Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Funding for Gorse Control

Posted on 5 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce 2011/12 Community Support Grants Project is now open for business. The VGT is now accepting project proposals from community-based organisations with a view to providing funds where these help to implement the Victorian Gorse Control Strategy, align to project guidelines and demonstrate a commitment to achieving long-term gorse control.

All of the required information can be found here.

Proposals will be accepted by the VGT up until the 5th of August 2011.



Reminder about Upcoming Events

Posted on 4 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

This is a reminder about four events that you may be interested in attending over the next week:

Friday 8 July
Euan Moore will speak on Birding in Sri Lanka at this month’s Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club meeting. Starting time is 7.30 pm and the venue is the Uniting Church Hall (enter from Lyttleton Street). All welcome.

Saturday 9 July
As part of their Small Conservation Reserves Survey, the Castlemaine Field Naturalists have organised an excursion to the Walmer South Nature Conservation Reserve. The group will depart from the carpark opposite the motel in Duke St, Castlemaine at 1.30 pm sharp.

Sunday 10 July
The Nuggetty Land Protection Group is inviting interested community members to attend a workshop on Bridal Creeper. The workshop will be held at the Bridal Creeper Trial site which is located immediately behind the Maldon cemetery in the Maldon Historic Reserve. It will take place between 11.00am and 12.30pm and finish with a free sausage sizzle and cupper. For more information click here.

Monday 11 July
The Friends of the Box-Ironbark AGM will be held at the Continuing Education building, Templeton St, Castlemaine. Starting time is 7.30 pm. The guest speaker will be Damian Wells, CEO of the North Central Catchment Management Authority and he will speak on Catchment Management and the Floods.


Wheel Cactus Mapping – First Prize-winner announced

Posted on 1 July, 2011 by Connecting Country

In mid-May, Connecting Country launched an appeal for observations of Wheel Cactus to be lodged onto the Community Interactive Mapping Portal. A total of 13 locations for this noxious weed were lodged onto the mapper during the months of May and June.  The majority of sightings were within the area bound by Joyces Creek, Baringhup and Maldon, with outliers occurring in Castlemaine, Maryborough and to the north near Bradford.

One of the Wheel Cactus submitters, Andrew Dimsey, has been randomly chosen as a prize winner to receive the book by Chris Tzaros, Wildlife of the Box Ironbark Region.  Congratulations Andrew and many thanks to everyone who has begun the process of submitting Wheel Cactus observations from across the region.

We are still appealing for more Wheel Cactus observations, and more prizes will be awarded each month.  Have you seen Wheel Cactus infestations in your local area that could be lodged?  Or perhaps you’ve seen a new outbreak a long way from home.  Assist in the efforts to control this growing menace by lodging your observation onto the mapping portal.  If you’re unsure how to use the mapping system, there is a help guide on the web-page, or please feel free to drop into the Connecting Country office in Castlemaine for a quick tutorial (Office 14 and 15, 233b Barker St, Castlemaine – above the Good Table restaurant.  Best to call us first if you’re coming into Castlemaine specifically for this tutorial.).

Further information on Connecting Country’s Wheel Cactus mapping project can be found by clicking here.

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




June edition of Groundcover

Posted on 21 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

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


DSE Landcare Survey

Posted on 21 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) is conducting an information gathering project as the first phase in developing a revised Landcare policy statement to replace the Victorian Action Plan for Second Generation Landcare (2002-2012).

The project will focus on collecting information to assist DSE in understanding the issues and challenges facing Landcare in Victoria as well as current and future roles and opportunities.

An online survey is one of three data collection methods. It accompanies a series of 10 regional workshops and 50 telephone interviews across Victoria. The online survey provides an opportunity to gather information from people who are closely involved in Landcare e.g. Landcare group and network members, Landcare support staff and agency staff.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Please click on the link below to access the survey.

The survey will be available until Friday the 1st of July 2011.


Integrated Weed Management workshops

Posted on 21 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Landcare and the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) are hosting an informative workshop titled ‘Integrated Weed Management’ to be held at Boort and Woodend, on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 June respectively.

The ‘Integrated Weed Management’ workshops will be presented by prominent Professor Brian Sindel from the University of New England. Formally a member of CSIRO, Professor Sindel is now the Professor of Weed Science at the University. Professor Sindel is an author and editor of a wide range of well-known weed management resources and has over twenty years of invaluable knowledge, research and experience in weed ecology and management.
Continue Reading »


Registrations open for Box Ironbark Ecology Course

Posted on 13 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Registrations are now open for a five-day residential Box Ironbark Ecology Course. It is aimed at people interested in gaining a general understanding of ecological processes and principles. The course which is based at Nagambie commences on Monday 10 October and concludes on Friday 14 October 2011.  More information including a description of the course, list of instructors, course fees, location details and the application form can be accessed by clicking here.


27 June – Reference Group Meeting

Posted on 10 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

What will Connecting Country look like in 5 years time? Please join us to share your thoughts and ideas to help shape the future direction of the project.

An agenda will be sent prior to the meeting. For minutes from the last meeting click here. All are invited. We would love to see at least one member from each Landcare/friends group attend.

The meeting will take place in the Ray Bradfield Rooms, Castlemaine, between 7 pm and 9 pm.


How to put the fun in fungi!

Posted on 9 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Well known fungi fan (and expert), Alison Pouliot, entertained and educated those who came to learn more about these little known and understood organisms. Nearly sixty people responded to Connecting Country’s invitation to attend this presentation at Campbells Creek last Thursday evening.

Selection of fungi that Alison brought to the presentation.

Alison explained that there is a lot of information about our native flora and fauna kingdoms but little about the third biological ‘f’ kingdom – fungi.  After listening to her lively presentation and being captivated by her amazing photographs, we were made more aware of the importance of fungi and the interactive relationships that exist amongst the three.

The evening was classified by those who attended as “great” in every aspect – great presentation, information, food, organisation, company, venue, atmosphere, conversations and great value and a lot of fun!

A range of resources on fungi can be found at and examples of Alison’s photography can be found at

Alison addressing the meeting at Campbells Creek Community Hall

This event is one in a series that Connecting Country has planned over the coming months as part of its Ecology Education Program.  You can find out more about these (and many other local events) by subscribing to or checking out or by calling 5472 1594.


Applications open for Community Action Grants

Posted on 7 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Through the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative, community groups around Australia can now apply for Community Action Grants to help fund local environmental and sustainable agriculture projects. Grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 are available to help local community groups undertake activities such as planting trees, revegetating landscapes, rehabilitating dunes, removing weeds, controlling pests, holding field days, recording traditional ecological knowledge and improving sustainable land management practices. 

A total of $5 million will be available through the 2011-12 Community Action Grants round. Applications for the 2011-12 Community Action Grants will close Monday 1 August 2011.

More information on Caring for our Country and Community Action Grants, including how to apply, is available or by calling 1800 552 008.

Community groups can also still apply for funding assistance for on-ground works through Connecting Country’s Yellow Box Woodland project.  Further details are available on our website (click here).


World Environment Day in Castlemaine

Posted on 6 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

Thanks to Kirsten (Trust for Nature) – and her new friend the Swift Parrot – for getting us all organised to help the community celebrate World Environment Day.  Each time we have an event, we always attract interest from the committed people as well as newly interested ones – a fantastic morning!

Photo: John Ellis, 5 June 2011



Update on Nest Box Monitoring

Posted on 1 June, 2011 by Connecting Country

This season’s monitoring of nest boxes has now been completed by Connecting Country’s Project Officer, Bryan McMullan. He has written the following account of the progress of this program:

“It is May 30 and Connecting Country nest box monitoring has finished for the season. All our little arboreal friends will now settle in and test their fecundity over the winter period. By late September, depending on environmental conditions, young should be observable leaving their nest(s). Landholders with nest boxes who observe such movements are encouraged to complete our methodology and data sheet located on the Connecting Country website.

“If you are landholder who has nest boxes on their property and you have not seen me during the inspection period in April and May, I have not forgotten you.  With the requirements for timing and landsystem units identified in the nest box monitoring strategy, it was not possible to visit all nest boxes.

“From the outset the nest box program was an ambitious one and Connecting Country has been able to install over 380 boxes and develop an important relationship with over 100 landholders. Nest boxes were placed to achieve an even distribution across the Mt Alexander Shire region (152 895 ha).  Nest box construction has been biased towards small arboreal animals and this appears to have been a success, thanks to the good design work of Miles Geldard at Wildlife Nestboxes. A total of 132 Sugar Gliders (often in groups)  were observed using the boxes (figure 1) and the most exciting news is that 11 Brush-tailed Phascogales (see fig. 2) were observed.

Figure 1. Four Sugar Gliders cosy and warm inside a nest box. This box was located in Sandon along a creek line (therefore a gully) and installed upon a very mature Yellow Box.

Figure 2. Brush-tailed Phascogale at Welshmans Reef trying its hardest not to be seen. The green tape had been used to indicate the location of the nest box and was taken from a nearby tree. Phascogales are known to adorn their nests with objects such as bale twine, sheep wool and feathers.

“Within the 9 months that the nest boxes have been installed (some later than others), the uptake has been a success. In locations where no animal was observed, signs and traces indicated that a further 53 boxes contained glider nests (see fig. 3) and 6 others contained phascogale nest material (see fig. 4). It is exciting to know that future juveniles, when leaving the nest, will have opportunity to explore and colonise other boxes that have been made available through this initiative. It is my belief and hope that the nest box program will facilitate successful migration of the target species and provide safe refuge in woodlands that would otherwise be absent of suitable nesting habitat.

Figure 3. A typical Sugar Glider nest consists of gum leaves. Note the spherical, egg like shape of the nest. Gliders tend to keep a neater nest compared with Phascogales.

Figure 4. A phascogale nest found in Muckleford South. Look closely and you will see a pile of scat to the right of the image, which the phascogale uses as a territorial message to potential competitors. The feathers in this nest are believed to be from a Guinea Fowl. There is a phascogale under all those furnishings.

“It is important now for the nest boxes to be left undisturbed so that the breeding season may be a success. In March/April 2012 a follow up survey will occur and we will be well on our way to establishing a significant set of biodiversity improvement indicators. This will assist Connecting Country by demonstrating the achievement of key objectives under its arrangements with funding bodies.

“Finally I must point out how rewarding my role has been so far at Connecting Country, especially when working with such robust communities as exists in the Mt Alexander region. I have mentioned to many in the field that I am happy to receive reports on phascogale sightings and can provide further information as requested. The immediate aim of the monitoring initiative is to strengthen the outcomes of the nest box program with follow up vegetation, habitat and bird surveys. More on this to come.

“I would like to thank everyone involved including Fritz Hammersley for his assistance in the field, every landholder for their hospitality and their enthusiasm for the project and to Marie Jones and Geoff Park for their guidance.

Bryan McMullan
Connecting Country
Project Support Officer
03 5472 1594


Local Action on Chilean Needle Grass

Posted on 27 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

Chilean Needle Grass, a ‘Weed of National Significance’, has been observed in a number of locations across Mount Alexander Shire. This noxious weed along with other non-native stipoid grasses is highly invasive and can overtake naive grassy woodlands and agricultural pastures. It builds up a large and persistent seedbank in the soil and rehabilitation of infested land is very difficult. Further information on identification, ecology, spread and eradication methods can be found here.

Chilean Needle Grass. Photo by Karen Stewart

A local taskforce has recently been formed to assist in reducing the impact and preventing the further spread of Chilean Needle Grass. Taskforce meetings have been attended by Matt Sheehan, National Chilean Needle Grass Coordinator, and members of the local community. Minutes of the first two Taskforce meetings can be found here.

A stipoid grass identification workshop will take place later this year and more details will follow about this.

To assist in the control program, it is important to known exactly where the infestations are located. As in the case of Bridal Creeper and Wheel Cactus, it has been decided to make use of the Connecting Country Mapping Program for this purpose. So if you are already confident with identifying Chilean Needle Grass and other non-native stipoid grasses and you would like to help in mapping this noxious weed, you can lodge your observations by clicking here and following the easy to use instructions.


World Environment Day in Castlemaine

Posted on 25 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

World Environment Day will be celebrated in Castlemaine on Sunday 5 June with an Environmental Expo in the Market Building organised by Trust for Nature. Connecting Country, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests, MASG and a range of other local environmental organisations, community groups and schools have organised displays and activities for the morning which starts at 10am and finishes at midday.

The event will be family friendly with children’s art activities at various stalls and there will be short environmental documentaries. It will be a good opportunity for people to find out how they can be involved in environmental initiatives in the area. Everyone is welcome. The Expo coincides with the Farmers market which will take place in the adjacent Victory Park.

The mayor of Mount Alexander Shire, Janet Cropley, will launch the councils new Environment Strategy during the morning.

More information can be found here.


3 June 2011 – ‘Recreating the Country’ Field Day

Posted on 22 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Ballarat Region Treegrowers is hosting ‘Recreating the Country’ Field Day on Friday 3 June 2011 at the ImLal Biorich Demonstration site (VicRoads Country Directory Map 77 ref B4).  The day starts at 10am and finishes at 4.15pm.

Recreating the Country is a new model of revegetation that integrates conservation with production.  This new model aims to enrich habitat potential across rural Landscapes, not just for a lifetime, but for centuries to come.  The field day will involve talks and site tours by conservation and farm forestry experts. Download the flyer here for further information.

If there is sufficient interest from community members, the North Central CMA is planning on organising a bus from Bendigo to the field day site.  For further information or to register your interest in attending the field day via bus please contact Ashley Beven, Regional Landcare Facilitator, North Central CMA by Friday 27 May 2011:

Phone: (03) 5440 1864
Mobile: 0428 508 726


Bridal Creeper – Workshops, mapping and other local actions

Posted on 21 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

This past year’s climatic conditions have produced an abundance of weeds and Bridal Creeper is no exception. This noxious weed is spreading through woodlands over native plants and below the ground, producing a matt of bults which prevent native seeds from growing. Detailed information about Bridal Creeper including identification, ecology, spread and eradication methods can be found on the Weeds of National Significance site.

A local taskforce has recently been formed to develop a strategic plan to tackle the problem of Bridal Creeper in our shire. The first taskforce meeting on 18 April was attended by Shauna Potter, National Bridal Creeper Coordinator, and members of the Mount Alexander community. Minutes of this meeting can be found here.

To assist in the control program, it is important to know exactly where infestations are located.  The taskforce decided to make use of the Connecting Country Mapping Program for this purpose. So if you would like to help in mapping this noxious weed, you can lodge your observations by clicking  here and following the easy to use instructions.

Bridal Creeper Community Workshop

The Nuggetty Land Protection Group is inviting interested community members to attend a community workshop at the Bridal Creeper Trial site. This site is immediately behind the Maldon cemetery in the Maldon Historic Reserve. The workshop will be held on Sunday 10 July from 11.00am to 12.30pm and finish with a free sausage sizzle and cupper.

The workshop will exhibit the results of earlier chemical treatment and demonstrate application methods, including making spore water from rust infected plants, chemical gloves, scrunching methods and physical removal.

Rust studied by the DPI and introduced by Nuggetty and other landcare groups has had a great impact. The rust appears as a yellow spot on the underside of the leaf and feeds on the plant, weakening it and reducing the seed production and tuber growth.


Ring Ian Grenda on 0412015807 or email for more information and to place orders for free bags of rust which can be picked up on the day.


May edition of Groundcover

Posted on 20 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

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


Free Community Grants Writing Workshops

Posted on 20 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is providing free Community Grants Workshops throughout the catchment. The workshops, which will cover the 2011-12 Victorian Landcare Grants, will also include a Community Grant Writing course.  The course, run by a professional writer, Kerry Anderson, will provide participants with practical advice and guidance in writing and developing funding applications.

The Castlemaine workshop will be held at the Ray Bradfield Rooms, Victory Park on Tuesday 31 May, starting at 6pm and finishing at 9pm (including supper).  There will be similar workshops in Wedderburn, Kyneton, Maryborough and Kerang. Click here for further details.

Bookings are essential. All sessions are free and a light meal will be provided.

RSVP to or telephone 03 5448 7124 at least two days prior to the workshop, indicating which venue you would like to attend and any dietary requirements.


New Sustainable Agriculture Grants

Posted on 19 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

Landcare Australia and Woolworths have recently launched the ‘Woolworths Fresh Food Future’ program. As part of this program, Woolworths is providing $150, 000 of funding towards a grants program to help farming groups develop or implement sustainable farming practices.

Projects that support farmers in the adoption of technology or practices that improve water use efficiency, nutrient management and their carbon footprint will be targeted. The grants will be awarded to farming groups and each grant can be up to a maximum of $10, 000 to implement a project, which addresses one of these key areas.

Applications close on Monday 30 May 2011.  The application form can be downloaded here and the grant guidelines here. For further information, visit the Landcare Australia website at:


Ecology Field Days

Posted on 18 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The first two Ecology Field Days run by Connecting Country will take place soon. The Geology and Soils day has been booked out but there are some spaces still available for the Yellow Box Woodlands day. Bookings are essential. Contact contact Krista on 5472 1594 or

29 May: Geology and Soils (Phil Dyson, North Central CMA)
We will visit sites that will give us an overview of the main geological influences in Mt Alexander Shire. We will explore the mysteries of soils, the relationships between soil and geology, and consider how have the different geologies have shaped our use of the land.

5 June: Yellow Box Woodlands (jointly led by Ian Higgins from Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare and North Central CMA, and Paul Foreman from Bush Heritage Australia and Blue Devil Consulting)
We will explore two sites to see an area of old yellow box woodland and one that has been greatly altered by land uses. We will learn about the interactions of trees, shrubs, herbs and fungi at each site and consider what opportunities each offers for animal habitat.

Both sessions run from 9am to 1.30pm. Transport is provided and the cost for each day is $10. For full details click here.