2017 Alison Pouliot fungi workshops

Fungi expert and photographer, Alison Pouliot, is running her popular fungi workshops from April to June this year.

Most workshops will focus on the ‘curiosities and delights of fungi’. There are also several on  photographing fungi and these would be good for anyone interested in macro photography.

At least one workshop is booked out already so if you are interested book soon. All the information is here.


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FOBIF is successful in funding bid in the Victorian Landcare Grants Program

FOBIF has been successful in our application to the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) for a Maintenance/ Start Up Grant through the Victorian Landcare Grants Program for $500. This money will go towards paying for public liability insurance for our group so we can continue to host our activities safely.

Local Landcare groups have shared in more than $204,000 to carry out environmental projects that improve biodiversity and land health across the catchment through this program.

This year, about 20 local groups project grant applications in the  region were successful. “Each year the quality of applicants is impressive, and this year was no exception,” North Central CMA Regional Landcare Coordinator Tess Grieves said.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio congratulated the local groups on their projects. “The Victorian Landcare program is an investment in our future and it’s fantastic to see these local groups receiving grants to support their important environmental projects,” she said.

Thanks to Tess and the team at the NCCMA for their work in making this successful application possible.


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‘Neither slimy nor mouldy’

Tasmanian-based naturalist Sarah Lloyd has recently started a blog on Myxomycetes commonly known as slime moulds. Sarah was the guest speaker at the FOBIF AGM in 2015 where she shared her expertise on these often neglected organisms to a fascinated audience.

Sarah has been collecting and identifying slime moulds on her property in Northern Tasmania since 2010:

In the years since starting my research I have amassed over 1500 collections representing approximately 110 different species. This seems extraordinary given that all specimens have been collected within two kilometers of our house, and only 42 species had hitherto been officially recorded for Tasmania.

On the site and in her two recently published books on slime moulds* and Tasmanian native birds** Sarah uses plain language to draw in the general reader. And she is a terrific photographer. The two photos below from the blog are examples of her beautiful work.

web slime moulds

So to find out everything you always wanted to know about slime moulds, click here and have a look at Sarah’s blog.

*  Where the slime mould creeps: the fascinating world of myxomycetes (2014)
** The feathered tribes of Van Diemen’s Land (2015)

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Want to add to the sum of human knowledge?

People interested in contributing their local knowledge to national systems should consider going to a video conference in Bendigo on February 2nd on DELWP and citizen science data bases. The conference will be held at the DELWP office, 1 Taylor Street Epsom, from 9,45 to 12.45, and light refreshments will be provided. Topics include:

–Atlas of Living Australia – Peter Brenton (CSIRO)

–Victorian Biodiversity Atlas – Mel Hardie , DELWP

–Bowerbird – Ken Walker, Museum Victoria

–Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity & SWIFFT – Rob Milne, Centre for eResearch & Digital Innovation (CeRDI), Federation University

Numbers are limited. If you’re intending to go, email  peter.johnson@delwp.vic.gov.au

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Roll up! Roll up!

Ah…Facebook. FOBIF is a bit derelict, we have to confess, in putting material on its Facebook page; interpret that as you like…

And we’re not great at following other Facebook pages, or at coping with social media generally. Twitter? Oh…must think about that…Instagram? Um, er…

But this week our attention was drawn to Parks Victoria’s Facebook page, which had a pic of Expedition Pass reservoir, and the advice:

‘Feeling the heat? Come along and enjoy Expedition Pass Reservoir near Castlemaine. It’s a great spot for the family to enjoy a swim in the cool waters.’

More than one of the responses on the page pointed out that it was pretty astonishing that Parks should be promoting the Res as a hot weather destination when it’s already stressed to the limit on hot days, that parking there is sometimes a nightmare, and that there are unresolved problems with dogs.

Maybe someone in Parks’ Melbourne office was looking for something to put on the Page, and didn’t worry too much about local conditions. In any case, you sometimes do get the impression that Parks Victoria’s management is much more interested in pretty promotions than providing the resources to protect our environment. Maybe we need more rangers, and less promotion?

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Looking back to 1770 and beyond…

The beetle below is quite famous, and worth considering for a few reasons. One is that it’s a handsome creature. Another is that it’s played a modest role in the history of science. It’s a Botany Bay Weevil [aka Diamond Weevil, aka Diamond Beetle]: this was the first Australian insect named for European Science, from a specimen collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Cook’s 1770 voyage along the east coast. For that reason alone it’s a link to a very different Australia from the one we live in now.

The species lives in a variety of wattles. The specimen below was found on a wattle planted by Castlemaine Landcare along Forest Creek—and that’s a third reason to celebrate the beetle: the gold rushes stripped the creek bare, and Landcare revegetation has brought back a link to that distant past.

Diamond Weevil on a Wirilda branch, Forest Creek, December 29 2016: a creature which is a link to a distant, and not so distant past.

Diamond Weevil [Chrysolopus spectabilis] on a branch of a Wirilda wattle [Acacia retinodes], Forest Creek, December 29 2016: a creature which is a link to a distant, and not so distant past. It’s found widely in south eastern Australia, from SA to central north Queensland.

Crudely speaking, a weevil is a beetle with an extended snout. Beetles account for about 40% of  known insects, and more than a quarter of all animal life. Oh: and they’ve been around for about 300 million years…which puts 1770 into some perspective.

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Saint John on the Mount: an update

FOBIF has received a few clarifying details from Parks Victoria on the infestations by St John’s Wort and other weeds on Mount Alexander [see our Post]. Essentially they confirm our impression: that weed control programs are intermittent and dependent on unreliable funding [currently limited]. Biological controls on St Johns Wort are only partially effective, and in the recent good spring the weed has become more rampant than ever.

We have written to Coliban Water about their supposed program to control environmental weeds on the Coliban Race reserve, but have had no reply. The reserve is currently infested with a wide range of weeds, including the picturesque but diabolical Patersons Curse, which has been kept under reasonable control by Parks on the eastern side of the Mount. There doesn’t seem to be any co ordination of weed control efforts between the two authorities: a pity, because it means [for example] that any effort by Parks Victoria to control a weed in the park is doomed because of the certainty of re infestation from the adjacent race reserve.

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Kalimna burn plans

The map below shows DELWP’s intention to burn a significant section of Kalimna Park on the town side of the tourist road this autumn. The lower red section is bordered on the south by Doveton street track. The small white circle is the Hunter Street water tank. The golf course lies between the two red sections.


Click to enlarge.

* In red is where planned burning will take place this Autumn 2017.
* The orange and pink circles will be target by mulching (either Gorse or Broom bush) and
* Tourist Park Rd and the track around Parker St may have mulching applied to assist in track/access maintenance.
No burning will occur to the eastern [Happy Valley] side of Tourist park drive. DELWP  is working through removing the Pines near the rotunda.

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Vicroads and speed: some questions

FOBIF has written to Vicroads regarding its September update on the Pyrenees highway project. Part of this update reads: ‘A reduction of the speed zone would not lead to a decrease in the amount of barrier treatments used in this instance. The impact of an errant vehicle with a roadside hazard (tree, power pole) at 80 kmh can still lead to a serious injury or fatality. The Installation of safety barriers provides the safest option.’

Pyrenees Highway between Newstead and Green Gully: is this stretch of road safer at speed than the Midland?

Pyrenees Highway between Newstead and Green Gully: is this stretch of road safer at speed than the Midland?

Our questions are:

  1. Does this statement imply that there is no difference in the likelihood or nature of a run off road accident at 80 kph, compared to 100 kph? If so, it would seem to contradict campaigns like the ‘wipe off five’ campaign.
  1. We understand that recent limit reductions on the Midland Highway between Castlemaine and Harcourt and on the Pyrenees between Chewton and Tunnel Hill were made for safety reasons. Does Vicroads believe that the stretch of road between Green Gully and Newstead is more manageable at speed than those two stretches of road?
  1. Are we to understand from this document that plans for vegetation management are the same as originally proposed?

We’ll publish Vicroads reply when it comes./.

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‘Free ranging adventure for kids and dads’

Fathers interested in taking their children for bushwalks this year might be interested in the Bendigo Dads Walking Group. The group goes out on a ‘Walk-Explore-Share-Play-Discover-Talk-Connect on a weekly kid’s adventure’. There are about 30 walks a year, on Sundays from 9.30 to 12.30, and many of the routes are in the Castlemaine region. For more details click here…Or email bendigodadswalkinggroup@gmail.com

FOBIF’s 2017 walks program will be mailed to members around the end of this month. Walks start on the third Sunday in March.

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