Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Digging down into Forest Creek

Posted on 1 September, 2011 by Connecting Country

Most Mount Alexander Shire residents and visitors to the area have seen photos of Forest Creek during the gold rushes, with enormous piles of dirt obliterating the watercourse. And most will know the creek as it is now, with substantial revegetation along most of its course. But the creek has other stories, not so well known, and these will be the subject of the third of Connecting Country free talks program for 2011 at Campbells Creek Community Centre on Thursday 8 September, to be presented by Robyn Ballinger.

‘The documents of the past give us a fascinating insight into the lesser known activities that happened along the creek,’ Robyn said yesterday.

‘Early maps, for example, show our creeks and rivers as being surrounded by excellent pasture land, suggestive of the kind of use the indigenous people would have made of it.  The presence of gold dramatically altered all this.’

Robyn’s talk will look at the creek from Golden Point to central Castlemaine, and tease out its many histories.  Forest Creek is known for its gold mining history, but people have made myriad other uses of this place over time. Using historical documents, Robyn will be providing a fascinating insight into the lesser-known activities that have shaped this local landscape.

Forest Creek at Welsh Street Bridge. Photo by John Ellis, August 2011

Robyn Ballinger’s presentation is a look at environmental history – how people have changed an environment over time and the consequences of that interaction for both nature and people.

To find out about this intriguing aspect of our local history, turn up to the Campbell’s Creek Community Centre on Thursday 8 September. A light supper made from local produce will be served from 6.30pm, and the talk will go from 7 to 9 pm.  Although the event is presented free as part of Connecting Country’s Yellow Box Woodland project, RVSPs from community members wishing to attend are encouraged to assist with catering (contact Chris on 5472 1594 or chris@connectingcountry.org.au).

The project is being undertaken in partnership with the North Central Catchment Management Authority and is co-funded by the federal Caring for our Country program and the state Natural Resource Investment Program.

 

Mount Alexander Community Grants Scheme 2011-2012

Posted on 31 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Mount Alexander Shire Council has announced the Mount Alexander Community Grants Scheme funding round for 2011-2012. It opens on 29 August and applications will close on 7 October 2011.

The grants scheme supports not-for-profit community organisations in the provision of facilities, programs and services that enhance quality of life and create a sustainable future for residents and visitors to the Mount Alexander Shire.  Copies of the 2011-2012 Community Grants guidelines and application form can be obtained from Council offices at 25 Lyttleton Street or 9 Halford Street Castlemaine, or on Council’s website www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au and search for Community Grants.

There will be a series of information sessions on the following dates and locations.

  • Thursday 8 September 2011, 1pm, Ray Bradfield Room, Victory Park, Castlemaine
  • Thursday 15 September 2011, 1pm, Maldon Neighbourhood Centre, Church Street, Maldon
  • Thursday 15 September 2011, 6.30pm, Ray Bradfield Room, Victory Park, Castlemaine

For more information contact Kate Clifford on 5471 1744 or email grants@mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

 

FriendsNET Newsletter

Posted on 22 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

The current FriendsNET newsletter from the Victorian Environment Friends Network can be downloaded here. This newsletter has information on the forthcoming 14th VEFN Biennial Conference to be held on September 2–4 at Campaspe Downs (near Kyneton).

A list of news ‘snippets’ from VEFN can be downloaded here.

 

New Field Guides on Mosses, Lichens and Fungi

Posted on 18 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

A meeting was recently held in Castlemaine to plan two new field guides covering mosses, lichens and fungi. This follows the success of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists folder guide to the indigenous plants of Castlemaine and surrounds. The new guides will be produced in the same format and the project has the support of FOBIF, Connecting Country and the Norman Wettenhall Foundation.

A field day is planned for 27 August to begin surveying local mosses. If you are interested in being involved in this new project, contact Bernard Slattery on 5470 5161.

Moss capsules, Metcalfe Nature Conservation Reserve, Photo by Bernard Slattery, May 30 2011

 

Community Tree Planting in Taradale

Posted on 18 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Taradale Landcare has organised a community tree planting on Saturday 20 August. The meeting time is 10am and the meeting place is the Mineral Springs, Taradale. There will be plantings of Yellow Box, Blackwood and Manna Gums at Back Creek in the Taradale Mineral Springs and plantings of  Golden Wattle and Long-leaf Box at Kangaroo Creek by the Quartz Battery. It is suggested you dress warmly with sturdy boots. Morning tea will be provided.  Contact mediadaz@gmail.com for further information.

 

Tackling Weeds in Three Ways

Posted on 17 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Cactus Killers Wanted!

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Committee and Parks Victoria will hold their next community field day on Sunday 28 August starting at 10.30 pm.  The field day will be held at a property on the Baringhup Road near its intersection with the Hayes Road.  The route to the site will be well signposted.

The field day is an opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors while helping to eradicate Wheel Cactus from our district.  No experience is necessary and everyone concerned with the natural environment is most welcome.  Dress for the occasion in warm clothes and sturdy footwear.  The day will conclude at about 1 pm with a free sausage sizzle and cuppa.

Wheel Cactus from the Tarrengower area (Photo from DPI).

Managing Weeds on Your Small Property
A free workshop (and BBQ) on managing weeds will be held on 12 September at Woodvale Public Hall, Woodvale, between 6.00 and 8.30pm. For more information, click here.

Mapping of Wheel Cactus and other weeds
Connecting Country are also still promoting the mapping of weeds, particularly Wheel Cactus, on the community interactive mapper website.  All data will make an important contribution to the understanding and control of these weeds in the local area.  For information on how to participate in Connecting Country’s mapping of Wheel Cactus, click here.

 

August edition of Groundcover

Posted on 17 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

There are two articles on Connecting Connecting activities in the lastest edition of the North Central CMA publication Groundcover, one on Woodland Bird Monitoring and the other on Dr Arn Tolsma’s upcoming presentation on fire and the box-ironbark forests. The edition can be downloaded here

 

Rehabilitating Clinkers Hill

Posted on 15 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

On Sunday 10 July a group of enthusiastic locals spent two hours removing weeds from the Clinkers Hill Bushland Reserve. This 2.1 hectare Reserve is situated between the township of Castlemaine and the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. It consists of two adjacent parcels of land along Preshaw St, beyond the southern end of the sealed section of road.

Some of the working bee participants. Photo by Chris Timewell.

Victoria Gully's ephemeral waterway. Photo by Bronwyn Silver.

The working bee was organised by Victoria Gully Group which is being assisted by Connecting Country and Parks Victoria to rehabilitate this bushland. The current focus of the project is weed control and supplementary plantings of locally indigenous tube stock. The long-term aim is to rehabilitate the whole Victoria Gully thus improving the habitat linkage between the National Heritage Park and Forest Creek. The project is part of Connecting Country’s broader Yellow Box Woodland project.

Community education will be an important part of the project. The Group plans to erect a sign to explain the project and encourage local participation.

More than 56 native plant species have been identified including numerous trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, sedges and mistletoe. Unfortunately there are also many weed species which are prominent in the lower areas near the gully. More than 38 non-native flora species have already been identified. Weed control will include a mixture of hand pulling and chemical control and the focus will be on the most invasive exotic species including Tree Lucerne, Gorse, Hawthorn, Broom, Blackberry, Cootamundra Wattle and Briar Rose.

Working bees will take place regularly on the second Sunday of the month, beginning at 9.30 and ending at 11.30 followed by a cuppa.  If you have any enquires about this project or would like to participate in future working bees, ring Julie Hurley on 54 725082.

The working bee in action. Photos by Chris Timewell.

 

 

Connecting Country Woodland Bird Monitoring

Posted on 12 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Connecting Country’s Project Officer, Bryan McMullan, has written the following report on the progress of the Woodland Bird Monitoring project:

“Connecting Country’s monitoring focus has recently shifted from nest boxes to woodland birds as the winter bird community puts on a wonderful display of recovery following favourable environmental conditions. This focus allows the use of woodland bird community diversity and numbers as an indicator of landscape change, especially as a result of beneficial land management strategies that have been funded and facilitated by Connecting Country.

A total of 50 bird survey sites have been selected across the Mt Alexander Shire region in consultation with landholders, members of the management committee and other environmental agencies/stakeholders. To generate a meaningful dataset that will tell the story of landscape change over time, site categories were developed such as reference sites (intact vegetation and geomorphology), restoration sites (where land rehabilitation will occur/has occurred) and sites of conventional use (under grazing &/or cropping regimes). All sites were to receive an ‘am’ and ‘pm’ survey to ensure a comprehensive snapshot was achieved for each location/site condition.

Flora and fauna consultants Garry and Brenda Cheers were engaged to perform the bird surveys within a timeframe that suited the sampling plan developed in partnership with Deakin University. Recently I have had the pleasure of discussing with Garry some of the exciting aspects of observations made during the survey work undertaken. After completing more than 70 surveys Garry reported the following notable observations: large groups of Striated Pardalote’s around the Yandoit area, Speckled Warblers observed in the Maldon Historic Reserve (Nuggetty aspect), a significant increase in the numbers and range of Flame Robins and Superb Fairy-wrens and an early appearance of spring migrants such as the Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Rufous Songlarks.

In general it appears that the numbers and diversity of small foraging birds are on the increase and that appearances this season of certain species and in these numbers may be quite unique in the landscape. This presents a wonderful opportunity for community groups and individuals alike to get out there and make some of their own observations and enjoy the festivity of calls and colours of our regions birdlife. For further information regarding this or other Connecting Country projects please contact the office on 5472 1594 or visit our website – www.connectingcountry.org.au “

Superb Fairy-wren (Geoff Park); Striated Pardalote (Patrick Kavanagh); Flame Robin (Geoff Park)


 

Volunteer Management Workshops

Posted on 11 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre are conducting free volunteer management workshops.  These ‘hands on’ workshops will take place this month in Heathcote, Kyneton, Castlemaine and Maldon. They are suitable for community groups and Not-For- Profit organisations that rely on volunteers. The workshops will cover how to:

  • Strengthen and support community groups
  • Attract and retain new volunteers
  • Develop new recruitment strategies
  • Discover resources to assist with funding, marketing & managing organisations. Continue Reading »

 

Conservation and Land Management Course at BRIT

Posted on 11 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

There is an open day for the Certificate 1v/Diploma in Conservation and Land Management at Bendigo TAFE on Sunday 28 August (10am – 4pm). For more details click here.

 

How much fire is enough?

Posted on 10 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

In the second talk in its Education Program for 2011 the Connecting Country project is hosting a free information night on Thursday 25 August at Campbell’s Creek Community Centre. The management of Box-Ironbark forests through controlled fire will be the topic of conversation.

Fire can be used to reduce fuel hazard, and it can also be used to promote biodiversity. But what is the ‘natural’ fire regime in Box-Ironbark forests? How much fire can Box-Ironbark forests tolerate and how much burning should or could we be doing there?

Connecting Country project manager Chris Timewell said the night will be an opportunity for the community to hear and discuss the management of Box-Ironbark forests using fire.

Guest speaker, Dr Arn Tolsma, a senior scientist in Community  Ecology at the Arthur Rylah Institute, has a particular knowledge of forests and woodlands in our region. In 2007 Arn co-authored a research paper for the North Central CMA on fire ecology and management .

“One of the main problems that natural resource managers face is balancing the needs or wishes for a controlled fire regime with the needs of our native plants and animals,’ he said this week. “If management burns are too frequent, there is a risk of long term decline in some native species, and deterioration of soil quality. On the other hand, there is also the risk of losing species if burns are not frequent enough.”

“We are starting to get a better understanding of the way Aborigines used fire in this region. Most Box-Ironbark species not to need fire to regenerate, but we still need to do more research into how much fire is appropriate.”

So how much fire is enough? To find out, turn up to the Campbell’s Creek Community Centre on Thursday August 25. A free light supper made from locally sourced produce will be served from 6.30pm, and the talk will go from 7 to 9 pm.  Bookings can be made by contacting Chris on 5472 1594 or chris@connectingcountry.org.au.  (Also keep the evening of 8 September free in your diary for the third and final talk in the 2011 Education program).

This free event is part of Connecting Country’s Yellow Box Woodland project.  The project is being undertaken in partnership with the North Central CMA and is co-funded by the federal Caring for our Country program and the State Natural Resource Investment Program.

 

Correction of date for CFNC talk

Posted on 8 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Castlemaine Field Naturalist Club meeting will be held on Friday 12 August, not 13 August as stated in a previous email. Craig Grabham will be giving a presentation on bats in Victoria and around the Castlemaine area. Click here for more details.

Also a reminder that Megan Wong will be giving a presentation entitled  ‘Untangling the soil food web’ this Thursday 11 August at the Newstead Community Centre. This will be a very intriguing journey into life in our soil. Click here for more details.

 

All about Bats

Posted on 7 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

At the next Castlemaine Field Naturalist Club meeting Craig Grabham will discuss what bats are, their ecology, and bat diversity in Victoria and around the Castlemaine area. The role of bats in the broader ecosystem and why they are important to us will then be covered followed by a summary of the various survey methods used to survey bats. To conclude the evening, people will be able to use the Anabat detector and other survey equipment.

The presentation will take place on 12 August at the Uniting Church Hall (enter from Lyttleton Street). Starting time is 7.30 pm. All welcome.

Photos by Craig Grabham

 

 

How Life in the Earth Supports Life on Earth

Posted on 5 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Newstead Landcare Group’s August presentation ‘Untangling the soil food web’ will be a very intriguing journey into life in our soil. Megan Wong, researching for a PhD in soil ecology, will introduce soil microflora (bacteria and fungi) and microfauna (eg nematodes and springtails), which are important and fascinating creatures that go largely unnoticed. Microscopic creatures that make up the soil food web, and how they all work together to support life on earth will be discussed. Megan will touch briefly upon her current plant-microbe research in the Northern Plains Grasslands of Victoria.

The talk will be from 8-9 pm on Thursday 11 August at Newstead Community Centre. All are welcome to attend. Gold coin donations would be appreciated. The presentation will be followed by a brief business meeting.

 

Bridal Creeper

Posted on 5 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Volunteers are out and about spraying Bridal Creeper in the Newstead area. If you need help dealing with this weed or know of some that needs some work, please call Patrick from Newstead Landcare Group on 5476 2755.

Bridal Creeper is a climbing weed with glossy bright green leaves. Its seeds are spread by birds and the weed is capable of growing in high quality native bush, smothering native vegetation and eventually killing it.

Infestation of Bridal Creeper. Photo: Bryan McMullan, April 2011

 

Innovative Farming Forum in Kerang

Posted on 5 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

The North Central CMA are inviting the community to attend the Innovative Farming Forum on 17 August 2011 at the Kerang Valley Resort. The Forum is designed for those farmers who are already, or are considering:

  •  irrigating less
  • changing their land and water use, or
  • unsure about their options with a variable climate and availability of water for irrigation.

The forum will provide an opportunity to:

  • hear from farmers who have successfully changed their land use
  • hear from key note speakers regarding sustainable land practice options on farming land where irrigation has been significantly reduced, or ceased completely
  • network with farmers and others to share experiences, lessons and advice; and
  • learn more about the Innovative Farming program and associated projects

For catering purposes please RSVP to North Central CMA on 5448 7124 or info@nccma.vic.gov.au by Friday 11 August

 

2011 Landcare Volunteering Survey

Posted on 3 August, 2011 by Connecting Country

Landcare Australia Limited is seeking to gain an understanding of the operating environment of the Landcare movement and its needs by surveying people who are actively involved in their local Landcare group. If you play an active role in the Landcare movement, you may like to complete the following survey which should take no more than 10-15 minutes.

Everyone who fully completes the survey will go into a draw to receive one of 20 grants worth $500 for their group.

The survey closes at 11.59pm (EST) on Sunday, August 7th 2011

The survey can be completed on the Landcare Australia web site: www.landcareonline.com.au or by clicking this link: http://www.landcareonline.com.au/news/archive/the-landcare-landscape-2011-landcare-volunteering-survey/Land

The survey results may be made public to help raise awareness of the Landcare movement and the vital role it plays in repairing and protecting Australia’s biodiversity and the uptake of sustainable production practices. However, your individual identity will remain anonymous.

 

July edition of Groundcover

Posted on 29 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

The latest edition of the North Central CMA publication Groundcover can be downloaded here.

 

CACTUS KILLERS WANTED!

Posted on 27 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Committee and Parks Victoria will hold their next community field day on Sunday 31 July starting at 10.30 pm.  The field day will be held in Cooks Lane, which is off the Baringhup Road near its intersection with the Bridgewater – Maldon Road.  The route to the site will be well signposted from the intersection.

The field day is an opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors while helping to eradicate Wheel Cactus from our district.  No experience is necessary and everyone concerned with the natural environment is most welcome.  Dress for the occasion in warm clothes and sturdy footwear.  The day will conclude at about 1 pm with a free sausage sizzle and cuppa.

Wheel Cactus community field days are monthly events and take place on the last Sunday of each month.