in the Maldon Visitors Information Centre, which includes information and a map for some of the pre-1852 trees.”


NCCMA Community Grants Open Now

Posted on 23 May, 2017 by Asha

Applications for the 2017-18 North Central Community Grants Program are now open. Three types of grants are available:

  •  Maintenance (up to $500/group or network) and start-up grants (up to $500/group or $1,000/network)
  • Project grants of up to $10,000 are available for individuals and Landcare or community based NRM groups, and
  • Landcare networks are eligible for grants of up to $15,000.

Online applications are to be submitted before 5pm Friday 23 June 2017 via Application forms, guidelines and the online survey link are available under the Landcare Grants tab at . The mandatory ‘Supporting Landcare in North Central Victoria survey’ that you need to fill out in order to apply has been extensively revised.

NCCMA will prioritise projects that improve the natural resource base of agricultural landscapes and encourage projects with a focus on improving soil health, innovative agricultural techniques and practices such as trialling pasture species under variable seasonal conditions, and activities that increase community awareness and engagement such as workshops to up-skilling volunteers and field days. To be successful, groups need to read the guidelines, map their proposed project activities and know their projects really well. Clarity of purpose is vital, as is a clear direction and focus, of both the project and the community.


May 2017 North Central Chat plus grant information

Posted on 11 May, 2017 by Connecting Country

Please click here for the May 2017 edition of the North Central Chat. This Month features a large Waterwatch feature and the details for the North Central CMA’s 2017-18 Community Grant round, which open  Monday May 15th, for six weeks, until June 23. There is a lot happening in regard to grant opportunities for Landcare groups, networks and individuals which is also included in the Chat, as well as some more recent ones below that couldn’t fit in, please see below. 

The Threatened Species Recovery Fund was launched last Friday 5 May. For the next six weeks individuals and groups can apply for funding between $20k and $250 for projects supporting threatened species. More info at:

Birdlife Australia ABEF Community Grants (5K)

M Middleton fund for endangered native vertebrates (up to 15K)


Sunday 7th May 2017 – Launch of new interpretive signs along Forest Creek

Posted on 4 May, 2017 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country would like to share that new signs are being installed at the Monster Meeting site, Chinamans Point and Expedition Pass Reservoir to tell the rich story of Forest Creek through the years.

Golden Point Landcare invites you to the launch of this Forest Creek Track Interpretive Signage on Sunday 7 May 2017 at 10.30 am at the junction of Forest and Wattle Creeks at the Monster Meeting site (near the corner Golden Point Road and the Pyrenees Highway).

Please join Golden Point Landcare for morning tea after the launch.

Please RSVP for catering:  0423 900 590  or  0407 977 731


Sunday 30 April 2017 – Launch of the Cactus Control Season

Posted on 26 April, 2017 by Connecting Country

This year’s Cactus Killing season opens on Sunday 30th April 2017. Tarrangower Cactus Control Group and Parks Victoria are organizing this community field day which will kick off the day at 10.30 am in Watersons Road near the corner of Tarrengower School Road. Follow the signs from the Watersons Road turn off on the Bridgewater-Maldon Road.

There will be a special guest to open the season and the usual great sausage sizzle, cuppa and cake. For more information please contact Tony Kane, Treasurer of the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc. on  5475 2973 or visit


Landcare Gathering at The Meeting Place

Posted on 24 April, 2017 by Asha

Gathering at The Meeting Place

Smoke drifted through the last rays of sunlight as people gathered outside at The Meeting Place in Yapeen for a Cultural Awareness Evening on Monday the 3rd of April 2017. Aunty Julie McHale and Kathryn Coff from Nalderun guided the group through a series of learning activities. The figures of Bunjil and Waa made by the Meeting Place children hung over a room packed full of people.

After the smoking ceremony, we had a game of ‘Pacman’ where Aunty Julie tested our  Aboriginal history knowledge. For example, do you know what the question was on the 1967 Referendum?

We were then given a card with a picture and a snippet of an event in Aboriginal history, and we lined them up along the floor in order to make a timeline. A few people selected a card which stood out to them and shared them with the room, ranging from the Dreamtime to the present.

The last activity for the evening focused on the Kulin Nation seasons. We moved down the hall to the classroom and split into two teams. A competition was then underway to see which team could correctly match the most natural events with the correct season – surprisingly not an easy task!

A huge thank you to Aunty Julie and Kath for their hard work and kind sharing, and to Nalderun for inviting us out to the beautiful Meeting Place. It was both a fun and enlightening evening for those who attended.

This event was made possible through the Connecting Landscapes program with support from the Australian Government.


Muckleford Landcare have some great water events coming up!

Posted on 19 April, 2017 by Connecting Country

Muckleford Landcare are continuing the ‘water in our landscape’ theme with two great events covering improving habitat in dams and dealing with erosion. Pencil them into your diary now and check their  website for more details.

Dams to wetlands workshop
Practical half day session on things you can do to improve your dam
Sunday 23rd July 2017, 9.30-12
Morning tea provided

Landscape Restoration Workshop
Looking at simple restoration techniques for erosion and stabilizing banks.
Sunday 20th August 2017, 9.30-11

There are also still a few spots left in the Ecological Thinning on Bush Blocks on Connecting Country’s very popular Water in our Landscape workshops.


April 2017 edition North Central Chat plus Landcare Grants and Report Card

Posted on 19 April, 2017 by Connecting Country

CLICK HERE to view the April 2017 edition of the North Central Chat. This month’s edition features information, Landcare stories and upcoming events.

Landcare Australia’s Sustainable Agriculture Grants 2017 have recently opened. All the information can be found at:

To see our region’s Landcare report card 2015-16 from Tess Grieves, our Regional Landcare Coordinator, CLICK HERE.


Muckleford Forest gets mapped!

Posted on 10 April, 2017 by Connecting Country

In April 2015, after suggestions from Connecting Country, the Castlemaine Information Centre and the Newstead Landcare Group, Jase from Cartography Community Mapping started work on a map of the Muckleford Forest. He has recently completed this map – recognizing that a map is never really “complete”.

Broadly the map area is bounded in the north by the Castlemaine-Maldon Railway, in the south by the Pyrenees Highway, on the west by the Maldon-Newstead Rd and on the east by the east boundary of the public forest land There are some minor tracks yet to be delineated and features to be defined – these adjustments will happen over time. For further information, perusal and PDF files for printing are available when you click here.

Cartography Community Mapping (CCM) offers free mapping services to non-profit organizations such as Landcare groups.  The maps have proved useful for resource management and as support material for reports and grant applications. Other non-profit organizations may have use for maps in “how to get here brochures” or for training purposes. Maps can be provided by CCM in any of the standard graphical file formats (usually PDF) and georeferenced formats. Some of the other local maps that Jase has prepared are available via the CCM Examples page.


2017 Camp-Out – Camping and Connecting with Country

Posted on 6 April, 2017 by Connecting Country

The beautiful Leanganook Campground on Mount Alexander set the scene for the Camp Out on The Mount over the weekend of 1-2 April 2017. Hosted by Connecting Country with Harcourt Valley Landcare and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests, over eighty children and adults enjoyed a packed weekend of free environmental and cultural heritage education activities. Check out lots of fun photos at the end of this post!

To start the weekend, Trent Nelson of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation gave a Welcome to Country and Mount Alexander Shire Counsellor, Bronwen Machin, officially opened the Camp Out by cutting the pine tree ribbon.

A keen team of volunteer ‘Pine Assassins’ then headed down the road to Dog Rocks to treat feral pine trees. Experienced assassins mentored some new apprentices in drilling-and-filling and cutting-and-painting, and together they continued the work done at past Camp Outs controlling pines.

Back at the campground, families took part in engaging activities aimed at increasing understanding about the environment and Aboriginal culture. Parks Victoria ranger, Brendan Smith, ran through the importance of soils and showed how to propagate local indigenous plants, Aunty Julie McHale from Nalderun Aboriginal Services shared  Aboriginal kids games, and Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary held kids in awe with their wild animal display.

Ahead of lunch Aunty Julie told the creation story of Bunjil and answered questions about Aboriginal language, stories, and food sources. Everyone then focused on setting up their tents, having a rest in the sun, and soaking in the beautiful place. Later, George Milford from Harcourt Valley Landcare Group did a wonderful job of entertaining adults and children alike with stories about the history of the Mount, both geological and human.

Harcourt Lions Club provided a delicious BBQ dinner and Muckleford Landcarers Beth, Neville, Nioka, Maisy, and Theo prepared damper for all the kids to cook on the communal campfire. A big thank-you to Juliet Walsh and Jenny and Paul Leishman for donating the firewood.

Brendan’s walk along the Great Dividing Trail allowed us to see, hear and smell the bush at night while looking for animals with nocturnal habits. We spotted one or two Brush-tailed Possums and heard a few bats flying overhead.

It was a chilly night for those who camped out, but well worth it for the beautiful sunrise on Sunday morning. Early risers were treated to a bird and nature walk with Connecting Country’s Tanya Loos. They learnt how to be ‘bush detectives’ by sneaking quietly and looking closely, and how to tell your Grey Fantail from a White-eared Honeyeater.

Combining environmental education with on-ground action and an appreciation of the local forests is something the Camp Out has managed to do each year. A small army of volunteers made this event happen and for this great effort we thank everyone who gave up their time and energy to provide an active and informative experience at Leanganook.

Connecting Country is looking forward revisiting the mount on Saturday 17th June 2017 for the Little Habitat Heroes planting day. We hope to see more young families learn about and look after nature on Mount Alexander.

Camp-out on the Mount 2017 was made possible with support from the Australian Government, the Victorian Landcare Initiative, the Harcourt Lions Club, Harcourt Valley Landcare Group, and the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forest.



Water in our Landscape workshops – registrations now open!

Posted on 28 March, 2017 by Connecting Country

Water can have a powerful impact on our landscape. If we can slow flows and retain water for longer we can improve soil fertility, habitat quality and reduce erosion. How we might achieve this is the theme for Connecting Country’s 2017 ‘Water in our Landscape’ education program. Three workshops will explore habitat creation in dams, ecological thinning, and gully restoration.

The free Friday morning workshops are being held on public and private land in late April and early May. They are likely to be popular with rural landholders, bush block owners, and local Landcarers. Numbers are limited and booking is essential.

Turning your Dam into Habitat – 21st of April 2017
This workshop features local ecologist, Damien Cook, who will discuss the possibilities and practical steps of turning farm dams into habitat. Participants will learn how to reap the benefits of establishing more wetland plants and animals on their properties. For bookings please visit:

Ecological Thinning on Bush Blocks- 5th of May 2017
This workshop is designed for those interested in the benefits, challenges, and approaches to ecological thinning remnant vegetation. Participants will visit a four year old thinning trial in Muckleford and will hear from ecologist, Paul Foreman, and local contractor, David Griffiths, about this fascinating pilot project. For bookings please visit:

Creating Frog ponds and Habitat Corridors – 19th of May 2017
This workshop highlights the approach of the Victoria Gully Group in seeing possibilities and setting priorities for the ecological restoration of the gully. This session is designed to help people to make decisions about land use and habitat creation in low-lying areas. For bookings please visit:

CLICK HERE for more information about the workshops or CLICK HERE to download a copy of the poster.


Nalderun Cultural Awareness Evening

Posted on 20 March, 2017 by Asha

Uncle Rick Nelson, Aunty Julie McHale, and Kath Coff are inviting community members and Landcare groups to The Meeting Place on Monday the 3rd April 2017 to learn about local Aboriginal culture, history, and land management. Hosted by Connecting Country and Nalderun, this will be a unique evening for learning and understanding.

Nalderun is a local service that supports the Aboriginal Community, lead by Aboriginal people, through Castlemaine District Community Health. It is named after a Dja Dja Wurrung word meaning “Altogether”.

  • When: Monday April 3rd 2017 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Where: The Meeting Place (old Yapeen School site), Yapeen School Lane, Yapeen
  • Bring: a plate of supper to share, drinks will be provided

RSVP to if you would like to attend, or call (03) 5472 1594 and ask for Asha if you have any questions.

Looking out from Dja Dja Wurrung property Yapenya at Connecting Country’s Cultural Awareness Landcare Link-up in Feb 2017


Linking Landcare and Aboriginal Culture

Posted on 15 March, 2017 by Asha

When you look across the landscape, can you see where Myndie the Rainbow Serpent travelled? You can at Yapenya, aka Mount Barker, which is Dja Dja Wurrung owned and managed land near Harcourt. For our February 2017 Landcare Link-up, the Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation invited Landcare group representatives from the Mount Alexander Region Network to visit Yapenya and go on a cultural journey with Jida Gulpilil. “Love, share, and care” were his three key words for looking after the land we live on.

Jida began by welcoming us with a smoking ceremony, explaining that he does this every time he goes on country.

We followed the contour of the land throughout the day, exploring different sites of significance across the hills and the stories behind them. We stopped at shaded spots and lookouts where Jida shared stories of local Aboriginal culture and history with the group.  Jida explained the importance of leaving culturally significant sites undisturbed by walking around them rather than through. Looking out at an amazing view to the east, Jida pointed out where Myndie the Rainbow Serpent traveled towards Leanganook, leaving a trail behind. If you look at the photo below, you might be able to see the trail running up the middle of the hill.

After some questions, everyone headed back down to a beautiful lunch prepared by our local Murnong Mammas, who incorporated some bush tucker into the meal. The peach and Kakadu plum cake went down particularly well! Big thank yous to the Murnong Mammas, Jida, and the Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation.

This event was part of Connecting Country’s Landcare Adapting to Change 2017 project, funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority’s Community Grants Program.


Instructive short film about pine treatment

Posted on 8 March, 2017 by Connecting Country

Watch our video and register your interest in becoming a pine assassin later in the year at the Camp Out.

This instructive short film (3 minutes) was shot last year by our multi-talented staff, Alex and Mel, and takes the viewer through the effective treatment of weedy pine trees using the drill and fill method.

Pine trees (Pinus radiata) are not native to Australia, but have been widely planted in parks, gardens, as windbreaks on farms and in commercial plantations. However, they also have the tendency to go wild and spread into native bushland – with detrimental impacts on indigenous flora and fauna. This video demonstrates one approach to controlling those specimens that have gone feral.

Watching the video will be useful for those attending the  Camp Out on the Mount weekend on the 1-2nd April.  The Harcourt Valley Landcare Group will present at the Camp Out and, depending on interest, will be running pine assassin missions on the Mount later in the year.

The film can be found in our weed specific treatment resources page under ‘Pine’. Please watch the video and, while you’re at the Camp Out, register your interest in becoming a pine assassin later in the year!


2017 Camp Out on the Mount – Celebrate nature!

Posted on 27 February, 2017 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country is thrilled to be coordinating the fourth Camp Out on the Mount on the weekend of  1st –2nd  April 2017 at the Leanganook Camping Ground on Mount Alexander. In the past, this event has attracted a large crowd of volunteers to share in the joys of eradicating weed pine trees. This year the free event will have an exciting array of activities for the whole family.

On the morning of Saturday 1st April 2017 you are invited to set up your camp site ahead of a Welcome to Country by a local Dja Dja Wurrung elder. There will be children’s environmental and Aboriginal cultural educational activities and a live animal display for the kids, while a small group of ‘pine assassins’ do further weed pine tree control on the Mount.

In the afternoon, campers can listen to a talk about indigenous culture from local Aboriginal people and enjoy some time exploring the Mount. Ahead of dinner, George Milford from Harcourt Landcare will talk about the history of the Mount. Dinner is BYO or by gold coin donation for the Harcourt Lion’s Club BBQ.  Parks Victoria will lead a night walk ahead of zipping up tents and watching the stars twinkle as campers settle in for the night. On Sunday morning, Connecting Country’s Tanya Loos will take us on a family bird and nature walk.

“I’m really looking forward to kicking off the school holidays with loads of happy campers and having a fun and informative time together on beautiful Mount Alexander.” our local Landcare facilitator Asha Bannon said recently.

You are welcome to join in for part or all of the Camp Out. Participants need to bring their own camping gear and food (including snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner). Click here for more information including the program, a list of things to bring, and map.

Numbers are limited so booking is essential. Please click here to book!

For more information see our website or to be involved in the pine assasins mission contact Asha on 5472 1594 or by email:

Lots of happy campers at the 2014 Camp Out on the Mount. Photo Bronwyn Silver

Camp Out on the Mount is proudly supported by Connecting Country, Parks Victoria, Harcourt Valley Landcare Group and Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests. This project has been supported by Connecting Country through funding from the Australian Government.