Mattocks at the ready: Parks Vic tackle Artichoke at Plenty Gorge

Parks Victoria are currently receiving much-needed from ‘Rivers to Ranges’, a joint project between Whittlesea, Nillumbik and Minningham Councils. This state government initiative funds weed control works on public land to protect key biodiversity assets in the region, which for us, is Plenty Gorge Parklands. Ranger Kirraly was kind enough to provide some information on the works locations and photos, read more below:

Wiltonvale area west of the plenty river (Mernda). With the assistance of funding from the ‘Rivers to Ranges’ project, 68 hectares containing scattered Artichoke Thistle were treated by Parks Victoria Rangers and contractors here in 2016. The purpose of this work is to assist with the restoration of this area to the open grassy woodlands that it once was. This section of the park contains some significant and very old River Red gums, and future supplementary plantings of this species are planned by Parks Victoria.

Tanunda Wetlands – west of Plenty River (Mill Park). 11 hectares of artichoke thistle was treated in 2016. On-going control of weeds in this area will protect the sensitive Tanunda wetlands adjacent to the site, which provides critical habitat for many birds and wildlife.

Over the next couple of months, the Rivers to Ranges project will again be funding extensive Artichoke Thistle control to protect our high value Morang Wetlands, focussing on the Wiltonvale area near Carome homestead. Parks Victoria Rangers will be doing a lot of in-house thistle control using spray rigs, nap saks and digging with mattocks.

Councils annual Artichoke Thistle Education program is also now underway, with compliance mapping commencing in  mid-July for approximately 120 properties across the municipality. For more information, contact katherine.whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

Field Day: Using Native Grasses to Control Erosion

When: Thursday 29 June 2017 from 10am – 2pm

Where: 60 Stockdale Road, Darraweit Guim/Wallan

Who/what: Rhonda Petschel (a member of the UMCG) has over the last two years attempted to reduce land degradation and erosion on her (and partner Rob’s) property by using coir logs and planting native grasses, which also provide fodder for her horses.

Presenters: Rhonda Petschel and Clem Stumfels, an experienced soil conservation scientist from Agriculture Victoria

Cost: free for Landcare group members ($100 for others)

For more details and to register, click here.

 

It’s Tussock Termination Time!

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The state government is currently running their annual Serrated Tussock compliance program. Approximately 60 properties within the municipality are a part of the program and will shortly receive notices from the regional biosecurity officer. For larger properties with significant infestations, a site inspection followed by control is required to be undertaken by mid-August. For smaller properties, particularly in the residential areas of Whittlesea-township, notices will be sent out in August reminding landowners that it’s time to do their work.

Councils Land Management Team will be assisting the regional biosecurity officer in efforts to engage landowners and to register reports received from community members. Our annual roadside management program for Serrated Tussock will also be undertaken between July and August. If you’d like to report Serrated Tussock you’ve noticed on a property or the roadside, contact Katherine Whittaker on 9217-2147 or Katherine.whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

 

Whittlesea’s Koala’s: Where Are They?

 

The Koala is an iconic species, and compared to northern Australia, the population in Southern Victoria is doing relatively well. Despite their perceived security in Victoria, there is mounting evidence that while some populations are increasing, others are in decline. Koala’s across Australia are threatened by habitat destruction, fragmentation, disease (Chlamydia), drought/climate change, mortality from vehicles and dogs and prescribed burns and wildfire. For those populations with high densities, over-browsing resulting in the defoliation of their favourite food trees is a major concern and one of the issues addressed in the Victorian Government’s Koala Management Strategy. In these circumstances, translocation of animals may be necessary. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria recently coordinated a translocation of 435 Koala’s from French Island to Kinglake National Park (see photos). French Island is recognised as an important source of disease free Koala’s to bolster mainland populations. The translocated animals can be identified by their coloured ear tags and may enter our municipality where suitable habitat exists.

In Whittlesea, Koala records are sparse and the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/biodiversity/victorian-biodiversity-atlas) contains only 13 records of this species within the municipality.  Council staff recently recorded a koala via a remote-sensing camera near Toorourrong Reservoir, a significant sighting given the rarity of this species in Whittlesea. If you record this species, please contact Council’s Biodiversity Officer (Ruth Marr) on 9217 2025 or ruth.marr@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.  Detailed information including, location description, GIS co-ordinates, tree species koala recorded within and presence of ear tags would be very useful.

 

Koala translocation photos courtesy Vivian Amenta (DELWP).

Farm Chemical Users Course, Don’t Miss Out

ACUP

Just over one week until our 2-day Farm Chemical Users Course commences. Don’t miss out on your ticket, you’ll need to successfully complete this course in order to apply for an Agricultural Chemical Users Permit. Follow the below link to our previous post, with details on how to register at this heavily discounted rate for City of Whittlesea residents only.

See you there.

Farm Chemical Users Course: Register now!

Farm Chemical Users Course: Register now!

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Want to gain industry standard training in farm chemical use?

The City of Whittlesea is subsidising the cost  for rural residents to update or become accredited farm chemical users. The course and permit usually costs around $250 but is available here, for just $50.

In this two-day course join a network of local rural landowners and learn about:

  • Storage and handling
  • Pest identification
  • Modes of action
  • Label interpretation
  • Issues associated with chemical use
  • Formulation types
  • Weed and pest control application
  • Animal health
  • Transport and disposal
  • Preparation and clean up procedures
  • Recording procedures

By the completion of this course you will have the required Industry Quality Assurance Programs Training, necessary when applying for the Victorian Agriculture Chemical Users Permit (an ACUP is required for users of Schedule 7 and other Restricted Use Chemical Products).

Places are limited, so make sure to register via Eventbrite today!

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/farm-chemical-users-course-17th-24-june-tickets-34946130818

Terms & Conditions: This course is only available to City of Whittlesea residents. Attendees may be asked to provide proof of residency upon entry.

Full catering provided

For more information please contact Katherine Whittaker on (03) 9217 2147 or email Katherine.Whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

World Environment Day Event

Saturday 3 June, 10:30am  – 2:30pm

Location: Westfield Plenty Valley,  415 McDonalds Rd, Mill Park

Celebrate World Environment Day and join in on some fun family activities on offer at Westfield Shopping Centre. While you shop, learn about the environmental gems of Whittlesea. During this event there will be:

  • An interactive native animal show
  • Information and resources about how our beautiful native flora can bring birds to your garden and protect it from pests
  • Face painting: after you pat them, become a tawny frogmouth or blue tongue lizard
  • Information on where to see local highlights of our region and contacts for special interest groups
  • Giveaways

And much more!

For further information about this free event contact Nicola Vaughan on 9217 2560

“Farma El Divo” Fungi Finds by Beveridge landowner Jess Hayward

After falling in love with our Kinglake view and our rolling hills sunset, embarking on revegetation grants and hosting many a “land warming” BBQ, I’ve taken my eyes to the ground. And there, underneath fallen trees and within hidden fairy gardens I’ve found the amazing array of fungi on our 50 acre Beveridge property. With my trusty phone camera in hand, clever hashtags ready and a not too precious wardrobe to get down and dirty with these precious porcini, these photos have made the cut, both here for this blog post and some for our Instagram page @farmaeldivo.

Further still, after joining in the Fungi Foray with Whittlesea Council a few weekends ago, I’m even more excited to seek, find, share and perhaps even identify some of these spore producing gems.

My favourite’s are the tiny little fairy houses in bright yellows and oranges nestled amongst the blades of grass, starkly contrasted with the giant “sourdough” loaf as we named it, and the clam shell shaped beauties against the trees.

There is something really special about fungi that seems to ignite the inner child looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden.

I’m looking forward to finding more and more types to share, now with some extra knowledge, as the seasons change and the property flourishes.

 Jess Hayward

Land Owner Beverdige

You can follow Jess’ Instagram at @farmaeldivo

Calling All Future Leaders!

Applications are now open for the Our Catchment, Our Communities Leadership Development Grants. These grants provide an exciting opportunity to develop new leaders in integrated catchment management, and support the Victorian Government’s commitment to diversity in water leadership, Aboriginal inclusion, and innovation in catchment management. Grant recipients will receive up to $10,000 for travel, study, research or other forms of professional development in the categories of: Innovation, Aboriginal Leadership and Women in Leadership.

Your help in promoting these grants with your networks will ensure as many eligible Victorians as possible are given a chance to help shape the future of Integrated Catchment Management in Victoria.

Applications close next week on Wednesday 24 May 2017.

The application form and more information about these grants can be found at https://www.water.vic.gov.au/grants/leadership-development-grants.

The Skinks in Your Garden

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Article by Suzi Duncan from Eden Park

I have large numbers of skinks of all sizes on my rural property. In particular, there are two specific areas, one quite small, that are designated areas for frogs and reptiles.

This gives me many opportunities to observe the behaviour of the resident skinks. Their behaviour can range from comical and curious to timid and even very aggressive. The aggression can be within a species or between species.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Many of them are so curious that if you sit down they will actually come out just to check you out. A Grass Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti) walked up on my hand while I was sitting on the ground. Or if you put your finger near to where they are peeping out from a gap in old sleepers, they will come and touch your finger. They become very used to having a camera put right up close to them. They also love nothing better than to literally “kick back” and sunbake. If it is a cold but sunny day then it is a just a matter of finding a notch in an old piece of wood, especially an old sleeper, and kicking back in that protected spot  to absorb the warmth. You will also see two lying beside each other, one of them with an arm (sorry leg) on the other.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

In the late afternoon they spend their time in a notch or crack in wood with just their head showing.

They never cease to amaze with how fast they can move and how high or far they can jump, especially when it means catching a small moth to eat.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

On the other hand these beautiful gentle critters can fight so aggressively that you would be certain that neither one could survive. When it comes to aggression, size does not come into it. If a smaller skink wants to attack a larger one then it will approach from the rear run up the back of the larger skink and attack from that position.

Last week I observed a skink carrying another skink of similar size in it’s mouth. Going on the limpness and the eyes of the skink being carried, I am guessing it was dead.

On the weekend I observed yet a new behaviour. One skink was paddling/waving its back legs in the air above its body, while being watched by another similar sized skink. This behaviour went on for a good five minutes. I have not been able to determine what this behaviour meant.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan