Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Places We Love - Invitation to a Conversation

Are you concerned that the natural places you love are vulnerable?
Do you want to see more assured protection in law and in the policies of government, including local government?

The Places We Love alliance has invited people to step forward, and start talking to each other about a) what they care about in the places they love, and why, and b) what would better protect those places.

The alliance is made up of 42 state and national environmental groups. I heard about it through Michael Pulsford at Australian Conservation Foundation, who is supporting conversations in the marginal Federal electorates of McEwen (yep, that's Riddells) and Deakin (over the east side of Melbourne).

The change strategy is to connect numbers in communities with advocacy at national level for stronger laws protecting natural places. The alliance formed when the Commonwealth started talking about giving back decisions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2000 to the States. The EPBC has often been the only thing between developers and a lot of Australia's wild or definitely-wilder-than-urban places.

The alliance has developed an agenda for the conversation, which I learned by being part of a conversation Michael Pulsford ran a few weeks ago. Here's a photo of Michael (on the right, and that's Helen from the Daly Reserve group in the middle, and Chris who's a member of and lives in Diggers Rest).

Speaking personally, I want a way to influence policy, so I'm up for hosting some conversations. The simplest next step after the conversation is staying tuned to what the alliance does at national and State level, and they're offering to keep us informed.

The agenda is simple, but rich: first the Heart (What places do you care about? Why?), then the Head (what enviro issues do you care most strongly about?), and we close with the Hands (what needs doing on those issues?).

As the host, I document our views, and that goes into the Places We Love synthesis of views at the local level.

We need 2 hours for the conversation, and I'm suggesting my place at 288 Gap Road (the house beside the winery), 7-9 this Thursday evening 16th July. My living area has room for 6 people round the fire, plus me, so email or phone to say yes if you want to be in it. 

If you can't do that time, but want the conversation, call or write and we'll find an additional time.

Warm regards
Ross Colliver, 0411 226519

Friday, 10 July 2015

Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies

Dr Lynne Kelly’s new book, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture (Cambridge University Press), is about to revolutionize our understanding of knowledge in prehistoric societies. 
Join us at 2.00, , Saturday 15th August, Dromkeen, 1012 Gisborne-Kilmore Rd, Riddells Creek for the Riddells Creek Landcare AGM. Hear what we’ve been doing this year. 
Afternoon tea at 3.00, then Dr Kelly at 3.30, to explore how pre-literate aboriginal cultures rehearsed and transmitted their survival knowledge about plants and animals as they moved through the landscape. Monuments and ritual recitations, songs and dances helped people index in living memory everything they had to remember about husbandry, cultivation, and crafts to build the first urban settlements. 

80 down and another 80 to go

Julie, Heather, Alice and Ross set out last Sunday with pruning shears, saw, mattock and chainsaw to discourage the sweet pittostrum, and we did. My rough calculation is 80 plants, many just babies, but quite a few larger and in seed, so it was good to get them out.

We've left them where we cut them, so wave as you go up Gap Road. But we cleared off the berries, and took them away, and we made a start on the creek side of Gap Road, which is where they are migrating from. That's another project waiting in the wings - another 80.

 Alice Cummins, Julie Macdonald and Heather McNaught with the berries.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Great progress restoring Sandy Creek

Sunday in late June, residents of Sandy Creek (many of them members of Riddells Creek Landcare) walked their way from the start of the creek, near the Blairs, to close to where it joins Riddells Creek. We had done a similar walk 5 years ago, and wanted to look at how the condition of the creek had improved.

We have all been involved in Melbourne Water's the Stream Frontage Program, which provides funding to get rid of weeds and plant native vegetation, though the stream sides often have plenty of seed and small plants hiding under the weeds (blackberry and gorse) that come back when spraying knocks these off.

What a change! The Red Hot Pokers on the Blairs need another round of discouragement, as do the blackberries on Vicki's place, next along the creek. But the Best's place is a delight, and the section from Ross's to Stig's has seen a big change as the blackberry dies back.

The creek keeps changing as we walk down it - the next section through to Lachlan and Suze's has a bedrock bottom, high sides, Prickly Moses Acacia verticillata  doing well, but also many sweet pittostrum.

From there we jumped to Helen's place, well out into the lower slopes, where there's a grand canyon formed only in the last 80 years. Water running fast off the cleared country has eroded the creek, but Dean reckons its stablised now.

Just a little further on, at the Godfrey's place, the creek is back to small banks. Robin Godfrey sent in this photo of this section in the 2010 floods.

Here are grabs from Dean Platt's notes:

Lachie and I found some interesting plants along the way – Gahnia radula Thatch Saw Sedge along the Nicolaides-Best frontage and what may have been Dianella tasmanica nearby to this as well.

Although there was little water in the creek, some ponds supported aquatics – I would like to get back and have another look and Russell will be able to clarify with me, but maybe there was Callitriche near the start of Best end.  I need to correct that the attractive water lily at Russell and Gill’s is actually the Cape Pond Lily Aponogeton distachyos (South African) and is a problem in parts of waterways around the Melbourne area.  So it is one to watch out for lest it becomes completely dominant.  I think the ephemeralness of the Sandy may hold it back a bit. 

It was good to see the Blackberry clearance along the way, long sections have now been cleared.  Excellent and quite probably contributing to the wombat spread into the creek now.  Logic would say that if the wombats have moved into the creek from the forests of the range above then either the habitat is now improved along the Sandy or the habitat has been degraded in the range forests.  I don’t think the latter is true so it is likely that the Sandy has improved and Blackberry removal has been a major change there.  Well done.  Remember there is a local native raspberry growing well in sections as well, hopefully it can spread now.   

We didn't make it all the way to the junction of Sandy Creek with Riddells Creek. Dean says it has "rugged volcanic steps with remnant manna gums above blackberry." Here's a photo, and this will be an adventure for another time.