Wattle Day and the Changing Seasons

Golden Wattle

Wattle Day will be celebrated at the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park on Sunday 2nd September 2018, from 10:00am to 1:30pm (see details here).

Wattles are have been a symbol of the Australian bush for a long time and their flowering heralds the changes in the seasons in south-eastern Australia.

Lesley Dalziel writes that “the sight of the first wattles in Spring must have brought joy to all, both the aboriginal inhabitants and the early settlers.  The bright blooms heralded the beginning of a season of growth and for the settlers, a new harvest.  For the aborigines the wattles would be a sign of welcome warmth to come, and a harvest of wattle seeds for baking.  All would have appreciated the beauty of the transformed landscape.”

Wattles were first used as a meaningful emblem in Tasmania in 1838.  Later in the century, the Australian Natives Association argued for the wattles as a national floral emblem, similar to the thistle for Scotland.  In 1899, Field naturalist AJ Campbell founded the Victorian Wattle Club (later League). He helped organise spring excursions on the 1st September each year into the bush surrounding Melbourne.  All this evolved into the first ‘national’ Wattle Day, celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on 1 September 1910. Continue reading

Broadford Bushland Reserves in Good Hands

The bushland reserves in Broadford are small but vibrant reserves for native plants and animals and for people who appreciate a quiet walk in the bush.

Broadford Land Management Group (BLMG) has been working with Council staff to manage some of these reserves for many years, and there are plans for more activities over the next few years.

The group began as a committee of management for the new Colin Officer Flora Reserve on Horwood Road in 2007.  This reserve has matured with the plantings, weed control, track maintenance and signage carried out by BLMG.  It is a real asset for Broadford and credit to the work of the group and the Council.

Last year, the group completed a project to create a parkland and bushland corridor along Whiteman’s Reserve off the Clonbinane Road.  This project began as one of the first activities of the newly formed Broadford Environmental Action Movement (later BEAM Mitchell Environment Group) in 1990.

BLMG volunteers at Whitemans Reserve: Peta Langbehn, Barb Moss, Tom Fenton, Louise Falls, Judy Fenton and Bob Tomkins

Bob Tomkins, a long-term member of the group, says that this corridor was part of a larger vision for wildlife corridors and walking trails proposed by Dr Colin Officer and other members of BEAM in 1995.  Many working bees later, and with great support from Mitchell Shire Council’s Environmental Programs staff, Whiteman’s Reserve is now a very attractive route for walkers in Broadford and a safe corridor for wildlife (see article).

Broadford has several other bushland areas so there is still plenty of work for people interested in enhancing and caring for the natural places of Broadford.

Broadford Land Management Group is holding its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 22nd August.  Anyone interested in joining the group as an occasional worker or a more committed committee member is welcome to come along.

Later in Spring, the group will hold its annual wildflower walk in the Colin Officer Flora Reserve. This is an opportunity to see and learn about nature in Broadford in full flower.

For more information about the group and the AGM, contact the Secretary on 0468 795 954 or broadfordlmg@gmail.com.

The climb to Pulpit Rock- Some Picnic!

The dry winter weather was embraced for the BEAM walk to Pulpit Rock on Sunday July 15th.  Sunny, a slight breeze at the rock – perfect!

18 people in all embraced gathered at “Wuk Wuk” 750 landscape Road (the home of the President and Sandra and Jenny) and after a morning tea and coffee, the group split into two walking groups and a 2 vehicle taxi service .

The climb was steep up to a hand-made stone road (ca. 1930) then flattened out for an easy ridge walk to Pulpit Rock.

The Tallarook Ranges are “mainly granite, a hard igneous rock comprised of the minerals quartz glassy), feldspar (white and commonly tabular), biotite mica (black with perfect platy cleavage) and cordierite (tabular or rectangular shaped, dark but not black)” as Neil Phillips writes in Geology of the Tallarook Plateau. [this little book is chockers with good local geology, just $15 from the Tallarook Store!]. The walking country was impacted by fire some five and a half years and the regrowth was of interest. Some incredible “tors” provided tricky climbing, but all in all “we” did well, and no casualties.

A Picnic at Pulpit Rock and some incredible views across Puckapunyal to the west, over the Goulburn and Seymour to the north, and east to Cherry Tree Range….you’d have loved it.

We’ll do this again, but the BEAM outdoor venture got the “thumbs up” all around. Any ideas for a follow up folks?  Perhaps the Traawool Reservoir, where the possible pumped hydro proposal is based around…..?

Peter Lockyer

Pictures by Cynthia Lim

Mitchell Community Energy Survey

Mitchell Community Energy (MCE) is undertaking a survey to gauge the interest of the community in making investments in Community Energy projects.

Please read the information below and email your responses to the survey to Jeff Wilmot, Secretary of MCE.  If you would like more information, please contact Jeff.  Your response will be treated confidentially.

MCE has made a submission to Mitchell Shire Council to obtain the funds from the community to loan to Council to install 99 kW of solar panels on the roof of the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre at a cost of about $120,000.  Council has, not unreasonably, come back with: “Council wishes to confirm the likelihood of MCE being able to fund the initial $120,000 and the time frames around this.”

The group aims to involve local people.  MCE has been proceeding on the basis that similar projects in other communities are being successfully subscribed within days, or even hours.   Jeff Wilmot has spoken to many individuals and groups around Seymour about the concept, and there has been keen interest and support.  MCE now needs to put this to the test.  So, MCE is writing to people who have shown interest in the concept of community financing of renewable energy and energy conservation in the Mitchell Shire.

The investment will be subject to appropriate financial regulation and oversight.  To manage the finances of projects, “Special Purpose Vehicles” will have to be set up.  This will probably be in the form of a co-operative, which can have an unlimited number of members and can promote an unlimited number of projects.  The investment that can be made by each member in any project can vary from whatever minimum is decided, say $500, to a maximum of 20% of the project value, which in the case of the SSAC would be $24,000.

Although MCE can’t promise high rates of return, they do commit to providing a better return than current bank rates.

This is a survey aims to get a sense of what interest is out there in investing for a sustainable future.  It will not be taken as a commitment at this stage.  please note that your response will be treated confidentially.

Could you please let us know whether you would be prepared to invest in a community energy project at the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre, and if possible give us some indication of what amount that might be.

  • A  $500 – $2000
  • B  $2000-$6000
  • C  Above $6000
  • D  Specific amount

Regards to all,

Jeff Wilmot

Gardens for Wildlife

Join APS Mitchell group for the launch of the Gardens for Wildlife scheme in Mitchell shire.

The Gardens for Wildlife program helps people to make their gardens wildlife friendly.

No matter how big or small your garden is you can make a contribution in providing habitat for native birds and animals. Your garden can provide an important stepping stone for birds and other animals to move around the landscape.

The membership fee of $20 covers a Sustainable Gardening booklet, a “Gardens for Wildlife” sign for your letterbox, a selection of native plants from a local nursery and a 10% discount at ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ talks and workshops along with the opportunity, to share your garden through our “Gardens for Wildlife” website page. More information can be found at www.apsmitchell.org.au and www.euroaarboretum.com.au

The launch takes place on Saturday June 23rd  at 1PM in the John Taylor Room – Kilmore Library, Sydney Street Kilmore.  The Guest Speaker is Louise Costa on the topic of Landscape Design. Continue reading

Regional Forest Agreements must not be Renewed

Native forest logging has a direct and long-lasting impact on forests and their dependent wildlife. It is the only activity and only ecosystem type given an entirely separate purpose-built legal and management regime in Australia. Native forestry operations are treated differently from other actions that may impact on matters of national environmental significance otherwise protected by Australia’s principal piece of environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Unlike other actions, forestry activities covered by a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) are not required to obtain approval under the EPBC Act. (Environment Defenders Office)

Regional Forest Agreements or RFAs, were introduced by the Howard Government and in Victoria, the Kennett Government some 20 years ago as an instrument to give loggers access to native forests for logging. Their intention was to govern the regulation of native forest conservation and wood production (objectives of the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement). In other words, an intention of a balanced management, for 20 years.  However the management has been anything but balanced:  the RFAs have escaped any need to conform to national environment laws, and the forests have been decimated and left many small forest communities angry. In their view, the forest has many more virtues than just timber, and the timber harvesting has been brutal. “It is simply not sustainable” says Ken Deacon, a Rubicon Valley resident with a horse trail riding business that has suffered from the intrusion of Vic Forests and the logging onslaught. “Forests deserve better management”.

This logging has been by “clear felling” whereby within a forest “coup”, a logging company totally clears the area of every tree save for “islands” for seed production. These islands provide little refuge for native fauna. Native fauna by and large get killed in the logging process. “The RFAs have created an industrial disaster zone” in the words of Ken Deacon.

The photos are of Andersons Mill Log dump in Marysville and the Royston Range in the Rubicon State Forest.

The forest is decimated, logs removed, and the remaining leaf and branch material is then burnt.  Most of the logs meet agreements for woodchips, and you see these trucks going through Tallarook every day. Some of the larger logs make their way to saw mills and kiln driers and end up available as quality timber. Continue reading

Snap Back – wasteful plastic packaging

The Boomerang Alliance is hosting another campaign which BEAM supports

Australians use up to half a million tonnes of plastic per person per year.  Here is one way you can assist to reduce plastic use…….

Snap Back at Plastic Packaging – and WIN a FREE JOCO Cup worth $29.95

Does the weekly grocery shop leave your blood boiling?

Pre-diced onions in sealed plastic bags; scissors encased in hard plastic casing that then require scissors to open; individually wrapped prunes – you name it, Australian retailers have it. Now it’s time to Snap Back.

Boomerang Alliance is offering the opportunity to name and shame the most appalling examples of unnecessary plastic packaging AND the chance to win a JOCO cup worth $29.95.

How to enter Snap Back– it’s too easy

1. Take a photo [within Australia only]

2. Go to our Snap Back page on Facebook

3. Upload your photo [you can submit more than one]

4. Name and shame the offending product/retailer

5. Be in with a chance to win a JOCO cup worth $29.95

6. Get your friends & family to vote [limit one vote per FB user]

 

According to a National Recycling Survey 2014–15 by the Australian Packaging Covenant [APCO] Australia consumes 944,300 tonnes of plastic. That’s nearly a half tonne of plastic consumed by every single Australian – every year.

 

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Boomerang Alliance is hosting the Future of Plastic Packaging Forum on July 12 where the results and evidence from Snap Back will be presented to representatives from Australia’s biggest retailers.

 

So next time you see sliced capsicums beneath a tight layer of cling wrap, don’t get mad – get snapping! #snapback

Another Death Ship?

Agriculture Minister Littleproud’s decision to continue the live sheep export trade has little to be proud of. Against the advice of the RSPCA and the CSIRO who have expressed grave concern at live sheep exports over the northern summer, it is business as usual. One Government inspector onto the same sheep that saw over a thousand sheep suffer to their deaths last year is all that has changed. The minister said on the radio last week that 450 sheep dying on a ship of 60,000 is fair enough collateral damage. One might question the health or market condition of the sheep that survived, surely.

Not so. This trade is abhorrent, to farmers who care for their livestock, and to the rest of us who care about animal cruelty. Minister Littleproud has shown no fortitude on the issue to date at all. No one should profit from animal suffering. This death trade must stop, but clearly we wait until the next disaster before we objectively decide on the future of the live sheep trade.

Sincerely

Peter Lockyer,                                                                                                                                                  President BEAM Mitchell Environment Group

See also this article in The Conversation by Peter Singer that adds to the criticisms of the Federal Governments decision on this practice