Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Hazard to cyclists – Caltrop weed

Posted on 13 February, 2019 by Frances

Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris) is a Regionally controlled weed in the North Central Catchment.  It is also known as bindii, cat’s head, goat’s head or yellow vine. It is a flat, summer-growing, annual herb with yellow flowers.

Caltrop (photo by Ern Perkins)

The fruit of caltrop is a woody burr with sharp spines. This burr can puncture bike tires, making it particularly annoying for cyclists.  It can also puncture human skin, and injure the feet, mouth and digestive system of animals. Burrs are easily picked up and spread by vehicle tyres, shoes, animal feet and other objects.

Caltrop has been observed growing in Castlemaine.  A small and committed band of volunteers are helping to keep it under control. Margaret Panter developed a poster (click here) to raise awareness about this prickly weed.

How to prevent Caltrop becoming widespread in Castlemaine:

  • Avoid infested areas (see map here), as walking, riding or driving through them spreads seeds to other areas.
  • Pull or cut out plants before they drop their prickles.
  • Report new infestations to Mount Alexander Shire Council.
  • Check shoes and tyres for prickles before leaving an infested area.
  • Destroy seeds or put in a secure bag in the bin.


The Wombat Forest’s Owls and Gliders – 8 February 2019

Posted on 6 February, 2019 by Tanya Loos

Greater Glider (photo by Gayle Osborne)

The first speaker for the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club in 2019 is Gayle Osborne.

Gayle has been involved with Wombat Forestcare for many years and will present a talk titled ‘Fauna surveys in the Wombat Forest’. Gayle will describe the group’s motion-sensing camera projects, searches for Powerful Owls and spotlighting for Greater Gliders. She will explain why entering data on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas is essential for conservation. Gayle will also mention the new fungi app and who to contact for more information.

For a preview of the Wombat Forest Greater Gliders, read the latest issue of the Wombat Forestcare newsletter here.

Fauna surveys in the Wombat Forest – talk by Gayle Osborne
When: Friday 8 February 2019 at 7.30 pm
Where: Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church Hall on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC (next door to the Castlemaine Art Museum)

Members and visitors are all welcome and there is no cost for entry.

Everyone is also welcome to attend an excursion on the following day (Saturday 9 February 2019).  Meet at the Octopus building on Duke St, Castlemaine VIC (opposite the Castle Motel) ready for a 1.30 pm departure. Please bring afternoon tea. Car-pooling will be available.


Act now for Rabbit Buster Month

Posted on 5 February, 2019 by Asha

February marks ‘Rabbit Buster Month’. This successful campaign began in the 1990s and continues to serve as a reminder to plan for and act on rabbit control.

Rabbit monitoring

It’s easy to observe when rabbit populations are high as damage is noticeable, but it can be hard to know when populations are building. Ensuring rabbits have minimal impact within a specific area requires regular monitoring. If rabbit numbers reach unacceptable levels, immediate control actions are required.

Useful rabbit monitoring techniques that landholders can implement on their own properties are described in the following documents:

Rabbit control

If rabbit numbers reach levels which require control, an integrated approach using a range of techniques usually works best. Methods can include fumigation, shooting, baiting using pindone, ferrets, warren ripping and netting. Most of these techniques require specialist practitioners with appropriate licences and accreditation, with their associated equipment and other costs.

A cost-effective way for landholders to get started with rabbit control is to establish one or more rabbit bait stations, using an oat bait with pindone poison as the active ingredient. Your local rural supply merchant can supply this product and advice.

Click on these links for useful information for setting up your own bait station:

However, the most effective rabbit control uses a range of techniques and constant vigilance. The good news is that even the most rabbit-affected properties can be brought under control, and the rabbit numbers maintained at very low levels.

Rabbit biocontrol

Rabbit biocontrol, such as introduction of a rabbit virus, can be most beneficial if applied as part of an integrated and complementary pest management approach. Here are some statistics about the release of a new rabbit virus (from the February 2019 North Central Chat newsletter):

  • The RHDV1 K5 rabbit virus was officially released at 382 locations nationwide.
  • Sites included 373 community-run release sites and nine intensively monitored releases sites.
  • Some sites did not progress due to low rabbit numbers, timing or poor weather conditions.
  • 42% of sites recorded a reduction in rabbit numbers post-release (based on data from 191 release sites).
  • Through laboratory analysis, RHDV1 K5 rabbit deaths were confirmed in every state and territory, except the Northern Territory.

Further information

If you would like a hard copy of Connecting Country’s  ‘Ute Guide to Rabbit Control’, contact our office on (03) 5472 1594 or email

To visit the Victorian Rabbit Action Network website, click here

To download the February 2019 North central Chat, which includes a Rabbit Buster Month feature, click here

To download a copy of Connecting Country approved contractor list, click here

Rabbit warrens scattered across paddocks in Muckleford Gorge (photo by Tanya Loos)