Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Bells Swamp – A jewel of a wetland

Posted on 13 January, 2016 by Connecting Country

The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club have just moved into their 40th year.  Way back in 1976, their first ever excursion was to Bell’s Swamp – and they’ve made many visits to it since to view its beautiful old Red gums, to record its waterbirds and to study its wetland plants.

A photo of Bells Swamp by Rakali Ecological Consulting. From the front page of the new management plan.

A photo of Bells Swamp by Rakali Ecological Consulting. From the front page of the updated management plan.

This natural ephemeral waterbody just sneaks inside the north-western boundary of the Mount Alexander Shire.  It is intersected by the road between Maldon and Bridgewater – which was an issue in 2010-2011 when the extreme drought-busting rainfall filled the wetlands to over-flowing.  I’ll never forgot the sight of Pink-eared Ducks and Musk Ducks happily paddling back and forth across this road!

The wetland is also highly valued by local Landcare groups. The Mid Loddon Landcare Network – in conjunction with local ecologists Damian Cook and Elaine Bayes – produced a Draft  Management Plan for Bells Swamp in 2010 and have recently updated it to include the information that Damien has continued to collect since the flood in 2011. The plan is a comprehensive guide to its geology and its current vegetation, flora and fauna values.  The plan also identifies the threats to these values and proposes management actions to address them.  Judy Crocker, Landcare Facilitator for the Mid Loddon Landcare Network, says “Bells Swamp is a very important place for the local community, and as such the Landcare Network was keen to develop this management plan.  It’s still in draft form because we consider the plan to be a work-in-progress, and we’ll add in more information as we learn more about the site.  We’d love to receive feedback on this document from the local community, and to receive support to implement the management actions.”.

To read a copy of the draft management plan, follow this link (CLICK HERE).

Chris, Connecting Country.


Drought, Fire and a Riparian Action Plan

Posted on 13 January, 2016 by Connecting Country

In the past week or so, we’ve been made aware of the following three items – which will be of interest to many of you.

Help Shape Drought Support
The Victorian government’s DEDJTR Drought Response Team has set-up on-line forum to help shape drought support. As part of the drought package announced in November, the online forum is providing an opportunity to comment on what other support can be provided to make a difference for those affected by drought.  The forum is live and will remain open until 31 January 2016. They are encouraging people to have a look and also to share with anyone affected by drought.  You can find the forum at:

Fire Recovery Resources
After the fires in Victoria in early 2014, a web page was set up on the Victorian Landcare Gateway for landholders. The intent is for the page to act as a library of fire recovery information, which can be added to as more resources become available. It includes a range of practical information on land management issues that land holders may confront after fire. Well worth a look!

Regional Riparian Action Plan
In December 2015, a five-year Regional Riparian Action Plan was launched by the Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change, and Water. You can find a summary by following this link ( or download a copy here (CLICK HERE).   The plan involves on ground works to improve the health of land that runs along river banks and wetlands. This includes fencing to manage stock, revegetation programs, weed management and construction of off-stream watering systems.


Missed the 2015 Landcare Forum? See It Here

Posted on 24 November, 2015 by Connecting Country

combinedThe Mount Alexander Landcare Forum took place back in June this year, but it’s not too late to benefit from hearing what the presenters had to say (and sing) on the day.

Local videographer Jim Coad (Starfish Video) filmed each presenter at the forum and these have now been made available online via ‘Vimeo’. There are four videos from the Forum, covering the topics:

Each video goes for 30 – 40 minutes so you might not want to sit and watch them through. I would suggest turning up the volume and having a listen while you do the ironing  – or something like that!

Click on the titles of the videos in the text above to view them on Vimeo.

A big thank you to Jim for his filming and editing, and to the North Central CMA for making the Forum possible.









Geology of a Special Place – 14 November 2015

Posted on 7 November, 2015 by Connecting Country

Did you know that one side of the Muckleford Valley is older than the other side? And that the reason is a geological fault line running right through it? Have you ever seen the MucklIMGP1688eford Gorge, where the creek carves a ravine between the a basalt plateau and an upturned Ordovician seabed?

Muckleford is a place of special geological interest and the Muckleford Catchment Landcare group would like to take you on a guided tour with expert geologist Brian Cuffley to explore its unique land forms. Brian will use his special expertise to impart a deeper understanding of the place where we live.

Brian has worked as a mineral exploration geologist in various parts of Australia and overseas. He has also worked for the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and the Soil Conservation Authority. He studied Environmental Management at LaTrobe University where the subject of his thesis was dryland salinity.

The tour will travel the valley, starting at Mount Gaspard in the north, taking in Chinaman’s Creek valley and conclude at Muckleford Gorge in the south.  Participants will be provided with explanatory maps to take home.

A couple of short walks are involved so it is advisable to wear solid shoes/boots, maybe sock protectors and of course bring a hat and water.

When: Saturday, November 14, 2015
1.30pm – 4 pm.
Muckleford Community Centre, Muckleford-Walmer Road (south of the Castlemaine-Maldon Road).
Paul Hampton on 0408 566 909 or go to

Places are very limited so please let Paul know if you are attending. Click here to download a flyer.

The Muckleford Catchment Landcare will be conducting its AGM prior to the bus tour at 11.30am, followed by lunch. All interested community members are welcome to attend.




Know your weeds and what to do with them!

Posted on 2 November, 2015 by Connecting Country

David Cameron stresses that proper identification of weeds is essential

David Cameron stresses that proper identification of weeds is essential

Did you know that there are at least 3 distinct species of Blackberry found in our area? Each of these have a different physiology and hence may require a different type of control. The importance of proper identification of weeds when deciding on appropriate management actions was stressed by DELWP Senior Botanist, David Cameron, at our “Back from the Brink” weeds workshop on Sunday 25 October 2015.

Alongside David, local contractor Matt McEachran, and Landcarers Frances Cincotta and Maurie Dynon shared their considerable wisdom and practical experience to help participants learn to identify weeds and the most appropriate techniques to managing them, from herbicide use to re-vegetation with native plants.

To find out more about the workshop session or to access some of the useful resources that were provided, please click here.

This workshop concludes our 2015 education program. If you missed out, summaries and resources from all sessions are provided in our education pages. Planning for the 2016 program is now underway – feel free to contact Krista on 5472 1594 or to offer your suggestions or to find out more.

The 2015 workshop program was supported by Connecting Country through funding from the Australian and Victorian governments.


October 2015 edition of North Central Chat

Posted on 30 October, 2015 by Connecting Country

The latest issue of the NCCMA’s newsletter, the North Central Chat, is now available for download (click here).

It contains stories of events that have taken place across the North Central region during October including the official launch of the North Waterwatch Program’s – River Detectives Website, the National Landcare Programmes – Sub Soil Manuring Field Day at Kamarooka and the Yates Junior Landcare Awards; plus a story about European Wasp control.  It also outlines some events coming up in November: The Cohuna Catch-a-Carp Day, the Agreed Level Taxonomy Waterbug Workshops, the annual Chicks in the Sticks event and a Rabbit Control Field Day hosted by the Metcalfe Landcare Group.


Needle Grass & the Damage Done

Posted on 12 October, 2015 by Connecting Country

Chilean Needle Grass, Texas Needle Grass and their close relative Serrated Tussock will be the focus of an information session at the Barfold Hall on Saturday 17th October 2015.

Needle Grass

This photo from New Zealand shows how serious some farmers are about keeping Needle Grass out of their property. From

The session’s focus on identification and control methods will be extremely helpful for landholders wishing to protect their property from invasion by these plants, and for those who already have a problem and would like to know what their control options are.

The session will be presented by Martin Deering, biosecurity officer for Loddon Mallee Region.

Texas Needle Grass is fairly widespread in the upper Campaspe River catchment, between Kyneton and Lake Eppalock. In some places whole paddocks have been made unusable for grazing by an invasion of this perennial tussock-forming grass.

Chilean Needle Grass and Serrated Tussock are not well-established in the region but have the potential to be a serious threat to agriculture and the environment across the Mount Alexander Shire.

One of the big challenges for land managers concerned about Needle Grass is identifying the plant. Needle Grasses can look almost identical to native Spear Grasses, and as with many grasses, they are difficult to identify when not in flower.

Spring is the best time to take a look at what’s growing on your property or roadside to find out whether that mystery plant is a friend or foe.

The session will take place on Saturday 17th October, from 10.30 am at Barfold Hall, 1909 Kyneton-Redesdale Rd, Barfold. All are welcome and there is no need to RSVP.

This event is part of the Campaspe Valley Landcare Group’s ‘Stopping Stipoids in The Upper Campaspe’ project, funded by a Victorian Landcare Grant from the North Central Catchment Management Authority.




Camp on The Mount – Landcare Style!

Posted on 6 October, 2015 by Connecting Country


Click image to download flyer.

Camping experiences come in many styles…

There’s summer holiday camping, normally with about 200 other people and ice-cream shop nearby; hiking camping, in a tiny tent made of material developed by NASA; camping at a music festival, which isn’t really camping at all except that you sleep in a tent to avoid getting stepped on; camping in your relatives backyard at Christmas, because there aren’t enough bedrooms in the house; and ‘glamping’, where someone else pitches your tent, cooks your food and puts some champagne on ice while you’re doing a guided tour.

But none of them are quite like the experience of camping on Mount Alexander at the end of an afternoon spent attacking invasive pine trees with your friends and family!

Camping is strictly optional for those who would like to come to the Landcare Camp Out on The Mount on Saturday 17th October 2015, but for those that do stay over it’s a great way to end the day and take a break from life at the bottom of the hill.

Last year’s Camp Out was a huge success with over 150 people attending the big working bee to remove invasive pine trees from Mount Alexander. One of the great things about the day was how many families came along – and the kids didn’t hold back.

This year’s Camp Out will include the regular activities of a big ‘pine purge’ working bee, BBQ dinner, wildlife spotlighting walk with a Parks Victoria Ranger and Campfire Dessert.

Everyone is welcome to attend this years Camp Out. If you’d like to be part of it, register your attendance with local Landcare facilitator Max Schlachter on 5472 1594 or

And camping really is optional if you’d prefer to head home on Saturday evening!

The Camp Out is a project of Harcourt Valley Landcare Group and is supported by Parks Victoria and Connecting Country. It is organised by a group of volunteers from Harcourt and surrounding areas.



16 Sept 2015 – Rabbit-buster Roadshow

Posted on 11 September, 2015 by Connecting Country

The Rabbit-buster Roadshow is moving across north-central Victoria, with the nearest event to the Mount Alexander Shire occurring on the evening of Wednesday 16 Sept at the Belvoir Park Golf Club in Ravenswood.  This event is being hosted by North Central CMA, who are pleased to bring Dr Tarnya Cox (Invasive Animals CRC) back to the region to present at this information session.

Information sessions will cover:
– Invasive Animals CRC Boost project (pathogenic calicivirus)
– Integrated rabbit management
– Landholder participation in the Boost project
– Case studies from local Landcare groups
– Where to next — the future release of a new strain of RHDV
– Rabbit Buster Month campaign.

For further information, see the attached flyer (CLICK HERE).

To RSVP to the North Central CMA (for catering purposes) – either call (03) 5448-7124  or email


Have your say: Landcare in Victoria

Posted on 4 September, 2015 by Connecting Country

You may have already heard about the review of the Victorian Landcare Program happening currently, as announced by the Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville. Community input into the review is encouraged via an online survey available at

The Victorian Landcare Program includes:

  • Victorian Landcare Grants delivered by each CMA,
  • Regional Landcare Coordinators based in each CMA and state-wide support team,
  • Aboriginal Landcare Facilitator,
  • Victorian Landcare Gateway website,
  • Victorian Landcare & Catchment Management Magazine,
  • Victorian Landcare Awards
  • Victorian Landcare Facilitators (68 facilitator positions – one of which Connecting Country has hosted for the Mount Alexander Region since early 2012 (Max Schlachter’s role))

The input provided during the consultation will be used to inform recommendations for the Victorian Government’s support for Landcare into the future. This is your opportunity to contribute, and any decisions made will only be as good as the information we provide! So don’t forget to write comments if you think the survey doesn’t ask all the questions you want to answer!

  • If you value Landcare …
  • If you believe Landcare contributes to your community and your local landscape …
  • If there are aspects of the Landcare program you want to keep …
  • Or if you think there should be changes …
  • If you are or have been involved in Landcare …
  • If you have an opinion about the future of Landcare  …
    Have your say!


30 Aug 2015 – Wheel Cactus Injecting Day

Posted on 25 August, 2015 by Connecting Country

Tony Kane from the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group has let us know that they are holding their monthly working bee on Sunday 30th August at a property on the extension of Tarrengower School Road off Watersons Road.  Follow the signs from the corner of the Maldon-Bridgewater Road and Watersons Road, on the north-western side of Maldon.   CLICK HERE for more information from their flyer.

It starts at 10.30 am, and finishes with a BBQ and drinks at lunchtime.  Everyone is welcome to join in the control of this noxious pest.  Instructions and equipment provided on the day.


Celebrating a 10th Anniversary in the grasslands of northern Victoria

Posted on 17 August, 2015 by Connecting Country

The good people of the Northern Plains Conservation Management Network are celebrating their 10th anniversary.  With guest speakers, a visit to a specially protected Grassy Ecosystem on private property and a catered morning tea and lunch, they’ve invited us all to join the milestone festivities.

The Northern Plains CMN is located in the central part of the north of Victoria.  It was established in 2005 with the aim to bring together all those involved with and interested in the management and conservation of grasslands and grassy woodlands in the north central area.

Their special event is being held on Friday 4th September 2015, from 10.30am to 3.30pm, in Terrick Terrick East.  Further information is available in this flyer (click here).

To attend the event, an RSVP to the North Central CMA is essential (by 5 pm Tuesday 1 September on 03 5448 7124 or email




The ‘Landcare Trailer’ is back in business

Posted on 9 April, 2015 by Connecting Country

The Landcare trailer has been in a ‘transition phase’ since October last year when the Mount Alexander Shire Council decided that they could no longer house it and Connecting Country said that they would take it on.Landcare Trailer-e

And now, like a strangely patterned reptile emerging from hibernation, the trailer is ready to go out into the world again.

It has had a going over by a mechanic; it’s been hosed out; it’s got a shiny new number plate and a new adapter. The only thing still missing is a coat of paint!

The Landcare trailer can be used by Landcare and Friends groups in the Mount Alexander region who would like to use it on a group project. It can also be used by landholders who are undertaking a project that is supported by Connecting Country.  In the past the trailer has found most use at planting days where its 400 litre water tank, buckets, mattocks, mallets and other tools come in very handy.

The full list of equipment that the trailer contains can be found on the ‘Landcare Trailer’ page of the Connecting Country website.  While you’re there take a look at the other resources that are available for loan to groups such as wildlife cameras, binoculars and bird guides, GPS units, market stall tent and more.

If your group would like to borrow the trailer contact Max at or 5472 1594.  Its new home is the Connecting Country depot on Campbell Street, Castlemaine – only a block or two from it’s previous address.



28 March 2015 – Mysterious, Mosquito-munching Micro-bats!

Posted on 16 March, 2015 by Connecting Country

Newstead Landcare’s first presentation for the year will be on Saturday 28th March at 3pm by Dr Lindy Lumsden, a wildlife ecologist at Arthur Rylah Institute.  The talk will be at the Newstead Community Centre and everyone is welcome to attend (gold coin donation appreciated to help cover our costs). Connecting Country is supporting this educational event.

Little Forest Bat

Little Forest Bat

Lindy has been conducting ecological research on bats for over 30 years. Although based in Victoria, her research has also taken her to remote areas of Australia, such as Christmas Island, and to many countries overseas such as Central and South America, Krakatau, Taiwan, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and Swaziland.

Lindy Lumsden with Micro-bat

Lindy Lumsden with Micro-bat

Bats play an important role in controlling insect numbers, including a range of pest species, by eating up to half their body weight in insects in a night. However, due to their small size, nocturnal behaviour and cryptic roosting habits, these valuable animals are rarely seen and are often portrayed negatively in the media.

Lindy is passionate about trying to reverse these negative perceptions and conducts a wide range of extension activities to educate and enthuse people about the bats. In her talks she describes fascinating and little known aspects of the natural history of these nocturnal creatures. As most people do not have the opportunity to see bats close up, she brings along a live bat to show at the end of her talk.

After the talk Lindy will take a group of 35 lucky people to Green Gully to demonstrate how she goes about discovering what bats are in an area. She will be setting up bat traps and using a bat detector and then we will have a picnic meal (bring your own picnic) while waiting for dusk when the bats start getting active. It’s free for Newstead Landcare members, otherwise $15 a head, children free. There are still a few places left so if you are interested contact Frances Cincotta phone 5476 2691 or  email <>


Back from the Brink

Posted on 14 October, 2014 by Connecting Country

Landcare works on weeds and riparian zonesWhich weed is your main bane?

Participants at our sixth workshop session on October 5th 2014 reeled off a lengthy list. The most despaired over were spiny rush, gorse, blackberry, bridal veil creeper, bent grass, crack and basket willows, quaking grass, wheel cactus, capeweed, and all manner of thistles. The list may have lengthened as the day progressed, but at the end of the session we certainly had a greater understanding of their ecology, control and management, if not an overall view of the place of weeds in the restoration story.

Whilst the noisy hot rods and ‘chopped’ vehicles did laps of the nearby Newstead racecourse, our group visited three local sites to look at “before” and “after” weed control sites and heard some of the challenges of working with riparian zones and creek-lines. These sites are usually the most compromised sites, but also the most potential value for biodiversity.  Farmer Adrian Sartori and Landcare stalwart Maurie Dynon (Guildford-Upper Loddon Landcare), Pat Radi-Mansbridge (Bushco Land Management), Patrick Kavanagh (Newstead Landcare) and Botanist David Cameron (Arthur Rylah Institute, DEPI) shared their experiences and practical knowledge of weed ecology and management with us.

_DSC0020_0927Thanks to all our presenters, the Sartori family for hosting us at the Strangways site and to Newstead Landcare Group’s Patrick Kavanagh for introducing us to two significant Newstead sites. Also thanks to the Newstead Mens’ Shed who manned the Rotunda park BBQ for us.

To find out more about the session, including a view of the day from participant Deb Wardle, go to the corresponding page in the Education Program, where you will also find resources and images from the day. For more information, contact or 5472 1594.

This was the last session of the 2014 series. Thanks to all who contributed, either in planning, participating, presenting, assisting and hosting. We will be running the program, in a similar format, again next year.


28 Sept 2014 – Landcare Golf Day

Posted on 4 September, 2014 by Connecting Country

golf-day-flyerMembers of all Landcare and Friends groups across the Shire are invited to a Landcare Golf Day on 28 September to celebrate Landcare.  The day has been organised by Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group, and is being held at the Castlemaine Golf Club in Muckleford.

The 9 hole game will be followed by a light lunch and drinks in the clubhouse. There will also be activities for children, talks from bird experts during the game and weeding activities along Bassett Creek after lunch.

You can find further details by clicking on the flyer to the left.  Bookings are essential.


Talking Landcare in the Midland Express

Posted on 3 September, 2014 by Connecting Country

Have you read the Midland Express this week?

Mount Alexander Region Landcare groups got a big boost this week with the publication of a full 2-page spread in the Midland Express newspaper called ‘Talking Landcare’ (see pages 32 and 33 in the 2 Sept 2014 edition).

express landcare article-50

The Midland Express – always a good read.

The articles demonstrate the vibrancy of the local Landcare movement, and will hopefully generate some more interest and new members.  Thank you to all of the groups that contributed ideas and content at the July 2014 Landcare Link-up event.

And a big thank you to Newstead Natives, Regional Vic Farm Services, Rewells Mower Service, Maine Environmental Services, Pyrenees Quarries and SureGro for their advertising support which made the Landcare feature possible.

Make sure you get your hands on a copy of Express this week to check it out!


Shire’s Community Grants Scheme Open Now

Posted on 13 September, 2013 by Connecting Country

The Mount Alexander Shire Council recently announced the opening of its 2013 Community Grants Scheme. The round closes on Friday 11 October 2013.

Grants of $500 to $3,000 are available in the category of Sustainability and Natural Environment.

The stated aim of the Sustainability and Natural Environment community grant component is to assist the community to implement the Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Environment Strategy 2010-2014  (available HERE) – so it is well worth taking a look at this document before you apply.

These grants are particularly well suited to Landcare and Friends groups working in the Mount Alexander Shire, whose projects normally align directly with the ‘Land & Biodiversity’ objectives of the Shire’s Environment Strategy (Pages 12 & 22).

Application forms and guidelines for the grants can be found at the Shire’s website – Click Here. Public information sessions about the grants will be held in Castlemaine and Maldon on the 11th and 12th September – see the Council’s website for times and locations.

For more information contact Glenn Menner, Manager Community Development on 5471 1818

The Tip Buffer Zone area in Campbells Creek benefited from the last Community Grant round.
The Tip Buffer Zone area in Campbells Creek benefited from the last Community Grant round.


Rural Property Theft Awareness and Prevention Signage

Posted on 6 February, 2013 by Connecting Country

Nuggetty Land Protection Group will launch their Rural Property Theft Awareness and Prevention signage at a community morning tea in the Maldon Community Centre, 3 Francis Street, Maldon on Saturday 23rd February commencing at 9am.  The launch will see the unveiling of signs developed in response to issues raised at a Livestock & farm theft meeting held by the group in Maldon in July 2012 and attended by community members from across the local area and surrounds. Continue Reading »


Community Landcare Grants Now Open

Posted on 4 February, 2013 by Connecting Country

Community Landcare Grants ranging between $5,000 and $50,000 are available to support local sustainable agriculture and community engagement projects, as part of the Australian Government’s $2.2 billion Caring for our Country initiative.

Community Landcare Grants aim to help:

  • build a skilled and capable Landcare community
  • encourage community participation and engagement in Landcare
  •  share information and learning’s in sustainable agricultural techniques
  • reduce the spread of pest species
  • encourage the adoption of improved sustainable land management practices

Organisations involved with Landcare, professional farming systems or Indigenous groups are encouraged to apply.

Applications close at 5pm (AEDT) on 20 March 2013.  More information including application forms can be found here.