TOGS show runs until 24 October

FOBIF’s TOGS Cafe photo exhibition in Lyttleton Street has had a good response from the public. There is no need to have coffee or food ~ just drop in and have a look at the photos. It runs until the 24th October. You can see the catalogue with a description of each photo here.

Bushy Needlewood Hakea decurrens. Photo by Julie Millowick, 2019

Northern edge of Crocodile Reservoir, July 2019. The flowering local Bushy Needlewood is growing through some of the Box Ironbark trees chopped down for the Ecological Thinning Trial. This 50 year trial by Parks Victoria is an attempt to return the Box-Ironbark Forest to a pre-goldrush state—that is trees of different heights and growth stage instead of the uniform post-goldrush regrowth. 

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Yet another survey: cabbages or machine guns?

Democracy is a wonderful thing, especially when you consider the alternatives, but democratic governments have a tricky task: they have to get on with the program they were elected to implement, but at the same time be aware of the complicated and sometimes contradictory demands the community makes of them.

They have to steer between two faults: they don’t want to be seen to ride roughshod over the community by being too decisive and tough minded; and they don’t want to be too indecisive, constantly wringing their hands and wondering what people want them to do.

In the matter of land management, the Victorian Government seems to be showing symptoms of the second of these ailments. As a result we’re getting deluged by invitations to online consultations asking us a lot of sometimes pretty strange questions.

In particular, Parks Victoria has apparently forgotten what it’s supposed to be doing, and has devised yet another consultation 

This latest consultation is on Parks Victoria’s Land Management Strategy. The justification for it is partly ‘1. Increasing demand for diverse visitor experiences, 2. A growing and changing population and 3. Changes in our environment and climate, with a rise in very hot days, fires and flash flooding placing pressure on our parks.’

Of course FOBIF believes that governments should represent the people. But, as in the present case, they should be guided by the basic principles of the job—looking after nature.

If you’re running a cabbage farm you should not be constantly running to the public to ask whether you should be producing machine guns instead.

In the current case, Parks Victoria should be keeping its eye on the National Parks Act: that’s its mission statement, one which is just as relevant now as it was in 1975, when it was passed by a Coalition Government. The arrival of lots of migrants has not changed its relevance one iota.

This belief has governed FOBIF’s response to the consultation. On the draft Aspiration Statement [‘Victoria’s parks are resilient, inclusive and valued; conserving nature and cultural heritage; supporting Traditional Owner aspirations; and contributing to healthy communities’] we said,

All of the material here is good, BUT we believe that it is unfortunately general enough to support many shades of interpretation. We would add ‘protected’ after ‘resilient’, to bring it in line with the National Parks Act—but then, this consultation strangely doesn’t mention National Parks, the core of the protected area system. And: we’re not sure why Parks Victoria needs any more aspiration than is contained in the National Parks Act: our parks are there for protection, preservation, study, etc. Are we going around in circles when the objectives have been clear since at least 1975?’

The survey set out Guiding Principles and asked respondents to tick approval or disapproval boxes:

  1. Maintain and strengthen the parks estate
  2. Prepare for the future
  3. Connect with community
  4. Use knowledge and evidence-based management
  5. Protect natural and cultural values
  6. Build Partnerships
  7. Promote public safety and adopt a risk-based approach
  8. Apply rational decision making

Most of these are motherhood statements. Our response was:

‘As with the guiding principles, we believe this material is good…but the devil is in the detail. Some of these aspirations could be in conflict. We do not believe that Parks Victoria should be in partnership with private business to develop profit making enterprises in national parks, for example. ‘Sound judgement will be used to consider all stakeholders involved.’ Yes, but we do not believe that all stakeholders are equally in tune with the National Parks Act and its objectives: deer hunters, for example, are more interested in hunting than they are in the damage inflicted on the environment by deer; horse lovers do not see waterways trampled by feral horses. We believe that in the case of National Parks, PV should be guided by the Act: and Parks officers should have the courage of their convictions in pursuing the objectives of the Act.

‘And we would add Guiding Principle 9: Adequately fund the protected area system, so as to avoid the possibility that all the above principles are just words.’

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The normalisation of insanity

Every now and then you get the idea that our culture is insanely careering towards a cliff with a gaga look on its face.

Mainly this comes from watching television, most particularly the commercials. Some do stand out as particularly moronic, however.

Still from AAMI commercial: the message is that it’s a bad thing to have to scoot to school; and that only transport by car is acceptable for children.

Here’s an example: a commercial currently running on TV for AAMI insurance, which runs the line that it’s a terrible humiliation for children to have to scoot to school, because the family car is under repair.

If you can bear it, you can see it here.

The Australian Cycle Federation puts it well:

‘25% of Australian kids are obese or overweight (and two thirds of adults)

‘60% of all car passenger trips in the morning peak are for children being driven to primary/ secondary school (traffic congestion, much?)

‘75% of primary school kids live within 10-15 mins walking / scooter distance of school.

‘See a correlation?

‘Making out dad to be a dork, and the kids reluctant to scooter because “no one else does it” not only discourages healthy social norms, it is also clearly not true. Most kids love the opportunity to ride or scooter to school if given the chance.

‘Grow up please AAMI.’

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Three reasons to visit the Loop and Wewak Tracks

Last Friday walkers came across these unusual flowers near the Loop Track at the southern end of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. Frances Cincotta identified the plant as Rosy Baeckea Eurymyrtus ramosissima. According to Ern Perkin’s database it is a native in the Myrtle Family, rare in our region but much more common in the Bendigo Whipstick and the Dargile-Heathcote area. It was formerly called Baeckea ramosissima. We would be interested to know if anyone else has spotted this plant locally. You can contact fobif here.

Rosy Baeckea Eurymyrtus ramosissima. Loop Track. Photos: Bronwyn Silver

Also near the Loop Track but not yet in flower is the Scented Bush-pea Pultenaea graveolens. This native pea can also be found along parts of Porcupine Ridge Road. It grows to a metre or more high and the flowers are single, on short stalks from the leaf bases. Although listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Fauna and Flora Guarantee Act there are masses of this shrub near Loop Track. You can see more of Ern’s photos here

Scented Bush-pea Pultenaea graveolens. Porcupine Ridge. Photo: Ern Perkins

Last is the Matted Bush Pea Pultenaea pedunculata which is about to flower along the Wewak Track. This prostrate mat-forming plant pea provides a truly magnificent display for several kilometres during October. We will keep you posted about when it is in flower. 

Matted Bush-pea Pultenaea Pedunculata. Wewak Track, 25 October 2018. Photo: Bronwyn Silver

You can find the Wewak and Loop Tracks on the Italian Hill and Loop Track maps (look in the Castlemaine Diggings section) on Jase Haysom‘s website. If you need help with directions contact FOBIF.

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TOGS photo show opens

FOBIF’s photographic show is now open at TOGS cafe in Lyttleton Street. It will run till 24 October. All photos are for sale with proceeds going to FOBIF.

Since 1999 the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests has been conducting art and photography exhibitions and this is our tenth exhibition since 2009. Six of these have been at Togs Place. They have all had the same purpose: to honour the native forests of the region, continuing the long tradition of artistic involvement with these forests. Photographers in this exhibition are all local residents

Thank you to all the photographers who contributed photos to this project.

You can download a catalogue with a brief description of each photo here

One of the photos from the show: Brown-headed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melithreptus)
Photo: Patrick Kavanagh, January 2019
These very social honeyeaters are the most common in the heathy woodland. They spend much of their time in the canopy, so it’ a delight to get a close look at them when they come down to the bird bath in small flocks.


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Around the Wewak Track

Last Sunday’s FOBIF excursion was a 5 km loop walk in Wewak Track area at the southern end of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. It was a warm overcast day and fortunately the threatened rain held off. Numerous plant identification stops meant that the pace was leisurely. Highlights were finding the Smooth Parrot-pea and numerous Heath shrubs in flower, seven species of Wattles, and the rare Elphinstone Grevillea.  Jeremy Holland also took us a 100 metres off the track to see ‘Mr Hunts Chimney’ and a nearby extremely deep mine shaft. Lunch was at the Charlie Sanger hut ruin on the Goldfield Track.

Some of the walkers on the Wewak Track near the end of the walk.

Noel Young’s bird list
*Crimson Rosella, *Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, White-winged Choughs, Olive-backed Oriole, Grey Shrike-thrush, Fuscous Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, *Pallid Cuckoo, Fantail Cuckoo, Horsefield’s Bronze-cuckoo, *Grey Fantail, Rufous Whistler, White-throated Treecreeper, Spotted Pardalote, *Thornbill sp.
*sighted (otherwise from call recognition)

Thanks to Frances Cincotta and Elaine Bayes, for leading such as fascinating walk. 

Next month’s walk will be and 8 km walk in bushland between Railway Dam and White Gum Track. Leaders will be Bernard Slattery and Jeremy Holland. Check the walk’s page for more detail.

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It’s not Bambi, it’s not cute–and it’s coming to a place near you

More and more deer sightings are being reported from our region, where they were once reasonably uncommon. A herd of 11 was seen in Muckleford last month, and last weekend 7 were sighted in the Gough’s Range State Forest.

Deer in the Gough’s Range State Forest, September 2019: they’re a danger to traffic, a pest to agriculture and they trash the bush. And there are more and more of them.

Reports are piling up from around the state of the damage done by these feral animals, whose numbers are not being controlled by recreational hunters. The state government has been under pressure from farmers, conservationists and municipalities to deal with the exploding deer population. So far it has delayed making any kind of decisive decision about what to do with the problem. We can only speculate about the reasons for this delay, but the most likely explanation is that the government clings to the notion that the economic benefits of deer hunting and  the political clout of hunters outweigh the damage done by the animals.

As the deer population increases this position is getting dodgier and dodgier.

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Carnivale for Climate Action

The Maldon Neighbourhood Centre has asked us to publicise this new Maldon street festival that will take place this Sunday (September 22).

Ditch your car for the day! Maldon goes car free for climate action

Walk, cycle, catch the bus or take the heritage steam train to Maldon on Sunday 22 September to be part of Car-free Carnivale – Maldon’s new street festival to inspire climate action and achieve a safer, healthier and cleaner environment for local communities.

Held to coincide with World Car Free Day, the Carnivale will take over Maldon’s main street from 12pm to 3pm, transforming the heritage shopping and café strip into a car-free thoroughfare of ideas for sustainable living. Innovative exhibitors, children’s activities and live performances will be on offer, as will plenty of local food, with Maldon’s cafes and hotels all open on the day.

Car-free Carnivale is an initiative of Maldon Climate Action Network (CAN), a local group formed this year, working to reduce Maldon’s carbon footprint through community-led action. “We want to inspire the people of Maldon – as well as neighbouring communities – to work together to reduce our carbon emissions so we can create a safer, healthier and cleaner environment for everyone,” says Ali Brookes, member of Maldon CAN.

“It can be as simple as catching the bus for some trips rather than using your car, to using some of the great local services on offer, like the Castlemaine Repair Café to fix your household goods rather than sending them to landfill. It’s about zero carbon, zero waste and infinite hope.”

Maldon CAN is encouraging locals to walk or cycle to the Carnivale, and for those from further afield to catch Castlemaine Bus Lines’ Castlemaine–Maldon bus (Route 4) or use the scenic rail trail, a 17.7km walking and cycling trail linking Castlemaine and Maldon. The Victorian Goldfield’s historic steam train will also be running on the day, providing a return trip for travellers from Castlemaine.

“We’re keen to promote sustainable transport options, especially given transport is Australia’s second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution after electricity,” says Maldon CAN’s Ali Brookes.

Maldon has limited public transport options, giving locals little choice but to predominantly rely on cars for personal transport. Maldon CAN believes governments can and must do more to fund regional public transport services as well as infrastructure to support Australia’s transition to electric cars powered by renewable energy.

In the meantime, locals are leading with initiatives to reduce transport emissions, including Maldon Neighbourhood Centre’s Community Bus, which will launch its new timetable at the Carnivale.

What: Maldon Car-free Carnivale for Climate Action When: Sunday 22 September 2019, 12pm to 3pm Where: Maldon Main Street
More information:

Media enquiries: Melanie Scaife, Maldon Climate Action Network, Mobile 0439 088 458

Continue reading

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Reminder: FOBIF AGM coming up

Jase Haysom, well known local map maker, will be our speaker at the upcoming FOBIF AGM on Monday 9 September.

The meeting will start at 7.30 in the Ray Bradfield Room, Castlemaine (next to Mostyn Street IGA supermarket). Information on how to nominate for the FOBIF Committee can be found here. All welcome and supper will be served.

You can find out more here.

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Two presentations on The New Nature by TIM LOW

Tim Low

Tim Low, biologist and best-selling author of author of seven books about nature, will be giving 2 talks in central Vic, discussing The New Nature. This intriguing work looks at how modern human activity is changing the lives of many native species –some for better and some for worse. Tim will talk about how animals don’t have any concept of ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ so they don’t automatically recoil from cities and farms. Sometimes they can do better in cities than in forests. Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane now have Peregrine Falcons nesting on skyscrapers!

Tim’s presentation will go for 45 minutes then 15 minutes for questions from the audience. This is a rare treat, so make sure you come along to one or other of the talks, and tell your friends. All are welcome. Entry by donation. Tim’s two most recent books will be for sale at both events: Where Song Began and The New Nature.

Friday 6th September at 7.30 pm at Newstead Community Centre, Lyons Street/Pyrenees Hwy, Newstead. Hosted by Newstead Landcare Group and Connecting Country with extra support from FOBIF.

Saturday 7th September at 1.30pm at Glenlyon Shire Hall, Daylesford-Malmsbury Rd Glenlyon. Hosted by Wombat Forestcare.

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