Impressive regeneration along Campbells Creek

Ian Higgins led 18 people on a terrific walk along Campbells Creek last Sunday on the fourth FOBIF excursion for the year. The group joined the walking and cycling track at the back of Tonks in Lewis Drive, followed the track for several kilometres and then crossed the creek heading back through varied landscapes to the starting point.

Ian has been a driving force in the regeneration of this area as part of Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare over a number of decades. He gave an account of its history, identifying what had been planted, the progress of the plantings, and weeds that had been tackled. The efforts of many people have achieved a remarkable transformation of public land that used to be inaccessible, weed infested, and used for private grazing and rubbish dumping. McKenzies Hill Landcare Group has also been part of this project.

There were many highlights in the morning including the female flower of the Drooping She-oak and numerous large Hakeas in bloom.

Left, Female flower of Drooping She-oak, photo by Frances Cincotta. Right, Bushy Needlewood, photo by Noel Young.

The following photos were taken by Noel Young.

The next walk on 16 July will be through Faraday, taking in some interesting vegetation corridors with lovely remnant trees, and the shire’s only stand of Narrow-leaved Peppermints Eucalyptus radiata. Easy walking, about 7 km. For more information contact Bernard Slattery on 5470 5161.

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2017 FOBIF AGM

The 2017 FOBIF AGM will be held on Monday July 10 at 7.30 pm at the Ray Bradfield Rooms, beside Victory Park, Castlemaine.

Brian Bainbridge

Our speaker this year will be Brian Bainbridge who has recently moved up to our district. For many years Brian has been a member of the Merri Creek Management Committee formed in 1989 to preserve and restore the natural and cultural values of the creek. He has been employed as the Ecological Restoration Planner and involved with Plains Yam Daisy and the Golden Sun Moth projects. More details of his talk will be posted on this site soon. An interview with Brian can be found here.

 

Do you want to play a role on the FOBIF committee? Or nominate someone else to the committee? All that’s needed is a piece of paper signed by the nominee, a nominator and a seconder–all FOBIF members. There’s no need of an official form, but for convenience, here’s a sample: Continue reading

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Roadside tales

FOBIF representatives met with Mount Alexander Shire officers last Monday to discuss roadsides in the shire. The meeting related to planning scheme amendments designed to put protection overlays on some roadsides.

FOBIF supports Council initiatives in this area, but we have been concerned about gaps in the Council maps of roadsides.

Monday’s meeting was productive, and officers have agreed to supplement current maps with relevant material from the 1998 roadsides strategy.

DELWP works on the Irishtown track, May 31: the road is seven metres wide, plus scalped verge, plus numerous runoff sections. This bush track is as wide as a highway, and much wider than the nearby Fryerstown Vaughan bitumen road.

In the meantime, DELWP has been busy grading roads in bushland around the shire, leaving many of us scratching our heads about the logic and implementation of some of these works.

The Irishtown Track, for example, has now been graded to be wider than any of the local bitumen roads, and in many verges have been scalped of vegetation. Though not as bad as DELWP’s efforts on the Fryers Ridge a couple of years ago [see here and here], the works are hard to comprehend.

For years now we’ve been putting a simple question to DELWP: how wide should a bush track be? We’ve never had an answer, but we’re guessing: wider and wider.

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What can we learn from the ruins?

FOBIF has made a submission to the process of updating the Castlemaine Diggings NHP Heritage Action Plan [now known as the Heritage Landscape Management Framework].

Our view can be roughly summed up in the words of the old Heritage Plan: ‘The current forest setting is not an interpretive problem, but rather an interpretive bonus for the Park. It highlights the transience of mining, demonstrates the severe environmental impact that can result from inadequate environmental constraint, and illustrates some of the resilience of Australia’s native vegetation.’ [Our emphasis]

In Norwood Hill. This is not a natural scene, it’s part of our cultural history: the destruction of our waterways is part of the epic of gold, and needs to be explained to visitors.

Essentially, our submission urges consideration of the natural landscape as an important element in our heritage: consideration of mining ruins in isolation from the way mining affected the environment is to lose sight of one of the most important consequences of the gold rush: environmental change. That’s part of our heritage too.

The essentials of FOBIF’s submission are set out below:

Continue reading

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A walk on misty Mount Alex

A solid group of walkers was guided by Jeremy Holland through some remote corners of Mount Alexander east on Sunday. The walk started with a pleasant stroll  along the water race, before angling up the mountain south of Aqueduct Creek: a reasonably strenuous ascent through lovely bushland [including some magnificent Red Gums and monumental granite boulders]. We returned along the Ballantinia Track. The walk was enhanced by a dense mist, which obscured possible views but more than made up for it by endowing the bush with an intriguingly mysterious air.

Is anybody there? Jeremy Holland and Lionel Guerin survey the mist.

Many thanks to Jeremy for navigating us through a route none of us had seen before, to corners of the Mount rarely visited. And our thanks to Coliban Water for permission to walk along this closed section of the race.

Part of the group negotiating the ridge through Manna Gum woodland south of Aqueduct Creek, ascending to Ballantiinia Track.

June’s walk will be led by Ian Higgins along Campbell’s Creek. Check the walks program on this website for details.

St John’s Wort is a terrible pest on the Mount, but on Sunday it hosted hundreds of picturesque spider webs, like this one. Photo: Dominique Lavie

 

More walk photos follow:

Continue reading

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What’s the Diggings Park good for?

Parks Victoria has released the results of its survey of users of the Castlemaine Diggings NHP.

There were 265 responses to the online survey. While such a voluntary survey has inbuilt problems of reliability, the results are probably a good indicator of public attitudes to the park.

The following details are worth reporting:

Hunts huts, Browns Gully, CDNHP: the recovering vegetation tells a story as eloquent as that of the ruins. It’s important that those presenting the Park to visitors acknowledge this fact.

‘Comparing the reasons for visiting to the frequency of visiting revealed that those who visit for ‘walking or hiking’ are the most frequent visitors, followed by those who ‘enjoy nature, birdwatching’, and ‘cycling, mountain biking’…

‘A key purpose of the online survey was to understand the importance of CDNHP to visitors. Looking at five implied values – aesthetic, historic, scientific, social, spiritual – ‘Historic’ values were the most commonly mentioned, followed by scientific/natural values and aesthetic values. ‘A place for prospecting’ was also an important value or activity associated with the park…

‘High priority overall was given to: tackling vandalism; reducing weeds; and addressing fire risk. The next highest priority actions were: information to help me find specific sites; better standard of access tracks; and restoration of specific structures. Other suggested management activities were: improved signage; interactive and digital interpretation; reducing weeds; and preventing disturbance from prospecting’…

In the ‘site walkovers’ organised by Parks, it’s worth noting that ‘Discussions referenced the ‘multi-layered’ landscape and a timeline of pre-gold rush Jaara landscape followed by the gold rush period and the post-gold era recovery. There were also references to tranquillity in the forest, bird-life, native flora and the importance of low-key ‘atmospheric’ sites requiring sensitive management.’

Parks has produced a set of direction themes as a result of the process:

Continue reading

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FOBIF gears up for a Wattle guide

Spreading Wattle (Acacia genistifolia). Walmer, April 2017

FOBIF has undertaken the production of a field guide to local Acacias, modelled on its guide to local Eucalypts. Like the Eucalypt guide it will be directed at beginners, and will be generously illustrated with photos to help identification.

The project is a tribute to the work of the late Ern Perkins, a fundamental figure in field naturalist studies in this region for many decades. At the launch of the Eucalypt guide last September Ern, though in frail health, was heard to declare, ‘Now for a wattle guide.’ The current project will start from the many leaflets and guides Ern produced over the years.

The wattle project is financed by FOBIF, and supported by donations from Connecting Country and the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria. It is supported by Castlemaine FNC and local landcare and Friends groups.

We thank members for their generous donations this year.  These funds will go towards the development and publication of the Wattle guide

Publication is set for April 2018.

Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa). Walmer, April 2017

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Roadsides: some questions

FOBIF has written to the Mount Alexander Shire asking for a meeting to discuss the Council’s plans on roadside vegetation [see our Post]

Our concerns relate to work in progress maps we have seen which seem to completely overlook some ecologically important roads in the shire.

The relevant parts of the letter follow:

‘We understand that Council is preparing a planning scheme amendment to insert a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) on some roadsides into the planning scheme.  We congratulate the Council on this project which aims to protect some of the Shire’s valuable flora.

Faraday road: road reserves  ‘support a significant proportion of native vegetation in Victoria’s fragmented landscapes. [They] make a major contribution to ecological connectivity and in some landscapes provide key habitat for many species.’

‘However we are deeply concerned that the VPO mapping we have seen excludes many Shire roadsides with valuable flora, including Victorian-classified threatened species and locally rare species.

‘We have some questions about how the VPO has been planned, and the criteria for selecting roads, and so are requesting a meeting with the relevant Council staff to help us understand the methods used and to help get the best outcome for the project.  We think it would be useful to seek more input from other local environment groups, some of which have expert local knowledge of roadside flora.

‘From our previous experience with planning scheme amendments, we think it is vital to be able to have meaningful input before the amendment is exhibited, as once exhibited, any changes normally have to be re-exhibited.’

Of course, production of documents is one thing: they are only useful, however, if the material in them is persuasively presented to the public, and if council is prepared to follow up by paying close attention to what is actually happening on the roadsides. This is no easy task, of course.

This exercise is no trivial matter. Roadsides really do matter. As the Victorian Environment Assessment Council puts it: road reserves ‘support a significant proportion of native vegetation in Victoria’s fragmented landscapes. These linear reserves make a major contribution to ecological connectivity and in some landscapes provide key habitat for many species.’

 

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Launch of interpretive signage of Forest Creek

Project co-ordinator Jennifer Pryce explaining the project.

On Sunday 7 May more than thirty people gathered to launch some new interpretive signage of Forest Creek. Part of the signage design can be seen in the photo here taken at the Monster Meeting site and we encourage people to have a look at this and the other two other signage sites at Chinamans Point and Expedition Pass. A tremendous amount or work and community consultation has gone into this project with terrific results. 

You can find a full account of the launch and more photos on the Chewton net facebook page

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Update on FOBIF exhibition at TOGS

Our FOBIF Flickr site now has some stunning photos on this year’s exhibition theme, Mountains and Waterways. The exhibition dates have been moved to August/September but there is still plenty of time to send in your photos.

Details of how to be part of the exhibition either through Flickr or your photographs being chosen to be hung at TOGS Cafe can be found here. The closing date for photos is now 1 August 2017 and the show will run from 24 August to 28 September. If you have any queries about submitting photos, contact Bronwyn on 54751089 or bsilver@mmnet.com.au.

View from Mount Alexander at dawn. Photo by Bernard Slattery, June 2016

River Red Gum, Loddon River, Vaughan Springs. Photo by Damian Kelly, April 2017

Golden Orb-weaver, Mount Alexander. Photo by Noel Young, March 2017

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