Category Archives: Events

FOBIF AGM – The Merri Creek story

This year’s Friends of Box-Ironbark Forests AGM will be held at 7.30 pm Monday 10th July in the Ray Bradfield Rooms. Supper will be served and everyone is welcome. The speaker will be Brian Bainbridge, Ecological Restoration Planner, Merri Creek Management Committee.

His topic will be ‘Single species – many outcomes’.

Brian Bainbridge

Single species conservation projects can have wide-ranging benefits when pursued in a holistic manner. Projects to secure local populations of Matted Flax Lily and Plains Yam Daisy have led Merri Creek Management Committee to build a deeper understanding of the Merri Creek’s changing ecology and the potential for landscape-scale conservation. The projects have stimulated fresh approaches to engaging with community.

Plains Yam Daisy

Autumn bird photography workshop

This is not an April fools joke … Chris Tzaros and I will be conducting another of our bird photography workshops on Saturday the 1st April.

There are still a few place available in the morning workshop (7.30am – 12.30pm) – for more details and registration click here.


Swift Parrot (Chris Tzaros)

For this workshop we’ll be on the lookout for Swift Parrots that have hopefully arrived to enjoy flowering Yellow Gums in the nearby Muckleford bush.


Great Egret @ Cairn Curran (Geoff Park)


Southern Boobook (Chris Tzaros)

Talking Fire – this weekend in Newstead

talking fire draft 2 flyer.pages

Come along to Talking Fire, this weekend, 12th & 13th November. It’s free and you can come for the whole weekend, or drop in for a day or a session.

Talking Fire is about our local community, and fire in our local landscape. How can we work better as a community to reduce the risk to us – to our homes, families and friends – as well as protect our forests, wildlife and cultural sites? Talking Fire won’t be anything like the standard annual fire briefing!

Saturday will start at 10am with a welcome to Country, short talks on cultural burning, ecology, local fire experiences and fire myths with speakers Trent Nelson, Professor Andrew Bennett, Joan Sartori and Sam Strong. Then we’ll head out to Mt Tarrengower to hear from long-term fire spotter Peter Skilbeck. Then we will visit the Muckleford Forest to look at how the forest has recovered after the 1981 fire and the more recent planned burns, with guides Paul Bates (DELWP), Tanya Loos, David Cheal and others. Instead you can drop into the Newstead Community Centre and record your fire stories with Gordon Dowell, or map favourite places that you’d like to see protected from fire. Everyone will come together at 3.30 to share what we have learnt, and set the scene for Sunday.

Sunday morning starts at 10.30, and our focus will be on risk. We’ll hear about landscape-scale fire planning from Alison Boak (DELWP), community planning around risk from Steve Pascoe, and vegetation and fire from David Cheal, fire ecologist. Turning to the local scene, representatives from our local brigades and the Shire will look at how local planning could reduce risk.

After lunch, provided by Newstead Men’s Shed and Community Garden, Jinette de Gooijer will facilitate an exploration of ideas and options on how we might respond – as a community – to what we have learnt over the weekend.

What will come out of Talking Fire? That is in the hands of everyone who comes and contributes! So come along. Register via our website – – it only takes a minute and it’s free.

Thanks to Mount Alexander Shire Community Grants, Maldon & District Community Bank (Bendigo Bank), and the Norman Wettenhall Foundation for funding support, and to all the local organisations and individuals who are helping make Talking Fire a reality.

Protecting from Bushfire, Protecting our Biodiversity

by Frances Cincotta

As the days warm up and the summer approaches, the thoughts of many who live out-of-town turn to the threat of bushfires. The things that we love about the bush can become sources of anxiety and fear in the hot, dry months. How do we protect ourselves from bushfire and still protect the plants and animals that make our area so special? Questions like these will be addressed at Newstead Landcare Group’s October presentation “Protecting from Bushfire, Protecting our Biodiversity”.

“We are really excited to have Owen Gooding, a leading researcher on vegetation management and fire presenting at our October meeting. Owen is also the Vegetation Management Officer for the CFA, so he is very well placed to help us understand the issues” said Frances Cincotta, Newstead Landcare’s President.

The presentation will cover how to manage vegetation on your property, be it a small holding or larger bush block, to reduce the risk in case of fire and to retain native vegetation. “Owen will also be discussing ways to think about bushfire and native vegetation in the wider landscape and dispelling a few myths” Ms Cincotta added.

The presentation will be at Newstead Community Centre on Thursday, October 20th at 8 pm. All are welcome to attend.


Rabbit-ears Orchid Thelymitra antennifera, Rise and Shine 15th October 2016 – The effects of fire on biodiversity are a focus of ongoing research, monitoring and observation.

This presentation ties in with another important event about bushfire for residents of the Newstead and Maldon areas. Understanding Fire in our Landscape: A Community Conversation is a community event being held on the weekend of the 12-13 November 2016, in Newstead. “In this Community Conversation fire in the Newstead-Maldon landscape will be discussed in detail – the history of fire, local ecology, and fire risk” said Chris Johnston, one of the organisers of the event. “There will be talks, displays, biodiversity walks, visits to the sites of past fires, and a chance to record your memories of local fires.” Supported by community and external experts, the weekend will be a chance to learn more and share ideas across our local communities about living with fire.

For more information or to book for this free event go to or to the Facebook page Talking Fire.

(Understanding Fire in our Landscape is supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2016 Community Grants Program, Maldon & District Community Bank (a branch of Bendigo Bank) and the Norman Wettenhall Foundation.)

The forest and the trees … Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region

To understand the forest you first have to know the trees.

This Saturday, 24 September, the new Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests publication, Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region, will be launched at 10.30am in the Castlemaine Library foyer.


This 90 page guide by Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver aims to help the beginner train the eye to see the differences between eucalypts – and to appreciate how spectacular they sometimes are. It presents the commonest species of the Mount Alexander Region, generously illustrated, and clearly described in plain language. Though firmly based on one local area (the forests and reserves around the town of Castlemaine), it describes species common to the whole Box-Ironbark region, and would be useful to any enthusiast in that region, from Ararat to Chiltern.

The publication of this book has been made possible by a generous grant from the Worrowing Fund through the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. Other supporters have been the Castlemaine Field Naturalists’ Club and Connecting Country.

The book’s cost is $10 and people buying it at the launch will receive a selection of free tree-related bookmarks and a FOBIF fungi poster. Proceedings will start at 10.30 in the Castlemaine library foyer. Refreshments will be served.

I’ve had a sneak preview of the book – it’s a fabulous publication and a significant contribution to further developing our sense of place and appreciation of nature in central Victoria. I feel extremely honoured to have been asked to launch the guide.

Solving the raptor puzzle

Newstead is a place where it’s possible to encounter a wide array of different raptors – birds of prey. In fact, of the 24 species of commonly occurring Australian raptors (there are a few other vagrants that occasionally visit the continent), 16 species can be found reliably in the district. Two other species, the Letter-winged Kite and Grey Goshawk have been locally recorded but I’ve not seen either in the past 30 years.


This one’s easy …

This Thursday, September 15th, I’ll be speaking at Newstead Landcare (8pm at the Newstead Community Centre) on ‘A Magnificence of raptors’ – focusing on the occurrence, behaviour and in particular the identification of our local raptors.

Just like our birds of prey, we’ll cover some territory:

  • Are owls raptors?
  • Why is Newstead such a great place to see such variety of birds of prey?
  • How do you tell the difference between a Whistling Kite and a Little Eagle?

All are welcome to attend – Gold coin donations to the Landcare Group are appreciated.


This is a bit more tricky!

A new kite for Strangways

by Patrick Kavanagh

We often get raptors over our place on the ridge at Strangways; the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagles and Whistling Kites using the updraft to get height, Square-tailed Kites and Little Eagles skimming above the canopy searching for prey and Brown Goshawks skulking through the treetops. But I’d never seen a Black Kite at our place until yesterday when this juvenile kept circling around some dead branches in the top of the canopy, desperate to perch. Each time it would settle, one of our resident Grey Currawongs or our little mob of Magpies would move it on. I thought this was a very interesting sighting as I usually only see these on the open plains and also because of Geoff’s recent observations of this species starting to breed in our area.

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Juvenile Black Kite, Strangways, 4th September 2016

And remember, if you would like to learn how to tell a Black Kite from a Square-tailed one and why they live so differently, come along to Geoff’s presentation “A Magnificence of Raptors” for Newstead Landcare, Thursday Sept 15th at 8 pm at Newstead Community Centre. All are welcome to come along.