Over the hills and far away

A solid group followed Karen Baker on a trek uphill and down dale across the Chewton bushlands community yesterday. A hilly walk was promised, and delivered: but the climbs proved more than worth the effort, and a fine day offered beautiful views across to the west and south. This area has wonderful old specimens of Red Stringybark and Yellow Box, and it was great to see the recovery of the land exemplified in extensive moss cover and interesting regrowth and restoration bush.

From the Chewton bushlands: the stumps in the foreground are relics of previous exploitation, now being restored.

Our thanks to Karen for an inspiring presentation of her home patch, and to Antoinette Birkenbeil for providing a suitable suite of perches for lunch.

Next month’s walk is another over the hills and far away venture above the Expedition Pass reservoir, led by Barb Guerin and Lionel Jenkin. Check the program for details.

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More photos coming in for TOGS show

We now have over 4o beautiful photos for our Box-Ironbark Forests photo project. Click on Janet’s photo below to see the photos displayed on Flickr.

Long-leaved Box. Photo by Janet Barker

You can send photos for this project till the 19 August. See here for the details.

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Let’s talk rubbish

Engage Victoria is running a new consultation, this one being on litter and rubbish dumping in regional areas, including Mount Alexander shire.

The consultation involves a questionnaire of 34 questions, and will include a workshop in Bendigo on August 28. For details click here.

Forest Creek at the Wheeler Street bridge: milk and soft drink containers with an assortment of other throwaways permanently decorate the surface. Bad behaviour is one part of the rubbish problem: but the major one is the mass production of disposable stuff.


FOBIF is a little cynical about these consultations, as we pointed out in connection with the forest consultation of last year. Some people have even dubbed the process the ‘Enrage Victoria’ enterprise, because of the irrelevance or triviality of some of the questions asked.

In the current case, the questions seem irritatingly designed to make us forget that the origin of the rubbish problem is the creation, on a mass scale, of throwaway stuff. Control of the source of the problem is on the face of it more effective than trying to stem a tidal wave of junk.

Nevertheless, it might be worth having a go at the survey questions,  if only to make that point.

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The picture below shows two mature Ironbarks cut down and removed from alongside the Poverty Gully track in the Diggings Park. Illegal timbergetting from public land has become a bit of a plague lately, and FOBIF has heard both from nearby residents and from rangers of what seem to be semi professional operations effectively looting the park.

Poverty Gully track, July 17: two substantial trees have been cut down, cut up and removed. The pattern has been repeated across the area adjoining Castlemaine and Campbell’s Creek

According to DELWP, ‘Under the Forest Act 1958, people who collect firewood outside designated firewood collection areas or a firewood collection season or take more than the maximum allowable amounts can face fines of up to $8,059, or a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment or both, if the matter proceeded to Court.’

We believe Parks Victoria has embarked on a new effort to tackle the problem. No details are available, and in spite of the odd arrest, the results aren’t convincing. It’s hard to supervise large areas of forest at any one time: if the infractions are of a commercial scale, the appropriate approach would seem to be to investigate outlets, as was done in the
Bendigo area successfully in May.

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Objection to new supermarket

FOBIF has sent an objection to the Mount Alexander Shire to the displayed plans for a new supermarket at Forest and Urquhart Streets Castlemaine. The essentials of our objection are as follows:

‘We emphasise that we have no opinion on the wisdom of a second large supermarket in the town, or its location, or its design: we have to trust to the competence of council on these matters.

‘Our objection is solely related to the proposed landscape plantings for the development. In particular, I refer to pages 06-02 07-02 and 08-02 in the relevant section of the planning documents.

‘On these pages it is proposed to plant the following environmental weeds around the development:

‘Cootamundra Wattle: this is not only an Environmental Weed, which spreads into the bush, replacing indigenous plants and damaging the natural ecosystem, but it also crosses with our indigenous Silver Wattle and thus is in the process of causing Silver Wattle’s extinction in Castlemaine, because the progeny of Silver Wattles are now crosses, and therefore weeds.  It’s like letting a feral bull into a cattle breeding stud and not having a morning after pill available. Even if a “sterile cultivar” were proposed, this would look the same as the non-sterile ones and thus act as a promotion for Cootamundra Wattle, increasing its popularity with gardeners unaware of its problems.   We also question if a “sterile cultivar” is guaranteed to remain absolutely sterile forever?
Continue reading

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Climate action workshop

Here’s an activity that should be of wide interest:

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Another terrific photo for our TOGS show

Mitchell Parker sent us this atmospheric photo of a Cherry Ballart Exocarpos cupressiformis on Mount Alexander on a misty morning.

Cherry Ballart, Mount Alexander, 14 July 2019.

You can find out how to contribute photos to the TOGS show here

And don’t forget that entries to the Eucalypt photo competition run by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub close on 22 July 2019.

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Vale Uncle Brien Nelson

A large crowd gathered at the Campbell’s Creek community centre last Friday to mark the funeral of one of this community’s most distinguished leaders: Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Brien Nelson, who died on June 28.

There is a good account of Uncle Brien’s life and achievements in the Bendigo Advertiser. It can be found here

Uncle Brien played an important part in the advisory panel setting up the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. He was a Park Ranger for many years, and had a profound understanding of the links between cultural and natural heritage.

At a ceremony to mark his appointment as honorary associate of Latrobe University in 2009, historian Gerry Gill described him as a ‘pre-eminent Aboriginal leader, who has made an extraordinary lifelong contribution to the recognition of indigenous culture and reconciliation.’ Uncle Brien’s response then was a characteristic mixture of eloquence and self effacement, including his summing up: ‘I never thought I’d be honoured by anything or anyone. I was happy just to be there.’  In 2017 he was too ill to attend a ceremony to mark his inclusion on the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll, but his daughter played a video in which he said, in the same spirit: ‘Thank you for taking the time to listen to a person’s dreams.’

Vale  Uncle Brien.

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First photo for our TOGS show collection

As mentioned in a previous post this year’s TOGS show will run from 19 September till 24 October and the theme is a general one about our local Box-Ironbark Forests. The closing date for the submission of photos is 19th August.

Frances Cincotta has sent us this beautiful one of the bark of Red Gum saplings in the rain near the Loddon River in Newstead.

Red Gum Saplings, Newstead. Photo by Frances Cincotta, 20 May 2019

So send us one or more of your old favourite photos or get into the bush and take some new ones to help us make this an impressive 10th FOBIF exhibition.

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FOBIF vs Suzuki: ho hum, what’s ‘self regulation worth’?

Here’s a brief follow up to our very modest victory over moronic TV advertising last week.

The Ad Standards community panel found that that the Suzuki ad depicted unsafe driving in a positive light: ‘the Panel considered that the depiction of the vehicle going over the large bump at a speed which caused its’ wheels to leave the road was a depiction which would constitute unsafe driving if it were to take place or a road or road related area.’

The company protested its innocence, but undertook to change its ad,  as follows: ‘While it was never our intention to portray any unsafe driving at any point during production of this TVC, we acknowledge the Panel’s findings and propose to edit both the 30 and 15 second TVCs to remove the scenes highlighted as depicting unsafe driving.’

Viewers of the telecast of the North Melbourne St Kilda AFL game yesterday afternoon will have seen the Suzuki ad. It had not been edited, and depicted the same qualities criticised by the panel. 

We’ve written to Ad standards asking them what the value of self regulation is, if it brings zero results.

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