Alison Pouliot’s new book launch

Alison Pouliot has extended a warm welcome to all FOBIF members and supporters to the launch of her new book Underground Lovers: Encounters with Fungi, There will be several launch venues in Central Victoria including:

Friday 3 March Newham

Wednesday 15 March Hepburn Springs

Tuesday 18 April Lockwood South

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New FOBIF book!

FOBIF has just published a catalogue of our current exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub. This 70 page book, Responding to Country: Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests 1998-2023, includes:

  • Photos with accompanying words by 25 members and supporters,
  • Drawings by Chewton Primary School students,
  • A geology section with text written by Clive Willman,
  • Photos of FOBIF walks going back more than ten years,
  • An essay by Alex Panelli, Of People and a Forest – some personal reflections
  • Articles about two FOBIF founding members, Ern Perkins and Doug Ralph,
  • Two articles on the founding of FOBIF and its history by Phil Ingamells and Bernard Slattery.

You can buy the book for $15 plus $3 postage on this site. It is now available at Stoneman’s Bookroom and the Visitors Information Centre in Castlemaine and Bookish in Bendigo.

Sample page

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Celebrating attention to country

Well over 120 people overflowed the Newstead Arts Hub on Saturday for the launch of the FOBIF turns 25 exhibition.

FOBIF president Marie Jones in the pink shirt introducing the event.

Friends President Marie Jones gave a brief run down on the group’s 25 year history, from its beginning in the lounge room of the late Ern Perkins, and paid tribute to the many members who have contributed to its ongoing success. She made special mention of Bronwyn Silver, the creator of this exhibition.  Phil Ingamells followed with a tribute to founding president Doug Ralph, a man whose gentle inclusiveness was a remarkable leadership quality, and whose knowledge of the country came from walking it with quiet attention to the details of the landscape.

Alison Pouliot then opened the exhibition with some eloquent words echoing Phil’s theme. Quoting from the exhibiting artists, she emphasised the importance of beauty in understanding landscape, and especially the appreciation of the tiniest living things. Her talk will be published on this site in the coming weeks.

The exhibition, Responding to Country: Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests 1998-2023 will run on the next two weekends (March 4 & 5, 11 & 12) and Labour Day (March 13). Gallery opening hours are 10am to 4pm.

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Money…and a reminder!

Sales of FOBIF’s guides are going so well that all five books will be reprinted before autumn is over. All books have now gone through multiple reprints. Unfortunately costs have risen, and we’ve been obliged to raise the price of the eucalypt, wattle and pea guides to $15 a copy from the end of this month. All money from our sales is devoted to reprinting costs–no profits are made from our books, nearly ten thousand of which have now sold.

And a reminder: The FOBIF 25 show at the Newstead Arts Hub will be opened by Alison Pouliot at 10.30 next Saturday the 25th. Alison is a charismatic and engaging speaker. Make the trip!

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New tracks in the Diggings Park

Parks Victoria has completed its network of new walks centred on the Garfield Wheel trailhead in the Castlemaine Diggings NHP. Maps and descriptions can be found here.

The new walks are marked by distinctive posts, and supported by online maps you can get by downloading the free Avenza map. The supporting note packages give plenty of detail about mining practices, and one of the walks, the short Garfield Bush walk, has notes on the local vegetation and bird life.

Nature creeps back: Breutelia moss colonising a mullock heap at the Nimrod mine. Mosses and fungi are highlights of winter walking at the Welsh Village.

Note that the new walks overlap somewhat with the Welsh Village walks in FOBIF’s local walks guide. The changed conditions make some of our directions hard to follow. A new edition of this guide will soon be published incorporating changes on the ground. In the mean time, walkers using our book should follow our maps carefully (they’re better than the Avenza ones, anyway).

The new track system certainly sparks up what was perhaps a tired precinct. The accompanying heritage notes might be a bit heavy on technical detail, but some of them are provocatively interesting. Take this, on the Garfield crushing battery:

‘Quartz was tipped into the battery from the raised tramline and pounded to sand by the stampers. The battery sand was mixed with water into a slurry and forced through mesh screens onto the sloping aprons or concentrating tables (also known as blankets). These were covered by copper sheets coated with mercury, which caught and amalgamated with the gold.

‘Periodically, the gold-mercury amalgam was scraped off the copper sheets and heated to vaporise the mercury and release the gold. Once cooled, the mercury was reused. The miners involved in this process would probably have suffered from mercury poisoning.

‘Mercury is a neurotoxin which damages the part of the brain that co-ordinates movement. It also harms the kidneys and other organs. Although it is illegal to use mercury in gold mining in many countries today, there are an estimated 10-15 million unregulated gold miners operating in 70 countries. About 15% of the world’s gold is produced by small-scale miners. Mercury is still widely used, causing irreversible neurological damage to workers.’

This is an uncommon example of heritage notes straying away from local colour and into the drama of life as it’s lived, and is welcome.

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New Tracks 2: missed opportunities?

There are some disappointing features in these notes, probably typical of heritage discourse generally. A few examples:

–The Quartz Hill walk notes describe puddling wheels, but somehow forget to point out that these were seriously polluting. Captain Bull tried unsuccessfully to get them banned in 1855.

Near the Nimrod mine: A eucalypt perches precariously on the impressive slate wall; feral pines are invading from the plantations; a small flowering Acacia implexa softens the scene on the left; impressive patches of Purple Coral-pea are covering the bare earth. The mining landscape has many layers: ‘heritage’ notes which concentrate on technical details about mining fail to catch the reality of a changing landscape.

–When you compare the detail given to mining techniques, not enough is made of the Pennyweight Flat children’s cemetery. This is where environmental degradation runs crash into human life, and the result is seriously haunting. A feature of this location is the fine Grey Box trees, somehow framing the devastating reality below.

–the notes on sluicing are extraordinarily bland. The long term effect on our waterways was disastrous. How hard is it to say this?

— there’s a pleasant ‘goldfields treasure hunt’ sheet for ‘Junior Rangers’: participants are invited to search for 16 goldfields features. Apart from ‘coppiced trees’, all features are shafts, chimneys, and so on. We’d like to have seen, in addition, perhaps, ‘Native cherry’. Or even ‘destroyed waterway.’ There are plenty on offer.

Breutelia affinis with fungus: highlights of a winter walk in the Welsh Village area. You could say that they are ‘goldfields treasures’ too.

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Reminder about FOBIF exhibition

The FOBIF show at the Newstead Arts Hub will be opened by Alison Pouliot at 10.30 on Saturday 25 February. Everyone is welcome and there will be refreshments. Find out more here and see all the contributions here.

Geoff Park has contributed this follow of Barking Owls. 

Barking Owls, Newstead, 31st October 2017

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FOBIF show opens this month!

Our FOBIF show now named Responding to Country: Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests 1998-2023 will be opened by natural historian and environmental photographer Alison Pouliot on Saturday, February 25 at 10.30am at the Newstead Arts Hub. It will run for 3 weekends (February 25 & 26, March 4 & 5, 11 & 12) and Labour Day (March 13). Gallery opening hours are 10am to 4pm.

The show will include 20 photos with accompanying text by FOBIF members and supporters, children’s art from Chewton Primary School, FOBIF historical information, and geology exhibits. Three of the founding members of FOBIF, Marie Jones, Phil Ingelmells and Tami McVicar have been involved in the preparation of this show. Phil has written this article about the formation of FOBIF. You can see the photos contributed so far here

All are welcome to come to the opening. Exhibition photos, FOBIF books and an exhibition catalogue will be for sale. Refreshments will be provided. 

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New fungi book by Alison Pouliot

In the gloom of the forest floor, fallen branches are sheathed with fungal stripes of yellow and purple. But beneath the colourful surface, the fallen litter is alive with the clandestine workings of fungi.

What can we learn from the lives of fungi? Underground Lovers brings us to our knees, magnifier in hand, to find out.

Fungi offer a way to imagine life differently. In Underground Lovers Alison Pouliot reaches down to earth, and deeper, to dwell with fungal allies and aliens, discover how fungi hold forests together, and why humans are deeply entwined with these unruly renegades of the subterrain. Told through first-hand stories — from the Australian desert to Iceland’s glaciers to America’s Cascade Mountains — Alison Pouliot shares encounters with glowing ghost fungi and unearths the enigma of the lobster mushroom. Melding science and personal reflection, she explores the fungi that appear after fire, how fungi and climate change interact, the role of fungi in our ecosystems, and much more.

Alison’s new book will be launched at Radius, 76 Main Road, Hepburn, on Wednesday 15 March at 6pm. All welcome. More details can be found here

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One more contribution to FOBIF turns 25

Liz Martin has sent us this contribution.

Mount Alexander

I love to wander the ridges and gullies.

I often walk and find new places that I name. Valley of the dead trees is one. 

The different environments from the summit mist to the drier valleys are all worth exploring.

It is also a place for family walks and celebrations at the picnic ground or dog rocks. 

I love the misty days and the ancient rocks: the moss beds and the fascinating fungi.

It is also my refuge when life gets overwhelming and I wander the different areas with my camera, seeking out the leaves that have fallen,  lichen on the rocks and look forward to the fruiting of the mosses.

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