‘Creatures’ update

Here are two beautiful photos that have been submitted to FOBIF for our November ‘Creatures’ show at TOGS. Keep them coming! You can now view our ‘Creatures’ Flickr photo album.

I believe the butterfly is an ‘Orchard Swallowtail’. The picture was taken on our lemon tree just a few minutes after it emerged from its cocoon. Its wings are still folded and it hasn’t taken its first flight as a butterfly yet. (Mac Schlachter)

Mudeye (Dragonfly larvae) Castlemaine (Vivienne Hamilton)

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Grey skies, perfect walking conditions

A cloudy day provided perfect conditions for FOBIF’s May walk on Sunday. A group of 17 negotiated obscure tracks in the back country of the Poverty Gully race under the leadership of Richard Piesse and Elaine Bayes. The nooks and crannies of this area have many fascinations, cultural and natural, and there were frequent pauses to explore them. The tunnel of the Crocodile Reservoir water race in its deep cutting proved particularly interesting: fortunately none of those who peered over the edge needed to be rescued.

What are they looking at? Walkers check out the northern entry to the Croc Res water race tunnel.

Our thanks to Richard and Elaine for a stroll in air fresh enough to be invigorating without being uncomfortable!

Next month’s walk will be led by Jeremy Holland into the Tarilta Valley. Check the program for details.

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Moths of the Box-Ironbark Forests

Steve Williams has been studying local moths for over a decade and will be sharing some of his fascinating findings at Newstead Community Centre this Thursday 17th May at 8pm. Everyone is welcome to attend the one-hour talk which will be followed by a cuppa, hosted by Newstead Landcare Group. A gold coin donation will help cover costs.

Plume Moth on Shiny Everlasting at Strangways by Patrick Kavanagh

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Kalimna Park burning postponed: what now?

Readers of the local press will be aware that the 171 hectare management burn planned for the town side of Kalimna tourist road has been postponed.

The postponement came after a group of local naturalists raised the inconvenient fact that the burn site contained colonies of the Eltham Copper butterfly. This is listed nationally as an endangered species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation act.

Inside the proposed burn zone: the challenge for DELWP is to protect public safety AND the environment. To achieve this officers need the best and most up to date information on land they manage.

DELWP fire managers had planned this mosaic burn with some diligence, with plenty of time put into local consultation: but they did not have access to important survey information held in the Department’s own archives. This seems to be a case of inadequate communication between fire officers and the Department’s Terrestrial Biodiversity unit. Fundamental to this communication fault is the fact that much of the information collected in surveys funded since the Royal Commission has not been entered into Department data bases, and is therefore not easily available to managers.

For years FOBIF members have joked cynically that the Department frequently conducts monitoring surveys, then puts all the resulting information into a filing cabinet in an unknown location, never to be accessed. Inaccurate and unfair? Yes, but with a degree of uncomfortable truth.

The management burn has been postponed to Autumn 2019. The challenge for the Department between now and then is to develop a fuel management strategy which ensures safety for the communities of Castlemaine and Chewton without threatening one of Australia’s most endangered species.

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Indigenous joint management? Come and find out

An interesting additional factor in DELWP’s challenge in Kalimna is that the recent state budget allocated $2.05 million for biodiversity work in the Greater Bendigo NP and Kalimna Park.

At the time of writing it’s not clear what this money is for, but one outcome of the funding will be the employment of traditional owner rangers to work in these parks. It remains to be seen whether indigenous input into management will influence approaches to fire in Kalimna.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan, published in 2017, has an interestingly positive approach to land healing. If you want to find out more on this, there’ll be a drop in session next Sunday in Castlemaine to inform the public about the draft co management plan for Dja Dja Wurrung parks in the box ironbark region. The session will be held in the Ray Bradfield room, next to Victory Park, from 10 am to 12 noon.

Preparation of the Draft Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks was supported by a CSIRO-led consortium including Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises, and Conservation Management in consultation with Parks Victoria and Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP).

Aboriginal joint management of six Box Ironbark parks was proclaimed in 2016. The parks in question are Greater Bendigo National Park, Kara Kara National Park, Hepburn Regional Park, Kooyoora State Park, Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve and Paddy’s Range State Park.

None of these parks is in the Mount Alexander region, but the management strategies proposed for them will surely be of interest to us. Rock up and find out.

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Call for photos!

The theme of the next FOBIF photo exhibition is Creatures.

TOGS Cafe in Castlemaine will host the exhibition in November 2018.

So if you have a favourite photo/s of wildlife in our region send them along to FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au). There is also plenty of time to take new photos: the closing date for the submission of photos is not till 1 October 2018.

We will place all photos in a designated album on the FOBIF Flickr site. A FOBIF sub-committee will then select approximately 18 photos to be printed and framed for the exhibition. As you can see from the wildlife photos below there is plenty of scope for variety.

If your photo is selected, as well as being included in the exhibition, you will receive a free copy of your photo.


  1. Photo to include Creature/s within the Mount Alexander region. 
  2. A small file size is fine for Flickr but the photo will need to be at least 3 mg to be printed and included in the exhibitions. (At this stage only send files under 1mg).
  3. Include the photo’s location, date, identification of flora and fauna and any extra information you have about the phot0.

Contact Bronwyn Silver at info@fobif.org.au or 0448751111 for further information.

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Close to 100 people turned up on Saturday morning to see Castlemaine Field Naturalists’ president George Broadway launch FOBIF’s Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region.

The guide was produced as a tribute to Ern Perkins, for many decades the leading figure in field naturalist studies in this region. George spoke briefly about Ern’s career since the two had been science students together at Melbourne University in the 1950s, before launching the book, which incorporates many of the notes on the Acacia species produced by Ern in innumerable guides and newsletters.

In introducing the event, FOBIF President Marie Jones paid tribute to past leaders, like Ern, and like FOBIF founding president Doug Ralph, who have made major contributions to the living tradition of engagement with the environment in this region.

The wattle guide is available from Stonemans Bookroom, the Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre, the Book Wolf in Maldon and the Guildford General Store. It can also be ordered directly from this site.

Thanks to John Ellis for the photos. Click to enlarge.

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Reminder: Wattle book launch next Saturday

Our latest FOBIF publication, Wattles of the Mount Alexander Shire, will be launched next Saturday morning, 28 April in the Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer at 11 am.  You can find all the details here.

If you can’t make the launch, the book will be available from Stoneman’s Bookroom from 28 April. You will also be able to buy it online from the FOBIF website. Cost is $10.

Here are a some sample pages on Golden Wattle:

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Launch of ‘Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region’

Acacia, known in Australia as wattle, is the largest genus of plants in the country — nearly 1000 species! Its brilliant flowers transform winter and spring landscapes. Our sporting teams wear its green and gold colours. Sprigs of wattle flowers adorn our patriotic events. The Golden Wattle is our national floral emblem …

But how many wattle species can the average citizen name and recognise?

Our new 112 page wattle guide helps the beginner to make a start. In plain language, and generously illustrated, it presents twenty one species which flourish in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. And a general introduction explains different features of wattles, helping in identification and appreciation of these tenacious and beautiful plants.

The book is published by Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests in association with Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country. The authors are Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver.

George Broadway (President, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club) will launch the book in the Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer, Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine, on Saturday 28 April 2018 from 11 am.

Everyone is welcome, refreshments will be served and copies of the book will be available for sale.  Cost is $10.

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Hardy walkers enjoy FOBIF walk

Despite intermittent showers 18 walkers enjoyed a day visiting Browns Gully and the surrounding area last Sunday, ably led by Ron Wescott. Such a good turnout shows the popularity and value of these walks.

Recently the bush had been looking a bit tired and drab in the hot and dry weather but the damper conditions brought out the colours of the bush beautifully and gave it a rejuvenated look. The area of Candlebarks beside the gully looked especially good.

We also visited some of the nearby stone chimneys including one used by Charlie Sanger during his wanderings.

Di Davies sent us these comments:

Photo by Di Daves

Very little was flowering but fungi had begun to emerge and lichens were displaying beautiful forms on damp stumps, dripping trunks and other substrates.

The photo (left) shows Variable Sword-sedge Lepidosperma laterale growing on the side of the track. This interesting sedge, with its large basal tuft of leaves, was found growing on drier, upper slopes. It has insignificant flowers so is not often noticed or appreciated. This hardy and drought tolerant plant is well worth considering as a garden specimen. 

Thanks Ron for a great walk.




Dom Lavie sent us the three photos above. Click to enlarge.

The next walk is in Poverty Gully on May 20. There was some confusion as to whether this was going ahead due to the missing lines in the printed sheet mailed out but it definitely is and all the details are on the website.

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