25 April – FOBIF photographers at TOGS

FOBIF is having another photo show at TOGS Cafe and Gallery, 56 Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine. The title of the show, Small Wonders, reflects the surprising discoveries people often make when they take a close look at nature. All photos are taken in our local area.

This year 12 photographers will take part. The photos in the box below gives an indication of the diversity of the subject matter and the quality of the images.

8-photosThe show will begin on 25 April and run until 5 June. Togs is open daily between 9 am and 5 pm. Photos are for sale.

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No news is…well, no news

The first issue of the Barwon Otway Bushfire Risk Landscape newsletter is out. It can be found here. As we’ve previously reported, this risk landscape approach has been put up as a model of future more efficient landscape management. The problem is that no actual info on what it means on the ground has been forthcoming so far.

Readers can judge for themselves, but we can’t see that the newsletter improves matters. It contains passages like ‘The Strategic Bushfire Risk Assesment & Strategy Selection Project… investigates new approaches to develop a range of possible future fire management strategies, and select one strategy for implementation using a rigourous [sic], transparent decison-support [sic] process that captures stakeholder preferences.  This project is expected to be completed by December 2014 and will inform future versions of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan.’

If that means anything, it means, wait till December.

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Kalimna Park burn delayed

The Friends of Kalimna Park have been informed that the DEPI burn planned for this autumn has been deferred to next year, to allow for more detailed planning of this exercise close to Castlemaine. The fuel reduction exercise will involve some mechanical removal of vegetation around Eltham Copper Butterfly colonies in the zone.

This management burn was originally planned as two exercises: one [in the Kalimna Point area] of 23 ha, the other, [adjoining the golf course] of145 ha. These two have now been combined into a single zone of 170 ha.

Conservationists have argued to DEPI that this sensitive exercise on the edge of town should best be handled in stages, in very small lots: the advantage of this being that the desired fuel reduction could be obtained in a mosaic manner, minimising ecological damage and reduction of amenity in a heavily used area. We suspect, however, that DEPI is under political pressure to increase the size of its burn blocks: big burns, it seems, are cheaper. Our suspicions have been strengthened by remarks made by DEPI deputy head Paul Smith in March [see our report].

The Kalimna burn [coded CAS 003] is zoned 2, Bushfire Management. In this zone managers aim for an 80% burn cover.

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March fire meeting

Conservationists from the Bendigo and Otways regions met with DEPI senior staff in March to discuss matters to do with the Fire Operations Plan. Excellent detailed notes on this meeting can be found on the Living with Ecology and Fire website. Among other things, DEPI Deputy Director Paul Smith made the observation to the meeting that smaller burns are more surgical and more costly, being closer to assets (e.g. townships). The worrying thing about this common sense observation is that it tends to confirm our suspicion that DEPI is under pressure to avoid small burns because they cost too much.

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Muckleford forest walk

FOBIF-Youth-Walk--Red-White-Blue-059The second in FOBIF’s program of walks for young people took place on Sunday, with thirteen participants plus leaders taking on a circuit in the Muckleford forest. The two hour walk included nature observations and consideration of DEPI interpretation panels–including the search for a non existent native cherry tree.

The walk was the first in a series. Watch this space.

Walkers negotiate Dunn's Reef in the Muckleford forest on Sunday.

Walkers negotiate Dunn’s Reef in the Muckleford forest.

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April 2014: Going with the flow: Ecological photography by Damien Cook


There will be an exhibition of Damian Cook’s photographs from 5 April till the end of the month at the Castlemain art gallery, CASPA.

Damian is a local ecologist whose work includes monitoring environment health and the revegetation and restoration of degraded landscapes. He writes that his series of photographs ‘celebrates the thread that draws the Australian landscape, its flora, fauna and people and the preciousness of water together’.

You can find out more about the Damian’s thoughts on ecology, gallery opening hours and the location of CASPA in this flyer.

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Next generation of field naturalists explore Kalimna Park


Doug showing a rock sharpened by local Aborigines. He also brought along a small amount of gold.

The first FOBIF family forest walk took place on Sunday 23 March. About half of the 28 people who came along were children.

Doug Ralph who was a member of Friends of Kalimna many years ago began the morning with an introduction to the history of the Park. He talked of the decimation of the area during the gold rush and the subsequent replanting. Unfortunately many non-indigenous species were chosen.

The walk then commenced at ‘children’s pace’ to Kalimna Point. Along the way insects, lichens and many other natural specimens were enthusiastically examined with magnifying glasses. Three experts in the natural sciences, Cassia Read, Warwick Smith and Andrew Kuhlmann, were there to help with identification.


Scorpion under the microscope.

At the Point, two microscopes were set up to further examine the collected items. As well a couple of live scorpions (in sealed plastic containers) were found.

On the return walk the group gathered at a large dry depression where Warwick explained how during heavy rainfall an endangered frog, the Growling Grass frog, had been spotted.

Thanks to Naomi Raftery for all her work to make this first children’s walk such a success. The next one will be held on 28 September at Kaweka Park. Contact Naomi on 0422 585 585 or have a look at this website later in the year to find out more.

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First FOBIF bushwalk for 2014

About 20 walkers of all ages set off from the Chewton Post Office along the Forest Creek Track on the first FOBIF bushwalk of the year. Local resident, Marie Jones, led the walk.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.20.52 pm

First stop was to appreciate the landscape at the Monster Meeting site at the confluence of Wattle and Forest Creeks. Then it was off upstream past the stone sculptures, the three exclusion plots erected to monitor re-vegetation taking place, the spectacular post-goldrush cliffs at Chinamans Point and several revegetation sites in the valley. Morning tea was a break called at Expedition Pass Reservoir – after the first 5.4 kms of the walk had been completed. Continue reading

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Public forum on our waterways

Screen-Shot-2014-03-16-at-4.43The North Central CMA has produced a Draft Regional Waterways Strategy (2014-2022) which is currently open for public comment until 10 April 2014. The Waterway Strategy sets priorities and outlines an action plan for the region’s rivers and wetlands for the next 8 years. Five regional community forums have been organised to seek feedback from interested community members. The local one will take place at the Campbells Creek Community Centre at 7.30pm on 18 March 2014. You can view all the details about the forums in this flyer and the Draft Waterways Strategy can be accessed here.

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20 March 2014 – Damian Kelly to speak on Indigenous fish traps

Every year Newstead Landcare Group is fortunate to have some remarkable people present on an amazing array of topics and 2014 promises to be another such year. Their first presentation will be “Combining Ecology and Archaeology – researching Indigenous fish traps to learn more about river changes over time” by archaeologist Damian Kelly. Damian’s research on fish traps along the Murray is truly fascinating, with very local implications for those of us on the Loddon. For those familiar with the road between Strangways and Guildford, do you know where the name “Bough Yards” may have come from?

The presentation will be on Thursday 20th March at Newstead Community Centre, starting at 8pm. It will be followed by a light supper and their first business meeting for 2014. All are welcome to come along for either the presentation or the meeting or both of course. Gold coin donations would be appreciated.

Check out an amazing photo of Brewarrina traps, circa 1900, Geoff Park’s Blog.

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