President’s Report, 2015

The Annual General meeting of Muckleford Catchment Landcare will take place at Muckleford Community Centre on Saturday, November 14 at 11.30am, followed by  lunch and a geology bus tour. Here for your perusal is the President’s Report:

Muckleford Catchment Landcare
Annual General Meeting, 2015
President’s Report

This will be my final report as president of Muckleford Catchment Landcare. My reasons for not seeking re-election are summarised later in this document.
For a relatively sparsely supported group we have managed to achieve quite a lot in 2015. The activities undertaken in this past year are:

1. The successful completion of the Chinaman’s Creek Project. The final stage took place in June-July when a group of hard-working volunteers planted 1,500 seedlings on private land thereby creating a significant new vegetation link between the creek and remnant vegetation on the upper slopes. We would like to thank the NCCMA for funding the project and Mark Perry for having the vision and building the fence as his contribution. Recent inspections of the site have revealed a near-perfect success rate and we are confident that the preparation work will ensure the survival of the plants in their establishment phase despite a hot, dry summer. We would like to thank all the volunteers for their planting and David Griffiths for his skilled preparation work.
The Chinaman’s Creek Project was many years in the making. Max Schlachter, Landcare Facilitator with Connecting Country, helped us compile the results of a community survey and write a community plan. There were several meetings of landholders in the project zone and much work went into the development of a successful grant application.
Matt McEachran from BushTech expertly dealt with large areas of blackberries along the creek.

2. A Wheel Cactus information session and working bee was held at the Muckleford Bush Reserve on March 29. Once again, I wish to thank the indefatigable people from the Wheel Cactus Taskforce for their attendance and advice.

3. Beth Mellick and family led a successful walk for FOBIF through the Muckleford Historic Reserve on April 19.

4. We set up a stall at Mucklefest on October 25 and sold several native hundred plants in an arrangement with Frances Cincotta of Newstead Natives.

5. We lodged a grant application to the NCCMA to fund an education program in 2016: ‘Welcome to Muckleford’. At this time we don’t know if the application was successful.

Thanks to everyone who has helped in any way to conduct the above events. Your contributions, big and small, were greatly valued.

As noted above, I will not seek re-election to the committee.

I have served as either secretary or president of Muckleford Catchment Landcare since taking up permanent residence in 2000. In that time I have seen a small but steady stream of people join the group, sometimes serve on the committee and then move on. For one reason or another we have been unable to retain the support of this revolving door of members and supporters. I am the only member of the 2000 committee left in place and I have worked continuously, in as many different ways as I could imagine, to attract and retain members. In these 14 years we have achieved many significant things but overall, by any test of developing and maintaining meaningful community support, I consider these years a failure.

The history of the group bears some examination and analysis and this is not the place for great detail, although some follows.

The group was originally formed by a good representative group of farmers in 1990 and important work was done over the first ten years. However, by the time I joined in 2000, all but one or two farmers had left for one reason or another. Since then the group has been made up of small landholders many of whom, after showing some initial interest, have moved on to other places and/or other enthusiasms.

There is no doubt that society has changed. The pool of people able to undertake volunteer work has been diminished by the change in work conditions, the loss of the formal weekend and many of the newcomers to the area have young families which makes their time scarce for other commitments. Under these circumstances it was always going to be difficult to maintain a viable and active membership.

Another major factor is undoubtedly the relatively large, varied and rapidly changing nature of the membership area. Our catchment includes Castlemaine peri-urban settlement, smaller close rural subdivisions like Walmer and Ottrey’s Scrub and the intact larger family farm holdings, some of which are now being subdivided and sold. The natural community centre for most people in the valley is Castlemaine, not Muckleford. Finding common interest amongst these diverse interests is very difficult.

Of great significance in the past year has been the work of Connecting Country in our area, particularly that undertaken by the Connecting Landscapes Program. Connecting Country has been able to achieve large-scale on-ground works in the valley in the last year or two that the landcare group could only once have dreamt about. The landcare group was made aware of these initiatives as they developed and we strongly welcomed them. The legacy of some of the work will be of long term benefit to the valley and its environment. The disappointing aspect of this development is that, as far as we are aware, none of the participants in these projects have joined the landcare group or have indicated interest in more general landcare issues in the area. Generally speaking, landholders are showing a strong preference for working directly with Connecting Country to design and implement environmental projects. This is partly due to Connecting Country having a skilled and professional staff to create and pursue opportunities and the simple, face-to-face, one-stop, local funding and administrative structure. In comparison with the alternative of sitting through community meetings, developing and waiting on grant applications, handling the detail of project management, financial control and compiling final reports, the Connecting Country option obviously has great appeal. I want to be clear that I strongly support the work of Connecting Country and acknowledge that until last month I sat on the Connecting Country Committee of Management. I have worked closely with the Connecting Country Landcare Facilitator, Max Schlachter on several successful landcare projects. It is possible that we have not cultivated our relationship with Connecting Country as well as we could have and the situation could do with more thought from every side.

Clearly, if Muckleford Landcare is to revive it now needs new blood, probably new ideas. I am happy to step aside in the hope that someone new can facilitate these.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to several people I have worked with over the last 14 years:

David Griffiths has been a reliable and invaluable source of skill, labour and friendship. He is unquestionably the main reason why our on-ground works have yielded a very high success rate.

Barry Sutton has stayed the course as Treasurer despite having many other important things to do and having moved into town. Barry is typical of many of his generation in his passion and commitment to community service.

Beth Mellick and family moved into the area not long ago and immediately involved themselves in the group. Beth, like Barry is a person deeply committed to community service. Having Beth to work with kept me going for a year or two longer than I would otherwise have managed.

Since his appointment as Landcare Facilitator, Max Schlachter has always been available to solve problems, come up with ideas and generally inject energy and enthusiasm into our work. Max is moving on at the end of this year and I wish him much success and pleasure in his new ventures.

To everyone who has involved themselves in our group as members and presenters in the last 14 years I thank you. I have met many interesting and knowledgeable people. I have learned a great deal and have made many good friends.

Paul Hampton
Thursday, November 12, 2015.


Our geology event

There are still a few places left on the bus next Saturday for our geology excursion.

This should be a fascinating and revealing experience. Our first stop will be the summit of Mount Gaspard at the north of the valley. Mount Gaspard is on private land and the view is immense. Thanks to the generosity of the Huzzey family we will have access to a spectacular panorama of the whole valley and its larger geological setting.
We will travel down the Chinaman’s Creek valley until it connects with the main Muckleford valley and then follow the famous and significant Muckleford Fault south until we conclude our journey at the Muckleford Gorge. Once again we will have access to private land to view this beautiful and surprising place and for that privilege we thank the Garsed family.

The excursion will be led by local geologist Brian Cuffley and maps will be made available to take home.

This is a great opportunity to know our place in a deeper way and to appreciate and see its unique and often hidden qualities.

The excursion will be preceded by our 2015 AGM but there is no requirement to attend the meeting and anyone is welcome to join us for the commencement of the excursion at 1.30pm.

When: Saturday, November 14, 1.30 – 4 pm.
Where: Muckleford Community Centre, Muckleford-Walmer Road (south of the Castlemaine-Maldon Road).

A couple of short walks are involved so it is advisable to wear solid shoes/boots, maybe sock protectors and of course bring a hat and water.

Paul Hampton 0408 566 909

The Annual General Meeting of Muckleford Catchment Landcare will take place at the Muckleford Community Centre at 11.30 on the same day. All are welcome to join us for the meeting and for a light lunch prior to the start of the excursion.

A geological journey through a special place

The Muckleford valley has a fascinating geological history and character.

Join us on a two-hour bus trip on November 14 with geologist Brian Cuffley. Brian has worked as a mineral exploration geologist in various parts of Australia and overseas, for the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and the Soil Conservation Authority. He studied Environmental Management at LaTrobe University where the subject of his thesis was dryland salinity. He has consulted with landcare groups in North-Eastern Victoria on salinity management. Brian will bring his special expertise and a deeper understanding of the place where we live.

We will travel the valley, starting at Mount Gaspard in the north where the panoramic geological setting is clearly revealed and concluding at the edge of the beautiful Muckleford Gorge in the south.

You will be provided with explanatory maps to take home.

A couple of short walks are involved so wear solid shoes/boots, maybe sock protectors and of course bring a hat and water.

When: Saturday, November 14, 1.30 – 4 pm. Brian will give a short introduction before we set out.

Where: Muckleford Community Centre, Muckleford-Walmer Road (south of the Castlemaine-Maldon Road).

Places are very limited. Book by using the comment link below.

Free for members. Non-members $5.

*Muckleford Landcare wishes to thank several landholders for access to sites on their properties for this event.

The Annual General Meeting of Muckleford Catchment Landcare Incorporated will take place at the above venue at 11.30 am on the same day. All are welcome to attend. The meeting will be followed by a lunch of soup/bread prior to the geology excursion.

Further enquiries call Paul Hampton 0408 566 909.

Landcare at Mucklefest

The annual Mucklefest is on this coming Sunday, October 25 at Muckleford Railway Station from 10 -4. This is in many ways our only Muckleford community event on a festive scale.

Muckleford Landcare will be setting up a stall where we will be selling plants, making pamphlets and brochures available, answering inquiries and we hope gathering a few new members.

If you would like to come along and help out for an hour or two that would be greatly appreciated. We will be setting up our stall at about 9 am.

If you would like to join us give Paul a call on 0408566909.

And an important reminder that our AGM and Geology Bus Tour takes place on Saturday, November 14. Our bus has limited seating so it is advisable to book early. You can do that by responding to this post.



End of year events

At Muckleford Catchment Landcare we have been busy completing the Chinaman’s Creek Project and submitting our final report to NCCMA. We are pleased to report that the project, which was several years in the planning and another two in implementation was successful in all its aims and we are looking forward to building on it in the near future.
In the meantime we have several events scheduled to conclude the year. Consider putting them in your diary.

Geology bus tour
If you are curious about the unique geological formation of the Muckleford catchment, the fascinating Muckleford Fault and the valley’s rocks and soils, then this is an event for you.
Local geologist Brian Cuffley will reveal the base layer on which we depend and its role in determining the nature and state of our soils and their conservation.
Brian will give an introductory talk and then we will visit several revealing sites in the area.
When: Saturday, November 14, 1- 5pm.
Where: Muckleford Community Centre, Muckleford-Walmer Road
More details to follow.

Annual General Meeting
We will hold our AGM prior to the Geology bus tour on November 14.
Currently we have a three person executive but no general committee members.
If you would like to support our work your participation as a committee member would be greatly appreciated. The committee meets quarterly so it is not an onerous commitment. Please think about it and let Paul Hampton know if you wish to nominate (0408566909).
When: Saturday, November 14, 11.30am
Where: Muckleford Community Centre, Muckleford-Walmer Road

The annual community event at Muckleford Railway station takes place in mid-October.
We will have our usual stall with landcare information and indigenous plants for sale.
If you can help look after the stall for a few hours please let Paul know (0408566909).
This is a great day to meet new people and take in some diverse local colour.

End-of-year get together
We will repeat the format from last year and meet in The Hub garden for evening drinks, snacks and general chat.
We will outline the many events we have already planned for 2016 and discuss any thoughts and ideas that members can contribute.
Where: The Hub garden, cnr Barker and Templeton Streets, Castlemaine
When: Thursday, November 26, 5-7pm.

A beautiful sight


Why do these people look so happy? Look in the background. A beautiful sight.  A total of 1,800 plants on a promontory overlooking Chinaman’s Creek. A new habitat corridor linking the creek with remnant bush on the higher slopes. This is the team who helped complete the planting last Sunday. The picture is evidence of the pleasure and sense of achievement of community landcare work.

We want to thank Mark Perry who made the land available and can see many future benefits to the quality and value of his property.

We also want thank David Griffiths who prepared the site with great skill and we should say, some artistry.


And to all those who were able to turn up for longer or shorter periods over the two days we are especially grateful. These projects would not be possible without community participation and labor.


Now we must hope for enough winter/spring rain to help establish the plants before next summer.

New landcare events are in the offing. Become an email-only subscriber to this site so that you don’t miss out.

And thanks to Bronwyn Silver for the superb photos.

A perfect, productive planting day

Planting June 21, 2015

It was a perfect day to be planting. The soil was moist and beautifully prepared, after a frosty start the sun was bright and warm, and we had a friendly and committed crew of volunteers ready to go at 11 am.
By 3.30 pm we had approximately 740 of the allotted 1,500 plants in the ground and we had run out of guards so we called it a day.
Thanks to all who participated, especially an indefatigable group of kids who ran armfuls of guards up and down the hill all day.
The site is covered with plants at about 2m apart and it is a spectacular sight.
Now we need to fill in the gaps with the remaining seedlings and we need to accomplish that as soon as possible.
So next Sunday afternoon at 1 pm we hope a few people can turn up and put in 1-3 hours work. David and Paul will prepare the guards and put the plants in during the morning. All we need are a few people to follow up and put the guards in place.
A short, efficient session with a sufficient number of volunteers should complete the work.
So if you would like to spend a couple of hours outdoors at a spectacular promontory above Chinaman’s Creek and see the impressive work please consider joining us next Sunday, June 28 at 1 pm.
Where: 69 Creasys Road
When: 1-3 pm
Follow the drive into the property, park near the bus, walk across the creek, through two gates to the top of the hill. The site is not visible till you reach the top.
If you need further information or guidance ring Paul Hampton 0408566909.

All hands on deck

An urgent reminder to all friends and members: we have an important planting day next Sunday, June 21 on Mark Perry’s property at 69 Creasys Road.

We will be planting 1,500 seedlings in an area fenced by Mark. It will create a valuable habitat corridor connecting Chinaman’s Creek with woodlands on the upper slopes and is the last phase of our Chinaman’s Creek Project which must be acquitted by the end of June. Soil conditions are currently ideal and with a couple of showers forecast in the next week the timing should be perfect.
The planting process is well-organised and not onerous. We just need the numbers to ensure that we get these plants in the ground while conditions are favourable.

We plan to commence work at 11am and hope that the work will be complete by 4pm at the latest, depending on numbers. We will provide tea/coffee and a tasty vegetarian lunch at around 1pm.

We don’t expect everyone to commit for the whole day. If you can turn up for an hour or so that would be very valuable.
We do need to know if you can attend, especially if you plan to be there for lunch. Please let us know by return email or a reply to the blog by Wednesday, June 17.

The entrance to the property is close to the corner of Turners Lane/Creasys Road. Our banner will be displayed at the gate. Drive in the entrance and park in the area near the bus/sheds. From there you can walk across the creek to the planting site.
Bring solid boots, work gloves, suitable clothing for a cool day and raincoat just in case.
If you have any further queries ring me (Paul Hampton) at 0408 566 909.
We do hope you can make it.

Time to Plant

It’s a good time to plant. Conditions appear just right to plant our vegetation corridor on Chinaman’s Creek and we hope you can join us.

On Sunday, June 21 we will set out to plant 1,500 seedlings at a site on Creasey’s Road.

This will complete the current Chinaman’s Creek Project, allow us to acquit our grant and begin planning new projects in the Muckleford catchment.

We will start work at 11am and finish by 4pm. We will provide tea/coffee and a nourishing (vegetarian) lunch at around 1pm. Contributions towards an afternoon tea would be appreciated.

Our planting system is both efficient and relatively easy. The site has been pre-prepared and the seedlings will be put in place with a pottiputki (if you don’t know what this is, we suggest you look it up on Wikipedia). Our volunteer force will then secure the plants and place guards around them. Very straight forward, a little repetitive but no-one actually has to dig holes. It is a system we have had great success with over the last few years.

This is a good opportunity to make a personal contribution to a valuable local project, meet other locals and also gain rare access to a lovely, dramatic site poised above the creek on private land.

If you can make it, even for part of the day, we would appreciate you letting us know so that we can plan for numbers at lunch. Let us know by return email.

We will send out further details a few days before hand with a map and further directions to the site.

We hope you can join us and look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, June 21.
11am – 4pm.

Time to plant we hope


With approximately 1″ rain in April and now getting close to the same so far in May we may be in a position to plant on our revegetation site on Chinaman’s Creek fairly soon. The planting has been delayed for 12 months while we wait for the best conditions. The planting will complete the Chinaman’s Creek project, which is the first stage of a long-term landcare plan for the Chinaman’s Creek valley.

The site will link the creek on private land in the vicinity of Creasy’s Road with remnant vegetation on the upper slopes to the north. The corridor will be 30 metres wide and should create a valuable connection for the movement of wildlife to and from the creek.

We have 1,500 plants in hand and the preparation is complete. The picture above shows David Griffiths from Geometree working at the site with the creek at the bottom of the slope. In a few years this should be a diverse and rich small bio-system, rather than a bare piece of stressed ground.

We should be in touch soon with a firm date. If enough enthusiastic volunteers turn up we should be able to get the plants in the ground in one day.

Keep your eyes out for our next post and your hopes primed for more precious autumn rain.