Great Southern Bioblitz

The Great Southern Bioblitz on iNaturalist runs from midnight on Thursday 27th October to midnight on 31st October. The idea is for the community to capture as many records (photo or sound recording) of life forms in the wild i.e. no farm animals and pets, people or garden plants; within our region.  Our region is Mt Alexander Shire and the eastern half of Hepburn Shire so extends south to the Great Divide near Daylesford. Observations must be made within the dates but can be loaded to iNaturalist and have identifications confirmed up until 13th November.  Once the identifications have been confirmed the records flow through to Atlas of Living Australia where they are available for research purposes.

The whole idea is to get people out looking and recording the natural world around them and to have fun at the same time. Things can get competitive as different people try to make more observations than their peers. There is also a friendly competitive element between the different regions taking part.

You can find out more about GSB22 here and here. Our local project is here.

Local training session
On Wednesday 19th from 7pm – 9pm Euan Moore will be running a training session for anyone who wants to take part in the GSB or simply wants to learn more about the iNaturalist platform. This will be at the introductory level and provide enough information to enable people to load sightings and identify the sightings made by others. If anyone wants to come along please email Euan at

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Houses, people, nature

In case you missed it: the Mount Alexander Shire is doing a housing and neighbourhood character study for the townships of Castlemaine, Campbells Creek and Chewton.

It’s looking for your input. The date for submissions is Sunday November 6. You can find the details here

The population of the shire is expected to rise from 20,253 to 24,316 by 2041, more than half of them in those three townships.

Obviously there is a tangle of complicated issues here: heritage, environment, social justice, natural hazards in the form of fire and flood, …We believe it’s important not to be intimidated by the apparent complexities, however. There are some things which are worth emphasising.

First:  MASC’s Council Plan 2021-5 states as its objective ‘Our community is growing in harmony with nature.’ [FOBIF emphasis] Pressure for more housing can make this objective a hard one to keep, and it’s worth a submission just to underline community support for biodiversity, and a housing policy which works with it, not against it.

Secondly: State planning policy recommends ‘Directing population growth and development to low risk locations’. [FOBIF emphasis] Australia has an unfortunate history of challenging nature to do its worst, as the 2020 Royal Commission pointed out, when it noted, ‘Currently, all states permit homes to be built in bushfire and flood prone areas, and the degree to which planning or building standards act to mitigate risk varies across jurisdictions’. It’s worth putting in a submission urging development to be centred on safe areas not requiring destruction of bushland.

These two themes are linked, of course.

The Shire wants to know what you think: have a go!

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Grevillea obtecta talk and walk cancelled

Castlemaine Field Naturalists have informed us that the planned Grevillea obtecta talk and investigation walk planned for tonight and tomorrow have unfortunately had to be cancelled. Readers looking around them will not be surprised to find that the reason for the cancellation is that Georgie Custance is unable to make it to Castlemaine because of flood blockages on the roads. Our apologies.

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Meeting cancelled (Our land at contact)

Message from Newstead Landcare

Due to the high risk of floods today and tomorrow, in sorrowful mood we’ve decided to cancel the presentation by Barry Golding for our AGM tomorrow night. Barry will do his presentation early in 2023. We will still have the AGM via Zoom (link and password below). The AGM will probably take about 20 minutes. Topic: Newstead Landcare AGM 2022 Time: Oct 13, 2022 at 7:30 PM Join Zoom Meeting

The arrival of Europeans in Australia produced profound changes across the continent. It can be hard to know exactly what the landscape looked like before this dramatic upheaval. The documents left by the earliest intruders can give us a few clues.

Professor Barry Golding of Federation University has combed through historical records to put together a picture of how the land around Newstead and its environs may have looked prior to contact. From the extensive permanent ponds on the Loddon containing literally tonnes of Murray Cod to the vast meadows of Yam Daisies (Myrnong), some of the descriptions Barry has found give us a glimpse of the extraordinary richness of our neck of the woods.

Barry will be presenting some of his findings at Newstead Landcare Group’s AGM on Thursday October 13th. The presentation will start at 7.30pm at Newstead Community Centre. A very brief AGM will follow. All are welcome to attend, gold coin donations appreciated.

Check roads are passable before attempting to drive to Newstead or phone Frances Cincotta (0491108766) to check if it’s still on. 

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The way things used to be?

Here’s a good reason to make it into the Bendigo CBD: go to the library! OK, there are libraries elsewhere in the region, but the one in the CBD has a trump card right now. It’s an aquarium, more than three metres wide, celebrating Bendigo Creek: not the gutter prominent in the city, but the creek as might have been…and could be? The aquarium features more than a dozen species of native freshwater creatures, and is a bit of a wonder.

Part of the aquarium celebrating Bendigo Creek…the view is even better under the water.

The creek’s history is an environmental horror story: if you haven’t seen it, check out the late Gerry Gill’s short history in his ‘The map and remembrance’ film series. You can find it here or here.

Gerry’s film compare’s the idyllic images we have of the creek before the gold rush with the depredations of the golden age, and celebrates the efforts of landcarers and managers trying to restore the creek. The aquarium is not only an eye opener for what it shows of under water life, it offers a bit more motivation to ‘care for country’.

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It’s unique, it’s rare, it’s in our backyard: like to learn more about it?

The locally endemic Fryerstown Grevillea (Grevillea obtecta). is common in small areas of our region, but it’s not widespread and is subject to threats. This week the Castlemaine Field Naturalists are running two sessions encouraging citizens to participate in programs to monitor the plant, helping biologists to assess its true status and the need for recovery actions to enable it to persist in the wild.

First, at the Club’s monthly meeting, ecologist Georgie Custance will talk on monitoring the plant using the Proofsafe monitoring app. The meeting is at 7.30 this Friday the 14th, at the Uniting Church Fellowship room in Lyttleton Street Castlemaine. Want to check out the app first? Check here.

Second, Georgie Custance will lead a walk in the bush to visit some local populations of this wonderful species as well as the many other native plants that are flowering at the moment. During the walk Georgie will demonstrate how to use ProofSafe to record your sightings of Fryerstown Grevillea so that people can practice what they learnt at the meeting.  Location to be confirmed but either Fryers Ridge or Porcupine Ridge.

Meet: 1.30 pm at the Octopus (Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel). Bring:  Water, afternoon tea, sturdy shoes, hat and if possible, your mobile phone or tablet with the ProofSafe app. loaded. Enquiries:

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FOBIF walk 16 October 2022

This is a relatively short walk (less than 6 km) but it is off track and conditions vary. In places the ground is hard, rocky and quite uneven. There are also loose rocks, sticks, fallen branches and tussocks. The undergrowth varies in height and thickness, and is sometimes prickly. There are also 2 climbs and 2 descents that are steep in places.

The walk will commence at the corner of Sugarbag track and Sugarbag Extension track. Walkers can meet in Castlemaine at 9:30 as usual, or in Taradale, opposite the Service Station, at 9:45.

This is our last walk for the 2022. Our 2023 walks program will be posted to FOBIF members and on the website in January. 

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Moss greeting cards

FOBIF is now selling moss greeting cards on line. The cards feature local moss photos by Bernard Slattery and Bronwyn Silver. 

Each folded card is 10 x 14.5 cm with botanical details on the back.

They are available for sale as a set of 8 with envelopes. Cost for the 8 cards including postage is $20. Click here for purchase details.

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FOBIF walks news

Alex Panelli will lead our last walk for the year in the Fryers Ridge area on Sunday 16 October. Details about this walk can be found here and Alex will post further information in a later on this site.

The FOBIF Committee has drawn up a set of commonsense guidelines for all our walks. You can view them here.

Pam Connell has just sent us these two terrific photos of the last walk in the Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve.

Nodding Greenhood, Muckleford. Photo Pam Connell

The group on the last leg of the walk after the rain had set in.

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The importance of ‘invisible’ things

A strong turnout at FOBIF’s AGM last Monday heard a tantalising talk and photo presentation by Patrick Kavanagh  on things you can see through macro photography. The spectacular images of tiny creatures inhabiting our flora—and each other—underlined the importance to our ecosystem of forms of life most of us know nothing about, and some of which are completely unknown to science. These tiny creatures are the foundation food of much of our more visible natural world: if ever you’ve wondered what those small birds are doing fussing around a wattle bud, Patrick’s photos gave a very strong clue. And if you’ve been frustrated by the ability of a house fly to veer miraculously fast away from your attempted swat, the photos revealed all!

Midge fossiking on a Wattle bud…There are epics going on in tiny places. Photo by Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick’s presentation recalled memories of Sarah Lloyd’s amazing talk on slime moulds at the 2015 AGM: in both cases, the audience was introduced into a mysterious world which we share, most of the time completely unaware of it.

Here are a few more glimpses into that world:

Praying Mantis nymph: photo by Patrick Kavanagh

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