2023 FOBIF 25 years show

As part of our lead up to the FOBIF 25 years show,  Mike Evans has sent us these photos about an area of bush that has special significance to him. 

‘Tortured’ trees in the Harcourt Bushland Reserve


I live in Peelers Road Barkers Creek and the Harcourt Bushland Reserve is an area that I walk in every day.

Chopped down, Dug up and Dumped on, is the saying that Barkers Creek Landcare Group president Daryl Colless uses to describe the recovering goldfield site that is now called the Harcourt Bushland Reserve.

Its piece of land that has been turned over probably more than once since the arrival of the first prospectors in the late 1800s. You can see the evidence of mining everywhere, from holes both square and round, bare ground, stripped of any nutritious soil, large excavations leaving scars on the landscape and evidence of the last area in the district to give up sluicing because of the silt flowing into and degrading Barkers Creek.

However, nature has remarkable powers of recovery and even though it’s a struggle this area of bush shows its resilience with many species of wildflowers, birds and fauna.

Trees that look tortured have survived to provide habitat for the birds insects and fauna here.

The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo passes through here regularly. Certain areas put on colourful displays of wildflowers and it is home to a number of wallabies and kangaroos. (Mike Evans)

Posted in FOBIF turns 25, News | 1 Comment

FOBIF turns 25

To celebrate 25 years of Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forest we are planning an exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub, 25 February to 13 March 2023. There will be a new photo show; geology exhibits; children’s art; and posters; pamphlets and photos about FOBIF’s history. 

This time we won’t have a single theme for the photo show. Instead we would like people to send an image/s which shows something about the local natural environment that they find interesting or special in some way. Photos can includes landscapes and all local fauna and flora. Also we would like participants to write a short piece (100-300) words) explaining the choice. 

Joy Clusker has sent a a fungi image with accompanying text as an example. 

Earthstar Geastrum triplex

Mount Alexander is wonderful on an autumn morning, midweek you can have the place to yourself. The mist hangs around till lunchtime, casting a mysterious veil over everything. In the silence all you can hear is water dripping from the trees, and calls from the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. Then from out of the gloom is a shine from a perfect Earthstar, Geastrum triplex, still dusted with water droplets, contrasting with the dark forest floor. A fleeting occurrence witnessed by few, busy working on its purpose to consume the substrate and reproduce itself.

So if you have a favourite photo/s of the bush in our region send them along to FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au) with a description. There is plenty of time to take new photos: the closing date for the submission of photos is not till 1 February 2023. You can send a small file for display on the website but you will need to send a second large file for printing by 1 February.

We will place all photos in a designated page on the FOBIF site. A FOBIF sub-committee will then select approximately 15 photos to be printed and framed for the exhibition. The text will be printed and displayed next to the photo. Photos will be for sale with proceeds used to cover costs.

If your photo is selected, as well as being included in the exhibition, you will receive a free copy of your photo.

Ring Bronwyn Silver 044875111 for more information.

Posted in FOBIF turns 25 | Comments Off on FOBIF turns 25

Final 2022 FOBIF walk

A sizeable group attended the last FOBIF walk of the year in a remote part of Fryers Range State Forest. Starting at Sugarbag Track, Alex Panelli led the group for 5 km of off track walking. The understory had an abundance of wildflowers and highlights included finding Brown-clubbed Spider Orchids, Plumed Greenhoods and a small waterfall that had benefitted from recent rains. 

Waterfall (Bronwyn Silver)

Plumed Greenhood Pterostylis plumosa (Bronwyn Silver) Brown-clubbed Spider Orchid Caladenia parva (Euan Moore)

We saw flowers of every colour of the rainbow, plus some!
RED – Downy Grevillea;
ORANGE – Dwarf Bush-pea;
YELLOW – Gold-dust and Hedge Wattles, Erect Guinea-flower, Yam Daisy (Myrnong), Primrose Goodenia, and Handsome Flat-pea;
GREEN – Plumed Greenhood and Greencomb Spider-orchids;
VIOLET – Wax-lip Orchid and Native Violet;
PURPLE – Rough Mint-bush;
MAGENTA – Pink Bells;
PALE PINK – Pink Beard-heath and Pink Fingers (orchid);
CREAM – Creamy Candles and Red Box:
WHITE – Early Nancies, Common Beard-Heath, Caladenia (orchid) and Fairy Wax-flower.
List compiled by Frances Cincotta

Thank to Alex for planning and leading the walk;  Frances Cincotta and others for help with plant identification; and Euan Moore, Liz Martin and Bronwyn Silver for photos.  

The 2023 walks program will be sent to FOBIF members and posted on the website in January.

Posted in Walks | Comments Off on Final 2022 FOBIF walk

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 calamanthus5@bigpond.com

Posted in Nature Observations, News | Comments Off on Great Southern Bioblitz

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!

Posted in News | Comments Off on Houses, people, nature

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.

Posted in News | Comments Off on Grevillea obtecta talk and walk cancelled

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 https://us04web.zoom.us/j/71311755637?pwd=kh6Uf5ffjZeYEG6qFfKGVRPB9uEkQu.1

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. 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Meeting cancelled (Our land at contact)

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’.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

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: castlemainefnc@hotmail.com

Posted in News | Comments Off on It’s unique, it’s rare, it’s in our backyard: like to learn more about it?

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. 

Posted in Walks | Comments Off on FOBIF walk 16 October 2022