Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Gould League Centenary

Posted on 7 October, 2009 by Connecting Country

The Gould League is celebrating its Centenary with a free family open day.  The date is Sunday October 25th, from 10am until 2pm.  It is at the Gould League Sustainability and Environmental Education Centre in Genoa Street, Moorabbin.  There will be activities, displays, and formal celebrations including cake cutting at noon.

Most of you probably heard about the Gould League going bankrupt, but they were rescued and are now continuing as strongly as before.  I’m sure everyone has fond memories of the Gould League and their school education programs.  Glad to see they are continuing.


Box Ironbark Ecology Course

Posted on 15 September, 2009 by Connecting Country

Ngambie, Central Victoria

The course brings together leading researchers and experts to share up to date knowledge and thinking about this landscape in change.

It is field based and participants will work in small groups.  It emphasises ecological understanding and relationships and techniques that improve observation and data collection skills which can then be applied to other areas.
Participants will gain:

  • a better understanding of the distribution, natural values and ecological processes of Box Ironbark landscapes, past and present;
  • an understanding of the impact of human use on the ecosystem, past and present;
  • practical skills in observation, description, survey, analysis, interpretation, map reading and ecosystem monitoring of flora, fauna, geomorphology and soils;
  • opportunity to apply new skills and to collate and communicate information collected from the field;
  • resources to help plan for enhanced ecologically sustainable management outcomes for Box Ironbark remnants on private and public land.

Cost of the course is $1200.

Applications close 18th September 2009.

Contact Kate Stothers for a brochure and application form.  Phone 03 5761 1611


Castlemaine Landcare Group working bee

Posted on 15 September, 2009 by Connecting Country

September working bee.

The work will be in two areas.

1. Woody weed removal at the bottom of Urquhart St (Opposite Castlemaine Primary).  Please bring heavy duty pruning equipment.

Morning tea

2. Planting at Happy Valley Walking Track.  Please bring planting tools and buckets.

For more information contact Robin Haylett. Call 5470 6630.  Email


Calculate your farms Co2 emissions

Posted on 2 September, 2009 by Connecting Country

FarmGAS Calculator has been launched by The Australian Farm Institute.

The Calculator is an online application which enables farmers to model both the financial and greenhouse gas outputs of farm activities and the implications of changes in enterprises.  The FarmGAS Calculator is available here on The Australian Farm Institute Website and is free of charge.

The FarmGAS Calculator includes individual calculators for the major livestock and cropping enterprises, and any combination of these enterprises can be added to create an individual farm business. Farmers can come back to the calculator at any time to update or change their production data, or complete the process in stages. All you need to do is login online, and remember to save!

Farmers enter details of their enterprises (both financial and production) to calculate enterprise gross margins.  The following enterprise types can be analysed using FarmGAS: beef production (both breeding of progeny and fattening), sheep production, broadacre cropping, irrigated cropping, intensive livestock systems (beef feedlot and piggery), perennial horticulture crops and environmental tree plantings.

FarmGAS is the result of an Australian Farm Institute research project on greenhouse gas mitigation options for Australian farmers. Funding for the project was provided by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under the National Agriculture and Climate Change Action Plan: Implementation Program.


Time to save our trees by gum

Posted on 1 September, 2009 by Connecting Country

Grazing land across Victoria and New South Wales could be treeless within the decade, posing a serious threat to both agriculture and natural ecosystems, the Australian National University has warned.

A research project based at Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society has found that the majority of scattered paddock trees in grazing areas are old and close to death, yet there are virtually no young trees growing to replace them.

The researchers argue that the disappearance of paddock trees would have many negative effects for agriculture and natural ecosystems, removing shelter for livestock, habitat for birds and other wildlife, decreasing water infiltration, and risking detrimental flow-on effects for  entire ecosystems.

Read more: Victoria’s gum trees dying – Herald Sun


Employment opportunity

Posted on 25 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

Applications are now open for DSE BushTender Field Officer.

The positions are based in Bendigo.

The position description can be found on

Closing date for applications is 30th August and applicants must apply on-line.

Any questions about the positions please call,

Michelle Ballentine
BushTender Project Officer
Native Vegetation Programs
Department of Sustainability and Environment

Ph: (03) 9637 9027

Mob: 0458 382 289


Brush-tailed Phasocale stuffing

Posted on 24 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

I sent 2 dead Brush-tailed Phascogale specimens off to the Museum of Victoria to be stuffed and mounted for the Connecting Country project to use for education purposes.  However, neither specimens could be used.  The taxidermist told me that with small mammals like phascogales the road kill has to be very fresh.  If you find a dead Phascogale, it needs to be frozen within 1 hour of its kill (or natural death).  So if anyone manages to get a fresh Phascogale into the freezer I would definitely like to come and collect it and have the taxidermist have another go.  Feel free to contact me on

Thanks, Beth Mellick, The Norman Wettenhall Foundation, 5472 1316


Friends of Campbells Creek August Working Bee

Posted on 20 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

Postponed till 13 September 2009.

After a full slather of working bees and extra planting days over the past few weeks, we’ll take a well-earned break and gather our strength for September’s working bee.  Location Tbc.

If anyone wants to be involved in small informal working parties over the next month or helping out the
local schools in their Landcare project, please contact David King on 0408 993 688


Report on Connecting Country’s Future Planning Workshop

Posted on 18 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

Report on Connecting Country’s Future Planning Workshop, August 5th, 2009

More than 60 people from the local environmental community attended the workshop, including members of “Friends of” and other environmental advocacy groups, education and natural resource management professionals, and many members of the landcare community.  Participants all brought enthusiasm and local knowledge to share with everyone.  The workshop aimed to collect a set of information based on local knowledge of the special places in our region.  The information provided is currently being collated in a database.  Once this is finished, Connecting Country will sort through the data and more detailed planning for on ground projects can begin.

Geoff Park gave a presentation outlining the recently announced Federal and State Government funding, particularly describing the conditions attached to the funding (Tuans and Yellow-box woodlands).

  • A summary of the funding is available here as a pdf.
  • The map of priority vegetation can be found on the funding summary pdf.

Participants were guided through a process of identifying environmental assets on the maps provided and then compiling a list of information about that asset.  The information was recorded on a template that is based on the cutting edge of environmental Project Planning.  We received 96 completed templates.

  • The blank template is available here here a Word document.
  • The example template is available here as a pdf.

David King from Friends of Campbells Creek gave a presentation on how the natural assets along the Campbells Creek catchment were identified and put into a management plan so that everyone knew what needed to be done and how it could happen.

Many thanks go to;
Geoff Park and Krista Patterson-Majoor for facilitating; Margarita Adler for catering; Welshmans Reef Vineyard and Langanook Winery, Ben Laycock, Eliza Tree and Mahmoud for the map of the region, and to all the helping hands.


Fancy yourself as a wildlife photographer?

Posted on 13 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

Trust for Nature is looking for original images of Victoria’s bushland and wildlife to feature in its 2010 desk calendar. Entry is open to professional and amateur photographers alike.
Competition closes October 31st, 2009.

For full details and a competition entry form visit the Trust for Nature website.


Landcare Week celebrates 20 year milestone

Posted on 13 August, 2009 by Connecting Country

This year we will celebrate 20 years in the Landcare journey.  Landcare week celebrates the huge contribution landcare volunteers have made to their local communities over the past 20 years, as well as encouraging others to put their hands up and get involved.

Landcare Week 2009 will run from the 7th – 11th September.

See the Landcare Week website for more information and to register your event.


position vacant – project manager

Posted on 26 July, 2009 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country (Mount Alexander Region) Inc invites applications for the position of Project Manager.

Connecting Country is seeking to appoint a resourceful, innovative and collaborative Project Manager to guide its landscape scale restoration project through the next phase of implementation.

The position is for 12 months with an extension subject to further funding.  The position salary is between $55,000 and $65,000.

Position Description available in ‘Documents and Publications’ on this website or contact Secretary Jan Hall on 5470 5556

For further information contact

Written applications should be marked Confidential – Project Manager: Connecting Country and  be submitted to The Secretary, PO Box 437, Castlemaine VIC 3450

by 5.00 p.m., Tuesday August 18th, 2009.


My Victorian Waterway Survey

Posted on 2 July, 2009 by Connecting Country

World first research into the social importance of waterways is happening in Victoria.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment are coordinating a survey to find out about how Victorian communities use and value waterways.

You are invited to be a part of it.   Simply complete the online survey by the 31st July.  It takes about 15 minutes.

All Victorian adults (18 years and older) can complete the survey and help shape waterway management throughout the State.


Minutes of Connecting Country Reference Group meeting June 11 2009

Posted on 18 June, 2009 by Connecting Country

Present: Maurie Dynon, Doug Ralph, Bernard Slattery, Marie Jones, Kirstin Hutchison, Jan Hall, Julia Brown, Beth Mellick, Patrick Kavanagh, Christine Kilmartin, Krista Patterson-Majoor, Tim Read, David Major, Deirdre Slattery, Geoff Park

Apologies: Elvyne Hogan, Peter Johnson, Julie Hurley, Virginia Adrian


1. Marie gave an account of the proposed management structure of the incorporated Connecting Country:

–the elected Management Committee, which will meet regularly and make key decisions

–the Reference Group, open to all members who nominate: it will meet less often to review and advise the Management Committee

–the Advisory Group: this will consist of members with a range of expertise, who will be available for occasional consultation

She also thanked all for their input over the last 2 years.

2. Geoff gave a funding application update, and fielded questions. The package applied for provides:

–on ground works [fencing, offset of production losses, etc]

–community awareness

–monitoring and research

The questions and discussion which followed covered the following areas:

–the autonomy of Connecting Country within the NCCMA package

–the role of the Mount Alexander Shire

–the necessity to have an eye to future funding

–the equity challenge in using whatever funding is granted; and the importance of the planning projects workshop in clarifying how this is done

–the relationship of the Reference and Advisory groups to the Management Committee

–the need for clarification on the links between work on private land and the local Parks and Reserves; and between private and Trust for Nature property.

3. Krista gave brief Landcare report: the Landcare coordinators will finish at the end of the month. She emphasized the importance of MAS council connections from the point of view of information distribution and possible availability of facilities [for example, office space]

4. Julia gave the Project Officer’s report:

    – the website is being updated regulary, 10 news and events and a link to an article in the latest TFN Bulletin on Connecting Country.

    – Moderated 26 comments, all spam bar 2.

    – Emails to now redirected to Julia

    – Considering adding another blog section ‘related news’ to add books and other associated news.

    – Potential problems with google earth for some users of CWMP.

    – 158 sites marked on CWMP. To discuss recording and monitoring of statistics with Green Graphics.

    -Incorporation. Written invitations sent out to all Landcare groups, friends groups, field nats, MASG, TFN, agencies, MAS councillors on Monday 1st June.

    – Email invitations followed on Friday 5th June.

    – This will be followed up by email and phone calls asking if people require any further information.

    – Buda is booked and paid. Wine, catering, helpers confirmed.

    – Presentation to be worked on.

    Media Doug and Malcolm and I will meet with Lisa Dennis Monday for photo @ Richards Road near pony club with regeneration and mature trees. Article will go in Friday 19th Mail and possibly Tuesday 23rd Express as well.

    – Add in public notice’s Mail and Express. Notice in ‘Where to go….what to do’ in Mail. Press release drafted.

5. Future Projects workshop: [it was suggested at the May meeting that this be combined with the incorporation meeting ‘perhaps in the second half of July’. The steering committee subsequently decided to split the two events]

–it was decided that one of the purposes of this meeting is to ‘ground truth’ Blueprint projects, via a template and Landcare group knowledge

–a discussion followed on templates, and on methods of managing competing claims

–times and dates for the workshop were proposed. A decision on this will be made in readiness for the June 29th meeting.

6. Constitutional matters: Bernard gave a brief rundown on the constitution to be proposed on June 29: it will be the Model Rules of Association, modified to allow for an eight member committee.


Connecting Country wins funding to develop its plans to link landscape

Posted on 25 April, 2009 by Connecting Country


A large scale, community-driven landscape restoration project known as Connecting Country has received more funding from the environmental philanthropic organisation, the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. Based in Castlemaine, the Foundation has approved a $30,000 grant to the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests for the project. The grant is to fund a Project Worker to develop detailed and fully costed action plans for improving habitat for wildlife and native plants within the Mt Alexander Shire. Projects could, for instance, focus on creating biolinks or target particular endangered species, such as Swift Parrots or Brush-tailed Phascogales (Tuans).

Connecting Country is a partnership of around 30 landcare and environment groups, as well as government agencies, who come together to form the Reference Group which guides the project. The Norman Wettenhall Foundation has supported the project since its inception with grants now totalling $80,000.

Over the last year Connecting Country has gathered information from landholders across the Mt Alexander Shire about the existing condition of the landscape and recorded sightings of where native plant and wildlife species were found. This information was then brought together to produce a Biodiversity Blueprint of the region, containing valuable information about environmental assets and a unique and comprehensive set of maps.

“The maps provide an eagle’s eye view of the whole landscape, allowing the Connecting Country partners to identify 21 possible opportunities for major on-ground habitat restoration works across the region,” says Beth Mellick, Executive Officer of the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. “These potential projects will form the springboard for action plan development in the project’s second stage.”

Another unique facet of Connecting Country was the pro bono production of an interactive website by software developer Spatial Vision. Based on Google Earth, the website offers simple and accessible mapping tools for people to enter information about flora and fauna sightings across the Mount Alexander region. This crucial second stage funding will also ensure the continued rollout of Connecting Country’s interactive website.

“It is expected that community involvement will provide greater knowledge about, for instance, the preferred habitat of Tuans or where native wildflowers can be found,” says Beth Mellick. “Clearly, the website has the potential to become a powerful tool in guiding future conservation efforts.”

With this latest grant, Connecting Country now has the resources for in-depth development of restoration plans that could significantly improve habitat connectivity and biodiversity expansion across the region’s landscape. Given the breadth and commitment of Connecting Country’s partners, once such action plans are developed, the Norman Wettenhall Foundation is quietly confident there’s a good chance of attracting other funding sources to bring their plans to fruition.

“We believe Connecting Country is leading the way in terms of a bottom-up approach to landscape restoration work in Australia,” says Beth Mellick. “This is a different and a unique model, because it is the community as a whole who are making decisions about the environment that they live and work in – what and how changes are made to protect habitat are determined by local knowledge and passion.”

For further information about Connecting Country see or contact Beth by phone on 03 5472 1316; mobile 0431 219 980


Prizes for using interactive mapping

Posted on 25 April, 2009 by Connecting Country

April 2009

The Norman Wettenhall Foundation has given out some prizes as incentives for people to enter data on the Connecting Country interactive mapping portal on their website.

For a number of months the community were encouraged to enter sightings of Brush-tailed Phascogales (otherwise known as Tuans) in the area. The Connecting Country project was collecting information about where, and in what numbers, the Tuans live on private land. This information is to be used in a broader project about connecting up habitat for the Tuans’ survival.

The winners of the competition were Nick Halliday (individual prize) and Geraldine Harris won the group prize which she will give to the Barkers Creek Landcare group. Geraldine was interested in seeing if she could master the Connecting Country web tools. “I usually give up on these internet things at the point where you have to register,” says Geraldine, “but this site was not difficult to use and I was able to easily enter my Tuan sighting.”

If you want to enter data about flora and fauna sightings, go to and give it a go.


Phascogales (Tuan) Competition

Posted on 16 March, 2009 by Connecting Country

The Norman Wettenhall Foundation is giving away prizes to groups (to the value of $300) and to individuals (to the value of $150) who enter information about where they have seen Brush-tailed Phascogales (Tuans) in the Mount Alexander region. Click here to view the interactive mapping tool provided by Spatial Vision. Enter your Phascogale (Tuan) sighting and you are automatically in the draw. Competition closes 26th March. The prizes will be drawn at the Connecting Country Reference Group meeting 26th March.




Planning Day

Posted on 18 October, 2008 by Connecting Country

A planning day is proposed for October 18th to highlight the issues and concerns about the Loddon River. This will provide a great opportunity to learn more about the Loddon and how we can restore the health of the river. There will also be a spotlighting walk along the river with local naturalist Garry Cheers on Thursday 9th October. Contact Jennie Grundy on 5476 2314

Location: Loddon River at Newstead


Priority and Planning Workshop

Posted on 15 October, 2008 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country’s workshop held in the Chewton Town Hall saw more than forty people have their knowledge and interest recorded about the potential for landscape restoration in the Mount Alexander Shire. Community people interested in the environment along with some agency representatives were taken through the steps of identifying natural resource management works that are already happening in the shire and then went on to look at areas that have the possibilities for future restoration works. Continue Reading »


National Bird Day data from the Castlemaine Field Naturalists

Posted on 1 October, 2008 by Connecting Country

Chris Morris from the Castlemaine Field Naturalist Club has kindly provided data from the National Bird Day counts in the Castlemaine area. The records have been collected annually from 2000. You can view a graph of results via the attached photo.