Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Connecting Country upskill on Climate Future Plots

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Ivan

We’re very proud of what we do at Connecting Country. After a decade of landscape restoration, we have helped restore 9,500 hectares of habitat, equating to around 6% of the Mount Alexander Shire. We know this is only the beginning, and more is needed to provide vital habitat, vegetation, education and monitoring across our region for years to come. We also know that we must keep learning and updating our skill set to adapt to climate change and the likely scenarios that will occur across our region.

It was with great excitement that some staff members attended a recent Climate Future Labs workshop in Bendigo. The workshop was hosted by Greening Australia and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Greening Australia and DELWP have been working with a range of organisations to develop guidelines for community groups and agencies to improve the resilience of plants in your neighbourhood by planting Climate Future Plots.

What are Climate Future Plots?

Climate Future Plots are simply areas of revegetated and restored land that include plant species that already occur naturally in the area, but also include plants of the same species from other areas with different climates. This genetic mixing helps increase the capacity of the plants in our natural environment to adapt to a changing climate. As the climate changes, these plant communities will be better equipped to change with it. By including a mixture of local and climate pre-adapted plant genotypes (such as seed from hotter and drier, or cooler and wetter climates) the plots aim to enhance the resilience of natural landscapes to the changing climate. Through monitoring, we will also have more accurate information to actively inform future restoration and biodiversity conservation management.

Climate Future Plots are valuable because they:

  • Develop climate-resilient habitat by creating natural areas that maintain ecosystem function in uncertain climate scenarios.
  • Act as nursery sites due to their high genetic diversity.
  • Enable testing of predictions and proposed management strategies under a changing climate.
  • Inform future adaptive management by showing how species respond to climate interventions.
  • Enable community engagement and awareness by providing opportunities to work together.


Connecting Country and Climate Future Plots

Connecting Country have conducted strategic revegetation across hundreds of properties in our region. We found the Climate Future Plots training and guide an excellent resource for our future activities and climate-proof revegetation projects.

Restoration Coordinator at Connecting Country, Bonnie Humphreys, said ‘This workshop provided us with a guide to how to plan revegetation under a changing climate, including working out what our future climate will look like, and how to select the appropriate species and provenances to plant’. ‘It is important that we plan our habitat restoration practices in line with future climate predictions, based on the best science we have available,’ said Ms Humphreys.

While the guide is a great resource, it will still require a lot of planning to coordinate and implement the guidelines. Our staff and committee are urgently seeking funding to start implementing the guide, and expand our networks so we can source suitable provenances of plants and seeds. Once we secure funding, we will start work on planning and constructing Climate Future Plots in the Mount Alexander region.


A copy of the ‘Establishing Victoria’s Ecological Infrastructure: A Guide to Creating Climate Future Plots’ is available online for downloaded – click here.

The purpose of the guide is to provide a step-by-step process for organisations and community groups to plan, establish and monitor Climate Future Plots, and to establish a network of climate-resilient plant communities across Victoria and ideally nationally.

Here are some highlights from our revegetation program, which have survived well in the recent extreme weather, so far (photos by Connecting Country)



Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya project

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation have issued the first exciting edition of a newsletter update for the latest happenings within the Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya Project. It’s great to hear about their recent cultural and ecological survey work in Kalimna Park, right next to the town of Castlemaine VIC.

The Walking Together- Balak Kalik Manya Project is a four-year project committed to writing site-specific management plans for two sites within Dja Dja Wurrung Country; Kalimna Park in Castlemaine and Wildflower Drive in Bendigo. Both sites have been selected because of their proximity to growing townships and the increasing pressures of urbanisation slowly encroaching closer and closer to these park boundaries. The project is focusing on how we can increase community connection with nature, improve visitation rates and encourage healthy use of these sites, all while maintaining and improving biodiversity. The project will promote Djaara employment and assist in Djaara reconnecting with traditional practices of land management.

To read the Walking together Balak Kalik Manya newsletter Feb 2020 – click here
Walking Together Community Project Update and Survey June 2020

For further information, please contact:
Harley Douglas
Dhelkunya Dja Project Officer – Djandak
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
Phone: 03 5444 2888

For more information on the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, please visit their website – click here

GRAND PLANS: Harley Douglas in Strathdale bushland the Dja Dja Wurrung are about to take a key role managing for the future. Picture: TOM O'CALLAGHAN

Harley Douglas in Strathdale bushland the Dja Dja Wurrung are about to take a key role managing for the future. Photo: Tom O’Callaghan Bendigo Advertiser


The allure of fungi – talk cancelled

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Photo by Alison Pouliot

This event has been cancelled

Castlemaine and District Garden Club have kindly invited Connecting Country members to attend their meeting at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 24 March 2020 at Wesley Hill Hall, Duke Street, Castlemaine VIC.

They have been lucky enough to secure Dr Alison Pouliot as a speaker. Alison is an honorary fellow at Australian National University, and has published ‘The Allure of Fungi’. She runs fungi workshops, seminars and forays around Victoria, as well as photography workshops.

Her photography is spectacular and her knowledge of fungi is amazing. Visit her website to view her beautiful photos – click here

Cost for attendees is $5 which covers the talk and supper.

Please RSVP to

For more information about the event, and Castlemaine and District Garden Club, please visit their website – click here


Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Update: The authors have cancelled the book launch of ‘Grow Wild’, but the book is now available to purchase.

Our Wombat Forest neighbours have been busy writing and publishing an excellent new book titled ‘Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire’.

They have extended a special invitation to the Connecting Country family to join them at the launch on Sunday 29 March at 2.00 pm in the Glenlyon Hall (Daylesford-Malmsbury Rd, Glenlyon VIC).

Written by local resident and avid gardener, Jill Teschendorff, and published by Wombat Forestcare, this beautiful book aims to empower people to include indigenous plants in their gardens and provide the special habitat needed by our local wildlife.

Guest speaker: AB Bishop author, radio presenter, horticulturalist and gardening ‘trouble-shooter’

Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

RSVP by Wednesday 25 March 2020
Jill Teschendorff 03 5348 7947

Please see the flyer for further information – click here

RSVPs are essential.

Butterflies enjoy backyard gardens and are excellent pollinators for many plant species. Photo: Elaine Bayes


Sharing is caring – Landcare Link-up a success

Posted on 10 March, 2020 by Asha

Do you want to make a difference and help care for our local environment? Are you interested in learning more about caring for our local environment? A great place to start is by getting involved with your local Landcare group!

At our recent ‘Landcare Link-up’ on Saturday 29 February 2020 at the Castlemaine Uniting Church Hall, nine of our local Landcare and Friends groups shared stories of their work with 35 fellow volunteers and other community members. Our region has one of the highest densities of landcare and friends groups in the country, who deliver on-ground works, biodiversity monitoring and landowner education events.

Here is a small taste of what each group spoke about – if anything piques your interest, please go ahead and contact the group to chat more! Contact details can be found on our website by clicking here.

Maldon Urban Landcare Group – Update on their work monitoring and protecting large old trees (aka ‘Living Treasures’) on public land in Maldon.

Friends of Kaweka Sanctuary – The history of Kaweka Sanctuary and the work of the Friends group to care for this beautiful park right in Castlemaine.

Barkers Creek Landcare and Wildlife Group – Information on local rabbit populations, the recent ‘Rabbit Buster workshop’, and how to manage rabbits in our region.

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare – The story of this group’s recent rejuvenation, how they are working to engage new people and the next generation, and their plans for the future.

Intrepid Landcare retreat – An overview of the exciting 2019 Intrepid Landcare retreat for 16 to 35-year-olds in Castlemaine.

Sutton Grange Landcare Group – Introduction to the Albert Cox Memorial Sanctuary and Sutton Grange Landcare Group’s work to care for this special site.

Golden Point Landcare – An engaging talk about the process and benefits of becoming incorporated!

Muckleford Catchment Landcare – How this group keeps Landcare fun by focusing on things like planting days, bike-riding, and good food.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group – Using biocontrol to support weed control and a new survey for Landcare groups to give feedback on weed management in the Mount Alexander Shire.

A huge thank you to everyone who spoke at the Landcare Link-up and to everyone who came along to share in the storytelling. It was a heart-warming and inspiring afternoon, and a great showcase of the amazing power of volunteer groups!

Landcare volunteers at the February 2020 Landcare Link-up (photo by Jacqui Slingo)


Talking sludge with Susan Lawrence – 13 March 2020

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club are hosting Susan Lawrence talking about ‘Sludge: An Environmental History of the Gold Rush’ on 13 March 2020.

The gold rush was one of the defining episodes in Australian history and has left a rich legacy in culture, architecture and archaeology. Many of the stories are well-known but the profound environmental disruption associated with the gold rush is all but forgotten. For decades a deluge of sand, silt and gravel poured from the mines. New research is showing how one hundred years later the effects of the sludge continue to shape Victoria’s rivers and floodplains. It has implications for the management of cultural heritage, river remediation programs, catchment management, public health and debates about how people and environments interact.

Prof. Susan Lawrence is an archaeologist at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She has nearly thirty years’ experience working on sites all over Australia, including Tasmanian whaling stations and South Australian farms. She is the author of several books and has published internationally on gender, artefact studies, urban archaeology, colonialism, and industrial archaeology. Susan is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London. Her most recent book is Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields (Black Inc/La Trobe University Press 2019), co-authored with Peter Davies.

Castlemaine Field Naturalists meet monthly at 7.30 pm in the Fellowship Room behind Castlemaine Uniting Church, 24 Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC.

Visit their website for more information – click here


Have your say on regional biodiversity planning – postponed

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

These events have been postponed

Following our recent post on the 2020 Regional Round Table sessions (click here), North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) have announced a further workshop on Tuesday 7 April 2020 at  Daylesford Town Hall (76 Vincent St, Daylesford VIC).

Community members are invited to join the North Central Catchment Management Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) at their 2020 roundtable sessions to have your say about what you value in the region. This year’s roundtables focus on renewing the CMA’s 2021-2027 Regional Catchment Strategy and DELWP’s Regional Biodiversity Response Planning. They give the community a unique opportunity to have input directly into these important plans.

To book your seat at the table: click here 

The round-table events are an important tool to ensure the community is involved in future biodiversity and land use planning. Photo: NCCMA



Bird walk at Mount Tarrengower – 7 March 2020

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

Our friends and partners at Birdlife Castlemaine are having their monthly bird walk this weekend, at the beautiful Mount Tarrengower West, led by the wonderful Damian Kelly. This is a great opportunity to walk and talk with some of the best bird watchers around and increase your knowledge, as well as enjoy some lovely landscapes and company. Please find the event overview below, from their newsletter, as well as information about the AGM following the walk. For more details on Birdlife Castlemaine, please click here.


BirdLife Castlemaine District March Bird Walk

Saturday 7 March – Mount Tarrengower West 

BirdLife Castlemaine’s next walk takes us to Mount Tarrengower West, led by Damian Kelly. The habitat is grassy dry forest with box eucalypts on slopes, Red Gums and Yellow Box in lower areas. Birds that may be seen include Large Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Thornbills, Scarlet Robin, Jacky Winter and Restless Fly Catcher.

Location and directions: From Maldon VIC take the Maldon-Bridgewater Road. About 2 km out of town turn left into Watersons Road. A further 1 km along is the turn off on the left to Mount Back Road. The walk starts here. Plenty of parking is available near this intersection.

Time: Meet at the destination at 9:00 am, or to carpool from Castlemaine meet at 8:30 am outside Castlemaine Community House (30 Templeton Street, Castlemaine VIC).

Important information about walks: Bring water, snacks, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, sturdy shoes, long pants during snake season, and other weather-appropriate gear.

Walks will be canceled if the temperature is forecast to be 35 degrees or more during the walk period, severe weather warnings are in place, persistent rain is forecast, or if the day has been declared a Total Fire Ban day.

Questions? If you have questions about our walks program, you can email us at, or call/text Judy Hopley (0425 768 559) or Asha Bannon (0418 428 721).

All levels of experience are welcome – they’re a friendly bunch and the walks are a great chance to learn from and have fun with fellow birdwatchers.

The 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch will follow the walk at 11:30 amat 25A Church Street, Maldon. Morning tea will be provided from 11:00 am.

Mistletoebird on a dead branch. Photo: Geoff Park



Nature photography in Newstead – 8 March 2020

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

The Mount Alexander region is blessed with some extremely talented nature photographers. Their thoughtful and evocative images help us appreciate and connect with the local environment. Local photographers and Connecting Country supporters, Janet Barker, Frances Cincotta, Patrick Kavanagh, Geoff Park and Bronwyn Silver, are holding an exhibition, Photographers of the Goldfields, at the Newstead Arts Hub in March 2020.

The launch and exhibition opening will be this Sunday 8 March at 11 am, so please come along and enjoy the talent on display and some tasty local food. 

Heron and Egret (photo: Geoff Park)

Here is a message from the photographers:

From the tiniest world contained on a dewdrop, to the expansive landscapes of the Plains and Mounts, the beauty of the Goldfields is all around us. However many treasures remain sight unseen, until revealed by the camera’s lens/focus.

Photography allows us to appreciate, understand and learn more about our local environs. Seen in its best light and in the moment, a photograph reveals that millisecond in time, for all time.

Bronwyn Silver, Geoff Park, Patrick Kavanagh and Janet Barker see their photography as a way of celebrating and ultimately protecting nature. Photographers of the Goldfields 2020 will feature some of our favourite gems, worth taking a longer look at.

Saturday 7 March to Sunday 29 March 2020
Weekends & Monday 9 March from 10 am to 4 pm 
Launch: Sunday 8 March at 11 am – All welcome
Newstead Arts Hub: 8A Tivey Street, Newstead VIC

Scroll through below to enjoy some favourite images and visit the exhibition to see more.


Clean up Australian Day: Sunday 1 March 2020

Posted on 27 February, 2020 by Ivan

Clean up Australia is happening this Sunday 1 March 2020, including at eight locations across the Castlemaine region in central Victoria. Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. What was started 30 years ago, by an ‘average Australian bloke’ who had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard. It has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event. It is hard to believe that this initiative began as the inspiration of one man, Ian Kiernan.

An avid sailor, Ian was shocked and disgusted by the pollution and rubbish that he continually encountered in the oceans of the world. Taking matters into his own hands, Ian organised a community event with the support of a committee of friends, including co-founder Kim McKay AO. This simple idea ignited an enthusiasm and desire among the local community to get involved and make a difference. And surely if a capital city could be mobilized into action, then so could the whole nation! And so it was that Clean Up Australia Day was born in 1990.

Local working bees in our region, include:

The best way to get involved in a cleanup activity is to view the map of all working bees (click here), where you can search via postcodes and townships. You can also create a cleanup event working bee, which is really awesome, and fundraise for your event if required. 





Gorse management info session: 21 March 2020

Posted on 27 February, 2020 by Ivan

Our partners at Sutton Grange Landcare Group have teamed up with the Victorian Gorse Task Force (VGT) to deliver an information session on Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Gorse is a species of flowering plant in the pea family (Fabaceae). It’s native to the British Isles and Western Europe, and has spread over 23 million hectares in Australia.

Join the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) at the information session with the Sutton Grange Landcare group on Saturday 21 of March 2020, held in the Sutton Grange Hall (921 Faraday-Sutton Grange Rd, Sutton Grange VIC ). There will be information about the role of the Victorian Gorse Taskforce, a chance to chat with their Extension Officer, information on best practice gorse management and refreshments to finish.

RSVP to Brydie Murrihy on 0428 335 705

For more information please contact:
Brydie Murrihy (VGT Extension Officer)
m. 0428 335 705
Christine Brooke (Sutton Grange Landcare)

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce was formed in 1999 and launched a community-led integrated approach to reducing gorse across the landscape. VGT members include local people who have successfully controlled gorse on their land, as well as natural resource management, agricultural, pest management and other experts. We work with private landowners and public land managers such as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, local councils and catchment management authorities. We also work with researchers exploring new ways to tackle gorse.

Please enjoy the video below by the VGT, that outlines the impacts of Gorse across Victoria.


Climate change resilience workshops in Castlemaine

Posted on 27 February, 2020 by Ivan

Our fabulous Castlemaine Community House is offering a series of three workshops to assist individuals and families to develop resilience around the climate crisis. The workshops will be facilitated by Dr Susie Burke, environmental psychologist and therapist, and member of Psychology for a Safe Climate.

  • Where: Castlemaine Community House, 30 Templeton St, Castlemaine VIC
  • When: Please refer to times and dates for each workshop below
  • Cost: $15, or $10 concession (or if booking for more than one person)
  • How to book:  Please book directly with Castlemaine Community House online via the website links below.

Further information regarding the workshops is available from Castlemaine Community House via their website (click here) or by telephone at (03) 5472 4842

Coping with Climate Change

Date: Wednesday 11 March 2020
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
To book: click here

An experiential workshop to help people deal with grief and anxiety, come to terms with the climate emergency, and stay engaged in solutions.

This workshop is for anyone who is deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change on the things they love and care about, and would like to explore with others how to come to terms with the climate crisis and cope with distressing thoughts and feelings.

Participants will learn techniques for making room for uncomfortable feelings, free themselves from self-defeating thoughts and urges, cultivate a perspective of active hope, and increase their capacity to be present and focus on what matters in the context of the climate emergency.

Deep Adaptation to Climate Change

Date: Monday 23 March 2020
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
To book: click here

A workshop to help people start to come to terms with the climate emergency, and stay engaged in solutions.

In this workshop participants will discuss and begin to work out what ‘Deep Adaptation’ could mean (and what it doesn’t).  Four questions guide the work on Deep Adaptation:

  • Resilience: what do we most value that we want to keep and how?
  • Relinquishment: what do we need to let go of so as not to make matters worse?
  • Restoration: what could we bring back to help us with these difficult times?
  • Reconciliation: with what and whom shall we make peace as we awaken to our mutual mortality?

Parent Workshop – Talking with Children about Climate Change

Date: Monday 30 March 2020
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
To book: click here

A workshop which aims to help parents think through the impact of climate change on their children, cope with that knowledge themselves, whilst at the same time supporting their children to cope with climate change now and in the future.

By attending this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Think through how they, as parents, can respond to the current reality of climate change and the threat of worse impacts to come.
  • Learn strategies for coping with the ‘uncomfortable truths’ of climate change
  • Gather ideas about how to support their children to cope with it.
  • Learn about the skills and capacities that our children, the next generation, will need for engaging in efforts to restore a safe climate, and for adapting to the inevitable changes ahead.


Facilitator: Dr Susie Burke PhD FAPS
Dr Susie Burke is an environmental psychologist, therapist, climate change campaigner and parent, currently working in private practice in Castlemaine.  She is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society, and author of the Climate Change Empowerment Handbook and other articles and resources on the psychology of climate change.  She consults, and runs workshops and individual sessions to help people cope with and come to terms with climate change, with a particular interest in how to raise children in and for a climate altered world.




















What scat is that? – take the quiz

Posted on 27 February, 2020 by Ivan

Have you ever been out walking and wondered ‘what scat is that?’ You can call it scat, faeces, or just plain poo, but if you’re not too squeamish, you can learn a lot from animal poo. Wild animal poo is known as scat, and it can be very useful in working out what species are nearby because each type of scat is different. It is a fascination among the scientific world and the broader community alike.

Of course, some scat will begin to dry out and look different with age, so if you really know your business, you’ll be able to tell how long ago the animal was there. It is well known that Koala poo, for example, goes from a moist green to something that looks more like dried out grass pellets. Regardless of the name you give it, most people go out of their way to avoid digested animal waste – but not the most dedicated scientists and animal lovers.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the animal world, identifying scats can tell you a lot about a creature, including what they eat, where they go and even how they live. The ABC has created a fun ‘What scat is that’ online quiz, which has excellent images and questions to assist learning. It is part of the ABC’s ‘How to Summer’ science series, which covers a variety of topics including ants, sea-creatures and scats.

Take the scat quiz to test your skills and learn a bit more about another survey technique and potential curiosity wonder!

To take the quiz – click here

Cube-shaped faeces

Around two centimetres wide and high, this scat forms almost a perfect cube. Which animal left it? (photo: ABC)


New factsheets proving popular

Posted on 20 February, 2020 by Ivan

One of our most popular pages on the Connecting Country website is the home of our new factsheets, covering the topics of weeds, pest animals, nest boxes and revegetation. These were developed by Connecting Country staff to give practical, local information on the key topics we get the most questions about. They cover the latest locally-relevant information about managing invasive species and creating habitat for our unique biodiversity of the region. Land owners and managers comment they enjoy the local content because it’s more relevant than the generic information available elsewhere.

Following best advice on revegetation will give your plants the best chance of survival (photo by Gen Kay)

We developed the factsheets courtesy of funding from the North Central Catchment Management Authority. The factshets form part of our ‘Prickly plants for wildlife on small properties‘ project, which targeted landowners with smaller properties who are keen to manage their land as wildlife habitat, but were excluded from previous projects. Through this project we’ve helped numerous local landholders with smaller areas of remnant vegetation to protect and improve habitat on their land. We’ve supported landholders with on-ground actions such as revegetation planting, weed and rabbit control, and nest box installation, as well as delivering three popular community education events.

Many people contact Connecting Country regarding how to revegetate their land using native tubestock plants. There are numerous aspects to consider when using this technique, such as when to plant, how to prepare the soil, what to plant, and how to protect your plantings. The new revegetation planting factsheet covers all these topics and more, to help you give your precious native plants the best start in life.

Here is a brief outline of each of the four factsheets:

  • Weed control. Weeds, or invasive plants, are one of the main extinction threats to Australia’s native plants and animals. Some weeds were introduced initially as garden plants, and others accidentally introduced and spread through seeds or plant material. Some native species become weeds if they spread aggressively beyond their natural range. To download – click here.
  • Nest boxes for wildlife. A nest box is an artificial enclosure provided for hollow-dependent animals to live and nest in. Providing a well constructed and maintained nest box on your property can provide a supplementary home for native animals where natural tree hollows are missing. To download: click here
  • Invasive pest animals. Invasive animals are a major threat to biodiversity and agriculture. They can cause long-term damage to ecosystems and have resulted in dramatic extinction rates of species across Australia. To download: click here
  • Revegetation planting with tubestock. Planting within or next to existing bush land to provide habitat for native animals can be a satisfying endeavour. Taking time to plan and prepare your revegetation will give you the best chance of seeing your plants survive to maturity. To download: click here

Further information and factsheets on a variety of restoration topics can be found on the Connecting Country website – click here.


Platypus citizen science workshop: Sunday 15 March 2020

Posted on 20 February, 2020 by Ivan

Our friends and partners at Friends of Campbells Creek are organising a FREE public workshop on Sunday 15 March 2020 in Campbells Creek, VIC. Experts from the Australian Platypus Conservancy will highlight the conservation needs of these animals and outline ways the community can help monitor their populations in local rivers, creeks and lakes.

The platypus rarely uses sight when underwater – its eyes normally close automatically as soon as it dives (photo: Australian Platypus Conservancy)

A practical demonstration in nearby Campbells Creek will follow the formal presentation.

Bookings can be made online – click here

For the event flyer – click here

The platypus is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ in Australia and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. For more information and maps of distribution – click here.

More details about the event are provided below, courtesy of Friends of Campbells Creek.

Community skills monitoring project

Monitoring key species of fauna and flora can teach us about the health of local ecosystems and alert us to changes in the environment. This workshop will help Landcare groups, other environmental organisations and interested individuals focus on how citizen science methods can be used to collect data about platypus and rakali populations. However, the principles involved can be applied more broadly for monitoring other species.

Presenters: Drs Melody Serena and Geoff Williams of Australian Platypus Conservancy

Proposed timetable and format:

1.00 pm Arrival, registration and welcome
1.30 pm Presentation 1: Platypus biology and conservation considerations
2.30 pm Presentation 2: Rakali biology and conservation considerations
3.15 pm Questions and afternoon tea
3.45 pm Presentation 3: Platypus and rakali spotting hints and research/monitoring techniques
4.30 pm Questions, Final summary and briefing for field session

Field-based practical session (optional extra activity for interested participants)
4.45 pm Travel to selected local field site
5.00 pm On-site briefing regarding observation session
5.15 pm Observation session
6.00 pm Debrief
6.15 pm Finish

For inquiries and email bookings: please contact Thea King on:


Local book launch: Landing With Wings

Posted on 20 February, 2020 by Frances

Local artist and children’s book author, Trace Balla, is excited to be launching her latest book ‘Landing With Wings’ set right here at Forest Creek and Moonlight Flat, near Castlemaine in central Victoria. Many local people, plants and animals have been of great influence on this book. It features the Bibrons Toadlet living at Happy Valley, Ballantinia plants growing at Leanganook, Golden Whistler, a smoking ceremony with Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Rick, local veggie growers Gung Hoe, Little Habitat Heroes, Castlemaine Seed Library and more!

The book launch is at 11.00 am on Saturday 28 March 2020 at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Tea Room, Castlemaine VIC.

For more information see the flyer, or visit Trace’s website by clicking here.

Trace Balla is often found exploring nature and assisting ecological projects in central Victoria (photo by Allen and Unwin Publishing)





Farm fencing course – Sunday 15 March 2020

Posted on 20 February, 2020 by Frances

Local guru Jarrod Coote is running his popular Beginner Farm Fencing Course again on Sunday 15 March 2020 2020 in Harcourt VIC.

Only one course will be run this year so grab the opportunity.

For details, please refer to the event flyer: click here

If you have any questions, please contact Jarrod:

Jarrod Coote
Hillside Acres
Harcourt, Victoria 3453
0438 069 849



Bird of the month: the chatty Crimson Rosella

Posted on 13 February, 2020 by Ivan

Welcome to our first-ever Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’ll be taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to be joining forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome any suggestions from the community and our supporters. We are lucky enough to have the talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about the first-ever bird of the month. We know you’ll be familiar with the first bird off the ranks. We thank Jane for the following words, the first of many posts to come.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans)  

Recently I returned from a month-long conservation volunteer hiking trip pulling weeds in coastal south-west Tassie. As I sat looking out on the bush from my living room, a Crimson Rosella flew in to drink from one of the many freshly fill birdbaths around my home. It walked in that funny fashion parrots do which is slightly pigeon-toed, up to the rim of the pot base holding water and dipped its head for a drink. Using it’s incredibly dexterous foot, it then scratched its head, turned and flew off.

A mature Crimson Rosella (above) and two immature Crimson Rosellas (below) showing the different coloring (photos by Jane Rusden)

There are various races (forms, often denoted by color variation), but let’s take a look at our local Crimson Rosellas. Mature adults have a vibrant crimson head and chest, with mid to very dark blue wings and tail. Immature birds are olive green in the body and head, as they mature the crimson replaces the green. Both mature and immature birds have a mid-blue patch which extends from the lower mandible (bill) to the cheek.

Being a parrot, they have an extremely strong, down-curved bill, which is powerful enough to crack wattle and grass seeds, as well as gum nuts. Like many parrots, they are amazingly expert chewers, which is useful when renovating tree hollows in eucalyptus at breeding time. For such a powerful bill, Crimson Rosellas can use it to be very clever and delicate at manipulation of all manner of things.




Primarily you’ll see Crimson Rosellas in trees, thought they do wander about on the ground at times. They are a species that can be found in both the local Box Ironbark forest as well as in towns and gardens. I mentioned tree hollows – parrots need tree hollows in which to nest and raise their young. In our area much of the bush was cleared during the gold rush, which in tree terms is not that long ago. Therefore, there hasn’t been the passage of time for trees to grow old and develop tree hollows. You might like to consider putting up a Crimson Rosella nest box in your garden. I have several at my place and they are used regularly by a number of species, including Crimson Rosellas.

To listen to the varied and lovely calls of the Crimson Rosella, please click here.


Distribution of the Crimson Rosella (image from Atlas of Living Australia)


Words by Jane Rusden






Who’s who in the Connecting Country zoo: Frances

Posted on 13 February, 2020 by Ivan

We thought it might be nice for our friends and supporters to get to know the team at Connecting Country, and learn about why they joined us. First off the ranks is our director and superb (fairy wren) leader, Frances Howe.

Frances joined Connecting Country in 2017, after a career in assessing and managing environmental and social impacts of large development projects, across Australia and around the world. She has led environmental teams in Melbourne, Adelaide and Dubai, and been an environmental advisor for a non-government organisation in Lesotho (Africa). Her qualifications including a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Master of Environment from the University of Melbourne. Having travelled far and wide, including living in the Middle East, Africa and the United States, Frances returned to settle in Castlemaine. She lives with her husband and dog on a bush block outside Castlemaine, surrounded by the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, where she enjoys watching the wildlife and rehabilitating the degraded landscape.

What motivated you to join Connecting Country?

Throughout my life and career I’ve focused on practical ways to reverse environmental problems, initially in addressing the effects of land contamination, then in managing natural resource projects to reduce environmental and social impacts. Connecting Country offered a new challenge, a compelling opportunity to use my skills to help my local environment and community.

After 20 years as an environmental consultant, I was ready for a more meaningful role, helping make a difference on the ground. Connecting Country impressed me because it does real stuff to stop environmental degradation and improve habitat at a grassroots level. We don’t just talk, we work with community to deliver practical actions based on scientific evidence. I think that’s pretty cool.

What have you learnt from your time at Connecting Country?

The Connecting Country team have taught me heaps about our local plants and animals, but I still have much to learn! I am endlessly amazed by the rich pool of visionary, knowledgeable, committed and resourceful people within our local community, and their capacity to drive positive change. So many locals freely dedicate their time, land, skills and money to repair the land and care for wildlife. I’ve also learnt it’s really difficult to get funding, even when our work is essential to secure a viable future for ourselves and fellow inhabitants of the land.

Which projects do you manage at Connecting Country?

I manage the team and the overall organisation, rather than individual projects. A big part of my role is developing projects and sourcing funding. I work with Connecting Country’s dedicated management committee, oversee finance and administration, review documents, manage staff and support the team as needed. As a people manager, I aim to empower and support the team to plan and run their own projects. I’m proud and impressed how each of them has stepped up to build their skills and develop as project managers. It’s an honour and pleasure to work with such a collaborative, committed and talented bunch of people.

How did you first become interested in our natural environment and our unique ecosystems?

As a kid, all my annual summer holidays were spent camping in the lush forest of the Otways. There I got curious about the plants and animals, why they were there and how they all fitted together. At university I initially enrolled on a different path, but another camping trip made me reassess and change to study ecology. Growing up, I also spent a lot of time at my aunt and uncle’s tiny cottage near Daylesford, which is how I came to love central Victoria.

How do you spend your time away from work?

I’m fortunate to be passionate about my work, so there is little distinction between work and everything else. When not in the office I like to do yoga, grow veggies, enjoy good food and wine with my man, hang out with my dog and chooks, fix up old stuff and work on restoring my land. I’m an avid traveller – I’ve been to a lot of places, but currently enjoy being in one place.


What is your favourite movie and why? 

I love a lot of movies but my favourite is Lantana. It’s a carefully crafted mystery, but really so much more about trust, relationships and chance. And it’s named after a weed!

What is your favourite place to visit in our region and why?

If I have to choose just one, it’s Leanganook Track along Forest Creek in Wesley Hill. Castlemaine Landcare has done an incredible job of converting it from a highly disturbed wasteland into a beautiful home for native plants, frogs and birds. It’s inspiring.





Birdlife Castlemaine AGM: Saturday 7 March 2020

Posted on 13 February, 2020 by Ivan

Our partners and friends at BirdLife Castlemaine are having their Annual General Meeting (AGM), following their monthly bird walk. It is a good chance to hear their achievements and what is planned for the year ahead, as well as enjoy a bird walk at the lovely Mount Tarrengower. Here are the details from BirdLife Castlemaine.

Please be advised that the 2020 Annual General Meeting of the BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch will be held on Saturday 7 March 2020 at 11.30 am at 25A Church Street, Maldon VIC.

The meeting will follow the monthly bird walk to be held on Mount Tarrengower. Morning tea will be available from 11.00 am. A nomination form for committee positions is available by contacting BirdLife Castlemaine via email ( The positions vacant are Convenor, Secretary, Treasurer and committee members. A proxy voting form is also available. Please consider nominating for the committee.

Nomination forms and proxy voting forms should be emailed to OR mailed to: Secretary, BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch, 25A Church Street, Maldon VIC 3463. Nominations will also be accepted on the day of the AGM.

Best wishes
Secretary – BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch

For further information please – click here

Twenty-eight bird lovers enjoyed ‘Breakfast with the Birds’ and February 2020 Bird Walk at Warburtons Bridge, Glenluce VIC (photo by Birdlife Castlemaine)