Workshop Wrap-up: Blackberry Control Demo Day

On Saturday, the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) hosted a blackberry control demonstration day. The workshop was put together in response to productive conversations had at the VBT ‘Future opportunity and challenges for invasive species management’ forum held in Whittlesea back in May. Rural land managers were keen to learn more about integrated blackberry control and innovation so on Saturday the VBT, together with our local blackberry action group and supported by council, delivered on just that.

Attendees, including local residents, Landcare and Whittlesea & Surrounds Blackberry Action Group (W&SBAG) members mingled over morning tea in the sunshine before the demonstrations commenced. First up was a mulching excercise, conducted by a member of the Indigenous Design Environmental Services Team. Attendees kept their distance and looked on in awe as the mulcher made an easy meal of dead canes that had been treated with herbicide some time ago. Physical removal of blackberry enhances control results by reducing biomass, improving access and saving money in the longer term. However, mulching works best as part of an integrated control program, as it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need for herbicide treatment.

Next up, Nathan from Advanced UAV showed the group his drone in action. Equipped with a 10L tank for herbicide, the drone is superbly accurate and can be programmed to move systematically across a defined area and seamlessly around obstructions such as farm sheds and tall paddock trees. T

Finally, just before we all tucked into a wonderful selection of sandwiches provided by a local bakery, Chris (W&SBAG project officer) and Roger (Kinglake Landcare) demonstrated the use of a spray rig. While many of us think we’ve got this method down pat, Chris and Roger were quick to point out some key operating and maintenance tips that ensure your rig, and its many components, have a longer operating life. The Kinglake Landcare group offer their rig for single day or weekend loans at a very reasonable rate. Landowners just sign a quick borrowing agreement, pay a small refundable deposit, and they’re on their way. Chris and Roger talked about the importance of equipment loans and sharing to make weed management more affordable and time effective, particularly for groups of neighbouring land managers.

The Land Management and Biodiversity Team would like to thank the Lyn Coulston and Barton Roberts of the VBT for hosting a fantastic morning of knowledge-sharing. Also a big thanks to Chris Coburn and Roger Cook from Kinglake Landcare, W&SBAG chair Peter Rutley, Adrian (landowner, property host) and all of the attendees who came along.

For detailed information on integrated blackberry control, click here to visit the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce website.

If you’d like further information on the above, contact the Land Management and Biodiversity team on 9217-2147.



Demonstration Day: Blackberry Control Techniques



 Whittlesea & Surrounds Blackberry Action Group (W&SBAG)


‘Demonstrating Effective Blackberry Control Techniques’

 Date: Saturday 6th October- 9.30am – 12.30pm

Location: Eden Park

Morning tea and lunch provided.

Demonstration activities:

Drone spraying demonstration– Advanced UAV

Mulcher demonstration– Indigenous Design Environmental Services

Demonstrating the use of a spray rig– Chris Coburn –W&SBAG project officer


Information on current weed programs

RSVP by the 3rd October. Essential for location and catering purposes.

Contact Barton Roberts 0409 332 258 /

Bugged Out Festival October 14

On Sunday 14 October, head down with friends and family to City of Whittlesea’s FREE Bugged Out Festival (11am-3pm). You’ll get the chance to see some local bugs and reptiles up close, have a go at making traditional damper (and eat it with honey!), go on a nature scavenger hunt, hear different frog calls and even have the chance to win a FREE family pass to Museums Victoria. There will also be a $1 sausage sizzle hosted by Epping North Scout Group.

Council is moving towards waste free events and will be encouraging event goers to bring their own coffee cup and water bottle to use on the day. A water bottle refill station will be set up and you can grab a barista made coffee for $3! So don’t forget your reusables!!!

Hope to see you there.




2019 Environmental Works Program: Applications Open 1 September


Is your property greater than two hectares and zoned for rural land use? If yes, then you are eligible to apply for Council’s Environmental Works Grant Program 2019.

The Environmental Works Grant Program provides a financial incentive for rural landholders to protect and enhance Whittlesea’s biodiversity. Grants of up to $1500 are available for:

  • Fencing projects which permanently protect remnant vegetation from livestock
  • Fencing and planting around farm dams
  • Revegetation projects including shelterbelt establishment
  • Environmental weed control within areas of remnant vegetation.

Apply online: Details of the Program’s guidelines and the online application form can be accessed at Council’s website (key word search “Environmental Works Grant”)

Contact: Jane Juliff, Landcare Facilitator on 0417 127 841 or for more information or to discuss a project idea.

Applications close 30 November 2018.


You’re Invited: Whittlesea Agribusiness Dinner

Dear friends,

The City of Whittlesea Agribusiness program is very pleased to invite you to the fourth annual Agribusiness Dinner, to be held Saturday 25th August at the Growling Frog Golf Course.

It’s again time to gather the City of Whittlesea farming community and its supporters together, celebrate a successful year and a fruitful Spring ahead. Come along and enjoy an evening of local food and wine, conversation and ideas.

This year, we are pleased to announce that Dr Charles Massey, author of the book “Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture, A New Earth” will be keynote speaker. Charles has managed Severn Park, a 1820 ha sheep and cattle property on the Monaro for 40 years. He is a leader in regenerative agriculture systems, a Research Associate of ANU and has been awarded an OAM for services to the Wool Industry and Community. He will introduce to you his vision for the future of agriculture.

The dinner will again be fully catered with locally grown produce, with a three course menu full of heart-warmingly traditional fare on offer this year.

Please join us for a fabulous evening of friends, local food and inspiration!

See the event flyer for details or go to Eventbrite to book. Tickets are strictly limited and sell quickly, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Feel free to share amongst your networks.

For any queries or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email or phone 9214-2593.

Kind regards,

Annemaree Docking (Agribusiness Officer)


Whittlesea Landcare Meets the Minister

We had an exciting start to the day last Thursday when the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio and the Deputy Mayor, Emilia Sterjova braved the icy wind to come out and meet some members of the newly formed Whittlesea Landcare Group.

The Minister used this meet and greet to announce the latest round of Landcare grant recipients, which includes Whittlesea Landcare who were successful in their application for a $500 start-up grant. Click HERE for the state government press release which details the latest Landcare funding and makes a special mention of the new Whittlesea Landcare Group. If you’re interested in joining the group or would like more information, contact Council’s Landcare facilitator Jane Juliff

Whittlease Landcare group members with Minister D’Ambrosio, Deputy Mayor Emilia Sterjova, and Kerry from Whittlesea Community House



Upcoming event: Taste of Thomo Presents David Holmgren, Permaculture Guru

Join us for a local multi-media event, ‘Aussie Street’ featuring permaculture co-originator, David Holmgren at City of Whittlesea’s Taste of Thomo Food Festival on Saturday 4th August, 2018 at Thomastown Neighbourhood House.

David Holmgren’s new book, RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future (Melliodora Publishing, 2018) elevates the importance of household food growing and related neighbourhood activity into an empowering vision for the future of Australian suburbs. Retrosuburbia uses permaculture thinking to create home-based solutions by applying the retrofitting paradigm to our homes, gardens and most fundamentally our behaviours.

‘Aussie Street’ cleverly elevates the importance of household food growing and neighbourhood activity into our everyday lives, using 100+ photos and water coloured illustrations and practical concepts from his exciting new book.

David is globally recognised as a leading ecological thinker, teacher, respected writer and thought-provoking speaker promoting permaculture lifestyle, a philosophy that is scalable across households of all sizes.  

Come along to be part of Holmgren’s remarkably insightful, thought-provoking vision for a resilient and life enhancing sustainable future.

 Bookings are essential. To book click here.

Taste of Thomo Flyer

Rakali: the Australian “otter”

Rakali, the Australian water-rat, is an attractive and charismatic native rodent that tends to resemble an otter, rather than their pest relatives, the brown and the black rats. The amphibious mammal inhabits rivers, creeks and farm dams; however, they tend to be elusive, which may be why you haven’t spotted one before.

Rakali prefer waterbodies with low-growing dense vegetation close to the water’s edge, and occupy burrows located in creek and river banks, or large hollow logs near the water. They can grow relatively large and can be easily identified by their distinctive white-tipped tail. They are an apex predator in our waterways, with a varied diet including fish, insects, yabbies and waterbirds.

Once hunted for their soft fur, rakali populations declined dramatically until the mid-1900’s, when hunting ceased and populations were able to stabilise. Nowadays, the biggest threat to rakali populations are illegal fishing traps and nets left in waterways, which rakali get caught in and drown. They also experience predation by foxes, cats and dogs.

A recent study looked at 17 years’ worth of recorded rakali sightings across Victoria combining live-trapping and citizen science records. This information was used to examine rakali distribution and habitats. Live trapping upsteam of Toorourrong Reservoir, and records from the Atlas of Living Australia ( showed rakali to be present in the City of Whittlesea, albeit in low numbers. Keep an eye out for one on your next visit to the reservoir, and remember to add your sighting to the Atlas of Living Australia.

If you are interested in learning more about the Australian water-rat, you can find the full report HERE. The Australian Platypus Conservancy are holding a rakali information session on Tuesday 24 July (for more information: or call the Land Management and Biodiversity Team on 9217 2323 or 9217 2147 if you would like to report a rakali sighting or more information on how to make your property rakali-friendly.