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  1. Pingback: Muckleford Gorge: a privileged excursion | Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests

  2. Elizabeth Scanlon says:

    Frightening. I know I’d never realised how much the DSE were relied on to do such things. I’m only pointing the finger, really.

  3. Beth Mellick says:

    This was a wonderful walk. Nioka accidentally deleted the photos she took from her camera. So we’ll have to go back and take a photo of Charles Sanger’s hut.

  4. Dominique Lavie says:

    The photos tell a good story: Walkers in the fog makes it look like it will be a damp, dull day. But the view and the purple pea show that there is no need to let the weather hold you back. The fog add dramatic atmosphere and makes the clematis shot into a winner. I think I missed a good walk.

  5. Tony Smark says:

    I really enjoyed the latest newsletter. It looks fantastic, the photos are superb, and the content is excellent. Keep up the great job.

  6. Beth Mellick says:

    Your moss photos turned out extremely well Bronwyn. They look like much larger plants than moss, when in fact, they have been greatly magnified. Moss, it turns out, is incredibly beautiful.

  7. Chris Johnston says:

    Dear fobif folks – great to see this article about proposed burns. I’m in Green Gully and extremely concerned with the scale of what is proposed. A few of us have put in objections and we are keen to hear from DSE to explain what they propose, how they will do the burn so as to protect significant areas and why exactly they think our forests need a burn. I appreciate the political pressures officers of DSE are under, and I think we all need to stand up strongly and protest. I just can’t really believe that at a recent Connecting Country talk I heard that our forests don’t need fire for regeneration and that fire frequency has actually increased since white folks arrived – and so we need to burn more? Surely this is crazy. We need to reduce burning and move our forests back to a more stable and less fire-dependent state. That will make us all safer and enable out forests to again become places where wonderful biodiversity exists alongside people and our settlements.

  8. Jane Shearer says:

    I grew up in Strathfieldsaye in a mud brick house and I have never stopped loving the Box-Ironbark Forest! I am studying Natural Resources Education at La trobe and would love to get more involved in protecting and educating about this beautiful forest of ours.

  9. Martyn Stradbrook says:

    I am gobsmacked! I live in Strathfieldsaye just at the bottom of the forest and cannot beleive that DSE intend a 90-100% burn of this area. Legalised environmental vandalism does not say it stronger enough. Outraged and disgusted.

  10. doug ralph says:

    I have always called them wooly bears.

  11. Geraldine Harris says:

    How fascinating.
    Has anyone attempted to take an aerial photo of the formation?
    I would be very interested to see that.
    Please keep me posted if any further information is revealed.

  12. Richardson Vanessa says:

    excellent response to the draft COP…thanks for doing such a great job on behalf of our public lands!

  13. Frank Forster says:

    Another excellent program, again showcasing the wonderful diversity to be found in our environs.

  14. Anne & Rob Simons says:

    Ecological vandalism is exactly what we would call it, thank you for expressing our views so clearly. Living in this area (Tarilta Creek runs through our property) we also expressed our concerns to DSE about the gorge to no avail. The reason given for burning this area was for the protection of Glenlyon as bark from this area during a bush fire could travel 28 kilometres ahead of a fire front, or so were told – we pointed out that this was not a blue gum forest!!!!
    We have contacted NWCCA and Prof Andrew Bennett with our concerns and photos of the resulting damage.
    We intend following this up with the local member Geoff Howard and encourage him to do a walk of the gorge and take up the matter with the minister as we feel we are only getting the bureaucratic response from the departments.
    You may be interested to know that the southern front was not monitored from 6.00pm on Saturday until 10.00 am on the Sunday, and that the fire did jump the Limestone road boundary near Sawpit Gully road.

  15. Beth Z Charles says:

    I agree with Rob and Anne Simons who live in and care for the Holcombe forest.

    I was visiting the forest during the burn and have since seen the Tarilta Creek massacre. I understood the fire was not monitored; was concerned about the native animals; and had dicomfort from smoke inhalation.

  16. I agree with you Anne & Rob. All this smells of politics. DSE has to be seen to be looking after private property by burning-off public land. Even when the land doesn’t require burning or when any environmental gains are outweighed by the resulting environmental losses. I love this part of the world and I’m really upset by what has happened. I still think that this section of the Upper Loddon State Park should have been included in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park.

    Here is a short video on our Open Spaces blog showing a little bit of the gorge immediately before the ‘controlled burn’. http://osp.com.au/?p=3232

  17. Anne & Rob Simons says:

    The only trees that were raked around were on the perimeter of the burn and after extensively walking the whole gorge area there is no evidence of any large trees being protected .

    Having observed flows of both the Tarilta and Hunters creeks over a period of 35 years , the hunter creek always flows at least 3 to 4 days before the Tarilta creek because the Hunter flows through a lot of open farmland. The rain we had after the burn was about an inch,the hunter only just flowed whereas as can be seen in photos the Tarilta had enormous runoff which would never have happened if it was not burnt resulting in devastating erosion. One wonders how this is GOOD ecological management!

    Every March we hear the powerful owl calling from the Tarilta Gorge area, but this year we haven’t heard a HOOT. This is the very top of the food chain and is a great indicator of ecological health. Approx 2 months ago we were lucky enough to photograph a pair of fledged powerfuls, let’s hope they return.

    We hope that the people responsible for this burn will be man enough to face the people who love this most beautiful part of Australia and explain their actions . I would love to see the Minister walk this gorge to see the damage caused by this reckless act.

  18. I am very interested in DSE’s response about mapping of the ‘fire intensity’ and ‘burn coverage’. The same issues are of concern in the Muckleford Forest – as those who came on the FOBIF walk recently can attest. And the eological objective seems empty of real purpose – why introduce burning – just because it is long unburnt? What is the fire history of this forest – pre 1788 and since?

    And tree raking – in the Muckleford it was only along tracks. In many places we walked in off the track just 20 or 30 metres to large trees and found them unraked. And we found dead trees and stumps raked (perhaps for good habitat purposes) and trees with bridal creeper growing at the base also carefully raked – and the bridal creeper left intact (grrr). And of course the nature of past timber getting means many trees have hollows at their base – and these form a fireplace of extended burning – knocking down what are quite old trees. It really makes me mad!

  19. Anne & Rob Simons says:

    Here are pictures take at the top end of Tarilta which clearly show the lack of protection of both mature trees and top soil on steep slopes


    Every picture tells a story “Don’t It”

  20. It’s interesting to note that when we walked through only a week before the burn we didn’t see any raking around any of the old big trees. There was about half a dozen trees raked around along Limestone Track and a few along Porcupine Ridge Road. I would be very surprised if any DSE people actually walked down the creek in that week prior to the burn. We have a few more images on our latest blog: http://osp.com.au/?p=3278

  21. Keep up the good work FOBIF. DSE should be accountable for their actions….and their statements too.

  22. Anne & Rob Simons says:

    This crossing, about 25 years ago, was only a stone crossing and never gave a problem after many floods . DSE in their wisdom decided to construct the current ford which never copes with a flood and requires expensive clearing of the beaver dam with heavy machinery. We couldn’t believe it when about 5 years ago DSE added yet a higher barrier with the addition of armco railing which caused even greater blockages which at times were impassable and cleared at even more expense. This armco railing ending up being twisted and partially ripped off the concrete bridge and was then carted out on the back of a truck!!! The erosion caused required loads of imported rock to be trucked in. When we asked them to restore the crossing to its original pre-concrete state they said oh no we can’t do that, we have to have a working group go out to assess the situation and work out what needs to be done…….enough said!!!!!
    Imagine if the money wasted on this ford was used to produce detailed investigations into the results of their CONTROLLED burns .

  23. Some year past I worked for DSE and assisted their fire operations. It is my understanding that the raking around the base of trees with basal bark damage (regardless of age) is strategic and aimed to avoid those trees burning and falling across the track (break line) and thus burning more bush. It is only practiced 20m or so from a track so the suspicions (mentioned about) are, perhaps unfounded. I would like to see this practice of raking implemented around the base of ALL significant trees in each planned burn area to avoid more pointless habitat loss by DSE fire.

  24. doug ralph says:

    Something we should consider in relation to this article is that research shows animals and birds spend most of their time in gullies and along creeks and rivers so it’s not normal to see large numbers of birds on ridge lines.As there has been an abundance of rain in the last 2 years that has resulted in much growth and an increase in food supply its easy to understand why birds wouldn’t bother to fly up to the top of a hill to search for it where as in the drought years they would be searching far and wide.I have noticed that large numbers of birds gather on north facing slopes in winter for shelter from the cold south winds.This could explain why there are few birds on Porcupine Ridge which is very exposed to the south,also lack of under storey plants in that area could be another reason.I have noticed large numbers of birds south of Castlemaine this year and in the evening flocks of birds fly in from the north to shelter.

  25. Cath Ryan says:

    Thanks all for the theories on this. I’ve seen several lerps infestations over the years in this Porcupine Ridge area, but none to compare to what is currently happening. As i look from our place on Italian Hill over the Fryers Ranges and back to Porky Ridge, I can see swathes and patches of seriously browning forest in many directions. It’s distressing. And it’s hard to tell from a distance whether this is the red-brown of some juvenile foliages or yet more destruction. I also noticed another patch of infestation on the Midland Hwy heading down to Daylesford near the Chocolate Mill. With the past lerps, although they mined the leaves, they never seemed to take the whole trees to the point of stress where it looked like they were really dying (like now) – this arvo i noticed bark starting to come off some of these trees in a way i hadn’t seen before. Oh i am worried.

  26. doug ralph says:

    There was a major outbreak of Cup moth caterpillars around 10 years ago when they defoliated large areas of forest in this area they could be heard chomping away on the leaves there was so many of them,they are locally known as” stinging joeys.”They have almost disappeared in recent times but could be building up for another infestation.

    • fobif says:

      Walkers on FOBIF’s Middleton Creek walk today saw lots of the caterpillars on leaves and even crawling around Great Dividing Trail sign posts. Apparently they’re also called Chinese Junks, because of a vague similarity to the ship.

  27. Kristin says:

    We live in Guildford and are surrounded by native bushland including many trees on our property. I’ve only recently noticed the cup moth caterpillars after being ‘stung’ by one whilst cleaning up outside, the burning sensation subsided after an hour or so. Now I have realised that these caterpillars have been eating many trees and are quite destructive indeed. I didn’t notice them at all last year but there seems to be thousands of them at the moment…I spent yesterday listening to them chomp away at leaves on the ground and in trees, they are everywhere! We are considering spraying them, but not sure how effective this will be considering how many there are.

    [FOBIF note: Infestations of these moths are not well understood. We’ve heard that recovery of trees can be rapid [possibly from spring to autumn]–but that’s under good conditions, and general forest health [which includes good biodiversity] can be a factor. That’s why FOBIF is interested in DSE’s plans to burn infested areas.]

  28. Richardson Vanessa says:

    Great summary of the recent DSE FOP meeting … thanks.

  29. Some prescribed burns will start soon no doubt. It would be great to push hard on ‘prescriptions’ for particular species where we know they have been established by DSE – or push even harder where there are no prescriptions!

    Habitat trees were a focus at Muckleford Forest community discussions last weekend, noting that the DSE approach of raking around large old and habitat trees is the WRONG approach. Raking around reduces the nutrient cycle of these trees – and they are so important in the nutrient cycling in the forests. Instead we shoud, advocate that DSE don’t light up near such trees as in most conditons the flames will die out before getting to their base. How far away? I’m not sure but others will know.

    This is a prescription we could demand – identify and protect such trees. Yes it would mean pre-burn survey and marking of such trees (physically and with GPS) and then controlling the burn pattern. At least we could ask that they trial this in some selected areas and do pre and post burn evaluation. And perhaps comunity members might even contribute a bit of time towards tree marking?

    What do others think – and what should we be advocating for inclusion in ‘burn plans’?


  30. Alex Panelli says:

    I am interested in the Planned Burning Exclusion Zones shown in the above table. 56,716 hectares, or roughly one sixth of the land in all the zones, totally protected from fire. I wonder what is necessary for land to be classified in this way, and what is lacking about the land that has not been. I also wonder what proportion this is of all the land in the region – including private land. I’m sure it is much less than one sixth. Is it even one sixtieth?

    I note that in his reply to FOBIF on behalf of his minister, LeeMiezis, Executive Director, Fire (what a wonderful title!) for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, wrote:
    “Planned Burning is excluded from identified zones (Planned Burning Exclusion Zones) mainly to protect the environment – for example fire sensitive ecological communities.”
    In his letter, this statement sits, rather oddly, immediately after a passage that states:
    “it is important to recognise that fire is a vital part of our environment – in fact Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world and many of our plants and animals depend on fire for their ongoing survival. Planned burning can help the environment to regenerate and maintain health, while having benefits of reducing the risk of bushfire causing significant change to natural ecosystems.”

    I wonder if the “Executive Director, Fire” is conscious of the contradiction in what he has written, or if perhaps the ecological communities within the planned burning exclusion zones are in fact so different from those in other zones that there is no contradiction. In either case it would be good to know more. I wonder also if the Minister, whom the Executive Director serves, has a better understanding of this than I do.

    But, if such contradictions really do lie (un-noticed) at the heart of our statements about fire, I wonder if our faith in our knowledge of such things, and in the benefits (or potential benefits) of the monitoring and science that is applied to them, is well founded.

  31. Tony Morton says:

    Re. the Cup Moth caterpillars (aka Bondi Trams, Chinese Junks, Doratifera oxleyi!) – I think a virus (not unusual where there’s an overpopulation of insects) has wiped them, or most of them, out, perhaps helped by a parasite. No adult moths at all have come to my MV light this year. Last year scores of them did. From 2000 – 2010 I only saw the odd one.

  32. Anthony Amis says:


    plantations are certainly fire hazards – check out photos 5 and 6 on this page:

    hancock lost 10,000ha in one day in feb 2009

    hancock also attempted to rezone land in strathbogies in late 2010 to general farming zone. http://hancockwatch.nfshost.com/directory/benalla/LEGL93-60.html

    [FOBIF NOTE: it’s also of interest that the Kentbruck fire presently raging in South Western Victoria started and quickly spread through a pine plantation]

  33. Faisal Grant says:

    This is a natural decay, and a natural decay of an introduced, alien entity. Let nature take over again, I say.

    • fobif says:

      Thanks for the comment Faisal. The interesting thing about those pipes is that they were part of a destructive process–and now they’re part of the recovery. In a way, they’re part of nature too.

  34. Tony Morton says:

    I think that it’s possible that we are going to have another infestation of Doratifera oxleyi (The Painted Cupmoth) next spring. Although not as numerous as in 2012, I have noticed dozens of the adult moths round lighted windows here in Vaughan for the past ten days. Their caterpillars (Stinging Joeys) will be defoliating eucalypts again. The trees seem to recover quickly but after this recent prolonged drought they will be under extra stress, which may be of concern.

  35. Tony Morton says:

    It’s very bad news if this is an area to be ‘control burned’. Already this suspect activity has resulted in a Castlemaine Copper site being mistakenly burned in the Bendigo area. If this area too is burned in Autumn, it’s possible than the early stages of the butterfly might escape, as it is thought that the larvae will be in ant’s nests underground, but it is a risky thing to do when an endangered insect is involved.

  36. Chris Johnston says:

    We are trying a modified habitat hectares approach in the Muckleford forest (Maldon Historic Reserve) as it includes large trees. Results so far are that this forest lacks the number of large trees defined in the EVC benchmark – making these ‘almost large’ trees critical as they are the large trees of the future. Will post more details on the Muckleford forest blog soon.

  37. Chris Timewell says:

    Strange but true. Here’s a link to more information than you ever wanted to know about Moss Man! http://he-man.wikia.com/wiki/MossMan

  38. Karl says:

    Perhaps the ant was intending to use the piece of moss to line the entrance to a nest? In the handbook ‘Ants, their biology and identification’, it states for Rytidoponera that ‘when in the open, nests range from low and messy mounds to large mounds decorated with stones and small twigs or leaves.’

  39. Meg Parnaby says:

    Have planted many long leaf box trees last Spring and find now that lots have been almost completely devoured by a caterpillar (greenish with a small amount of red and often a single white band) Is this the cup moth caterpillar and how do you stop them from eating your trees up??

    • fobif says:

      Meg, it looks like you’ve got the moth that’s currently chewing its way through lots of local bush for the second time in a couple of years. Trees do recover–as long as they’re not subjected to repeated attacks. We’re not sure about control. For what it’s worth, DEPI offers the following advice [http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/forestry/pests-diseases-weeds/pests/cup-moth-alert]: ‘Cup moth larvae have several natural enemies. They are often parasitised by flies and wasps and are susceptible to a virus disease. Predatory insects such as shield bugs also attack the larvae. Chemical control, although it is likely to damage some natural enemies, may be necessary to protect young trees from complete defoliation.’

  40. Robin Haylett says:

    Castlemaine Landcare Group started to plant Banksia marginata along the Happy Valley walking track a number of years ago. We utilised silt extracted from Forest Creek during willow removal to assist in planting – they benefit from moister conditions in their early years of growth. The initial planting is now well established and we planted more on a nearby site this winter.

  41. Much overlooked is the effect of frequent fire on the leaf litter biota, particularly invertebrate species. The absence of such specialised biota contributes to the big litter problems in Spanish and other plantations


  42. Chris Johnston says:

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. I am one of a small group of landholders in Green Gully who have also been working on this issue for a couple of seasons as there is a significant infestation here on the highway and local roadsides as well as on private land: and it has really expanded with the rain this year prompting us to develop a local plan in place. Thanks to locals, VicRoads and the Shire we have been able to take some extra control measures this year. Now our next challenge is to get more locals involved. It would be great to link up with other groups and share knowledge and success stories.

  43. We live half an hour south of Castlemaine. We have established a seed production area [SPA] for a range of species in order to supply seed to a range of people (indigenous nurseries and private) in order to reduce the amount of seed being taken from the natural environment. We collected seed from 5 different populations of the Tree form of Silver Banksia and we now have over 300 plants in our SPA and we are collecting heaps of seed. We have to separately bag the cones with cloth bags or the beautiful Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos take them all before they are ripe.
    The local nursery tells us that our seed grows faster and better and grows lovely plants compared to all the others they have grown. We would like more people to grow our seed and include it in their plantings as it may help people to form more sustainable populations over time.
    We went to so much trouble because we want to see this species returned to all the areas where it used to be (we make very little money from our seed – this is not our motivation). Our seed is from Baynton and Tooborac and Spring Hill and we grow them on a property near Daylesford on mostly red volcanic soil. If you have time to look at our website: http://www.victoriannativeseed.com.au/ you can see what we are doing.

  44. Frank Forster says:

    Rode past these magnificent specimens this morning and stopped to admire the handy work of Castlemaine Landcare

  45. Saide Gray says:

    In our small ephemeral creek, I have tried to mitigate the erosion and gorging away of soil that floods can create by strategic planting and placing of logs to slow the run-off of water. This has had the added advantage of allowing water more time to soak into the soil and improve our soil quality. Floods are a natural way to replenish soil fertility. On our property we ensure some protection by keeping infrastructure off potential flood sites. So some adjustment to planning regulations that secure housing by preventing building on floodplains, could free up these areas for use as public amenity in non-flood times, such as strategic wetlands for holding excess water, walkways, passive recreation and maybe even community gardens that may benefit from the soil and silt brought in by floods.

    I wonder what others think?

  46. Janet Peters says:

    We have seen a pair of Red-capped Robins at our place in North Castlemaine this week [March 25, 2014]. I’ve not been aware of this breed here before, although last year we had frequent sightings of Scarlet & Flame Robins and the occasional Mistletoe Bird during winter and spring.

  47. John Ross says:

    Aboriginal use of fire is a complex subject and you are dead right to recognise that fire was used very differently in different landscapes. The notion of ‘fire-stick farming’, coined by Rhys Jones and popularised by Tim Flannery, does not have universal application, however this half-baked theory has been extrapolated to country where it was never used. Google ‘Phil Zylstra’, who has studied this topic extensively, and read everything you can find by him.

    Aboriginal culture has been co-opted by organisations such as the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association to support their political goals, with no regard for the truth. Zysltra’s work shows that fire frequency in the high country increased after white settlement.

  48. Ben Boxshall says:

    From Easter, Bendigonians can get an alternative, quality firewood product from wood4good that is 100% plantation-grown – plantations that are managed to help protect our farmland, our biodiversity and our future. Don’t say NO to firewood – it’s a fantastic source of renewable energy. Say NO to firewood sourced from woodlands and forests!

  49. Matt says:

    Howdy FOBIF,
    I reguarly prospect the Wellsford State forest in the search of gold and relics, its a great state forest and a fantastic place to be in, my concern is that if it is turned into a NP, i may loose some of my rights as a prospector, eg sluicing with a small highbanker, could someone please clarify this for me.
    Kind regards

    • fobif says:

      Hi Matt,
      You’re right: prospecting is generally not allowed in National Parks. You’ll find more info on this, and FOBIF’s position on prospecting, if you put ‘prospecting’ into the search box on our home page.

  50. Doug Ralph says:

    What is the adress of VEAC to send submissions?

  51. fobif says:

    Doug, you can write to VEAC at PO Box 500, East Melbourne 3002, or email them at veac@depi.vic.gov.au Closing date for submissions is September 8. There’s a guide on the terms of reference of the investigation at http://www.veac.vic.gov.au/documents/VEAC-Historic-Places-Notice-of-Investigation-Info-Sheet.pdf

  52. There is one VERY LARGE burn that is new in the Muckleford Forest – it is shown in the FOP as “already approved” but I think this is not correct and I have alerted DEPI to this mistake. The burn is called MGFCASO24 and it is called Gower-Cemetery Road and it is 672.1 ha and again in an LMZ! There will be more on Muckleford Forest burns on the Muckleford Forest blog – see the link under Blogroll in the sidebar or go to http://mucklefordforest.wordpress.com/


  53. Anne White says:

    Q.2 I think it is very shortsighted to reduce spending on animal health but especially on biosecurity. But like many people I believe that there are far too many shiny bums on seats and not enough out in the field. Less bureacracy and red tape and more hands in the field.
    Q.3 To prevent devastations like Black Saturday it is IMPERATIVE to have an ongoing regime of slow cool burns. Our bush requires constant burning to reduce fuel loads and for regeneration. You only have to read early exploreres and setttlers accounts of what it looked like, pre white settlement – very different to the overgrown and or scrubby bush of today. I have watched my area change from open grassland dotted with trees, grasslands with spring flowers, to an impassible jungle fire hazard because no-one will touch it. The kangaroos now have to graze on the side of the roads and on private properties that have pasture. That’s what landcare and the national park have created – deprivation.
    Q.4 Some commercial development but it has to carefully done.
    Q.5 I prefer ‘natural climate variation’
    Q.6 I think prospecting should be allowed – after all the National Parks are supposed to belong to everybody for their use not just an elite select few. As it is access to parks is severely restricted for those who are not ablebodied ie there are not enough roads and carparks. I disagree with the policy of ripping up roads in parks which I know has been occurring. At the very least there need to be maintained fire tracks.
    Q.7 Landcare is a very good program – providing it keeps its nose out of politics and sticks to its ORIGINAL remit on this basis I would like to see it continue to get funding.

  54. George Broadway says:

    Seems like a rerun of the Astroloma debacle in the Muckleford forest where almost
    the entire stand of conostephioides was destroyed in a burn, and this as far as I know
    was the only stand of this plant in the district.
    Don’t they do a survey of an area before they set light to it, or have experts have a look
    for special plants ?

  55. Bernard Slattery says:

    It’s amazing that two people can look at the same landscape and see completely different things [I assume that Anne White’s talking about Box Ironbark forests, since that’s what this website is all about].

    Readers might want to consider this, and make their own decisions about who’s seeing the real world:

    Q 3: ‘Impassable jungle fire hazard’. Anne White might like to point out where these are in our region. I’ve walked most of the country from Mount Franklin to Mount Alexander. Apart from a few isolated patches the only impassable jungles I’ve seen are areas of dense gorse [definitely needs clearing], and dense regrowth around the Loop track, entirely caused by DSE fire—it was grassland before the ‘fuel reduction’!

    Q 6: Anne could also point out where roads have been ‘ripped up’. As far as I can see, DEPI and Parks have spent an enormous amount of money ‘upgrading’ roads in recent years. Here’s a simple exercise: look at a good map—say, Hayman’s Forest Activities map of the area—and see if any of the roads marked on it have been ‘ripped up’. How many roads does Anne want? There’d scarcely be an inch of bush in this region more than 500 metres from a track.

    On prospecting, the question is: where’s the monitoring the Government has promised us?

    On the other questions, it’s a matter who you believe: botanists tell us box ironbark bushlands don’t need constant fire to regenerate, for example. And as for ‘shiny bums on seats’, I’d like Anne to offer some hard info on this, but I’d bet none of them are scientists. These are being laid off, as Governments of both sides prefer to accept ‘advice’ from people who only tell them what they want to know.

    According to Tourism Victoria, by the way, Victoria’s national parks have nearly 30 million visitors a year. I don’t think they’re just for ‘elites’.

  56. Galena Debney says:

    Great article on this beautiful snake.

    I live on 75 acres at Glenlyon and I see quite a few when I’m out riding and they are so shy. I was opening a gate on my property one day and I looked down and there was one sunning himself within a few inches of my foot. We both leapt backwards like helicopters in opposite directions and I thought it was amazing that his first reaction, like me, was to get away. He did not attempt to strike. I hope people will begin to think more compassionately towards them.

  57. Deb Worland says:

    Swift Parrots use that area opposite and near the Gowar School. Seen them there a few times.

  58. Beth Mellick says:

    I’m interested in hearing more and perhaps representing Muckleford Landcare, can you please let me know details of 5th February info session. Thanks.

  59. Brenton Rittberger says:

    It is so easy to fan the flames of fear to gain political points.
    Fire is part of our life. And we can use tame fire to control wild fire. We are starting to re-learn what was known for thousands of years. Some of our “tame burning” is wrong and is just promoting fire loving species to encroach further. We need to use knowledge and science to truly use the word “prescribed” for our “fuel reduction burn”
    Meanwhile we need to hear the voices teaching about our plants and creatures. Engage the community in the learning of basic cycles of life in our local forests , heath and Mallee etc.

  60. Gen Blades says:

    Doug loved walking, and philosophising, he knew the ground beneath his feet intimately. This verse is in memory of his walking:
    Walking, I am listening to a deeper way.
    Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.
    Be still, they say.
    Watch and listen.
    You are the result of the love of thousands.
    (Linda Hogan, 1947)

    Thank you Doug

  61. Ann Quinton says:

    What a lovely poem, which describes Doug to a “T”
    I was so shocked when I heard of his death…
    His contented smile and earnest spirit moved me many times over the years I knew him.
    His dedication to our beautiful Earth will be remembered for as long as all of us are still around.
    Bless his family with the joy he created for so much of world in which he lived
    Thank you for giving us the chance to put our thoughts into words.

  62. Emmanuelle Dubuc says:

    Life sometimes brings gifts that often cannot be described by our human words as the depth that those gift carry, expands way beyond our human ways. Doug was one of those gifts… he touched so many hearts with his contagious love of nature. His memories will always remain…in the heart of our bushland, in the mosses and lichens filled with moisture on a cool wintery day, in the majestic clouds swiftly moving across our skies.
    Your are loved and always will be Dear Doug. xxx
    Wishing you well on your Journey.

  63. ros bandt says:

    A room full of sound sculpture and photography by artists interpreting Fryerstown magpies. Ros Bandt sound Marion Williams photography Liz Walker Sculpture http://www.hearingplaces/news
    Birdsong CDs for sale at the Tate gallery Fryerstown school the next two weekends.

  64. James McArdle says:

    A visit to Glenluce Springs the day after the bog blow revealed some awful destruction there; the massive gum which stood in the river above the swimming hole on a raised island has been felled by the winds onto the rocky outcrop which was a popular picnic and lookout over the Loddon there. We noticed bees had taken up residence amongst the exposed roots.

  65. Beth Mellick says:

    There was a bit of radio coverage given to the loss of a giant poplar in Guildford with quite a lot of community concern. They were discussing potential ways to try and stand it back up and save it. If it couldn’t be saved, people were suggesting a plaque or statue. Seriously? I wasn’t at all interested in the poplar, but was keen to hear about how that beautiful Red Gum fared – they didn’t even mention the Red Gum.

  66. There is now an article on Wikipedia devoted to Doug at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Ralph
    There was one Wikipedia editor, working from a politics perspective, who wanted the page deleted because they considered Doug not ‘notable’. No consensus on this was reached however, so the article remains, and awaits any improvements you may have with extra information on Doug. In line with the status of Wikipedia, all information must be verifiable (referenced). Anyone may contribute to Wikipedia articles, even without registering. Please help.

  67. Beth Mellick says:

    I like your bush creatures, some look like insects and some look like fairies.

  68. James McArdle says:

    As of today May 4th, the burn is still smouldering and is causing a great deal of ‘collateral damage’ to large trees, due to lack of care in ‘blacking out’, and not helped by our lack of any significant rainfall.
    Trees with hollows at the base, or deep burns to bark and exposed roots, are crashing to the ground. In some until recently picturesque little gullies, many of which harboured plants rarely seen elsewhere, are now actively alight.
    By contrast, areas of blackberry infestation below the northernmost bend of Lawson Parade are untouched. Several tracks have been irreparably widened and levelled enough to encourage – even invite – off-roaders, 4WD enthusiasts and firewood harvesters. Given the last FOBIF post, on weeds spread by machinery, one wonders what we’ll see emerge along the verges of these tracks!

  69. fobif says:

    Thanks for that info James. We did report to DELWP in Bendigo yesterday that there had been a flare up, and it seems that they did go back and deal with it pretty promptly.

    On the blackberries, we were intrigued by a large infestation which had apparently been protected from the fire: we subsequently found that it conceals a heritage ruin! We’ll report on that in more detail in the next few days.

  70. Frank Forster says:

    Very good points especially re ban on plastic bags and green waste collection. Let’s get some real targets/outcomes in the document.

  71. Excellent news. Well done. Is there some lessons to share for us battling prescribed burns elsewhere?

  72. Beth Mellick says:

    Having this shire as a plastic bag free area came up at the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group’s Community Forum a few months back. A proposal was put to Councils some years ago from MASG (I was involved in this) which didn’t get accepted.

    The only way this concept works is if it comes from the businesses themselves. I’ve seen some towns go plastic bag free, and yet still hand customers plastic bags with their purchases. When I challenged this in one central Victorian town, the woman said “We’re not allowed to give out shopping bags, but I can use garbage bags…”

  73. Anne Hughes says:

    We must not rest on our laurels yet- our area(Western Goldfields) has not had any burns removed from the FOP list despite almost all being remote and without any possible justification. We need to keep pressure on the politicians to move to the risk based approach otherwise we will still face disastrous and unnecessary burns come Spring.

  74. Naomi Raftery says:

    Well done guys, looks like fun!

  75. elaine says:

    Interesting that there is little regeneration as Ian Lunts talk at Newstead talked of vast regenerating areas in our region for shrubs and trees. I wonder if it is related to having soil intact and not washed off from land management like burning, mining etc?

  76. elaine says:

    It would be great if DELWP were able to spend more effort and resources collecting comprehensive fuel data from our region (rather that meeting burning targets) so that more accurate fire response modelling can be done. In lieu of data the Phoenix model does not include actual fuel loads for different vegetation types or burn history, but assumes a maximum fuel load everywhere. This must limit the results of this information to worst possible scenarios under worst possible fuel levels in a different vegetation community.

    Independent monitor and Prof Auty stated that the government need rigorous fuel and vegetation response monitoring to reduce fire risk. This has not been done in last five years so we are still flying relatively blind. Monitoring response to burning and fuel levels was a which was an uncompleted requirement of the Royal Commission.

  77. Michael Barkla says:

    I have recently purchased Sarah’s book, “life changing!” I live in Eaglehawk and study, photograph and collect fungi (from the dry country) for the herbarium. This year has been very dry which has caused me to ‘look harder’. In doing so I have noticed a lot more slime moulds, this and Sarahs book have changed me foray habits. Thank you so much for inviting Sarah to speak on the 27th, I will be there bringing Ray Wallace and possibly Joy Clusker with me.

  78. elaine says:

    Even from the point of Best Practice Unsealed Road management practices and procedures this is extremely poor quality work. There are best practice documents available from ARRB – UNSEALED ROADS MANUAL Guidelines to good practice
    3rd edition March 2009. The purpose of the Manual is to provide local government,
    national and state road authorities and other agencies responsible for the management of unsealed roads with guidelines on ways to better manage these roads, and to
    achieve cost-effective outcomes.

    DELWP should be role models of best practice. If Mount Alexander Shire and all other municipal councils and VicRoads have to comply with Best Practice so should DELWP.

  79. Chris Timewell says:

    Thanks to FOBIF for hosting such a great evening.

    A week or so before the AGM, I was scrounging through a local op-shop and came across some old copies of the Australian Natural History magazine – a now defunct and sadly-missed publication of the Australian Museum. The lead article highlighted on the cover of the Autumn 1991 issue particularly grabbed me – “SLIME MOULDS -A Reflection of Ourselves?”. Being the nerd that I am, how could I resist doing some background reading before Sarah’s talk!
    However, during her presentation I became increasingly confused. How could the scientific understanding of Slime Moulds have changed so dramatically in a ‘mere’ 24 years? Very little of what Sarah said and showed matched what I’d read. Then, right near the end, it hit me. The magazine article was about ‘cellular’ slime moulds, and Sarah’s research has been on the ‘acellular’ or ‘plasmodial’ slime moulds. Related to each. Still interesting. But quite different beasts. Serves me right for being a smart-aleck!

    For those that are interested, I have uploaded a scanned copy of the 1991 ‘cellular’ slime mould article by Sussanah Eliott and Keith Williams onto the Connecting Country website (http://cdn.connectingcountry.org.au/press/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/slime-combined.pdf).

  80. David Griffiths says:

    It is not just parks that condone this trashing of roadsides. Muckleford Landcare have reported two complete clearances of signed significant roadsides one on Sth Muckleford rd near Meins lane with almost total removal of remnant veg on property as well, and another on the corner of Muckleford- Walmer rd near the Newstead rd. The response from the shire was no action to be taken. So much for the statement that council will lead by example in the Enviro plan.

  81. Frances Cincotta says:

    Yes David, I was really dismayed to see the south end of Muckleford-Walmer Rd roadside cleared. Only mown exotics there now where once were Sweet Bursaria, Running Postman, Flax Lily, Gold-dust Wattle etc. Good on you for reporting it. Didn’t there used to be a “significant roadside flora” sign there? and it would be marked on Shire’s maps as significant in work done by Ben Goonan. About 2 years ago big circular patches of this same remnant veg area had been poisoned to get rid of the eucalypts under powerlines, when they could have been gotten rid of by cut and paint method, leaving the other flora intact. Now this.

  82. David Griffiths says:

    No mystery as to who is responsible, the answer is on the sign on the corner of Muckleford Walmer rd, all those pesky sticks and leaves have had a good clean up along the same property boundary on Muckleford school road as well.

  83. David Griffiths says:

    Frances is right it was a nice bit of remnant on this roadside, and to make it even sadder the significant roadside sign is still there. Check out the roadside opposite, another signposted significant roadside that has been burnt over most of it removing ground cover and habitat understory.

  84. Debbie Worland says:

    Last week we drove out Eureka Street Chewton towards the Dingo Farm, the road along there has also been damaged

  85. Pam says:

    Tarilta Gorge was so good I told my friends at another bushwalking group about it and that they should go there also. thankyou.

  86. Amy atkinson says:

    Hi there,
    I just saw that Fobif have joined Facebook – next week the Maldon Neighbourhood Centre is running a workshop on Facebook and social media for community groups and small businesses. There is a follow up session the following week on how to capture email addresses and keep in touch with your supporters through Mailchimp newsletters. If anyone is interested in coming along, sessions are from 7pm on Monday. I can’t remember the cost but our website has more details.

  87. miles says:

    I have been told that weekend patrols on two wheels will be a thing of the past. The results seem set to get worse sadly. The highway patrol that ride with the rangers all need to go two-up now too. I know only of one officer that rides in this area.

    • fobif says:

      We’ve also heard that the rule that police have to operate in twos has paralysed their capacity to patrol in the bush.

  88. Catherine says:

    As a nature loving trail bike rider, I can sympathise with the destruction some riders cause. In the forests where I ride legally, we come across rubbish, camp sites and other destruction, caused not only by trail riders but by other forest users. I know a lot of bike riders and the majority are decent respectful people, it is only a few, like most things, that spoil the name for all, I think the key to change is with people like myself that are out there in the forests on bikes that can talk to other (bad) riders about why there is the need to protect certain areas with vulnerable biodiversity, educate to ensure their bikes are clean of weed seeds from one forest to the next etc, utilising the good riders to exert peer pressure on others is a good place to start.

    • fobif says:

      You might be right Catherine: we’ve seen plenty of riders doing their thing legally on bush roads, with minimal disruption to anyone else. But given the aggressive language used against John Ellis’s Facebook post, we’re not sure we’d like to tackle illegal riders…

  89. Kat says:

    This was a wonderful walk. I learned so much and was completely impressed with Elaine and Damian’s wealth of knowledge. I can’t wait until the next walk. Thanks so much!

  90. Lynette says:

    My partner and I really enjoyed the walk. Damien and Elaine’s knowledge of the plant life and animals in the forest was amazing. Hope to have another walk with them in the future.

  91. Carlo Canteri says:

    Seeking the advice of an arborist re a heritage tree is the most dangerous course of action possible. In order for these people to practice they must not only have a licence but they must also INSURANCE.

    Therefore they can give only two sorts of advice: A). severe pruning and mutilation in order that it be made safe, for purpose of safeguarding their own insurance; or B). complete removal of the tree in order that it be made safe, for purpose of safeguarding their own insurance.

    In either case you will pay twice, and severely, for the destruction of your ( our) beloved tree which must be the best part of a millennium old.

    There is only one way for the Community to save its tree – immediately form a Big Tree Protection Group, construct a telephone tree and have Guilford locals act as Cockatoos to summon us angry ants to form a ring around the tree if the execution squad shows up…

    My no. is 0431 429 254 and I can be there from Newstead in less than 10 minutes.

    Start now, there is no time to lose – we must save our tree! BTW, leaving the limb-fall in place makes a lot of environmental sense to me.

    This is the only way to get the Council to back off. And perhaps we should stand a suite of Community Independents at the next council elections?

    best regards,
    Carlo Canteri

  92. Allie Dawe says:

    I am gobsmacked at the thought that EPBC approval for work done in the goldfields heritage area could be considered as merely the goldfield RUINS while ignoring the landscape context. Its difficult to ignore how each hole, hole after hole after hole, effect the landscape and were influenced by it.

    I suspect that our cultural concept of “heritage’ is urban & monument in origin. The interest in “monuments” in the English landscape in the 18th century and the classifying of human occupation buildings for their “heritage” values has continued in Australia. Even though we have moved our perspective to include indigenous sites our culture still cannot see or consider the totality of a landscape as significant heritage needing protection.

    How do we get those with the power to embrace a broad view of landscape, after over 150 years??

  93. David Griffiths says:

    The best thing to do would be to leave it alone, past attempts at canopy reduction have been not best practice for veteran trees and the tree is optimising its self to compensate for the large basal area it has to support, all veteran trees are in the process of dying and a good aeration and mulch [cool compost] would help as well as an exclusion zone around the base. If consultants are engaged they should have extensive experience in veteran tree management.

  94. Paul Hampton says:

    Our 100 hectare property at Walmer has taken a tremendous hit from these nasty creatures in the last few months. It is difficult to estimate accurately, but I reckon up to 60% of trees of all species have been pretty well stripped bare leaving the ground (and us) exposed to what is certain to be a long, intense period of summer heat. The place looks desolate. Frances Cincotta assures me that the trees will recover, that ravens will do their part in accelerating their demise and it is true that large mobs of ravens have also invaded the place and seen off the resident population of choughs in the meantime. Many of the trees are now showing signs of normal summer leaf growth but it is unlikely to change the situation in the short term.

  95. John Olsen, President, Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group says:

    The emphasis on strategic burning around assets is good news for malleefowl. The previous practice of burning large tracts of mallee forest to achieve targets did nothing to make people safer in risk-prone areas. It is also disastrous for many species in particular the malleefowl which is the focus of our research.

  96. Brian Stant says:

    I just made a big fuss with PV and with the help of Maree Edwards , also writing to various organisations, relevelent – about the state of Heron’s Cottage – Fryerstown Diggings and the Welsh Village, Nimrod. From which I have been given assurances by PV my concerns will be attended to.
    I know all about their budgetry constraints, but if some of us (especially if we are not aligned with a group) don’t make a fuss, nothing will change.
    Regards, Brian Stant

  97. Jill says:

    Yes, the cuts continue … since the 90’s. When I worked at what was then Melbourne Water, services in the Parks were cut until, in the words of one prominent manager, ‘the public screams – then we will know that we’ve gone far enough’!

  98. Naomi Raftery says:

    What an awesome photo! Looking forward to viewing the whole show at Togs!

  99. Frank Forster says:

    There is some interesting analysis of prescribed burning in this article from the Tasmanian Times website:

  100. sally says:

    thankyou for your vigilance!

  101. John Ross says:

    If the VicRoads plan is as described I fully support it. Don’t want to see any ‘scope creep’ though.

  102. Gregg Muller says:

    Often cost is stated as a reason for not adopting alternative, less destructive plans. Perhaps an argument can be made to apply a ‘real replacement value’ on these trees, which might make alternatives such as safety barriers or road realignment more attractive. An interesting paper here , but alternative valuation methods are available. Essentially they calculate the volume of the tree canopy that is to be removed, cost a small replacement tree (usually advanced nursery stock) and calculate a cost per volume of the small tree, then calculate the value of the larger tree. Big trees can come out at $50000 replacement value. Yep, count the noughts. Ten big trees could be worth half a million dollars. Just a thought.

    • Gregg Muller says:

      Sorry, the link didn’t work. google Burney Method Tree Valuation – but there are alternative methods.

  103. Geraldine Harris says:

    Beautiful photo of the group Bronwyn. All those smiling faces in such a lovely setting convey the success of the excursion so well.

  104. Debbie Worland says:

    Please note that the trees along the highway between Castlemaine & Newstead are a fantastic corridor for swift parrots.

  105. Martin O'Brien (DELWP East Melbourne) says:

    This is a great find and the record needs to be formally added to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (https://vba.dse.vic.gov.au/vba/#/). If Damien or a FoBIF member could advise of details (date, specific location, photo of species) I can assist in this.

  106. Ross says:

    This rubbish appears to be the aftermath of irresponsible partying. Do you really think that free tipping, hard rubbish collection, or free disposal of green waste will change this behaviour?
    These changes are a way of rewarding those that don’t care about the environment in the first place, but little reward to those who do. They already go to the trouble of doing the right thing.
    Perhaps a response to reports of this behaviour (often heard by residents adjacent to Kalimna) is what is required.

    • fobif says:

      You’re right about the rubbish in the picture, Ross–but the couch dumped up near the bicentennial plaque doesn’t seem to be part of the ‘party’ stuff. Maybe a lesson on this is that easy vehicle pullover areas seem to be magnets for ‘irresponsible partying,’ as well as straight out rubbish dumping.
      Do the proposed solutions to the dumping problem favour the lazy and the irresponsible? Maybe–but is there a better way?

  107. David Griffiths says:

    A look when you zoom up the image appears to show a local fast food shop, so just gather it all up and take the rubbish back to them.Then they can pay to dispose of it not us. They have to take some responsibility for where their packaging ends up. It is not uncommon for piles of discarded food and drink containers from them appearing at more places around the bush and roadsides than Kalimna.

  108. Kat Nordern says:

    It was a fantastic walk. Thanks very much!

  109. Tony Smark says:

    Congratulations on the submission FOBIF made to the water discussion paper. Every point made is valid and important. No grandiosity either.

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  112. Indeed. We’ve had similar conversations with our local DELWP, who were also telling us “there are lots of people in the community who want us to burn more, so we have to listen to their concerns too”. Who and where were these ‘lots of people’ and were they making informed decisions, or just just responding to the irrational fear of fire, largely perpetuated by DELWP. It turns out that there was no informed community opinion urging DELWP to burn! There was concern and there were questions, but little attempt by DELWP to present a balanced, informed view of fire in the landscape. Keep asking questions and don’t let them scare and bamboozle you with models of ‘worst case scenario’. Regards.

  113. Brian Stant says:

    I have been chasing Parks Vic for some remedial action on 2 heritage sites,, in the HERITAGE national park, for 2 years now, still waiting. My opinion is you’re more likely to get action on tracks and infrastructure, than fragile irreplaceable heritage.

  114. Susan Mayfair says:

    Hi FOBIF
    Few years ago was told that a multicoloured bug, Kaleidoscope Bug? (quite attractive little thing) has horns about the size of a thumb nail, was the culprit. Live in Castlemaine by Campbells Creek and we had a massive infestation of the things and the gums were almost eaten bare. They seem to have disapeared last year, but the leaves are still being eaten this year, although not badly here at least. Hope that helps.

  115. fobif says:

    Hi Susan
    It sounds like you’re referring to the Cup Moth, which ate its way through a fair bit of our bush a while ago? I’m pretty sure this isn’t the same problem [not so many of the pretty grubs around, for a start]–Bernard Slattery

  116. Helen Schofield says:

    Here in Buckley Falls Park (Barwon River, just upstream of main Geelong) we have had the oxalis for several months and it still shows no signs of ‘finishing’ its season. One early morning of 0 degrees C frost did not slow it down this year. Yes, a problem in disturbed ground – and can understand that it is hardly affected by fires in the sense that so many tubers remain.

  117. Chris Hooper says:

    Does anyone know if the flowers of soursob throw seeds? A friend of mine says to pull the flowers off. Can’t think any other reason for it to suddenly pop on disturbed soil away from flowering patch.

  118. Alex Panelli says:

    The link in this article (Yes we do, no we don’t) to The Conversation website does not seem to be working.

  119. fobif says:

    Thanks Alex–not sure what happened there. It should be OK now: but if it isn’t, just Google the title of the article with ‘the conversation’ and it should come up.

  120. Alex Panelli says:

    the link to The Conversation web site in this article does not seem to be working.

  121. David Griffiths says:

    May well it be be lack of vegetation, but the reality is that the soil washed down to the flood plains of our creeks and rivers is what created the fertility long before any clearing for mining or agriculture, that is why they were the choice places for agriculture pre dredging,etc. We should rejoice that the flood plains are still making an attempt to behave as flood plains, there is a perception amongst some they should just function as drains to suit our idea of what a waterway should be. We all make choices as to where we live and accept the risk, if you live on a flood plain then it may flood.

  122. john mckenzie says:


    • fobif says:

      Details about mail orders will be on the FOBIF website next week. In the meantime I will email you an order form for the book.


  123. Rick Williams says:

    Can I buy a couple of copies of ‘Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region’ on line?
    Is so, how?
    Kind regards
    Rick Williams

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  125. Pam says:

    Am really looking forward to Bells Swamp on 17th. December.

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  130. elaine bayes says:

    will FOBI be making a general comment on the review that relates to all three sites? I hope to attend the one near me but is there anything in particular FOBI would like us to comment on that is a general concern?

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  133. Judy and Philip Hopley says:

    We have registered to undertake the walkover at Vaughan Springs on Thursday 17 November. Are there other FOBIF members also planning to attend? Any comments, issues, concerns that we should raise?

  134. Vera Hemkes says:

    I object to the revision of the fire management zone surrounding expedition pass near chewton. The proposal to burn extensively in this area of bushland every five years will deplete valuable heritage forest and a natural habitat for a large number of flora and fauna.

    Pleas do not proceed with this damaging proposal

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  136. Gen Blades says:

    La Trobe Uni Bendigo has had a long association with this area with outdoor & environmental education students. I’ll be attending to have input and participate from the educational perspective. Not sure how it will unfold but would like to be sending consistent feedback aligned to key concerns and issues.

  137. Chris Hooper says:

    What a great newsletter. Reflections photo very nice….

  138. Pamela Douglas says:

    The best thing about Bells Swamp was going in to the swamp. I loved walking around

    there in the swamp. I was surprised that Damien was only wearing sandels as the

    rest of us had gumboots. It was all a very good experience.

  139. Jill says:

    Since when is the eastern side of a town a major fire threat? Maybe you could see if they’ll do an experiment; leave it alone – encourage healthy biodiversity and see how much more effective some natural composting is with small digging mammals, scratching birds, fungi, insects and leaf eating grubs etc etc…

  140. Simon Brown says:

    Hi Jill,

    As you are aware, I have invested a lot of time, over several years, into consultation with many stakeholders from both sides of the fence regarding this burn. I can confirm with you I have done everything within my means to ensure it has the least impact on this area as possible. This includes but is not limited to, removing other scheduled burns in the area, excluding known Eltham Copper Butterfly sites and mulching areas targeting weed infestation, which is predominantly the culprit in contributing to the overall fuel hazard (e.g.Parker St).

    The answer to your question “when is the eastern side of a town a major fire threat?” your understanding of fire behaviour is correct, however in this instance our local fire experts, supported by our risk modelling technology, clearly shows the purpose of this burn is to reduce the impact of fire to the SW of Kalimna Park. Given the terrain slopes up to the tourist road, a fire that occurs on a high fire danger day could easily spot to one kilometre, which creates a major fire risk for places like Forest Creek & Chewton.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like further information on this or any fire matter.

    Simon Brown – DELWP Senior Forest Fire Management Officer


  141. Helen Butcher says:

    Thank you for this reminder of that day and the man.
    Who will ever forget the birds coming in to circle around overhead as if to give their voice to the days events. They brought a sense of wonder and joy.

  142. David Griffiths says:

    Well isn’t that just great, so when a few of us in Muckleford reported that not one but two landowners had knowingly cleared signposted significant roadside areas council bottled it and took no action.So another strategy is just a paper tiger document.

  143. Randi says:

    Stellar work there evneyoer. I’ll keep on reading.

  144. Della says:

    My hat is off to your astute command over this to-oipbravc!

  145. Alla says:

    We co’udlve done with that insight early on.

  146. Rusty says:

    Stellar work there evoenrye. I’ll keep on reading.

  147. Craig says:

    This is a fantastic course! I did the 3 day course last year and found it very informative. Damian and Elaine have got a mindboggling knowledge of wetland ecology.

  148. Frank Forster says:

    Great … I’ve already been spruiking it at the EnviroShop in Newstead

  149. elaine says:

    Hi is it possible to chat to who is organising this as I have also recently written to the major, the environmental officer and a councillor regarding this issue and unsealed road construction generally and had a very poor response (not even sure they knew what I was referring to from their responses). Specifically council undertook a number of great initiatives following the Mount Alexander Roadside Management plan. They consulted with road, planning and managment staff and did a training needs analysis, a gap analysis on best practice road management versus what they are currently delivering, from this they developed training for the road crew, contracts for Telstra etc, posters, development of standard operating procedures, mapped turnaround points, mapped vegetation quality and hot spots and many other great tools. However apparently there has been a large staff turnover so what I wanted to know if this great work was being implemented both for the job satisfaction and professional development of the operators, the cost of road construction and management as well as the the health not only of our roadsides but of the waterways to which they drain.

  150. Pam says:

    Jeremy was the leader and we all had a very good walk. Excellent in fact. A bit steep

    at times and going through the tunnel under the channel was a bit strenuous but we

    all made it.

  151. Alex Panelli says:

    I wholeheartedly support this submission. We do not need to sanitise our history or worry about making it attractive, simple and untroubling to all who come.

    To allow, and even to encourage people to become aware that our heritage is not “just a nice lot of old stuff we can look at and be nostalgic about” but is, in a continuing way “something more challenging” and something that, unless addressed, will continue to impose it’s blindnesses and practical limitations on our imaginations and our actions.

    What might the landscape in which we live be like, both in itself and for us, if we allowed ourselves to understand, and to wonder about, it’s history and its future differently?

  152. elaine says:

    I totally love the professionalism and efforts put in by the key players in FOBI. Thanks so much and very well done on a great submission.

  153. Pam says:

    I wish I’d gone on the walk. The photos look fantastic. I had hot water probs. &

    did want to go without a shower.

  154. Chris Hooper says:

    Looks great. Would’ve loved to have gone but…..hope you have it again next year.

  155. Win Jodell says:

    For those who missed this important documentary it is available on YouTube

  156. iddia says:

    Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it
    can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My
    iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this
    is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  157. John Walter says:

    I have had to dig into my records but I recall the FNCV conducted numerous excursions to this site dating back to the late 1800’s and a “Reserve” was later established. Members caught the train to Taradale then walked out the Old Coach Road for a day of botanising. The FNCV also had several spin off groups including Winifred Waddell’s Native Plants Preservation Society established n 1951. This group was instrumental in the establishment of a number of sanctuaries around the state. The sanctuaries were fenced to exclude rabbits and stock and ranged in size from 18 acres to small plots of 1/2 an acre. Their Annual Report for 1956 (I have a copy in front of me) describes the following under the heading New Sanctuaries.

    “Taradale.- The Taradale-Fryerstown district is rich in colourful flora of the goldfields. The sanctuary provided by the Forests Commission on the Fryerstown Road protects a rare Beard-heath, Leucopogon biflorus. The census lists an attractive north-central plant association, also the Common Heath of Southern Victoria growing beside the Bendigo Wax-flower.”

    I know the site well but do not believe the rare species remains but it does still exist in a gully to the south. It is now named Leucopogon fletcheri subsp. brevisepalus, the Twin-flower Beard-heath. The original name was incorrectly applied and is a NSW species

    • fobif says:

      Many thanks for that info John. That’s a great piece of cultural history–and it shows how intrepid those field nats were.

  158. vanessa says:

    congratulations and many thanks for your input on our behalf

  159. Juliana Hurley says:

    Sounds just a lovely walk that Richard led.
    Sorry we were away and unable to join the grou.
    Jules and Rex.

  160. Dissatisfied Customer says:

    I probably should have heeded the (unintentional?) hint of scepticism and world-weariness in this blog post. The only nice thing I can say about my visit to the ‘open house’ was that the two staff at the front desk were friendly and helpful. I found the rest to be an insulting experience. First, a fire officer told me that my area of concern was to be slashed, until I pointed out that my area of interest was a different location and that it was to be burnt. I attempted to express my particular concerns about this burn, but was quickly cut off and talked over before finishing. Well sort of – the officer started to tell me how he planned to address what he thought were my concerns until he received a mobile phone call that unapologetically needed to be taken. He didn’t return. While I then wandered around for a few minutes trying to make head or tail of the other maps, another 4-5 fire officers stood around on the edge of the room chatting among themselves. (The other member of the public there at the same time was discussing fire issues with the two staff at the front desk.) I left disappointed and angry.

  161. fobif says:

    Mmmm…Thanks for this account of the session. We thought our post was strictly neutral…but we’ll definitely take up your experience with DELWP fire officers as soon as we can.

  162. Pam says:

    Beautiful walk & beautiful people.

  163. Natalie says:

    I HATE those ads, and completely agree. Some pressure brought to bare on the practice would be good – obviously ads like this help sell the cars or they wouldn’t do them.

  164. elaine says:

    So impressed you acted on your revulsion of those ads and wrote about it. I just did it in my head! I also find them sexist and horribly stereotyping. Makes me want to drive over my TV in my SUV.

  165. Pam says:

    A very nice relaxing walk. Bernard’s sense of humor was greatly appreciated.

    The weather was hot and I love the goldfields forests.

  166. Lon Eisenweger says:

    Not looking good for old man Red Gum. If they can survive lerp and caterpillar attack they may still fall foul of the Roads Board who are happy to fell them up hill and down dale. They want to knock over old giants at Beaufort in the n ame of a speedy highway. Not far as the crow flys over near Bendigo an entire woodland bit the dust for the Ravenswood interchange and still cutting and bulldozing as I write. I haven’t mentioned the “planned” burns that take out many mature trees and of course trendy Melbourne suburbs need a log fire in in the worlds most liveable city.

  167. fobif says:

    You’re right about Vicroads, Lon: the destruction at Beaufort and Ravenswood speak for themselves. Fire officers tell us they never conduct planned burns in Red Gum woodland, but if you know of any such exercises, let us know.

  168. Beth Mellick says:

    We’ve found that a tree heavily laden in mistletoe and struggling slightly, can’t recover if they get a cup moth infestation. It’s too much for them.

  169. Chris says:

    The hyperlink to the Earth-to-Pardalote event tickets doesn’t seem to work.

  170. Chris Hooper says:

    December 11th is a Monday. Do you mean 10th?

  171. Pam. says:

    It’s going to be a fantastic 2017 break up. Am looking forward to it very much.

    Thankyou Bronwyn.

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  173. To Friends of Box-Ironbark,
    I want to bring some attention to whoever can control a noxious botanical pest growing on Mt Tarrengower. It is African Bone Seed. The You Yangs, between Melb and Geelong, has been devastated by it. Over the past 20 years I have seen it spread to a point where treatment is now pointless. I am a painter, mostly of landscape, and the You Yangs has become unpaintable, from a bushland point of view, for some time.

    I suspect the threat on Mt Tarrengower originated from the You Yangs, as there are a few granite sand mining operations there, and Mt Tarrengower has what looks like granite sand as road construction. But wherever the seeds came from the plants are becoming well established now. The only treatment the rangers from the You Yangs told me was to hand pull each plant from the ground. I would be more than sad to see Mt Tarrengower go the way of its southern cousin.

    Could this communication be passed on to those who may be able to help. They can contact me for more information if necessary; smileyart@mmnet.com.au

    I have also sent a copy of this to Connecting Country.

    Smiley Williams.

  174. To Connecting Country,
    I want to bring some attention to whoever can control a noxious botanical pest growing on Mt Tarrengower. It is African Bone Seed. The You Yangs, between Melb and Geelong, has been devastated by it. Over the past 20 years I have seen it spread to a point where treatment is now pointless. I am a painter, mostly of landscape, and the You Yangs has become unpaintable, from a bushland point of view, for some time.

    I suspect the threat on Mt Tarrengower originated from the You Yangs, as there are a few granite sand mining operations there, and Mt Tarrengower has what looks like granite sand as road construction. But wherever the seeds came from the plants are becoming well established now. The only treatment the rangers from the You Yangs told me was to hand pull each plant from the ground. I would be more than sad to see Mt Tarrengower go the way of its southern cousin.

    Could this communication be passed on to those who may be able to help? They can contact me for more information if necessary; smileyart@mmnet.com.au

    Smiley Williams.

  175. elaine says:

    Fantastic work by all.

    Noxious weeds seems to be a neglected area or deemed too hard by government in recent years. This leaves property owners who are in a war with weeds (which compete with their crops and livelihood) financially stressed as they try to manage their properties alone whilst surrounding neighbors and public land weeds flourish and re-invade them. Not to mention the impact on our biodiverse and amazing roadsides.

    Mount Alexander Shire undertook a review of roadside management in 2013 including slashing (there is a report) and they developed standard operating procedures etc for the road crew. I am doubtful as to whether this is being put in place ……might be good to follow it up. Kyle Stafford, the environmental officer put a huge effort into making it happen but without all of council support, especially senior management then it falls over (despite these standards also saving council money as the review also indicated that better unsealed road management will last longer, thereby saving money) .

  176. Pam. says:

    Am looking forward to the first walk of 2018.

  177. Greg Jacobs says:

    Are burns necessary ?Are they an attempt to calm the public ?
    The burns at Solomon Reserve in Quarry Hill and Wildflower Drive in Strathfieldsaye has resulted in creating more potential fuel with a mass seeding of the likes of Acacia Pycnantha etc resulting in dense regrowth .Does it take away the humus layer on dry rocky ground of The Goldfields making a drier forest.
    In The Strathbogies and other areas planned? burns burn hollows of Greater Gliders etc .The flammable material is only taken away from the base of some hollow nest sites -not distant off walk tracks .Ps old growth in The Strathbogies has been blockaded as loggers attempt to take them for FIREWOOD News Flash timber industry wants access to our Parks and Waterways .

  178. Greg Jacobs says:

    Where was the Blackwood located in relation to pathways etc anyway ?
    The Council doesn’t work with Groups like you that are involved in restoration/revegetation of local area even though they claim to be supporters of same?????
    As in Bendigo do the council workers lack basic skills in native species ,let alone indigenous species and their habitat .?
    They have planted European trees and Gazania(locally declared weed ) out front of art gallery .The new supposed botanic gardens for future drier climate in White Hills feature Cypress -no area of the array of local flora with its wildflowers ,wattles ,and wildlife habitat .

  179. Chris Hooper says:

    Just to say I was nearly there but chickened out and then it seemed to stop raining so I missed out. Photos great.

  180. Jeff Dickinson says:

    Thankyou FoBIF and Ron for leading a wonderful walk through some beautiful forest. The timely rain seemed to just enliven the bush. With so many new plants to get aquainted with, particularly the peas and wattles, it was definitely worth the trip up from Melbourne to visit and hoping to do some more walks this year.

  181. Chris says:

    How come no response ?

    I am about to propagate a lot of blackwood seeds for public land.
    Who cut these?

  182. Pam says:

    Is there anyone that I know well & that I’ve gone on a number of walks with that

    could have me at their place on the night of Saturday 19th. May to watch the

    royal wedding with them on their T.V. If you can is it possible for you to contact me asap. The broadcast commences at 7 p.m.

    Unfortunately I live without a T.V. & also without electricity. I also don’t have my own transport.

    Pam (anorexicat60@yahoo.com.au)

  183. George Broadway says:

    I had planted a Red Gum I grew from seed on the edge of Forest Creek. It was cut down leaving many exotic species like Silver Poplars and Ash untouched. where was the sense in that? It was only a sapling and unlikely to pose any danger for at least 100 years

  184. Pam says:

    It was excellent. I love my wattle book & it’s good there’s two pages about Ern Perkins in it too. The food was delicious & Bernard and Bronwyn were nice enough to sign my book. George gave a very interesting talk. Thankyou.

  185. Helen Butcher says:

    So pleased that the butterfly’s habitat is saved for the moment. Maybe fluke reduction can happen by employing people to remove undergrowth and timber that could be good fire wood.

  186. vanessa richardson says:

    WOW frightening!
    Despite our input and alerts to government agencies many years ago, it looks like this failure to check the lists for endangered and protected species has been continuing for more than 5? years. We noted this serious problem in the Whipstick and the mallee state managed forests from the time they started the massive burning regimes after the Royal Commission. The Whipstick and mallee state owned forests were targeted brutally by ‘old school’ staff who had limited understanding of burning and its impact on our protected environments. Staff have changed and I am shocked to read that adequate protection of endangered species is still being overlooked.
    In the Whipstick (Greater Bendigo National Park) we found it necessary to include those in the federal government department who are responsible for the EPBC to liase directly with the state govt departments responsible for the protection/management plans for the protected species in our local forests. This made a real difference. While tax payers monies (state and federal) are allocated for these tasks, much ‘pollies lobbying’ still needs to be done currently by locals.

  187. Tim Read says:

    Congratulations to the ever vigilant fire wise ecologists and community naturalists! A disaster postponed. This wonderful butterfly can continue it’s complex life cycle in peace for the moment. A stark and sad example of the impacts of continuing funding cuts to our Environment Departments.

  188. Pam says:

    If anybody wants to start up a commune – there is 62.7 acres for sale at present on the side of Mt. Franklin. Several good house sites. Jellis Craig (Castlemaine) has details.

  189. Juliana Hurley says:

    Well said!
    Hope the ideas in this report/plan actually get some action!

    Hopefully a new era in shared conservation of our forests and living creatures.

  190. Rob Simons says:

    During the walk there was lots of discussion about fungi. This old TED talk is fascinating and promotes the need to save old growth forests.
    Thanks everyone who expanded my knowledge on this walk.


  191. Dear FOBIF
    Thanks for the article on the walk into the Tarilta Valley. I am an artist, and a staunch landscape painter. The photos you sent of the valley excited me and I wonder if you could possibly send directions (or even a map!?) of how to get there, to me. I live in Elphinstone and am constantly searching for sites to paint.
    Yours in hopeful anticipation,
    Smiley Williams.

  192. Dianne Davies says:

    Great day Jeremy. The very damp bush was carpeted in verdant green mosses, lichen crusts and fruiting fungi accompanying some healthy plant communities just waiting for spring to show their wares. On our ‘approx’ 8 km trek, we walked along tracks and creekbeds, diverted across country, up and down gullies to trickling waterfalls and a quietly spectacular rocky gorge.
    Birdlife was noticeably absent but fungi were everywhere – White Punks and other look-alikes, Ghost fungi, Rooting Shanks, Yellow Brain, Scarlet Brackets, Rainbow Brackets, Pretty Horn, beautiful little ‘bonnets’ or Mycena spp., robust Amanita and Agaricus spp. as well as lots of LBMs. What a gem of a place! Thanks Jeremy.
    Did anyone look up the exotic native Hakea we chanced upon? Was it Hakea salicfolia?
    Di Davies

  193. Juliana Hurley says:

    So apt are the remarks about signage in our bush.
    Having walked up, down, around and through natural bushland of the Shire I too feel that dilapidated, tired signs suggest it’s a place of little importance.
    A sign for some that it is just ‘scrub’ and can be abided ir dumped in and no one will care.