Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Connecting Country holiday season 2021

Posted on 13 December, 2021 by Frances

 

A family of Tawny Frogmouths hanging out together at Golden Point (photo by Marie Jones)

On behalf of the Connecting Country team, we wish all our readers a safe and festive holiday season, with extra special greetings to our fabulous volunteers, members, landholders, donors and supporters.

As we approach the end of 2021, we hope you enjoy a chance to celebrate with your favourite people, and to connect with our special local environment. With this unseasonally cool and wet summer there’s sure to be lots to see out in the bush.

The Connecting Country office at the Hub in Castlemaine will be closed for a short break from 5 pm on Thursday 23 December 2021 until we reopen on Tuesday 4 January 2022.

If you haven’t already caught up on our recent activities, our annual report 2021 is still available online – click here

 

 

 

 

Woodland birds with DJAARA – a chirping success

Posted on 13 December, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country was thrilled to partner with DJAARA and BirdLife Castlemaine to deliver two popular community events focusing on woodland birds and cultural education at Kalimna Park (Castlemaine VIC) and Greater Bendigo National Park (Bendigo VIC). Both the recent 2021 events were well-received and booked out quickly. We also streamed the events via Facebook Live, so anyone could watch them online. A total of 62 tickets were booked, with the online audience topping 600 views so far following the two events, reaching people as far as Hobart and Adelaide via the streaming platform.

These events were funded by DJAARA, who is managing aspects of Kalimna Park (Castlemaine) and Wildflower Drive (Greater Bendigo National Park). Local Dja Dja Wurrung man Harley Douglas provided the audience with insight into cultural practices, and the Djaara names and significance of various plants and animals in the parks. The events featured a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas – a great combination of insight, knowledge and experience.

For those who missed the events, you can still watch the videos on Connecting Country’s Facebook page (no account required). To view, please – click here

Harley Douglas engages the audience at Kalimna Park (photo by Ivan Carter)

 

Harley highlighted some of the surveys and management practices that DJAARA has developed to manage these parks for biodiversity and cultural preservation, which was refreshing and welcomed by the audience. The events were part of a four event series funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Two further events in March 2022 will focus on nest boxes and providing habitat for marsupials.

Damian and Jane from BirdLife Castlemaine provided excellent insight into the calls, habitat and life of many woodland birds spotted or heard on the walks, including birds like the Grey Butcherbird, which imitate and mimic the calls of other birds! Also of interest was a welcome from a Wedge Tailed Eagle, at the beginning of the Kalimna Park event, when Harley was setting up.

We would like to warmly thank our presenters and all the people who attended the event, which has generated extremely positive feedback.

Please enjoy some photos from the events, taken by Frances Howe.

Woodland birds

The Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo regions are home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Healthy landscapes guide – gift a copy now!

Posted on 9 December, 2021 by Ivan

Looking for a healthy and sustainable Christmas gift this festive season? We still have copies of Connecting Country’s Healthy Landscapes guide for sale.

Healthy Landscapes is a practical guide to caring for land in the Mount Alexander region of Central Victoria. It is targeted to local landholders and Landcarers, or anyone interested in caring for our special local environment.

Here’s just some of the feedback:

  • Sensational! A must-read for anyone with a property from 1 to 1,000 acres. (Yapeen landholder/farmer)
  • I wish we’d had this guide when I first moved here 25 years ago. (Golden Point landholder)
  • Wow, what a fabulous publication. It covers all bases and is an essential read for all landowners. It has particular relevance for anyone doing due diligence before purchasing rural acreage, however big or small.  (Walmer landholder)
  • I was in Castlemaine today and suddenly remembered this item about the book being available at Stonemans. They had it at the front desk and we are reading it now back at home. It is really outstanding and very relevant. Thanks to Connecting Country for their dedication. (Welshmans Reef landholder)

For more information about the Healthy Landscapes guide – click here

To get your copy ($15) head to:

Mount Alexander Animal Welfare (MAAW) Op Shop
12 Johnstone St, Castlemaine VIC
For shop information and opening hours – click here

Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre
44 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC
For centre information – click here

Stoneman’s Bookroom
101 Mostyn St, Castlemaine VIC
For shop information – click here

The Book Wolf
1/26 High St, Maldon VIC
For shop information – click here

A copy of the guide has been made available free of charge to each local Landcare and environmental volunteering group in the Mount Alexander region. This project was made possible through support from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, through funding from Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

 

Last chance to book: Woodland birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA – 4 December 2021

Posted on 3 December, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce we have five further tickets for our second of four free events in partnership with Djaara.

Our second event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Wildflower Drive, which is part of the Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC.

This event is the second of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Two further events in March 2022 will focus on nest boxes and providing habitat for marsupials.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park.
  • Explore the Wildflower Drive environment with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Wildflower Drive is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Greater Bendigo National Park.

The Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 4 December 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

AGM 2021 wrap up – Restoring landscapes in a changing climate

Posted on 2 December, 2021 by Jacqui

We were pleased to hold Connecting Country’s AGM on Saturday 13 November 2021, with the theme Restoring landscapes in a changing climate.

Frances Howe (Director – Connecting Country) gave an introductory presentation celebrating achievements of the past year, within the context of ongoing challenges. We followed this with a super-brief AGM led by Brendan Sydes (President – Connecting Country).

All existing committee of management members were re-appointed to the 2021-22 committee:

  • President: Brendan Sydes
  • Vice President: Sadie Gray
  • Treasurer: Max Kay
  • Secretary: Marie Jones
  • Christine Brooke
  • Deb Wardle
  • Karoline Klein
  • Malcolm Trainor

Congratulations to Connecting Country’s dedicated committee members and thank you for volunteering your time and skills to guide our work.

Guest speakers

We were thrilled to see a strong attendance of 40 community members, who spent the Saturday afternoon hearing from special guests: Bonnie Humphreys (Landscape Restoration Coordinator – Connecting Country), and Geoff Caine and Dona Cayetana, from the climate adaptation group at the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

Bonnie gave an interesting talk on ‘Future-proof our forests’, a project she manages for Connecting Country with support from the Ross Trust. We heard about the progress and challenges to establish two pioneering climate future plots in the Mount Alexander region. For background information on this project – click here

Geoff Caine, Program Manager for Community and Partnerships in DELWP’s regional climate change group, then gave an informative talk about the outlook for revegetation in the Mount Alexander region through the lens of climate projections for our region. 

Learn more

  • To read the minutes of the Connecting Country AGM 2021 – click here
  • To read the Connecting Country annual report 2021 – click here
  • To catch the AGM 2021 on video – please see the link below.

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.

 

Congratulations to winners – 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards

Posted on 1 December, 2021 by Frances

Connecting Country extends our congratulations to all the winners at the 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards, but especially Tess Grieves, the Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central Catchment Management Authority. Tess won the Steadfast Young Landcare Leader Award at the awards on 26 November 2021.

Tess is a great supporter of Connecting Country and our role as host of a Landcare Facilitator for the Mount Alexander region. She grew up in Castlemaine before moving to Bendigo. We thoroughly appreciate Tess’s friendly, positive and practical approach. Congratulations!

Here is the official summary of the award. To read more about Tess and the other winners, visit the Spring 2021 edition of the Landcare Magazine – click here.

Steadfast Young Landcare Leader Award
Tess Grieves

This award acknowledges an individual or youth group between 15–35 years who promotes excellence in Landcare through on-ground projects and awareness raising activities.

Tess Grieves is the Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central Catchment Management Authority. She has supported over 160 Landcare groups and networks for five years.

Always focussed on the big picture, Tess fosters partnerships and secures funding that provides benefits for Victoria’s environmental volunteers.

She is driven to support volunteers, spread the Landcare story, and engage new audiences.

Tess will represent Victoria at the 2022 National Landcare Awards.

 

Tess and turtle (photo from Connecting Country archive)

 

Five tickets remaining, Woodland birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA – 4 December 2021

Posted on 29 November, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce we have five further tickets for our second of four free events in partnership with Djaara.

Our second event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Wildflower Drive, which is part of the Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC.

This event is the second of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Two further events in March 2022 will focus on nest boxes and providing habitat for marsupials.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park.
  • Explore the Wildflower Drive environment with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Wildflower Drive is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Greater Bendigo National Park.

The Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 4 December 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Ten tickets left – Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA – Saturday 27 November 2021

Posted on 26 November, 2021 by Ivan

We now have ten more tickets available for the first of four free events in partnership with Djaara, which will be held this Saturday 27 November 2021. Please see booking details below. 

Our first event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Kalimna Park in Castlemaine, VIC.

This event is the first of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. A second Woodland Birds event is scheduled for Saturday 4 December 2021 at Wildflower Drive, Strathsfieldsaye, near Bendigo.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Kalimna Park in Castlemaine VIC.
  • Explore Kalimna Park with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Kalimna Park is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Kalimna Park.

The Mount Alexander region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 27 November 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Kalimna Park, Castlemaine, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Bird of the month: White-winged Chough

Posted on 25 November, 2021 by Ivan

Welcome to our twentieth Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, with assistance from the brilliant Damian Kelly and photos by Ash Vigus and Damian. 

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphus)

Favouring open Box woodland with leaf litter and fallen timber in which to forage, the White-winged Chough is yet another fascinating species of bird with complex and unusual family dynamics. They will use a variety of habitats such as wetter forests, farmland, pine plantations and urban areas, but need to drink daily so a water source is vital. They have interesting inter-species communication including unique displays with bulging bright red eyes fully engorged with blood, and wing and tail fanning, which exposes the white on the wing of this otherwise black bird.

Their broad diet is omnivorous, including insects, spiders, fruit, plant tubers and, on occasion, eggs of nesting birds. I have witnessed them attempting to take a newly fledged Grey Shrike-thrush (I don’t know if they succeeded) and Damian’s photo shows a White-winged Chough about to swallow a large frog.

Mmmmm tasty, a very large frog for dinner (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

DNA studies show the White-winged Chough is closely related to the Apostle Bird. Both live in large gregarious groups and are sedentary cooperative breeders. A bird banding study showed 94% of White-winged Choughs moved no further than 10 km from the banding site, and the maximum distance was 31 km. Mobs of White-winged Choughs vary from four birds, the minimum viable breeding group, to 20 birds. Breeding groups consist of a dominant breeding pair with generally sons and daughters from previous broods, including young birds, helping at the nest. The dominant pair will often be the sole breeders, over multiple years. Research shows that a group of four birds will only be able to raise one young, a group of seven can raise more than one young, and a group of seven or more can raise four fledglings. The nest is a neat mud bowl like construction, firmly attached to a horizontal branch high in a eucalypt.

An adult sitting on the bowl shaped mud nest of the White-winged Chough (photo by Ash Vigus)

 

It takes four years for a bird to reach maturity and they live up to 14 years in the wild, and longer in captivity. Mobs of White-winged Choughs break up on occasion, usually when the dominant breeding pair dies or becomes too old. Other than during the breeding season, there can be some mingling and overlapping of groups. Depending on the habitat, they need a home range of up to 50 hectares.

White-winged Choughs LOVE to bathe, both in fine dust and a good splash in water. They often turn the fresh water in my bird bath to opaque yuckiness, as all dozen of them try to cram in at once. I recommend spending the time to sit and watch a mob of White-winged Choughs – you’ll most likely be thoroughly entertained with their interactions.

The blood filled eye, red gape (mouth) and the (usually hidden) white on the wing of a displaying White-winged Chough (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

To hear the call of a White-winged Chough, please – click here

Jane Rusden
BirdLife Castlemaine District

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book now for Woodland birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA – 4 December 2021

Posted on 15 November, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce tickets are now available for our second of four free events in partnership with Djaara.

Our second event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Wildflower Drive with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. Th

e event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Wildflower Drive, which is part of the Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC.

This event is the second of four events in the coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Two further events in March 2022 will focus on nest boxes and providing habitat for marsupials.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park.
  • Explore the Wildflower Drive environment with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Wildflower Drive is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Greater Bendigo National Park.

The Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 4 December 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Wildflower Drive, Greater Bendigo National Park, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA – 27 November 2021

Posted on 10 November, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is thrilled to announce tickets are now available for our first of four free events in partnership with Djaara, with 10 tickets still remaining.

Our first event is titled ‘Woodland Birds of Kalimna Park with DJAARA‘ and is a collaboration between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, BirdLife Castlemaine and Connecting Country. The event will feature a bird talk and walk with local bird gurus, Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden of BirdLife Castlemaine, and an exploration of cultural and landscape awareness with Harley Douglas of DJAARA. It will be held at the lovely Kalimna Park in Castlemaine, VIC.

This event is the first of four events in coming months funded through Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. A second Woodland Birds event is scheduled for Saturday 4 December 2021 at Wildflower Drive, Strathsfieldsaye, near Bendigo.

During the event we will:

  • Learn about Dja Dja Wurrung country and the woodland birds of Kalimna Park in Castlemaine VIC.
  • Explore Kalimna Park with local cultural and ecological guides.
  • Hear about how Kalimna Park is managed for biodiversity, cultural preservation and woodland birds.

We will have the opportunity to explore the landscape with members of the Djaara community and hear about the significance that birds play in the broader landscape of Kalimna Park.

The Mount Alexander region is home to some special woodland birds.  Connecting Country has embraced woodland birds as a focus for landscape restoration.

We focus on birds because:

  • Different bird species tend to use different habitats, hence their presence or absence can tell us about habitat type and quality.
  • Birds are relatively easy to count and can indicate whether our revegetation efforts are successful in creating habitat.
  • Woodland birds are in serious decline, with the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community is listed as a threatened community under Victorian legislation.
  • Birds are engaging! BirdLife Australia has been harnessing the enthusiasm and skill of citizen scientists for decades, with great success.

 

Booking

The event will be on Saturday 27 November 2021 from 10.00 to 11.30 am in Kalimna Park, Castlemaine, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here

Due to COVID-19 limitations, please bring your own refreshments. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment. Bring binoculars if you have some.

Live-streaming via Facebook

This event will also be streamed live on Facebook, for those who cannot make it or miss out on tickets. To watch the Facebook Live Stream, on the day please visit: facebook.com/connectingcountry

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya

The ‘Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya’ project spans across four years with a focus on site-specific management plans for the two identified areas of Dja Dja Wurrung Country: Kalimna Park in Castlemaine; and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye.

The project focuses on how to:

  • Increase community connection with nature.
  • Grow visitation rates.
  • Encourage healthy use of each sites.
  • Maintain and improve diversity.

The project will also promote Djaara employment opportunities and facilitate Djaara connections with traditional and contemporary practices to improve land management outcomes.

For more information on the Walking Together Project, please – click here

 

Connecting Country AGM 2021 – last chance to book!

Posted on 4 November, 2021 by Frances

It’s only a week to our next special event! Please join us for this free online event on Saturday 13 November 2021 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities and our special guest presenters. As usual it will be much more than an AGM.

Our theme is Restoring landscapes in a changing climate

Special presentations:

  • Future-proof our forests
    Bonnie Humphreys (Landscape Restoration Coordinator) and Ivan Carter (Engagement Coordinator)
    Join Bonnie and Ivan to learn about Connecting Country’s mission to create two pioneering climate future plots in our region, with support from the Ross Trust.
  • Climate scenarios and planning considerations for central Victoria
    Geoff Caine  (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
    Hear Geoff speaking on the latest climate projections for our region and the implications for biodiversity and revegetation.

Everyone is welcome! Please register your attendance and we will send you the link prior to the meeting – click here

 

Bonnie and Ivan with tubestock ready for planting (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM documents are available for download:

Please note only current Connecting Country members can vote in the AGM. To become a member or renew your membership – click here

If you have any questions, please email info@connectingcountry.org.au

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.

 

Farewell Asha and welcome Hadley: a new Landcare Facilitator

Posted on 3 November, 2021 by Ivan

We recently said ‘goodbye’ to our much-loved Landcare Facilitator, colleague and friend, Asha Bannon. Asha has been an incredible asset to Connecting Country over the past (nearly) six years. She has provided inspiration and dedication to the role of Landcare Facilitator for the Mount Alexander region, and will be missed by the 30+ local groups who shared in her passion, vision and wisdom. Her commitment to the groups was a juggling act, with Asha often attending multiple events over a single weekend. Asha’s efforts have made a huge difference to the local landscape and the Landcare community.

We wish Asha the very best in her new role at North Central Catchment Management Authority, and are thrilled she will stay involved as a Connecting Country volunteer and supporter. Thanks also to all the Landcarers who have supported Asha during this time.

As one-star moves to another galaxy, another arrives. We have been very fortunate to recruit a new Landcare Facilitator – another local talent – Hadley Cole. We welcome Hadley with open arms and endless Zoom calls, and hope she enjoys the role and the team, as we regroup after a lengthy COVID-related ‘home office’ period.

Local resident Hadley Cole joins Connecting Country with a wealth of knowledge in landscape restoration. Photo: Connecting Country

 

Introducing Hadley

Hadley Cole has lived and worked in Central Victoria for the past ten years. Growing up in North East Victoria, she developed a strong love for nature and a keen interest in agriculture. Her career has spanned multiple environmental management roles with both government and non-government organisations. Hadley has worked with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, along with community groups such as Wombat Forestcare and Merri Creek Management Committee. She brings an array of skills and knowledge on landscape restoration, invasive species management and how to empower community groups. Her experience gives Hadley a sound knowledge of the key conservation issues within central Victoria.

Hadley lives in Guildford with her young family, and has been actively involved in local community-based projects in the Guildford area. She is passionate about regenerative farming and enjoys spending her time in the garden and in nature with her family.

Hadley is delighted to join the Connecting Country team as Landcare Facilitator for the Mount Alexander region, as she believes strongly in the power of community, and values the knowledge and passion volunteers bring to local conservation projects.

We are super-excited to have Hadley on board, please say hello to Hadley via her email: hadley@connectingcountry.org.au

 

Please enjoy a few photos of Asha and some of the wonderful events she coordinated over the past few years. Farewell and thank you Asha!

 

Read all about it: Connecting Country’s annual report 2021

Posted on 28 October, 2021 by Frances

Connecting Country’s annual report for 2020-21 is now available for your viewing pleasure.  The report provides a brief overview of our recent work – with lots of pictures!

It also provides us the opportunity to say a huge thank you to our many valued funders, donors, volunteers and supporters in the community.

It’s no surprise to say that 2020-21 was another challenging time. We’re grateful for another successful year of restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander region of Central Victoria.

We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about our work and achievements this past year.

To view the Connecting Country annual report 2021 – click here

Thank you to everyone who contributed photos and input to the annual report.

If you’re not already, please consider contributing to Connecting Country’s work. We are a not-for-profit community group and run entirely from grants, volunteer help and donations. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

To donate to support Connecting Country’s work please – click here

 

 

 

 

 

Bird of the month: how to feed birds safely

Posted on 27 October, 2021 by Ivan

Welcome to our twentieth ‘bird of the month’, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species – except this month! We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, but this month we thought it would be helpful to reflect on another important bird topic: how to safely feed birds.

This special edition of bird of the month article was written by the well-versed Damian Kelly, with photos by the talented Jane Rusden and Damian. 

Feeding birds

If you want people to appreciate the environment, they must be engaged – to see wildlife up close and personal. Research has demonstrated that a lot of people are already engaged and feeding birds. Encouraging this and ensuring good feeding practices are essential.

In the past, it was common advice to not feed birds but just plant a native garden and provide water. However, more recent research has begun to question that. It is not possible to cover the whole topic here, but suffice to say that if you are interested, you should read these books by Professor Daryl Jones, a behavioural ecologist at Griffith University in Queensland:

  • ‘The birds at my table – why we feed wild birds and why it matters’ (Cornell University Press, 2018) 
  • ‘Feeding the birds at your table – a guide for Australia’ (NewSouth, 2019).

 

The second book provides lots of practical advice, based on science.

The trend to native gardens has encouraged plant nurseries to develop long-flowering species, and this alone can change the mix of birds in gardens. In some areas, such long and intense sources of nectar encourage aggressive species such as Noisy Miners and Red Wattlebirds, which tend to drive away other species. Sometimes there can be unintended consequences of garden changes.

The same can be said if you feed lots of meat, which favours Butcherbirds and Kookaburras – species that are predators of smaller birds. A lot of mincemeat can also lead to disease issues due to a lack of the nutrients needed by birds.

So – if you want to feed the birds then it is best to be informed, and make sure you are providing the best food and plenty of cover, along with clean water for them. You will be rewarded with a variety of birds in your garden to enjoy.

In summary, Daryl Jones recommends:

  • Ensure that the feeding station is cleaned daily and is located out of reach of potential predators such as cats.
  • Provide high-quality food. Do not provide bread, fatty meat, or honey and water mixes. Instead use nectar mixes, good quality seed or meat with a low-fat content.
  • Vary the type of food provided and when it is available. Alternate between nectar mixes and seed for example. Set it out at different times and not every day.
  • Monitor the types of birds using the feeder. If introduced birds are becoming more common or populations that are visiting the feeder are becoming very large, then take a break from feeding for a while and then recommence with a different food type.
  • Provide a birdbath

Birdlife Australia now provides detailed recommendations for feeding birds. A good place to start is the Birds in Backyards website – click here

Red-browed Finch feeding on quality birdseed (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

A waterlogged Sacred Kingfisher flies off after a good swim in a birdbath (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

You never know who else might enjoy some water in your garden: Swamp Wallaby has a drink (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

Damian Kelly

 

Restoring landscapes in a changing climate – 13 November 2021

Posted on 21 October, 2021 by Frances

How do we plan for restoring and revegetating our fragmented habitat, in a time of climate change? What are the latest projections for our climate over the coming decades and how does this affect revegetation projects? Connecting Country are hosting an online event exploring this topic, combined with our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday 13 November 2021 at 2.00 pm. This year’s AGM theme is ‘Restoring landscapes in a changing climate’ and Connecting Country has secured two guest speakers who will explore climate change projections for our region and how revegetation projects might look in the future.

Guest speakers at the event will be Bonnie Humphreys (Connecting Country) and Geoff Caine (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning). Bonnie will update the audience about Connecting Country’s mission to create two climate future plots in our region, with support from the Ross Trust. Bonnie is Connecting Country’s Landscape Restoration Coordinator and coordinates on-ground actions and ecological surveys. Geoff will be speaking on the latest climate projections for our region and the implications for biodiversity and revegetation. Geoff is a Program Manager (Community and Partnerships) at DELWP, focusing on climate change, energy and sustainability.

Landcarers and landholders in the Mount Alexander region are increasingly concerned about the future viability of their revegetation work, given recent weather patterns and future climate predictions. Many have seen their revegetation plantings die in recent years due to heat and water stress, and some have even stopped planting.

Connecting Country seeks to help address this issue and has secured funding through the Ross Trust to establish two climate future plots of 500 plants right here in Mount Alexander region during 2021-23. This ‘Future-proof our forests’ project focuses on two important species from our local area: Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) and Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

You may have heard the terms ‘climate future plot‘, ‘climate-resilient landscapes‘ or ‘climate-ready revegetation‘, but what do they actually mean? In simple terms, they refer to the use of climate change modelling to plan for revegetation, by using suitable indigenous plants sourced from places with climates similar to that predicted at the revegetation site in decades to come (usually hotter and drier places). This is a new and emerging revegetation technique.

Bonnie Humphreys (Connecting Country) will talk about how climate future plots work and the challenges of pioneering our first local plots. ‘We are working to include a variety of plant provenances, grown from seed from areas that are hotter and drier, as well as areas that are cooler and wetter’. ‘Even though our climate is predicted to become hotter and drier, there may be other genetic information stored within a particular provenance, such as ability to survive an insect attack, or frost resilience, which plants from the hotter and drier area do not have,’ said Ms Humphreys.

The project has selected plant provenances based on Bureau of Meteorology’s climate predictions for our region. These are paired to these predictions with species distribution and the availability of seed for our chosen plants. Connecting Country hopes the climate future plots will create seed production areas and provide climate-adapted seed for use in future revegetation projects. They will also help to identify individuals and provenances most suited to survive in our changing climatic conditions.

The AGM will include a brief presentation from staff and committee members about Connecting Country’s achievements over the past year, to allow supporters old and new to hear what Connecting Country does and plans for the coming year. All are welcome.

Bookings are essential for this online event. To make a booking – click here

To find out more about the AGM 2021 (including AGM documents) – click here

If you have any questions, please email ivan@connectingcountry.org.au or call (03) 5472 1594.

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.

 

Healthy Landscapes – land management events 2021

Posted on 21 October, 2021 by Ivan

We recently came across some great upcoming events on sustainable land management, aimed educating and building the capacity of farmers and other landholders. The series of workshops are scheduled for October to December 2021. They are part of a larger project called ‘Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities’, a collaboration between local governments, Landcare networks and water authorities.

Of particular interest is the ‘Grass and Pasture Identification’ workshop, featuring Dr Graeme Lorimer who has been teaching how to identify, understand and manage wild (non-planted) grasses for 32 years. This webinar is combined with field days at several locations. The webinar is on Tuesday 26 October at 7.30 pm and the field days include one in Redesdale VIC on Friday 26 November 2021 from 10.00 am.

Details of the eight workshops can be found below, courtesy of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council website.

The Healthy Landscapes project

The Healthy Landscapes: Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities program aims to raise awareness in their community about sustainable land management practices that improve soil health, reduce exposure to climate risk, enhance biodiversity and increase on-farm productivity. This program is being delivered as a partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, the City of Greater Bendigo, A Healthy Coliban Catchment project (North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water), Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network.

The Healthy Landscapes: Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities project aims to raise awareness in the community about sustainable land management practices that improve soil health, reduce exposure to climate risk, enhance biodiversity and increase on-farm productivity.

For details and bookings for the upcoming events – click here

 Grass and Pasture Identification Webinar image

 

How to better manage farm waste

Posted on 14 October, 2021 by Frances

Castlemaine local and waste guru, Jess Drake, is helping run in a brand new project to help better manage wastes on farms. Here is some information from Agrifutures Australia on how to get involved.

Agrifutures Australia is running a program of work to support innovative ideas and options for the avoidance, recycling, and reuse of pre-farm gate waste (specifically wastes from workshops), and ensure there is clear direction and coordination of activities for the sector to achieve the required change. Murrang Earth Sciences and Science into Action, along with sector experts, are investigating practical options for agriculture, fishery, and forestry communities to revalue and manage these workshop wastes. While we have our own expertise frankly, to develop useful and practical ways of managing workshop waste, we need to understand what concerns you/your members and what you/they need.

We are running some online sessions to work with people who run or manage family-owned fishing, forestry, or agricultural enterprises, as well as representatives of peak bodies, and associated relevant government bodies.

If you are interested in participating, please click here to find out more and register – click here

Please note that we will need to limit participation to less than 75 people (spread across the sectors and the country) directly in the online sessions. However, we welcome ideas, thoughts or other engagement via reply email or info@scienceintoaction.com.

Dr Jess Drake
Environmental Regulation and Soil Scientist
Murrang Earth Sciences

 

 

 

Announcing Connecting Country AGM – 13 November 2021

Posted on 14 October, 2021 by Frances

Connecting Country is delighted to announce our Annual General Meeting 2021 (AGM). While we’d really like to meet up in person, an online meeting allows for unpredictable COVID-19 restrictions and opens the event to a broader audience.

Please join us for this free online event on Saturday 13 November 2021 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities and our special guest presenters. As usual it will be much more than an AGM!

Our theme is Restoring landscapes in a changing climate

Special presentations:

  • Future-proof our forests
    Bonnie Humphreys (Landscape Restoration Coordinator) and Ivan Carter (Engagement Coordinator)
    Join Bonnie and Ivan to learn about Connecting Country’s mission to create two pioneering climate future plots in our region, with support from the Ross Trust.
  • Climate scenarios and planning considerations for central Victoria
    Geoff Caine  (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
    Hear Geoff speaking on the latest climate projections for our region and the implications for biodiversity and revegetation.


Everyone is welcome!
 Please register your attendance and we will send you the link prior to the meeting – click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM documents are available for download:

Please note only current Connecting Country members can vote in the AGM. To become a member or renew your membership – click here

If you have any questions, please email info@connectingcountry.org.au

Thank you to the Ross Trust for their invaluable support of our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project.


 

What to plant in and around your dam – 14 October 2021

Posted on 7 October, 2021 by Frances

Planning and planting to maximise the potential of farm dams

Join Sustainable Farms for a free online webinar on the latest research on the benefits of enhancing farm dams, what to plant where and other practical planning tips!

When – Thursday 14 October 2021 at 12.00 pm (AEDT)
To register – click here

This one hour lunchtime webinar will cover practical aspects of enhancing farm dams:

  • Dave Smith (Sustainable Farms ecologist) will discuss current research on the multiple benefits of enhancing farm dams
  • Angelina Siegrist (Sustainable Farms ecologist) will introduce our new Enhancing farm dams: What to plant in and around your dam guide, including the different zones of a dam and species selection
  • Sally Day (Greta Valley Landcare project officer) will share her experiences of why farmers choose to enhance their dams and practical aspects of planning a farm dam project

There will also be plenty of time for questions.

The organisers recommend having a copy of the Enhancing farm dams: What to plant in and around your dam guide handy during the webinar.

To download a copy of the guide from the Sustainable Farms website – click here

Sustainable Farms is an initiative of the Australian National University.

Local ecologist Karl Just discusses biodiversity at a farm dam in Taradale (photo by Jaqcui Slingo)