Looking at Grasslands

Malmsbury Landcare has organised a field day on Sunday 6 November led by Paul Foreman to look at the now severely depleted native grasslands in their district. These grasslands are currently listed as nationally endangered and even the best local sites are threatened by invasive weeds. Paul is an ecologist with a particular interest in native grasslands and works out of Castlemaine under the name Blue Devil Consulting. See this PDF file  for more detail on the day. You can also ring John Walter on 5423 9383.

The event is, in part, related to Malmsbury Landcare’s project restoring native grassland species to a rehabilitated site just next to the bridge over the Coliban in the centre of town. The group will meet at 10 am at this site and then convoy to grassland sites just to the north of Malmsbury. Everyone is welcome.

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Kaweka Wildflower Sanctuary Committee 50 years celebration

Judith Tregear has sent us the follow report and photos of the recent 50 years celebration of the Kaweka Wildflower Sanctuary.

There was a lovely celebration on Sunday October 2 at Kaweka Wildflower Sanctuary.

We were delighted to mark 50 years of the committee, which was elected at a public meeting in 1966, after Kaweka was given to the people of Castlemaine. This wonderful gift was from Don McRae, in honour of his mother, who loved and saw the importance of preserving Australian native plants. There had been three or four owners of the land, post-white settlement, starting with Ernest Leviny, who took up a large parcel of land on a miner’s right, but ended up building his house at Buda.

About 50 people of all ages came along and enjoyed three lovely songs from the Chat-Warblers about local wildflowers, and the Eltham Copper Butterfly, beautiful music from Jack Norton on the bouzouki and a short speech from Judith Tregear, president of the committee. Thanks to the brilliance of Jenny McIntyre, we had a beautiful cake, decorated with local wildflowers. We sang Happy Birthday to Rosemary Rasmussen, who told us about playing in Kaweka as a child, before it was a wildflower reserve, when it was simply a beautiful piece of bush. There was a display of local weeds, and an opportunity for a walk, after the afternoon tea. Some local children helped plant some trees and are looking forward to watching them grow. Kaweka is a special place, with its tranquil atmosphere, for people who love wildflowers and birds, and it is particularly lovely at the moment, after all this rain.

Click on photo to enlarge.

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Last FOBIF walk for the year

Last Sunday (October 16) Alex Panelli led the last FOBIF walk for 2016 in the Fryers Ranges. Alex has led several walks in the area and this time we explored some of the valleys descending from Fryers Ridge and Old Firetower Track.


The group resting near the end of the walk.

Highlights of the walk were finding at least 30 examples of Mantis Orchid Caladenia tentaculata and Brown-clubbed Spider Orchid Caladenia phaeoclavia and being surrounded by scores of Caper White Butterflies as we ended the walk.


Spider Orchid, photo by Bronwyn Silver and Caper White Butterflies, photo by Ruth Forbes

Here is a selection of photos by Peter Turner of plants in flower (click to enlarge). The last photo of a hat shows a few of the thousands of mosquitoes that accompanied us.

Unfortunately there were a couple of disturbing sights. Several areas had been churned up by motorbike riding and digging by prospectors had caused extensive damage over a large area.


Landscape damage caused by prospectors which will encourage further erosion. Photo by Peter Turner

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Presentation on Bushfire at Newstead Community Centre

This Thursday (October 20) there will be a presentation, Protecting from Bushfire, Protecting our Biodiversity, at the Newstead Community Centre starting at 8 pm. All are welcome to attend. Newstead Landcare has sent us the following information on the event:

As the days warm up and the summer approaches, the thoughts of many who live out of town turn to the threat of bushfires. The things that we love about the bush can become sources of anxiety and fear in the hot, dry months. How do we protect ourselves from bushfire and still protect the plants and animals that make our area so special? Questions like these will be addressed at Newstead Landcare Group’s October presentation “Protecting from Bushfire, Protecting our Biodiversity”.

“We are really excited to have Owen Gooding, a leading researcher on vegetation management and fire presenting at our October meeting. Owen is also the Vegetation Management Officer for the CFA, so he is very well placed to help us understand the issues” said Frances Cincotta, Newstead Landcare’s President.

The presentation will cover how to manage vegetation on your property, be it a small holding or larger bush block, to reduce the risk in case of fire and to retain native vegetation. “Owen will also be discussing ways to think about bushfire and native vegetation in the wider landscape and dispelling a few myths” Ms Cincotta added.


Burnt landscape near Maldon.


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Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park survey


Map from the survey. Click to enlarge.

Parks Victoria is currently reviewing the Heritage Action Plan for the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park:

We want to know about the places you value within the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, find out about issues of concern and get your ideas about other themes, stories or aspects of the park that could be shared with visitors.

As part of the review Parks are asking people to fill out an online survey which will remain open until Wednesday 30 November.

The survey gives people the opportunity to specify why they value the park, their favourite areas and suggested funding priorities. The FOBIF Committee will be sending its own response and we encourage everyone interested in the future of the Diggings Park to fill out the survey as well. Click here for more information and the link to the survey.

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End of the year FOBIF excusion to Bells Swamp

Bells Swamp is well known for its beautiful old Red gums, waterbirds and wetland plants. The area in flood again after our higher than average rainfall over the last few months. FOBIF is planning a one-off excursion to the swamp on Saturday  17 December when it will still be flooded.  Wetland experts, Damien Cook and Elaine Bayes, authors of a Draft Management Plan (updated December 2015) for Bells Swamp, will be coming along to show us some of the swamp’s ecological features.

We will be meeting at 9.30 at Continuing Ed and travelling in convoy to the area which is half an hour from Castlemaine. Bring some food to share for lunch, and your gumboots! Contact Bronwyn Silver on 54751089 for further information.


Bells Swamp, 15 October 2016

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Local community conversation about fire

Understanding Fire in our Landscape: A Community Conversation is a community event being held on the weekend of the 12-13 November 2016, in Newstead. The project has been initiated by the Muckleford Forest Friends Group and based on one of the activities proposed in the Newstead Community Plan.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-4-42-23-pm-copyYou can find out more here and the draft program for the weekend can be found here. The event is free but bookings are required.

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Followup to the launch of FOBIF Eucalypt guide

If you missed the launch of the FOBIF publication, Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region, you can now see the morning’s proceedings thanks to Chris Timewell from Connecting Country who filmed the event and put together this terrific video.

The guide is now available for $10 at Stonemans Bookroom, the Information Centre in the Market Building, the Enviroshop (Newstead) and the Guildford Store. It can also be purchased through Paypal ($13 including postage).

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Parks Victoria: a recipe

FOBIF has made a submission to the Strengthening Parks Victoria consultation. The essence of the submission is set out below:


We welcome the opportunity to participate in this process, and offer our views under the headings supplied in the workbook.

Topic #1 – Connecting people and parks

Question prompt: How do you and your communities enjoy parks? What barriers prevent you from enjoying parks more? How can we create parks that are welcoming and inclusive for all Victorians and our visitors?

Our members enjoy parks for their natural and cultural values. Barriers to this enjoyment include destructive trail bikes, rogue prospecting, rubbish dumping and rampant environmental weeds. All of these are a problem partly as a result of the serious understaffing of Parks Victoria resulting in lack of supervision, inadequate monitoring and non existent or weak feral plant and animal controls.

Other barriers include over management of tracks by operatives with little or no appreciation of roadside vegetation, and some fuel management programs conducted without proper reference to ecological values.

How to overcome these barriers? Adequate resourcing would be a necessary start.

Continue reading

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Big turnout for Eucalyptus book launch

The Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region book is now launched and more than 200 copies were sold on the day. Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver signed many copies and buyers also received 2 bookmarks with photos from the book as well as a FOBIF fungi poster.


Geoff Park (Photo by John Ellis)

We heard Geoff Park talk about how wonderful it is that we are able to put the collective local knowledge and expertise of our natural environment into a guide such as this and he congratulated the authors. Many people contributed to the book’s publication and are delighted with the finished product.



Noel Muller (Photo by John Ellis)



Local Parks Victoria Ranger, Noel Muller, outlined how the local community could respond to the current Parks Victoria survey – what do you love and value about our parks, and what could be improved? An opportune time to let the managers and government know the value we place on the natural environment with eucalypts being integral to its health.


Ern Perkins (Photo by John Ellis)



Bernard then spoke about Ern’s latest guide to native plants of our area – and Ern explained how to use the program.





People stayed to catch up, ask questions, find out about the latest happenings and to enjoy morning tea.

John McMahon sent us the following comment:

I ducked into the library yesterday to get a copy and was amazed at the huge turnout. After reading the book I am no longer amazed, it is of excellent quality and I can see that a lot of care and love has gone into it. Your work is exceptional and you should be proud of it, the photos, the descriptions, the local information is accurate and well put together – well done. It’s probably too cheap though!

The guide is now available for $10 at Stonemans, the Market Building, the Enviroshop (Newstead) and the Guildford Store. It can also be purchased through Paypal ($13 including postage).

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