Our first walk for 2021

A geology tour on March 21 led by well-known geologist Clive Willman will be the first 2021 event for the FOBIF walks program. This car excursion will be around the Guildford Plateau and Mount Franklin, an area shaped by the ancient Loddon River and recent volcanic activity.

We will be car pooling on the day and there will be a limit of 25 people. If you are interested you need to register by emailing FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au).

COVID government regulations at the time could prevent this event taking place. Check the website before the day. 

Clive Willman has led a number of terrific geology-based events for FOBIF. These photos were taken on a 2009 excursion. In the first photo is explaining the geological features of the Anticlinal Fold in Lyttleton Street and in the second he is pointing to the origin of the slate at the Castlemaine Post Office. 

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FOBIF 2021

 There are several ways you can be part of FOBIF activities in 2021 as well as coming on our monthly walks.

Committee meetings are open to all members. They are held between 6 and 7 pm at the Community House, 30 Templeton Street, Castlemaine on the second Monday of the month from March to November. Dates for 2021 are 8th March, 12th April, 10th May, 14th June, 12th July, 9th August, 13 September, 11 October and 8th November. Contact our secretary, Bernard Slattery on 54705161, if you have any questions.

2021 FOBIF committee office holders are Marie Jones (President), Neville Cooper (Vice President), Bernard Slattery (Secretary) and Lynette Amaterstein (Treasurer). Other committee members are Asha Bannon, Frank Panter, Cassia Reid, Jeremy Holland and Bronwyn Silver.

You can submit articles (info@fobif.org.au) or comment on posts for this FOBIF website. We are also keen to post new photos on our Instagram and Flickr site. Here are a few examples of recent Flickr bark photos taken in Walmer. The first four are by Brette-Rose Hadfield and the last two by Bronwyn Silver.

Finally keep a look out on this site for news of the launch of our new book, Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region which is planned for March. Here are a couple of sample pages. 

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New website for Newstead Natives

Frances Cincotta started her nursery, Newstead Natives, in 1999. In the nursery she propagates almost 200 species for local habitat restoration and sells 25000 plants each year.

Many people will be familiar with Newstead Natives’s presence on Facebook and Instagram but now after 22 years Frances has a website.

There is a history of the nursery, a regularly updated news page, a comprehensive list of plants and lots of beautiful photos. Check it out here.

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Mushroom foraging with Alison Pouliot and Tom May

Have you ever wondered if those mushroom you have collected are safe to eat? Alison Pouliot and Tom May will answer all your queries about edible and toxic mushrooms in their new book, Wild Mushrooming; A Guide for Foragers, published by the CSIRO.

Alison is giving a series of regional talks about the book:

Finally, five years since we began, Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers is due for release on 1 March 2021. 
. . .
I’ll be giving talks about the writing of the book on:

Friday 5 March from 6pm-7:30pm in Trentham
Thursday 9 March from 7pm-8:30pm in Lockwood South
Thursday 18 March from 6pm–7:30pm in Creswick
Thursday 22 April from 6pm-7:30pm in Apollo Bay

and would love it if you could join us.

Information from Alison on other forays, workshops and seminars can be found here. Bookings are essential. 

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2021 Walks program and membership

Our walks program for 2021 is now available. It’s a good idea to check our website before each walk.

Membership subscriptions for 2021 are now due. If you haven’t received the renewal form in the mail or would like to join as a new member checkout out the membership page.

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Coming soon!

FOBIF’s latest field guide, Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region, is in the last stages of preparation, and will be launched in the next couple of months. Similar in format to our guides to moss, eucalypts and wattles, it’s 100 pages long, and generously illustrated.

Watch this space!

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Things we don’t need [1]

FOBIF has written to Bush Heritage Australia questioning advice it offers in its leaflet, ‘Beautiful grasses for every garden’.

This leaflet promotes the planting of Swamp Foxtail grass [Pennisetum alopecuroides] across Australia.

There’s a problem here.

According to Agriculture Victoria, Swamp Foxtail is an invasive species in this state. It ‘Invades lowland grassland, grassy woodland, dry sclerophyll forest and woodland (Carr et al. 1992) – biomass significantly decreased.’ ‘“Plants form impenetrable dense stands” (PFAF 2009). Also competes with more edible species (Burbidge 1966) – habitat changed dramatically, leading to the possible extinction of non-threatened fauna.’ More details can be found on the Ag Vic website

We believe it’s a pity an organisation with serious environmental credibility should be so apparently careless. We have enough weeds already. We don’t need any more.

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Things we don’t need [2]

We’ve had the following response from Bush Heritage on the above problem:

‘We understand your concern and appreciate you highlighting that the Swamp Foxtail is classified as an invasive species by Agricultural Victoria. The purpose of the leaflet was to promote native grasses in small backyards in hope that it would inspire our supporters to look at different ways to foster biodiversity in their own gardens. We recognise that while it can be an ideal warm-season grass for many gardens, some Pennisetum varieties run the risk of self-seeding which can pose challenges in a number of settings and it certainly was not our intention to promote it for agricultural purposes or for use outside of the garden. We apologise if it has come across that way.

‘I’m sure you will understand that it can be difficult to highlight the many nuances of different species across multiple landscapes – especially with a plant that is often ambiguously interpreted; being both an invasive species in some areas and an endangered Australian ecosystem in others.’

Readers can judge this response for themselves. It is true that the case of this particular species is quite complex and fascinating. Swamp Foxtail [aka Cenchrus purpurascens] is an attractive plant, like many weeds which owe their spread to widespread use in gardens. Genetic analysis has shown that it has been in Australia for thousands of years, in restricted locations.

You can find more about its intriguing history here 

‘The species is simultaneously an exotic weed from Asia, the dominant grass in an endangered Australian ecosystem and a rare native species in isolated desert springs.’

How can that be? To find out, you’ll have to read the article in the link above.

The moral of the story is that it’s tremendously important to pay attention to detail in promoting plants. The brute fact is that in Victoria, it’s a weed.

And, depressingly, this grass is widely available in nurseries and online: more evidence that half the population is planting stuff for others to pull up.

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A little fungi meditation . . .

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Big turnout despite wintery weather

About thirty FOBIF members and supporters came to the end of the year FOBIF breakup in Walmer last Monday. With thunderstorms and even hail predicted we gathered under cover instead of in the bush and even had the fire going. Surprisingly it turned out to be a beautiful evening if somewhat cold.  The event was a relaxed and enjoyable end of the year celebration.

The FOBIF committee wishes all friends of our forests a happy Christmas and a great new year. Our 2021 walks program will soon be available in January 2021. We’ll see you in the bush in the new year!

FOBIF members and supporters and the 2020 breakup.

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