Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

26 May 2011 – Fungi: Exploring a Forgotten Kingdom

Posted on 17 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The first of Connecting Country’s 2011 free evening talks, Fungi: Exploring a Forgotten Kingdom, will take place on Thursday 26 May.  The seminar will be held at the Campbells Creek Community Centre. Supper will be served at 6.30pm followed by the talk at 7 pm. Entry is free and members of the public of all ages are welcome. However, to give us an indication of likely numbers for catering purposes, it would be helpful if you could let us know by Friday 20 May if you are planning to attend: contact Krista on 5472 1594  or

Mycena epipterygi. Photo By Alison Pouliot

Boletellus obscurecoccineu. Photo by Alison Pouliot






Fungi expert, Alison Pouliot, will be the speaker. She writes that ‘we are constantly surrounded by fungi; in the soil, in the air, in the rivers and oceans, the forests and deserts, and perhaps even between our toes. Following the torrential rains these last months we’re likely to be surrounded by even more. The Mount Alexander Shire has a rich diversity of fungi and is the ideal place for an autumn fungi foray. Due to the warm and moist soil conditions the first fungi are already poking through the earth. It looks like we could be in for a bumper season. Continue Reading »


Launch of Wheel Cactus Mapping Appeal

Posted on 16 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

With this post, Connecting Country is launching their appeal for observations of Wheel Cactus to be lodged onto the Community Interactive Mapping Portal. Each month, a randomly chosen submitter of Wheel Cactus records will receive a prize. This month’s prize is a copy of Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country by Chris Tzaros.

Tarrengower School Rd extension (Photo from DPI).

Wheel Cactus Opuntia robusta is an emerging major weed species across Victoria. It has been a substantial problem in the broader Maldon area for many years, and is a potential risk of becoming a similar problem across most of the Mount Alexander Shire and surrounds. The Tarrengower Cactus Control Committee, with Parks Victoria, has made significant inroads in controlling major infestations around the Maldon-Tarrengower area. However, every Wheel Cactus plant is a potential source for a new out-break, and no part of the shire – including gardens, reserves and agricultural land – is immune.

The Department of Primary Industries are also undertaking a project that analyses the spread of Wheel Cactus spread from the Maldon area, and are seeking as many records as possible from all across the region.

With these thoughts in mind, Connecting Country has offered the use of their Community Interactive Mapping Portal (CIMP) to assist in the mapping of Wheel Cactus. The CIMP is a tool that allows any person with access to the internet to submit observations or other activities of interest (e.g. flora, fauna, revegetation, weeds) for particular point locations across the local area. All community members and groups are encouraged to submit past and present location records of Wheel Cactus, as well as other associated information. ANY Wheel Cactus records, even just dots on the map are useful, but more accurate records will be more valuable.

Further details on the Wheel Cactus mapping project, the use of the CIMP and also information on the identification and biology of the Wheel Cactus, can be found by clicking here.


Victorian Landcare Grants 2011-12: Call for Applications

Posted on 11 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is calling for applications for the next round of the State Government’s Victorian Landcare Grants program for (incorporated) community groups to undertake natural resource management (NRM) projects in 2011-12.

The Victorian Landcare Grants Program, previously referred to as the Second Generation Landcare Program, continues to have an emphasis on community capacity building. It is designed to fund projects that enable NRM community groups, networks and their volunteers to undertake effective onground works to increase ecosystem resilience and contribute to sustainable landscapes.

The grants program will fund activities that align to the categories of:

  • Supporting community volunteers and leveraging community action
  • Positively influencing the management practices of private landholders
  • Building the skills and capacity of the community to undertake NRM activities.

There are two grant types available:

  • Project grants (up to $20,000)
  • Maintenance and start up grants (up to $1,000)

Applications close 5pm Monday 27 June 2011

For further information download the Victorian Landcare Grants: Regional Guidelines 2011-2012 and the Grants Application Form. Jodie Odgers, Regional Landcare Coordinator with the North Central CMA, can also be contacted for further information on (03) 5440 1883 or

A reminder that Connecting Country is still accepting Expression of Interest applications for on-ground works as part of our Yellow Box Woodland project. Click here for further information.


13 May 2011 – Expert to Talk on Frog Declines – and Recovery

Posted on 10 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

Respected Melbourne-based biologist, Dr Richard Retallick, is presenting a summary of the research on the decline and possible recovery of frogs to the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club on the evening of Friday 13 May (8pm at the Uniting Church Hall, entry from Lyttleton St, Castlemaine). All members of the community are welcome to attend. Entry is free.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, biologists were coming to a terrible consensus – populations of frog species were in decline at an alarming rate worldwide to the point where many species appeared to have disappeared completely within a short timeframe. At least two Australian frog species became extinct, and another two previously common local frog species, the Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis) and Bibron’s Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii), effectively disappeared from the broader Castlemaine area.

Dr Richard Retallick was in the early phase of his academic career when a new potential causal factor was discovered – a disease called Amphibian Chytrid Fungus. Dr Retallick recalls, “Most of the populations that I had planned to study had either disappeared entirely or were reduced to a small number of individuals. Once chytrid fungus was identified for the first time, and linked to the unexplained frog declines worldwide, I was inevitably drawn into the whirlwind quest that followed, racing the clock to understand the impact and ecology of the fungus, which took me from the tropics of northern Australia to the deserts of Arizona and back to southern Australia.

“Despite its terrible consequences, the story of the discovery of chytrid fungus and the worldwide research to understand its origins and impacts and to find possible cures, is a remarkable one. There are still many unknowns, but each year a bit more of the puzzle is solved.”


24 May 2011 – Information Session for Small Landholders

Posted on 9 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

The North Central Catchment Management Authority has organised an information session aimed at lifestyle landholders who wish to find out more about protecting the natural values of their properties.

Topics covered will include covenanting, incentives and rebates available, sources of funding, grazing regimes for small herds, and projects to help you improve your place. David Stewart from the Department of Primary Industry Small Landholder Information Service will be the speaker.

The session will run from 6.30pm till 8.00pm and will be held in the Bendigo Council Offices. A light meal and children’s activities will be provided.

For further information click here.


22 May 2011 – Nuggetty Planting Day

Posted on 2 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

This is an invitation to help plant 1000 indigenous seedlings on 22 May for a project funded by Connecting Country and supported by BRIT. For more details click here.


Progress with Nest Box Monitoring

Posted on 1 May, 2011 by Connecting Country

Project worker, Bryan McMullan, has been busy checking the nest boxes that Connecting Country installed across the Shire. He has been assisted by Fritz Hammersley, a BRIT work-experience student.

About 90 boxes have been checked so far. Brush-tailed Phascogales (Tuans) have been discovered in two boxes and two other boxes have contained nest material from Phascogales. It is important to bear in mind that Phascogales can use many nests on different nights in a home range.

Fritz inspecting the nest box in Walmer that contained 2 male phascogales. Photo: Bronwyn Silver, 19 April 2011.

As well, approximately 40 Sugar Gliders have been observed in boxes with some boxes containing 3-4 Gliders. Other animals and insects or evidence of them include a Peron’s Tree Frog, a Gecko, a pair of Owlet Nightjars, ants nests and spider webs.

Sugar Glider discovered in a nest box. Photo: Bryan McMullan, April 2011.

Thanks to those who have sent in observations from their dusk/night-time watches of nest boxes. Everyone else who has nest boxes is encouraged to undertake dusk viewings. Click here to download the Nest Box Monitoring Data Sheet which includes instructions.


April issue of Groundcover

Posted on 29 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

The April edition of Groundcover is now available. This informative newsletter includes local, state and national landcare information as well as North Central Catchment Management Authority news. It is published by the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

Of particular interest in this month’s issue is information on Landcare Awards and an Environment Best Management Practice Workshop in Woodend.

To download the newsletter, click here.


9 June 2011 – Biodiversity Across the Borders Conference

Posted on 25 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

The theme for the 2011 Biodiversity Across Borders Conference is “Vulnerability and Resilience of Ecosystems”.  The conference will be held at the Mt. Helen campus of the University of Ballarat on 9 June 2011. Continue Reading »


Connecting Country Education Program 2011

Posted on 21 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

The Connecting Country Education Program for 2011 has now been finalised. There will be field days on Geology and Soils, Yellow Box Woodlands and Rivers and Streams and evening talks on Fungi, Fire and Cultural Heritage. A flyer about the program can be downloaded here and full details and an application form can be found here.


Report of 28 March Reference Group meeting

Posted on 6 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

On the 28 March, the first Connecting Country Reference Group Meeting for 2011 was a pleasurable and informative event. Representatives from a range of local groups and organisations were willing to contribute with their thoughts, ideas and suggestions to support the Connecting Country project team and Committee of Management in its efforts to connect people and landscapes through this area. Continue Reading »


Connecting Country’s new Project Coordinator

Posted on 4 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

Chris Timewell has recently joined Connecting Country in the role of full time Project Coordinator. Chris’ background is an ecologist with over 10 years experience from all parts of Victoria and elsewhere throughout Australia. From his previous professional career as an environmental consultant, he brings to Connecting Country his experience working as a manager and technical specialist on a range of projects for the private and public sector.

Chris also has a long history of involvement in not-for-profit community groups as a volunteer, and has been an enthusiastic and active member of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club since moving to the area about 3 years ago.

Chris Timewell, 4 April. Photo: Bronwyn Silver

Chris: “I’m very excited by my role with the Connecting Country team. It’s a great opportunity to be working in the local area on the Yellow Box Woodland Project alongside the project partners, the North Central Catchment Management Authority, and also with a range of land managers, community groups, NGOs, other volunteers and supporters, and the key support organisations such as the federal Caring for our Country initiative and the Victorian Government Natural Resources Investment Program”.


Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests Photo Show

Posted on 4 April, 2011 by Connecting Country

As part of the Castlemaine Festival, the Bold Cafe Gallery is hosting a exhibition of photos from the FOBIF photo gallery. The Cafe is open every day during the Festival (April 1–10)  between 10 am and 4.30 pm. All photos are the work of local photographers in the Mount Alexander region and prints are for sale. The two photos below are from the show.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Photo: Mike Grinter, Chewton, Summer 2010

Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum) with Hoverfly and Milky Flower Spider (Diaea sp.) Photo: Noel Young, North Castlemaine, November 2010


Nest Box Monitoring Workshop, 8 March 2011

Posted on 15 March, 2011 by Connecting Country

Sixty people including a sizable contingent of children attended the Connecting Country’s Nest Box Monitoring Workshop in Campbells Creek on 8th March. The evening was a great success with lots of audience participation during the formal sessions and animated conversation during supper and after the workshop had finished.

Audience at nest box workshop. Photo: Bronwyn Silver

The workshop began with a talk by Peter Johnson, Senior Biodiversity Office, DSE, who has been monitoring phascogales around Bendigo, Ballarat and Kinglake Ranges for 10 years. Continue Reading »


Connecting Country 2009-2010 Final Report

Posted on 7 March, 2011 by Connecting Country

For an organisation only just laying its founding roots, Connecting Country is very proud of its achievements in 2009-2010. Thanks to funding received through the North Central CMA from the Federal and State Government, we can report that our 09/10 outputs for the project have been completed. This reports celebrates some of these achievements. Click here to read full report.


Autumn Fungi Workshops

Posted on 6 March, 2011 by Connecting Country

Ecologist and environmental photographer, Alison Pouliot, is running the Central Victorian Fungal Ecology Workshop series again this autumn.  Whether you’re interested in identifying, photographing, learning about which ones you can safely consume, or just enjoying an autumn forest stroll to discover this extraordinary kingdom, you might like to attend a workshop.

Alison in the field.

Workshops run from 11am – 5pm and include an extensive display of local fungi species, an illustrated and interactive seminar, and an exciting foray deep into our local forests.  Given the amazing winter rains we can expect a bumper display of fungi this season.

Workshops will also run from Daylesford, Trentham, Creswick, Woodend and Wedderburn.  Cost:  $70.

For full workshops details visit or contact Alison directly at


Launch of Swift Parrot DVD

Posted on 24 February, 2011 by Connecting Country

Over 80 people attended the launch of Debbie Worland’s Swift Parrots of Muckleford DVD at the Castlemaine Market Building today. Chris Tzaros from Birds Australia officially launched the DVD and Debbie detailed the 5 year process of making it. The DVD was produced by Bill Irwin, pictured below, and John Flaus provided the narration.

Debbie Worland, Bill Irwin, Beth Mellick and Chris Tzaros. Photo: Bronwyn Silver, 24 February 2011

If you would like to find out more about the DVD or purchase a copy click here.


Working bees tackle blackberries and gorse

Posted on 18 February, 2011 by Connecting Country

Inspired by the recent Landcare Weed Identification Workshop,  Chewton Bushlands Residents Association held a working bee for the removal of blackberries on GoldSpeck Gully Road /Rankins Road last Sunday. ‘The team of seven was soon working like clockwork and it was inspiring to see the huge bushes cut away from the road’ (Antoinette Birkenbeil).

Glen Harrison about to remove a feral pine and Steve Charman and Cate Freeman tackling the blackberries. Photos: Antoinette Birkenbeil, 13 February 2011

Another working bee tackled gorse during the week at Kalimna Park. There are regular working bees in the Park and at present they take place fortnightly. If you would like to participate ring Geoff Hannon from Friends of Kalimna Park on 5472 5343.

Enthusiastic gorse removers, Geoff Hannon and Bernard Slattery at Kalimna Park. Photos: Bernard Slattery and Bronwyn Silver, 18 February 2011


Muckleford Landcare’s New Blog

Posted on 15 February, 2011 by Connecting Country

Two weeks ago Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group launched a blog to document ‘news, events, activities and images for the Group, and hopefully a place for members of the Muckleford region to share stories and information’.

The first posts provide detailed documentation of two recent projects:  the 2009/10 Creasy’s Road revegetation project and the nest box project in Walmer. Click here to view the site.

Installing a nest box at Walmer South Conservation Reserve. Photo curtesy of Muckleford Landcare.

If other Landcare groups would like help in setting up a similar blog, contact Bronwyn Silver on 5475 1089.


Weed Identification Workshop

Posted on 14 February, 2011 by Connecting Country

Eighteen people attended an informative Weed Identification Workshop at Chinamans Point Road, Chewton on 6th February. The organiser, Fritz Hammersley from Golden Point Landcare, brought along a selection of local weeds to show the group and discussed manual and chemical weed control strategies. Fritz also offered to visit local landholders to help work out the most appropriate weed control strategies for their land. He can be contacted on 5472 1029.

Fritz with the weed, Salsify. Photo: Bronwyn Silver, 6 February 2011.

Pat Radi Mansbridge from Nativfocus also addressed the group. He described the work done over the last 10 years to control gorse and blackberries along Forest Creek between Expedition Pass Reservoir and the Pyrenees Highway. Without this weed control, the area would probably now be 80-90% gorse and blackberries.

The group then walked to an area south of Chinamans Point Road where a DSE fuel reduction burn had taken place last year. As you can see from the photo, at this stage mainly thistles have emerged. More gorse regrowth is anticipated in the coming months.

Weed growth after fuel reduction burn. Photo: Bronwyn Silver, 6 February 2011.