Nature Photography at Newstead Railway Arts Hub

Patrick Kavanagh, Geoff Park and Bronwyn Silver are holding a photographic exhibition at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub starting on Saturday  December 2018. 

One of the exhibition photos by Patrick Kavanagh. Lipotriches Bee with Black-anther Flax-lily. 

The expression “taking photographs” is a curious and revealing usage. In English, we don’t “make” photographs, we “take” them. When photographing nature – wildlife, plants, landscapes – it can seem that the photographer “captures” a beauty already there, taking something that belongs to the subject, but without diminishing the subject.

Bronwyn Silver, Geoff Park and Patrick Kavanagh roam the goldfields of Central Victoria, stealing images of the beauty they find. Birds, mammals, plants. Not even mosses and lichens are safe from their pilfering ways!

While the targets of their larceny are unaffected by the process, these thieves have been profoundly altered by the images they’ve stolen from the wild, seeing more deeply into the wonders of the natural environment. They are happy to share their bounty at Newstead Arts Hub this December.

Newstead Railway Arts Hub, 8a Tivey Street, Newstead
Dates: Starts 1 December 2018, 10am – 4pm
Opening: 2 December 11 am, refreshments provided, everyone welcome
Open 10am – 4pm on the first four weekends in December: 1st & 2nd, 8th & 9th, 15th & 16th, 22nd & 23th.
Contact Bronwyn Silver for more details, 0448751111

And a reminder that the FOBIF ‘Creatures’ photo exhibition is on at TOGS till 29 November.

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Talking Fire: Reviving Indigenous Burning Practices

How we manage fire is an important conversation for rural and bush communities. What can we learn from how Aboriginal people used fire? Are those techniques applicable today in local landscapes that have changed a lot over the last 200 years?

Join the Newstead community for two events this November:

Returning cultural burning – Djandak Wi – to Country
Thursday 29 November 7.30pm. Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead). All welcome, no booking required.

Reviving Indigenous Burning Practices in a Changed Landscape: Community Search Conference
Friday 30 November 9am-5pm. Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead).

Full details can be found on the Talking Fire website.

Talking Fire is a community initiative designed to create different kinds of community conversations about fire. Supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council Community Grants Program.

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Who lives in the Wombat Forest?

Gayle Osborne from Wombat Forestcare is giving a short presentation on the amazing wildlife and threatened species of the Wombat Forest at 6pm on 20 November in the Ray Bradfield Room, Castlemaine.

Wombat Forestcare has spent years learning about, promoting and protecting this stunning forest. The group has discovered, using camera traps and spotlighting, beautiful and endangered Greater Gliders, Powerful Owls and more. Using this information they have worked incredibly hard to protect the forest into the future by getting it assessed as a potential National Park.  

As mentioned in previous posts (see here and here), the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) has released a Draft Proposal report recommending new protections of public land for Wombat forest (near Daylesford), Wellsford (near Bendigo), Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests (near Beaufort and Avoca) and dozens of smaller public parcels in the investigation area. This is great news and a one off opportunity to protect this land.

This meeting will give people an opportunity to learn about the Wombat Forest and write a submission on the VEAC report on the night. Download the flyer here.

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Deer oh deer

FOBIF has made a submission to the state government’s Draft Deer Management Strategy [see last week’s post]. Deer have not made a major impact in our region yet, but sightings are becoming more frequent, with recent reports from the Fryers Forest, Spring Gully, Muckleford and Chewton. Given the serious damage being done to the environment elsewhere, we have reason for concern. Feral deer pose an increasing threat to agriculture, the environment and traffic safety; the population is exploding, and that is a problem which needs to be confronted now.

We gave the draft a very low assessment, concluding that it was more concerned to gratify the hunting lobby than to respond to an increasingly evident environmental mess. It is puzzling and depressing that the state government should be concerned to pander to this lobby, whose allies are actively campaigning against it in the state election.

The essentials of our submission are set out below. The headings are the ones provided in the online survey form:

  1. General comment: This is not a deer management strategy: it is a hunting strategy, clearly devised to expand the amount of public land available to recreational hunters. This is plain from the first, when we read that the strategy is a key action of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan. This latter Plan is entirely devoted to expanding hunting, and the word ‘sustainable’ in its title has no reference to natural values whatever. It is clear from this document, and other material easily available on the subject, that recreational hunting is completely ineffective as a form of control of deer populations: expanding it, therefore, is not a response to the increasingly dire effects of an exploding deer population. It is simply a sop to the hunting lobby. It is significant that the draft gives an impressive figure valuing deer hunting on page 10, but does not match it with a figure indicating the many costs to agriculture, the environment and public safety on pages 10 and 11. Such a figure, we believe, would far outweigh the supposed value to rural communities.

Continue reading

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BirdLife Castlemaine AGM and Geoff Park presentation

The inaugural Annual General Meeting of the BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch will be held on 27 October. This historic occasion includes a presentation by local bird expert and photographer, Geoff Park, and a short guided bird walk.

BirdLife Castlemaine AGM and Geoff Park presentation
Saturday 27 October, 2018 at 2.00 pm
Campbells Creek Community Centre, 45 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC

Interested people can nominate for the committee. Positions vacant are Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and three general committee members. Nomination forms and proxy voting forms can be obtained by emailing or by phoning Judy Hopley (Acting Secretary) on 5472 1156. Nominations will be accepted at the meeting.

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One million deer in Victoria!

VNPA image

In a recent article, the Victorian National Parks Association has this to say about the deer population explosion in Victoria:

Deer have become Victoria’s cane toads. With a population of around 1 million deer in the state, and probably growing by 400,000 a year, they are now poised to take over the nation.

Six species of deer are already seriously trashing our national parks and conservation reserves such as the Grampians, Alpine, Mount Buffalo, Mitchell River and Croajingolong national parks, as well as rainforest valleys and other threatened ecosystems throughout the state. They’re invading farms and front gardens, and a clear danger on our roads.

FOBIF has previously commented on the deer population in our region.

The Victorian Government has developed a Draft Deer Management Strategy  As the VNPA has pointed out, this Strategy has been heavily influenced by a deer hunting fraternity keen to protect deer populations as a recreational resource. They are encouraging people to respond to the Strategy:

The government, and our land management agencies, aren’t responding with the urgency this situation requires.

They may not act strongly enough if they don’t hear from you by next Monday 29 October.

You can help by filling in a few boxes in the online survey on the draft strategy website (it will only take a few minutes):

You can download the VNPA’s Deer Issues Paper here. FOBIF will be responding to the Strategy and we encourage others to do so by Monday 29 October. 

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October walk in the Muckleford Forest

The last FOBIF walk for the year was an enjoyable and pleasant 5 km off-track walk led by Geoff Nevill in dry forest near the Red, White and Blue Poppet head. Geoff’s expert and relaxed guiding made for an interesting and informative day. Frances Cincotta and other flora experts were a great help with plant identification.

Noel Young provided the following flora list: Musky Caladenia, Grey Everlasting, Downy Grevillea, Daphne Heath, Sticky Everlasting, ,Chocolate Lily, Rice-flower, Guinea flower, Pink Bells, Many-flowered Mat-rush, White Marianth, Fireweed (Senecio sp), Bluebell (Wahlenbergia), Twining Fringe-lily, Showy Podolepis, Twiggy Bush-pea, Showy Parrot-pea, Beard Heath, Trigger-plant, Yam Daisy, Creamy Candles, Early Nancy, Milkmaid. 

He also made this bird list from calls: Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Magpie. Raven, Fantail Cuckoo, Pallid Cuckoo, Spotted Pardalote, Grey Currawong, White-throated Treecreeper, Red Wattlebird, White-winged Chough, Olive-backed Oriole, Grey Shrike-thrush, Weebill, Thornbill sp., Crimson Rosella

Geoff Nevill explaining the workings of a Puddling Machine.

The first photo below is by Di Davies and the rest are by Bronwyn Silver.

The 2019 walks program will be on the site early next year. 

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Creatures show opens

The FOBIF ‘Creatures’ photographic exhibition hosted by Togs Place in Lyttleton Street opened last Friday. It will run till 29 November. There are 24 photos which have been selected from the 125 photos that were sent into FOBIF. Once again thanks to everyone who participated. The photos are online here. We would also like to thank the owners of Togs, Elissa and Jason, and the cafe staff, for their support in holding this exhibition. 

Some highlights include the endangered Swift Parrot by Debbie Worland, a group of perching Juvenile Scarlet Robins by Albert Wright and a Red Wattlebird bathing by Vivienne Hamilton. The rest show photos of local fauna including a macro shot of a Grasshopper Nymph by Patrick Kavanagh, a watchful Koala and a curious Yellow-footed Antichinus by Damian Kelly. We encourage everyone to go along and have a look at this impressive show by local photographers.

You can view a PDF version of the catalogue here. All photos are for sale. For enquiries ring Bronwyn silver 0448751111.

Dusky Woodswallows by Geoff Park

Yellow-footed Antechinus by Damian Kelly

Silvereye by Arlen Truscott

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Open house on Forest Fire Management Vic activities

Forest Fire Management Victoria has invited people to come and discuss their management activities including:

  • The Joint Fuel Management Plan (previously Fire Operations Plan)
  • Domestic firewood
  • Planned burning and other fuel management activities
  • State forest and crown land management

When: Thursday 18 October 2018 from 4.00 – 7.00 pm

Where: Ray Bradfield Room, Castlemaine VIC (next to Victory Park)

For further information visit or email

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TOGS exhibition starts soon

Our ‘Creatures’ Flickr album now has 116 terrific photos. The closing date for submitting photos was 1 October. The collection ranges from small invertebrates such as nymphs and spiders to larger creatures such as wallabies and echidnas.

We are now in the process of selecting photos for the TOGS exhibition which will run from October 12 till 29 November. Thanks to the 21 people who contributed photos to make this a successful project.

Some of the latest contributions.

Striated Pardalote in display with nesting material. Muckleford. Photo by Arlen Truscott, 26 September 2017

Swooping Juvenile Black Shouldered Kite. Newstead. Photo by Arlen Truscott, 20 June 2017

Australian Wood Ducks. Porcupine Flat. Photo by Steph Carter, 29th October 2016

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