Fabulous fungi walk

Last Sunday a good sized group was led on a lovely circuit walk around the Fryers Ridge bush by local Christine Henderson. There was a mix of tracks, trackless and even some private property (with permission ).

The bush looked great in its Winter guise but the highlight was the incredible abundance of fungi. Noted fungi expert and author Joy Clusker said it was the best display she had seen on Fryers Ridge. Many thanks to Christine for a superb day out and to Joy Clusker, Kevin Kato and Liz Martin for sending in their photos.

Next month is the dual long and short walks, further details will be posted in due course.

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FOBIF walk, 19 June 2022

Sunday’s walk starts on the Taradale-Fryerstown Road, at a parking spot near the crossing of Kangaroo Creek. We’ll make our way off track through private land up a rising ridge, leading to the Fryers Ridge Road. A couple of kilometres of easy walking south along the road will bring us to another off-track stretch, passing through beard heath gardens in bud, admiring tall hakea stands, correa reflexa bushes and early woolly wattles (Acacia lanigera) in blossom. Our return leg will take us through a forest clearing on private land, then a last gentle uphill stretch on an old vehicle track before meeting a DELWP forest track that will lead us back to the cars. Meet at Templeton Street, Castlemaine at 9.30am or in Taradale main street opposite the Metro service station at 9.45am. We will carpool to the start of the walk from there. Ring Christine Henderson for more information 0417 529 392.

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Impressive update of Bendigo fungi guide

Joy Clusker and Ray Wallace have just published the second edition of Fungi of the Bendigo region: a guide to identification. As well as a stunning new cover this 146 page book contains 65 new species and updated names. All the brief species descriptions are accompanied by terrific identification photos (see examples below). The book also includes an introductory section about fungi and a useful index. 

Castlemaine and surrounding residents will find this is an excellent guide to local fungi especially as Mount Alexander is included in the observation habitats. 


Authors: Ray Wallace and Joy Clusker. Photo Liz Martin

The book is available from Stonemans in Castlemaine, Bookish Bendigo and Aesops Attic in Kyneton. You can also buy if directly from Joy  joyclusker@icloud.com

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The Wetland Plant Identification and Ecology Course 2022 – IS BACK!!

Commencing December 2022, this course is for anyone interested in Wetland Plant Identification and Wetland Ecology.

The course is run on 3 separate days from December 2022 to April 2023 to allow participants to observe the changing seasons and water depths of the stunning Reedy Lagoon, Gunbower Island over a 5-month period. Each of the 3 days will focus on a different wetland habitat (wetting and drying) and associated plant community. 

To find our more or register click here www.trybooking.com/BZOLM

The course is now being run through our new not for profit charitable trust, the Wetland Revival Trust.  All profits from the course will feed into to wetland purchase, wetland projects and management.  See www.wetlandrevivaltrust.org to find out more.

You can check out the course flyer here.

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A new life for Forest Creek?

What do you think of the walled section of Forest Creek from the old footbridge at the bottom of Andrews street (Ten Foot bridge) downstream to the Pyrenees highway at Barker street?

Castlemaine Landcare have embarked on a collaborative project to revitalise this section of the creek. The intention is to ‘to create a more natural form for the creek as it flows between the historic walls and to provide opportunities for people to enjoy a rich natural environment by improving water quality, habitat, amenity and access.’

Forest Creek in flood downstream of the Wheeler Street bridge, February 2011: the project aims to improve public amenity and natural values without damaging the channel’s flood carrying capacity.

You can have a say in this project: click here to access the online consultation. The process is open till June 17

Previous investigations into the creek have recommended the following outcomes for any project:

  • the historic stone walls are maintained
  • flood carrying capacity is maintained and there is no increased flood risk
  • there is no increased fire risk
  • community amenity is enhanced.

These recommendations are supported by Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Castlemaine Urban Waterways Management Plan (2018).

Partners in the current project are Mount Alexander Shire Council, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises trading as Djandak, and Friends of Campbells Creek.

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Fuel break for Muckleford forest

Representatives of local enviro groups met with the DELWP Strategic Fuel Breaks team in the Muckleford forest last week to look at the break proposed along Bells Lane track. This will run from from Muckleford School Rd (east) to Roberts Rd (west)–see the map below. It will be 8 metres wide, on the north side of the road only. It roughly duplicates a wider fuel management corridor in past fire operations plans.

Vegetation in the break will be mulched to between 10 and 30 centimetres; it’s proposed to mulch again in 5 years.

The purpose of the meeting was to identify areas of ecological or cultural significance for exclusion. Vegetation along the track varies from extremely sparse to very healthy. Patches of this healthy vegetation were noted by the team, and we are assured they will be excluded from the mulching exercise.

As we’ve reported before, FOBIF has no problem in principle with fuel breaks around settlements. Breaks through forest areas are more problematic, and the potential for damage to high quality vegetation is more serious. These exercises illustrate the difficulty of achieving fire safety ends without damaging the environment.

So far, the fuel breaks team has shown an impressive attention to detail in the planning of these breaks. One of the key factors in this process is the skill and commitment of the works crews. We are assured that in this project the contractors are fully briefed. Bell’s Lane will be an interesting test, and will be a bit of a rehearsal for the proposed work through the Fryers Forest, where the potential for a horrific scar through high quality biodiversity is very real.

Works on the break are due to start in June.

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All threats averted

A small group of heroes tackled FOBIF’s May walk, in spite of unfriendly weather forecasts and a slightly forbidding walk description, which piled threat on threat: climbs, creek crossings, fallen logs and loads of gorse.

All participants survived this grim prognosis, however, and the excursion into the less travelled end of the Tarilta gorge delivered rewards definitely worth the effort, including impressive valley walls and good displays of fungi. The valley floor features magnificent Candlebarks, and there’s an unusually wild atmosphere in this corner of bushland.  The weather was mild throughout. The gorse, though predictably annoying, proved to be a paper tiger, albeit a prickly one. OK, that’s a mixed metaphor, probably. In any case, it’s worth pointing out that the infestation of Tarilta Creek by gorse, from Mount Franklin down, is quite scandalous. Though at its worst at the south end, the weed is gradually getting worse through the valley, and it would be good to think that DELWP had some kind of strategy to deal with it.

The walk route traversed areas in which dense regrowth of Messmates and Wattles, almost certainly outcomes of the 2012 management burn, blocked out entire gullies.

Our thanks to walk leader Bernard Slattery, although he made several predictions of disaster which failed to eventuate.

The June walk will be led by Christine Henderson in the Fryers Forest. Check the program for details.

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Tarilta, south end

FOBIF’s May walk will tackle the Tarilta creek valley from the Sawpit Track end, the starting point being  about a 30 minute drive from Castlemaine.

This is the less travelled end of the valley: there’ll be steep ascents and descents, uneven ground, possible wet creek crossings, fallen logs to traverse, and some annoying gorse to negotiate–but, of course, it’ll all be worth it. About 7kms. See the walks page for more general details.  More info: Bernard Slattery 0499 624 160

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Have your say on the budget

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s budget provides an opportunity to influence Council on what citizens would like it to spend money on (and/or avoid spending money on).

The draft 2022-23 budget went before Council at its meeting on 19 April, and residents and ratepayers are invited to send in submissions on the budget up until 5pm 11 May.  The submissions will be considered at a council meeting on 24 May and the budget adopted at a meeting on 21 June.

If residents don’t tell staff and councillors we think weed removal and other ways of helping natural ecosystems survive and flourish are important, they won’t know, and are more likely to prioritise squeakier wheels.

The draft budget can be found here.

Paper copies can be requested at the council offices.  Its many pages don’t give detail about how much money has been spent and is proposed to be spent on Natural Environment and how the money is divided up.  But that need not deter residents from making general submissions:  in the past Council has acted favourably on general budget requests by submitters asking for more money for removing environmental weeds, and the hours of the Natural Environment Officer to be increased to full time.  Submissions don’t have to be long–one paragraph would be OK.

Submitters will also have an opportunity to address the council budget meeting on 24 May.  This is very worthwhile, as it can increase the impact of submissions by helping submitters’ ideas stand out from all the paperwork councillors have to read.

Submissions can be sent to info@mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

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Where should the signs point?

A project is under way to install new visitor information points along the Goldfields Track.

The project involves 4 visitor hubs, 8 trail headboards, and up to 100 interpretive signs along the 200+ kilometre length of the track between Ballarat and Bendigo. Consultants are currently working on the design of the project with Goldfields Track inc and Djandak, the  commercial arm of Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.

If you’re a bit unnerved by the idea of ‘100 interpretive signs’ along the track (that would be a sign about every 2 kilometres!), so are we. However, we are assured first, that this number might be ‘only’ 75, and second, that the signs might be simple QR codes on posts. By applying a phone to the Code, visitors would be able to read off info about natural and cultural features of the point in question.

Think authorities can’t go a bit bonkers with unnecessary signs? Think again. Of course, we don’t think the present project will make this sort of mistake.

The potential value of this project is obvious, and the Djandak involvement in the project should ensure some balance is restored to the interpretation of our bushlands, too often weighted to a glorification, or sentimentalisation of gold fever.

FOBIF is watching this project with great interest. 

First, we don’t want a proliferation of signs to disturb the serenity of those parts of the Diggings park most notable for their feeling of abandonment and isolation. Parts of our bushland are already cluttered with unnecessary or out of date signs, a clutter which definitely does not add to the ‘natural’ experience.

FOBIF walkers taking a rest, Sebastopol Gully: parts of the Diggings park would be spoiled by an excess of signage.

Second, we believe that any serious explanation of the goldfields landscape should include information about the destructive effects of the gold rush. Any visitor to our region must be struck by the number of eroded waterways and clearly degraded land. Any signage offering information about the region must include an explanation as to how this happened, and a sober account of what happens when rampant pursuit of wealth overrides all other concerns.

Brown’s Gully near the Goldfields Track crossing: the innumerable degraded streams in our region are part of the price we have paid for gold. Explanations of these landscape features should be provided in the relevant places.

The consultants’ approaches to these questions seem constructive. One question about the project is still not clear to us, however: the role of Parks Victoria. The Goldfields Track traverses significant parks in this region, and Parks Victoria is supposed to have a major role in community education on the value of these lands. In recent years, Parks seems to be more interested in tourism than in education. We’ll see what constructive input PV might have in this project.

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