FOBIF geology tour

The FOBIF geology tour will still take place today despite the rain. For people who have registered we are meeting at 9,30 at the Community House. 

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So: what’s new?

Is public land management governed by science? Or is it by a chaotic mix of politics, self interest and old habits?

Let’s not by cynical about this, and see what researchers on public land are finding out. This week the Victorian Environment Assessment Council is running a series of five-minute talks, by twenty postgraduate students, public land managers and scientists who conduct research on public land. The talks will take place from 10 am to 12.30 pm next Tuesday March 23.

This symposium is part of VEAC’s program of online events throughout 2021 that celebrate the 50th anniversary of VEAC and its predecessors. To register go to

This event is being co-sponsored by the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Museums Victoria, the Royal Society of Victoria, and the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria.

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Fire: is there a change in the air?

The announcement of a new year of fuel reduction activity by DELWP provokes the usual thoughts: will the program be effective in actually reducing fuel? Will it be properly monitored? Will there be negative effects environmentally and economically (over-hot burns, smoke damage to wine grapes, etc)?

In that context, it’s worth drawing attention to the growing interest in indigenous cultural burning, and in particular to the Victorian traditional owner cultural fire strategy, produced by the traditional owner cultural fire knowledge group. You can find this 28 page document online here.

The six principles outlined in the document are as follows: 

  1. Cultural Burning is Right Fire, Right Time, Right Way and for the right (cultural) reasons according to Lore. There are different kinds of cultural fire practices guided by Lore applicable across Victoria’s Countries.
  2. Burning is a cultural responsibility. Traditional Owners lead the development and application of fire practice on Country; the responsibilities and authority of Traditional Owners are recognised and respected.
  3. Cultural fire is living knowledge. Aboriginal fire knowledge is shared for continual learning and adaptive management. Traditional Owners will work together on each other’s Country to heal Country and guide practice development. Knowledge and practice are shared.
  4. Monitoring, evaluation and research support cultural objectives and enable adaptive learning. MER will be used to build a body of evidence that allows cultural burning to occur and grow.
  5. Country is managed holistically. Traditional Owners manage Country holistically to address multiple values and objectives, healing both Country and culture. Partnership arrangements and management objectives are tailored to each regional and cultural landscape context. This includes analysis of the tenure, regulatory and operational arrangements to support cultural fire application, other beneficial Indigenous management practices, together with a process of learning to continuously improve planning, management and action.
  6. Cultural Fire is healing. There are substantial positive impacts to Traditional Owner wellbeing and confidence through providing access and authority to practice on Country.

The whole of this document is worth an attentive reading. The authors acknowledge that the strategy has limitations: ‘Traditional Owners have limited authority, resources and capacity to develop and apply cultural fire practices on Country according to the principles described in the strategy.’ Therein lies a particularly interesting challenge.

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Native pea greeting cards and guide now available

We have taken some of photos from the new Native Pea book and made them into greeting cards with detailed species notes on the back. They are now available in a set of 8 with envelopes for $20.

The cards and our field guide, Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region, are now available at Stoneman’s Bookroom, the Tourist Information Centre, the EnviroShop in Newstead and the Book Wolf in Maldon  Or see the links on the right hand side of this page to purchase directly from FOBIF.

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In what might be a world record short time between announcement and cancellation, FOBIF has been forced to call off its Zoom launch of Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region.

The timed launch clashed with an important Connecting Country event on farm dams, and we were reluctant to interfere with this program.

Further, COVID 19 restrictions on attendance, the upcoming Castlemaine State Festival, and Easter, have all conspired to drastically limit the number of possible windows of opportunities for a launch…so we’ve decided to abandon the idea altogether. Our apologies for any inconvenience to members.

However, you can still buy the book: it’s available at the usual outlets from tomorrow [Thursday 10 March]. And Ian Higgins will be giving his talk on native peas at the FOBIF AGM later in the year, when, hopefully, we’ll be able to gather in reasonable numbers in the same place!

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‘Native pea plants in the bush: they’re hard to see when they’re not in flower, and hard to miss when they are. They’re spectacular, but it’s hard to deny that they’re very occasionally hard to identify. The good news is that a solution to the ID problem is at hand…

Launch is now cancelled. Check out this post for information about the cancellation and how to buy the new book.

FOBIF’s latest publication, Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region, will be launched via Zoom on Thursday March 18 at 7.30 pm. Covid 19 restrictions have unfortunately prevented us from staging our preferred launch, with real physical presences…The book will be launched by Ian Higgins, one of the region’s most noted ecologists.

To register for the launch email us at

The guide will be available for sale immediately after the launch, from the usual local outlets–Stoneman’s Bookroom, Castlemaine Visitor Centre, the Enviro Shop Newstead and The Book Wolf in Maldon. It will also be available by order from this website, and other outlets in Melbourne and interstate. The recommended retail price is $10.00.


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Geology tour booked out

There are now 25 people booked into our FOBIF geology tour led by Clive Willman on March 21. If you would still like to come contact us ( and we will put on the waiting list. 

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Yellow-flowering Box Mistletoe!

Bendigo Field Naturalists Rod and Jan Orr told me of an unusual observation they made on Railway Dam Track just out of Chewton. They found a Box Mistletoe with yellow flowers rather than the usual bright red.

It’s easy to find – from the Pyrenees Highway at Chewton turn south into Railway Dam Track and the mistletoe is a big clump growing on a small Yellow Box tree on the right hand side of track before the track goes over the railway bridge. There are plenty of flowers right at eye level for easy photography.

Box Mistletoe (Amyema miquelii) is classified as a hemi-parasite. It has green leaves so makes some of its its own food, but has no roots so relies on the tree’s vascular system for water. Box Mistletoe is an important local native plant because its leaves provide food for larvae of moths and butterflies, the flowers provides nectar for many creatures, and its sweet fruits are a favourite food of mine and the Mistletoebird.

Frances Cincotta

Yellow-flowered Box Mistletoe near Chewton 21 Feb 2021

Left: Yellow flowers opening; Right: unripe fruit of Box Mistletoe

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Our first walk for 2021

A geology tour on March 21 led by well-known geologist Clive Willman will be the first 2021 event for the FOBIF walks program. This car excursion will be around the Guildford Plateau and Mount Franklin, an area shaped by the ancient Loddon River and recent volcanic activity.

We will be car pooling on the day and there will be a limit of 25 people. If you are interested you need to register by emailing FOBIF (

COVID government regulations at the time could prevent this event taking place. Check the website before the day. 

Clive Willman has led a number of terrific geology-based events for FOBIF. These photos were taken on a 2009 excursion. In the first photo is explaining the geological features of the Anticlinal Fold in Lyttleton Street and in the second he is pointing to the origin of the slate at the Castlemaine Post Office. 

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FOBIF 2021

 There are several ways you can be part of FOBIF activities in 2021 as well as coming on our monthly walks.

Committee meetings are open to all members. They are held between 6 and 7 pm at the Community House, 30 Templeton Street, Castlemaine on the second Monday of the month from March to November. Dates for 2021 are 8th March, 12th April, 10th May, 14th June, 12th July, 9th August, 13 September, 11 October and 8th November. Contact our secretary, Bernard Slattery on 54705161, if you have any questions.

2021 FOBIF committee office holders are Marie Jones (President), Neville Cooper (Vice President), Bernard Slattery (Secretary) and Lynette Amaterstein (Treasurer). Other committee members are Asha Bannon, Frank Panter, Cassia Reid, Jeremy Holland and Bronwyn Silver.

You can submit articles ( or comment on posts for this FOBIF website. We are also keen to post new photos on our Instagram and Flickr site. Here are a few examples of recent Flickr bark photos taken in Walmer. The first four are by Brette-Rose Hadfield and the last two by Bronwyn Silver.

Finally keep a look out on this site for news of the launch of our new book, Native Peas of the Mount Alexander Region which is planned for March. Here are a couple of sample pages. 

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