Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

AGM in the bush – Golden Point Landcare

Posted on 2 August, 2018 by Asha

This is how you do an AGM! Join Golden Point Landcare for their hands-on outdoor AGM, and be treated to a gift  to take home as well (a free indigenous plant). Everyone is welcome to come for all or part of their AGM this Sunday 5th August, with cutting and painting of gorse at 10am, morning tea in the bush at 11am, and “pick a present” at 11:30am.

Park at the Chapel/Welsh Street corner in Golden Point. BYO secateurs and gloves. Dabbers and herbicide will be provided.

Contact Jennifer on 0423 900 590 to RSVP for catering or for more info. CLICK HERE to download the flier.


Vote for our local Landcarers in the National Landcare Awards

Posted on 2 August, 2018 by Asha

How amazing is this?! We have two local finalists for the National Landcare Awards.

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group is the Victorian finalist in the National Landcare Community Group Award and Ian Higgins is the Victorian finalist for the Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award.

Please CLICK HERE to go to the link and vote for our locals in the awards to give them the recognition we know they deserve! Voting closes October 10th 2018. 

The award will be presented at the National Landcare conference in Brisbane in early October.

Ian Higgins explains EVCs, April 2014

Some of the Cactus Control Group accepting their Victorian Landcare award in 2017.


Free disposal of Wheel Cactus at Maldon Transfer Station

Posted on 21 June, 2018 by Asha

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (aka Cactus Warriors) has asked us to distribute the following message: 

Thanks to ongoing funding from Mount Alexander Shire Council, Wheel Cactus plants can be disposed of FREE at the Maldon Transfer Station. This is a fantastic incentive to dig up Wheel Cactus plants while they’re still small and before they’ve started producing fruit, and more seeds. It also means less herbicide chemicals have to be paid for and used.

Dig up small Wheel Cactus plants and dispose of them FREE at the Maldon Tip

Another reminder, if you have any injector guns that are clogged up, no longer working and sitting idle in the shed, please return them to us for repair. Our ‘injector fairies’ love fiddling with the bits and are happy to swap them for a working model. You can bring the old injectors to our next field day or call or text ‘fairy Jan’ on 0400 973 528.

Our next Community Field Day is on Sunday 24 June, starting at 10:30 am. Come and join us for a morning in the fresh air and learn how best to destroy Wheel Cactus. The location this month is in Lakey’s Road, Shelbourne, along the old railway line, about 12 km north of Maldon. To get there, follow Bridgewater Road out of Maldon, turn right at the prison and follow Maldon-Shelbourne Rd. until the end of the sealed road, then turn left into Lakey’s Rd. The route will be well signposted. The morning’s activities end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat. The event is family friendly but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries please contact us via our website at


Camp Out on the Mount 2018 (minus the camp out)

Posted on 30 May, 2018 by Asha

Success! After one and a half Camp Outs cancelled due to severe weather warnings, we were at last able to run most of the activities we had planned on Saturday 12 May.

It was a chilly  day, but a warm fire provided by Parks Victoria created a cozy space to gather. Early birds Duncan and Frances were up on the mount before anyone else making sure the kettle was going and we had hot drinks available all day long.

We kicked off the day with a nature walk with Connecting Country’s Bonnie Humphreys. Before even leaving the campground, we were lucky to see both Scarlet and Flame Robins enjoying the sun that peeked through the clouds. We came back in time to listen to George Milford’s famous talk on the history of Mount Alexander.

MP Maree Edwards then launched the new Camp Out on the Mount 2018 t-shirt with Nick and Murray from Castlemaine Secondary College, who designed the t-shirts with fellow students Nioka and Des. There are a limited number of free Camp Out on the Mount 2018 t-shirts left in sizes XS, L, and XL. If you would like one, please email or drop into our office.

Next up was something a little different from the Little Habitat Heroes and the Macapellas. After treating us to their rendition of Eva Popov’s ‘Seeds that grow’ (song written about the Little Habitat Heroes revegetation project on Leanganook) they invited everyone to join in singing around the campfire.

Our afternoon activities were a wildlife display by TZR Reptiles and Wildlife, and a Leanganook Scavenger Hunt run by Nioka, Nick, and Murray. The wildlife display went down a treat, with the Carpet Python and Barn Owl being special favourites (as you can see from the smiles in the photos below!) The scavenger hunt was challenging and fun, with bonus points for those who came up with a name for their Landcare Superhero Team!

As a perfect finish to the day, the Mellick-Cooper family set up a damper making station and got everyone cooking damper over the coals, which were now glowing and ideal for this purpose.

So many people helped make this event possible, we almost need a whole other blog post dedicated to thank yous! We have many community groups and individuals to thank for making the 2018 Camp Out happen, both on the day and behind the scenes, including the Camp Out Advisory Group, Harcourt Valley Landcare, Little Habitat Heroes, MP Maree Edwards, the Mellick-Cooper family, Parks Victoria, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests, Nalderun Upper Loddon Group, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Castlemaine Secondary College students (Nioka, Nick, Murray, and Des), Harcourt Lions Club, Tarrangower Cactus Control Group, TZR Reptiles and Wildlife, the Connecting Country team, and all those who stepped up to help out on the day.

Scroll through to enjoy a gallery of photos from the day.

This year’s Camp Out on the Mount is supported by funding through the Victorian Landcare Program. Our nature walk was supported by DELWP’s Biodiversity On Ground Action (BOGA) program.


Wheel Cactus 2018 Season Launch

Posted on 21 May, 2018 by Asha

The 2018 season of Tarrangower Cactus Control Group field days will be launched along Baringhup Road (near Maldon) this coming Sunday 27 May.  President Lee Mead has asked us to distribute the following message: 

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group continues to ‘wage war on Wheel Cactus’. We’re very pleased that Stephen Gardner, our new Tarrangower Ward Councillor for Mt. Alexander Shire, will be ‘cutting the ribbon’ for the launch of our 2018 season of Community Field Days, on Sunday 27 May at 10:30 am. 

Thanks to our sponsors and supporters, including Parks Victoria, Mount Alexander Shire Council and North Central Catchment Management Authority, we will hold these field days on the last Sunday of every month from May to October, to demonstrate how best to destroy Wheel Cactus.

Our State MP for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, is also coming along to help motivate us to kill more Wheel Cactus, so please come and join us for a rewarding morning in the outdoors. We supply all the necessary equipment. All you need are sturdy shoes, long sleeves and pants and a hat.

The location this month is in Baringhup Rd, a few kilometers north of Maldon. To get there, follow Bridgewater Rd out of Maldon and turn left to Baringhup, and the property will be on the left opposite Hayes Rd. The route will be well signposted. The morning’s activities always end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat. These events are family friendly, but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries please contact us via our website at


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.


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


Barkers Creek gets beautiful – Nature News March 2018

Posted on 27 March, 2018 by Tanya Loos

This March’s Nature News was written by Sarah Edwards, who did her internship at Connecting Country. Sarah interviewed Daryl Colless from Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group. This story featured in the Midland Express on 6 March 2018.

The Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group is a group of local residents who are passionate about protecting and restoring the natural environment. Getting your hands dirty doing on-ground works is a great way of connecting locals to the creek. The group includes members of all ages, which makes working bees a lot of fun!

Their story starts at the Little Red Apple store where you’ll find delicious fruit and vegetables, and award winning cider. It backs onto a section of Barkers Creek that needed a bit of TLC.

The owners of the Little Red Apple have a vision of creating an outdoor picnic area alongside the creek in the future, and were keen to help Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group restore this area. After removing plenty of blackberries and willows, they planted native plants alongside the creek. The weed removal was so successful that nearby landowners got involved and did some planting on their own properties.

The team gathers at the Little Red Apple site. Photo by Kirsten Hutchison.

There were challenges along the way. Since this project began, several floods have come through and washed away some of the plants, and damaged the footbridge. However, these setbacks did not dampen the spirits of this group. They rebuilt and replanted after the floods, still working to make this area a beautiful picnic spot and create a healthy environment that will attract native wildlife.

The key to long-term success of the sites worked on by Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group is the follow up work. Returning to a site yearly for weed removal and more planting is crucial. This Landcare group has worked very hard to achieve some amazing outcomes. Who knows what they will do next!

If you have any questions about this story or Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group, please see or contact Daryl on 0407 419 606.


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.


Have you got gorse? – Victorian Gorse Taskforce survey 2018

Posted on 22 February, 2018 by Asha

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) has developed a survey to gain an understanding of the types of support that communities need from VGT to manage gorse in their local area. The VGT uses government investment to establish and support community-led projects, which aim to eradicate gorse where possible across Victoria. Gorse is a highly invasive weed.  It can adversely impact on agriculture, waterways, amenity and native vegetation, as well as harbour pests such as, rabbits and foxes. 

In Victoria, gorse is:

  • Regionally prohibited in the East Gippsland catchment.
  • Regionally restricted in the Mallee catchment.
  • Regionally controlled in all other Victorian catchments.

The results from this survey will help the VGT identify opportunities where they can provide better support to you or your networks. If you know or suspect gorse on your property please take five minutes to fill out the survey so the VGT can work to provide the right support.

The survey should not take any more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete, and you can go in the draw to win 1 of 3 $50 Woolworths vouchers.

The survey can be accessed via this link:

The survey closes 5 pm on Tuesday 13 March 2018.


Rabbit Buster Month

Posted on 21 February, 2018 by Asha

February is Rabbit Buster Month. Now is the time to strike!

John ‘Rabbit Buster’ Matthews (Biosecurity Manager, Agriculture Victoria) tells us:

‘The right time, using the right tools, to the correct standards will ensure your investment and effort into rabbit control results in long term control’.

John’s key points include:

  • Collect baseline information. You need to know the scale of your problem before you try to manage it.
  • Know your goal. Rabbits can seriously impede regeneration of many native species.
  • Support and learn from your peers. Local knowledge is powerful. Take some time to learn from your neighbours, landcare group and even local contractors.

Success will come from a committed and coordinated community working simultaneously, using best practice techniques, with high rates of participation at a landscape scale.

CLICK HERE to download the North Central Chat February Newsletter and read a more detailed account of how to ‘Hop On Board’ with rabbit control.

CLICK HERE for more information about rabbit monitoring and control options.


Do you know a keen young jobseeker?

Posted on 30 January, 2018 by Asha

This year, Connecting Country is working with the North Central CMA and five Landcare groups around Maldon to coordinate a special Green Army team with a focus on treating Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). The team will work with the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group, Maldon Urban Landcare Group, Nuggetty Land Protection Group, Baringhup Landcare, and Sandy Creek Catchment Landcare to do weed control, weed mapping, revegetation, erosion control, and other activities over the next six months.

The team is currently looking for young people aged 17 – 24 years who are interested in protecting their local environment. The job description reads: ‘By participating in the programme you will gain skills, training and experience that will improve your employment prospects while you work on projects that generate real and lasting benefits for the environment. We are looking for individuals who have a strong community sense, are looking to work in a hands on environment where the focus will be on training, developing skills and giving you experience that will assist you in future opportunities. You will need to have a positive and resilient nature, be safety conscious and the drive to be a valued team member.’

If you know anyone eligible to join the team, please encourage them to apply using the contact details below. It would be great to have a full team of enthusiastic people to help with this worthwhile project and make it as successful as possible. Previous Green Army teams we’ve worked with have also expressed what a great chance it is to learn from experienced Landcarers about our local environment and gain practical skills in natural resource management.

CLICK HERE to read the full job description, or contact Mark Green (Regional Operations Coordinator) with any questions or to express interest in joining the team – phone: 0406 321 274, email:

One of the Green Army teams that worked with Connecting Country and ten local Landcare groups in 2016


Working with weeds

Posted on 25 January, 2018 by Asha

Our local Landcare and Friends groups play a huge role in managing weeds to allow native habitat to survive and thrive in our landscape. There are many weed control methods (e.g., herbicide application, biological control, manual removal), but a combined approach is usually best. Our local groups need specialised skills to successfully control weeds and restore our landscapes.

Paterson’s Curse (Echium plantagineum) in Campaspe Valley

To support our local groups, Connecting Country recently ran ‘ACUP Training for Landcare’, a project funded through the Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Community Grants Program. The project helped members from six Landcare and Friends groups complete a Farm Chemical Users Course with GOTAFE and then apply for their Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP). This qualification has given them the skills and confidence to safely and effectively use a range of herbicides, including some targeted herbicides for controlling specific weeds.

This project is now complete, but if any members of Landcare or Friends groups are interested in future training opportunities, please email Asha via 

If you are after more information about how to best manage weeds on your property or with your Landcare group, you can refer to our Weed Control web page (CLICK HERE), which has information on principals of weed control, specific weed information, and links to useful weed resources. We also have a range of brochures and other resources available at our office, so feel free to drop in or give us a call on (03) 5472 1594 if you would like copies.


Weed guides published thanks to the cactus warriors

Posted on 16 January, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Many congratulations to the The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) for the creation of an innovative series of weed brochures that are are specific to the five wards in Mount Alexander Shire. The brochures are available for download on the links below, and also as hard copies at the Mount Alexander Shire offices.

TCCG President Lee Mead writes about the project for our blog:

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) recently completed a project producing some new brochures about weed control. This project was funded and supported by the Mt. Alexander Shire Council. Five brochures were created, one specific for each of the five wards within our Shire. The brochures highlight the most problematic weeds in each ward and encourage landowners to manage their weeds by providing essential information.

A field of Wheel Cactus

The idea for these brochures was inspired by the need to reach the landowners who are not controlling Wheel Cactus on their properties. Most landowners that don’t control Wheel Cactus infestations are absentee owners or new owners who are unaware of their weed responsibilities.

These problems are not exclusive to Wheel Cactus, so to help overcome the lack of control with many different weeds, TCCG created the new brochures and have asked the Shire to include them in the ‘Welcome Kits’ sent out to all new ratepayers. This will hopefully educate new landowners as soon as they purchase a property and reach the ones that don’t live here.

The brochures provide information about the responsibilities of landowners to manage weeds, the best control methods to use and where to find more detailed information. They also stress that not only rural properties are involved in weed control, but urban properties also have the same legal responsibilities, pointing out that most noxious weeds are escapees from private gardens.

TCCG thanks the many local Landcare groups who collaborated on this project by contributing their votes on problematic weeds and photos of some of their local weed infestations. The brochures include the contact details for these groups and will hopefully lead to future new enquiries and members.

We hope there’ll be an official and fun launch in the near future, but please contact the TCCG via their website at if you have any queries.  Click on the links below to download the brochure specific to your ward. And if you are unsure of your ward here is a map to check.

🙂  Ward Map







Junior Ranger program launched for the Castlemaine/Bendigo region

Posted on 4 January, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Parks Victoria Rangers Trudy Nelsson and Mike Hayes dropped into the Connecting Country office to promote their exciting Junior Ranger Program – the first ever Junior Ranger program in the Bendigo Region!

Parks Victoria’s Junior Ranger program encourages children aged 6 to 12 years and their families to explore, appreciate and protect Victoria’s parks. Junior Ranger is designed to get kids outdoors to have fun, get active and learn about Victoria’s wonderful parks, wildlife and amazing natural and cultural heritage.

Trudy and Mike are super excited about all the activities planned for Greater Bendigo National Park, Vaughan Springs, Castlemaine and Lake Boort throughout January 2018. They will be helping our junior rangers discover the secrets of Victoria’s National Parks and reserves.

Parents can book on the website

For more details click on the flier: JR_whatson_bush_Bendigocastlemaine

A Parks Victoria ranger leads a discovery walk at the Prom. From the Junior Ranger website.


Landcare Adapting to Change – Site Visits

Posted on 19 December, 2017 by Asha

As part of Connecting Country’s ‘Landcare Adapting to Change’ project, our resident botanist Bonnie teamed up with Landcare Facilitator Asha to do ten site visits with local Landcare groups. The aim was to offer Landcare groups access to additional knowledge to help identify specific plants, and answer any questions about priority weed control actions, choosing plants for revegetation, and other areas of land management for conservation.

Here is a gallery of photos from the site visits – hover your mouse over the right hand side of the picture and click on the arrow to move through the gallery.

If any other Landcare or Friends groups are interested in a site visit with Bonnie in 2018, please contact or call 5472 1594.


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.


Victorian Landcare Magazine – Issue 70 – with our local winners

Posted on 23 November, 2017 by Asha

CLICK HERE to download Issue 70 of the Victorian Landcare Magazine. This issue features the Victorian Landcare Awards, with stories about local winners: Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (page 6), Ian Higgins (page 10) and Connecting Country (page 18).

There are also stories about Landcare Award winners from all over the state and a beautiful photo collage in the middle. Well worth a read.


Boosting Bulokes project helps a diamond shine

Posted on 15 November, 2017 by Tanya Loos

Thanks to Connecting Country’s Boosting Bulokes and Diamond Firetails project there are now 1,200 more young Buloke plants in the western parts of the Mount Alexander region.  These slow growing trees will eventually set seed and provide a  much-needed food source for seed-eating birds such as Diamond Firetails and Common Bronzewing pigeons.

Buloke trees belong to the Casuarinaceae or Sheoak family and were once abundant across the region. Bulokes are so rare nowadays that they are  listed as ‘threatened’ under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. We wanted to help bring this threatened species back into our local area. The Boosting Bulokes and Diamond Firetails project involved 78 landholders on 23 properties, Muckleford Landcare group and the kids and teachers of the Castlemaine Steiner School and Kindergarten.

Project coordinator Bonnie Humphreys with Lisa Hall from Castlemaine Steiner School – you can see the large robust guards in the background, as well as a host of enthusiastic kids and landholders!

Bonnie prepared a comprehensive fact sheet on Bulokes, covering their ecology, threats and importantly – how to plant and care for Bulokes! The sheet can be downloaded by clicking this link:  Buloke-Factsheet-CCountry.

Diamond Firetails are attractive little finches whose numbers are declining in the region.  Recent studies by Grace Goddard (unpublished PhD, Adelaide University) have shown that the Diamond Firetail relies heavily on the seeds from Sheoaks as a winter food source. Diamond Firetails also eat the seeds of exotic and native grasses. However, it’s the native grass seeds that are a superior food source. The Firetails also use the long grass stems to build their nests.

We can help our declining Diamond Firetail population, by planting:
* Native grass species such as spear grasses (from the  Austrostipa and Rytidosperma genera).
* Sheoak trees – the more commonly occurring Drooping Sheoak ( Allocasuarina verticillata) and of course the Buloke ( Allocasuarina leuhmenii).

For a  detailed (and somewhat technical) fact sheet on Grace Goddard’s Diamond Firetail studies click this link  Diamond-Firetail-Diet-fact-sheet

A Diamond Firetail strikes a pose at the edge of a bird bath, while two Red-browed Finches look on. Thanks to Nick Schulz from Nuggetty for the great pic!