[ Random Image ]


February/March 2024 newsletter

I think the task before us is to re-learn what it means to walk as if everywhere is a temple. To approach how we are in relationship to the Living Earth as if it were a temple.
Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee- Emergence Magazine

Welcome to the February/March edition of Localising Leanganook’s e-newsletter. There’s lots of local news and events as well as a thought-provoking feature article on de-growth and supermarkets.  Let our editing team know (Keppel, Laurel, Samantha and Nikki) if you’ve got items for inclusion in the March/April edition – (nikki.marshall@mmnet.com.au).

  1. Arts and Culture
  2. Food Growing, Farming and Food Security
  3. Ecology and Environment
  4. First Nations
  5. History, Books and Libraries
  6. Sustainable Living Resources
  7. Building Community
  8. Local Government News
  9. Workshops and Courses


Food for Thought

Feature Article- Angst in the Aisle by Peter Yates

I went to the supermarket. I do that sometimes. More than I want to. More than I intend to. I have principles. It’s just hard to stick to them all the time.

I just stood there, stunned. Partly it was the plenitude. Row after row of stuff. Partly it was the bright lighting, the bright packaging, the cacophony of attention-seeking plastic. Partly it was the fact that most of this stuff was stuff that nobody needs, that is nutritionally dubious at best. Partly it was because so much of this stuff is produced and packaged and delivered and put on a shelf because it might draw you or I into a ‘comfort purchase’, a momentary hit of sugar, fat, salt and dopamine.

In that supermarket, with its exhortations to buy, buy, buy; with its lies about freshness; its lies about affordability; its lies about caring for the consumer, the farmer, the environment, I felt like I was entrapped in a great snarl of evil – a fabric of falsity, woven of threads that are designed to conceal, though I fear that the deception is barely necessary, so normal is the violence embodied in all that stuff.

Hannah Arendt wrote about the “banality of evil”. She was writing about the (almost) unspeakable violence of the Holocaust. I don’t want to diminish the trauma of that event with a glib comparison – but I don’t think that I am. The banality on display on the supermarket shelves is as crushingly banal as a 1930’s German functionary accepting morally repugnant instructions because he needs a job. And the end result – the destruction of living ecosystems, the destruction of a planet – is not less than the extermination of a people. It just happens more slowly and seems to happen a long way away. What I think I felt, what paralyzed me in the supermarket that day, was that part of the destruction of the planet was very present and very immediate, because I felt a part of myself starting to die in that place.

All that stuff.

I could go along and put some of it in my trolley. In the end, when I had recovered a little, when I had pushed down the moment of lucidity, I did go along and put some things in. Everything in plastic. Nice clean plastic. Durable, hygienic plastic. The yogurt I picked up comes in plastic. The yogurt will be gone in a day or two. The plastic container will be around for a few hundred years. Perhaps it will be buried out of sight in a landfill? Perhaps it will slowly decompose in the sun, breaking into ever smaller pieces until the particles are so small they can enter the blood and brains of children and small birds. The cows that gave the milk probably didn’t have terrible lives (in Australia at least). But it is true that their milk production is dependent on their producing calves every year, and that the calves were removed soon after birth, causing genuine grief and trauma. My yogurt is infused with a mother’s sorrow. It doesn’t make it taste better, but it does make it much cheaper.

I didn’t buy the bacon. It too was in plastic, but it is the lives, and deaths of the pigs that trouble me here. Pigs are social and intelligent, I’ve kept them on the farm at times, humorous, cheeky and boisterous, I had to give them up because I hated killing them. But the lives of the pigs that go for supermarket bacon? These are lives confined, on concrete floors where a pigs’s strongest urge – to dig – is thwarted. Their pig-ness is irrelevant to their lives. These are not so much pigs as economic units. They are future bacon. Living their short, miserable, un-realised lives before they are forced onto a crowded truck, delivered to an abattoir where they are gassed en-mass, dismembered and soaked in vats of saline. In that saline is a solution of nitrates that will give you and I colon cancer.

One of the things that gets me into the supermarket is peanut butter. True, I can get it from other sources, many of them allowing me to grind my own. But the nuts always seem to be undercooked. I have a favourite brand at the supermarket. The nuts are grown in Queensland. The soil rich red soil of Kingaroy is ploughed and enriched with synthetic fertilisers. It is sprayed with herbicides. The peanuts are sown and grow under the protection of repeated applications of insecticide and fungicide. The only life allowed in that field is peanuts. After harvest they are shipped to New Zealand, where someone knows how much to roast a peanut. Given the strictness of New Zealand’s quarantine, one wonders what the raw nuts are treated with? They are then shipped back to Australia, where I buy them, somewhat shame-facedly. In a plastic tub. The tubs are good. I use them for lots of things. But there are limits. There is poetry under the label (Aren’t they cute, these Kiwi’s?)

It’s Christmas, so the supermarket is full of chocolate. Is there a product in the world (other than some of the minor ingredients of your smart phone), that is more ethically dubious than chocolate? There is the deforestation making way for the cacao plantations, and the deforestation making way for the oil palm that is used in many (most?) cheaper brands. There is the child labour, there is the below-living-wage labour and there is the slave labour. There is the sugar, a vast industrial crop sustained by synthetic inputs that wash into and pollute waterways, a further stress on the already devastated Great Barrier Reef.

The canned veggies and beans seem innocuous enough. But these days, every can is lined with plastic. The cheap Italian tomatoes seem a good buy. But understand that the canned tomato industry is Mafia controlled, and the cheapness come from the exploitation and forced labour of undocumented migrants. Have you ever grown your own tomatoes and bottled your own passata? Then you know how crap those commercial versions really are.

Don’t go down the water aisle! Do you even realise there is an aisle dedicated just to bottled water? Water, pumped from aquifers that are owned by the people, owned by the ecosystem, and put in plastic bottles, with or without sugar, bubbles or colouring. Water brought to you from the other side of the world. Water that costs more than petrol. Drink the water, throw the bottle away. Somebody is prepared to lie to you that the bottle will be recycled.

I could go on. You know I could. But I’ll spare you, and myself. I consider my point made. That supermarket is the focal point and enabler of countless industrial processes that extract value from the world and from people. The value that shapes every facet of every contributing activity is economic optimisation. The environment, the animals, the soil, the workers: there is no room for care of these things.

And we go to the supermarket because? Is it the cornucopia of stuff? Is it the convenience of having everything in one trolly? The easy parking? Is it the cheaper prices and the ‘specials’ that make our budgets a little easier to manage? Whatever the reason, we go, and in going we participate in a thousand acts of banal evil.


Arts and Culture

Michael Leunig’s Cartoons in Music and Song Come to Yandoit

When and Where: Saturday, March 9th, 7.30pm at  Yandoit Cultural, Uniting Church Road, (off High St) Yandoit

After a sell-out performance in Castlemaine in late January, Fay White and musical friends are bringing this fabulous concert to Yandoit Cultural on Saturday March 9th at 7.30pm. Castlemaine resident Fay White, composer and choir leader, was commissioned to write songs drawing on Leunig’s poems and images that are short, can be learnt by ear and are easy to learn for novices and experienced singers.  Leunig’s images will be projected and the concert will include songs, stories and audience participation in song.

The concert will be in two halves, followed by refreshments at the end.

“Fay White is a poet of our times. For the past five decades she has written songs that reflect and inform contemporary living.  Fay’s singing compels and inspires. She can turn a crowd into a choir in three minutes.” 

Entry by donation– Suggested donation: $15/10. Monies raised will contribute towards the Dharrak Djanga Bush Tucker Project run by Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation, based in central Victoria.  Bookings Essential: ycfcpg@gmail.com or Nikki  (0432 232 073) or Alison (0415 555 081)

Waking Up a Fiery Love For The Earth- Book Launch

Join us for the launch of Susan Murphy’s new book, A Fire Runs through All Things: Zen Koans For Facing The Climate Crisis (Shambhala, 2023).

Susan will be in conversation about the ecological heart of the Dharma, its potent resonance with indigenous sense of Country, and how to wake up a fierce love for the earth.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to engage in the most fiery questions of our time.

What: Book Launch and Conversation with Susan Murphy
When: Monday March 18, 2024, 5.45pm for a 6pm start — 7.30pm

Where: Northern Arts Hotel, 359 Barker St, Castlemaine
Cost: FREE- (Nibbles provided, drinks will be available for purchase at the bar)

Copies of the book will be for sale and Susan will be available to sign them after the conversation.

Co-hosted by Castlemaine Zen and Localising Leanganook

About Susan Murphy: Susan is a familiar presence in Castlemaine. In 2015 she gave a keynote address at Local Lives, Global Matters. This conference gave birth to Localising Leanganook, a thriving network of members committed to viable economies, social and ecological justice, reclaiming democracy and revitalising spirit.Susan has also written numerous books on Zen and the climate crisis we face, including Upside-Down ZenMinding the Earth, Mending the World, and Red Thread Zen. Since 1999 she has been teaching and leading Zen retreats in Victoria (Melbourne Zen Group), Tasmania (Mountains and Rivers Zen, Hobart) and New South Wales (Zen Open Circle). She is widely recognised nationally and internationally for unearthing the ecological heart of the Dharma, and the potent resonance of Zen mind with indigenous sense of Country.

Singalong Book Launch-New Book- A Basket of Songs

Castlemaine’s Trace Balla and Andrew McSweeney invite you to come along to a singalong book launch for a new book A Basket of Songs.
When and Where: 11 am Sat 16 March 2024 – the Good Op Shop, 4 Lewis Drive, Castlemaine
The Castlemaine Launch will be in the courtyard cafe (yes you can buy cuppas and cake!) of the Good Op Shop (yes you can go op shopping before and after!).
Trace has written the lyrics and stories behind the songs, and illustrated the book. Andrew McSweeney has made them into songs- the book comes with music sheets as well as a link to online recordings.
Cost $20- cash or card- (correct cash is faster!)
The book will be available for sale at the op shop for a couple of weeks after the event, and as an e-book.

Northern Arts Hotel

THE COOLROOM DIARY [Click on links to see event details]  MUSIC GIGS  [Usually at 7.30pm, Sunday 2.30pm]

Saturday 17 February | Langue de Chat | French Musette and Chansons
Saturday 24 February  | Peter and the Wolves 
Friday 1 March | Andy Baylor’s Cajun Combo
Saturday 2 March | Smith & Holiday
Friday 8 March |  Mic Conway & Friends
Saturday 9 March |  Emma Gilmartin and Gianni Marinucci
Thursday 14 March | Curtis Eller and Gleny Rae
Sat 16 & Sun 17 March | The Sentimental Bloke
Friday 22 March | Keppel Cassidy and The Constant Gardeners
Saturday 23 March | Maggie Jackson NY Jazz Trio
Sunday 18 February 2.30pm | Secret Movie Matinee
Thursday 15 February, 4pm | Maine-Ly Ukes
Thursday 15 February 7.30pm | Guildford Folk Club
Saturday 17 February, 2.30pm | Celtic Singing Circle
Saturday 24 February, 2.30pm | PoetiCas
Monday 4 March, 7pm | Castlemaine free Uni | Wage Peace

Forest Film Society

Forest Film Society 3461 is a community-run initiative under the auspices of the Glenlyon Progress Association. It’s designed to bring together residents living within the district of postcode 3461 to enjoy a season of films, along with a bowl of home-made soup, crusty bread and even a glass of wine!

Season 5 – March to September 2024
Venue: Glenlyon Hall
When: First Friday of the month – March 1st, 2024
Time: From 6.30pm for a bowl of home-made soup and bread or BYO snacks/drinks/plate/glass etc.
Film commences at 7.15pm
Cost: See membership options below
Scheduled films
March 1 – EMPIRE OF LIGHT – drama (UK 2022)  A drama about the power of human connection during turbulent times, set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s. Writer/Director: Sam Mendes. Stars: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Collin Firth.

Here’s the trailer link: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi193119513/?playlistId=tt14402146&ref_=tt_pr_


Newstead Arts Hub- Events in March

Mysterious Landscapes – Weekends Sat 2 – Sun 24 March, 10am-4pm
Opening celebration Sun 3 March 2.30pm – all welcome

Mysterious Landscapes explores shared artistic connections to nature, myths and the imaginary realms. Join the three artists – Kaye Dixon, Jane Wells and Margund Sallowsky – to discover the mystic, the uncanny and the dark corners of the world we inhabit through a powerful combination of photography, printmaking, and sculpture. Kaye Dixon combines painting, photography, and the alchemy of cyanotype to present prints and sculptures on the theme of Bone Women: Re-membering the Journey Home. Jane Wells presents sculptural figures constructed from found items and other materials on the theme Internal worlds. Margund Sallowsky’s work, Iceland from the Air is a series of landscape and aerial images shot from a helicopter, offers abstracted landscapes accompanied by audio stories and sagas from Icelandic mythology.

Barry Lacey Bonsai- Weekends Sat 2 – Sun 24 March, 10am-4pm
Barry is a local legend and much loved member of the community. Come along to see his spectacular exhibition of beautiful bonsai, which he has masterfully shaped and tended to over decades.Barry hopes that this exhibition will encourage people to try the art of bonsai. He says, ‘With the right help anyone can learn to make a bonsai, the art is to make your bonsai look old’.

Newstead Open Studios Art Trail-  9, 10 & 11, 16-17 March, 11am-5pm

Newstead Open Studios Art Trail will offer visitors the chance to look behind the scenes in local artists’ studios over two weekends 9,10 & 11 March (the long weekend) and 16-17 March, 11am to 5pm.  There will be lots of beautiful and diverse art for sale at each of the studios, you might even make a purchase or two. Look out for the Art Trail guide, available NOW, or join the Newstead Open Studios mailing list.

For more info re whats on: www.newsteadartshub.org

Cresfest’s Folk and Roots Festival

Enjoy three days of dance and music in the beautiful heritage town of Creswick. A huge range of performers, from international stars to local newcomers, will entertain you over the weekend of Friday 5 April – Sunday 7 April.

More than concerts, you’ll have the chance to participate through a dense packed program of workshops including singing, dancing and playing. Learn new skills and take part in the mayhem when KlezFest comes to CresFest and the streets are filled with klezmer dancing.

Budding performers can enter our IGA Busking Competition for great prizes or sign up for open mic spots. It all happens on the streets of Creswick, the weekend after Easter in 2024, and during the school holidays.

Kids 12 and under are free and we cater for them across the weekend with our (new) KidsOwn KidZone in 2024.

Castlemaine Documentary Film Workshops

Editing workshops for film makers of all levels
Saturday 2 March at  Senior Citizens Centre, Castlemaine > Workshop

The Disappearance of Shere Hite
Thursday 7 March & Saturday 9 March Theatre Royal, Castlemaine > The Disappearance of Shere Hite

CLUB CDOC Club CDoc is an informal get together for makers and lovers of film … people interested in story, creative non-fiction and media more broadly. It will be a regular event, happening the first Thursday of every month. No booking required, just roll up.

Thursday 7 March — 6:00pm Casual drop-in on the 1st Thursday of the month
The Love Shack > March Club CDoc

Submit your film by 1 May- if you are toying with the idea of making and entering a short documentary film into LOCALS 2024 – (seeing it on the big screen at Theatre Royal on Opening Night of the Festival) – then this would be the perfect opportunity to sound out your film idea with others who might help you, and get inspired to make it.  Locals 2024

Event on Facebook

Food Growing, Farming and Food Security

Mt Franklin Organics

Daylesford Sunday market again this week. However for those of you who can’t make it to the market, you can come to the farm after 2 pm pm on Saturday   180 church Rd, Mt Franklin, come down the driveway and park at shed, your order will be there. FOR PICKUP from farm on Saturday,  please preorder produce by FRIDAY EVENING. Please call or text me on 0412 517 013 to let me know beforehand.
 Produce list- Rhubarb  $4.50, Strawberries  $4.50 punnet, Carrots  $5/bunch. Green beans  $6.50/500g, Zucchini  $5/kilo,  Zucchiniflowers  $1.20, Spring onions $3/bunch, X-large new season garlic $3/each or 4 for $10, Garlic 250 punnet  $7.50, Blackberries   $6/punnet, Chioggia beets ( italian heirlooms) $5/bunch, Chives, garlic chives,  thyme, tarragon, sage, Vietnamese mint  $2.50/bunch, Dutch cream potatoes from wombat organics $4/kg, Sebago potatoes  (good roasting)  $4/kg, Cherry and heirloom tomates  $7.50/500g, Sweet  basil $3.50/bunch, Thai basil  $3.50, Green gage Plums $7.00/kg, Apples “Gravenstein ” $5/kilo, Fig trees $12 -$30 depending on size, Red or black currants  $8
Huge selection of organic seeds $4.00 each/packet. Happy to rycycle small punnets and pots to reuse. To find out whats fresh and available, subscribe to Florian’s newsletter: newsletter@mtfranklinorganics.com.au

Two Fold Bakehouse


We bake naturally leavened, organic loaves, using organic stoneground flours, and work with the seasons; changing our loaves to suit what’s growing around us. We support regenerative agriculture and small family farms, who together form a part of a movement towards a local grain economy.

Buy bread weekly on Thursday, ordered online weekly as a one off, or monthly as a subscription with pick up each Thursday from Daylesford, Yandoit or Kyneton hubs. Daylesfore Sunday Railway market Fortnightly. Hepburn Wholefood Collective – Fresh every Thursday from 3pm

Castlemaine Seed Library

Next working bee 7th March 11am, at Castlemaine library. All welcome!

On the board this month you will find: Amaranth, Carrot, Coriander, Dill, Garlic Chives, Globe Artichoke, Leek (cross), Mixed Lettuce, Royal Oak Leaf Lettuce, Mustard, Wasabi Mustard, Radish, Flat Leaf Parsley, Rocket, Spring Onion, Landcress, Swiss Chard (silverbeet) and Watercress.

Orchard Keepers- Castlemaine Weekly Market

Specials on 10kg boxes of ripe plum seconds this week – perfect for a bottling session so you have delicious organic plums all winter


Getting here

  • Come to 69 Danns Road, Harcourt. There is a Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op property sign at our entrance, then a long driveway to the farm carpark. The speed limit on the driveway is 25 km/hr. Please drive slowly and enjoy the view of the cows and kangaroos.
  • Park in the carpark at the big green shed. Please don’t park on the concrete apron (as we need access to the shed to bring fruit in and out) or in front of the blue shed (this is Sellar Dairy and Tess needs to be able to access her shed). Come to the Farm Shop and we’ll show you where to pick

Growing Abundance and Fruit Harvests

  • Join us for our Summer Gathering with the Food Links Project on Wednesday March 6th to launch our ‘Year of Abundance’.
  • Keep an eye out on socials and your email inboxes for updates about upcoming blackberry, apple and pear harvests.
  • Please get in touch if you know of a tree that would love to be harvested by us

Over the past few weeks, our new Harvest Coordinator Thea has been harvesting plums, pears and blackberries which are making their way to Castlemaine and Maldon Community Lunches. With a hotter summer than we’ve has a for a few years, fruit is ripening noticably sooner than we’ve become a little accustomed to. We’ve been in a bit pof a transition period over summer with a change in Harvest Coordinators, so it’s exciting to be getting into the swing of things now, feeling ready to go with apple and pear season upon us already!  Keep an eye on your emails for details about harvest in the coming weeks.


Ecology and Environment

Natural  Newstead



Geoff Park’s regular blogs are a good way to learn more about native grasslands, plant and bird species. One of the signature plants is Tufted Burr-daisy Calotis scapigeraconsidered rare in the district, and a magnet for insect pollinators including butterflies, wasps and native bees.  To learn about volcanic grasslands and Geoff’s latest post go to or subscribe to Geoff’s blog: https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/

Bird of the Month

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. 

Brown Goshawk: Solid looking Brown Goshawk in Campbells Creek, showing the heavy brow, long rounded tail and middle toe is similar length to other toes. Photo by Jane Rusden

Observed one morning when walking through the bush on my block, a Brown Goshawk pursued an Australian Owlet-nightjar in a fierce dog fight, flying at full speed down the gully, dodging trees by millimetres. The Brown Goshawk managed to catch the desperate Owlet-nightjar just before they saw the two humans, then they tumbled to the ground still locked together. the poor little Owlet Nightjar looked stunned and worse for wear, while the Brown Goshawk flew up into a tree, reluctant to loose it’s prey. The Owlet-nightjar at least got a bit of a breather, before both birds went their separate ways. I have no idea if the Owlet-nightjar survived the lethal body-puncturing talons of the Brown Goshawk, but the Goshawk certainly went hungry that morning. Read more: https://connectingcountry.org.au/bird-of-the-month-brown-goshawk/

 Biolinks Central Vic Workshops

An important Local to Landscape initiative this year is Glideways in Central Victoria – which includes 12 projects (across private and public land) either underway or planned with our Network Members or other conservation groups. This strategic and collaborative endeavour can deliver a lasting, positive impact for gliders and phascogales in our region. Now at the funding stage, we are reaching out to philanthropics, government and our NGO partners.

2024 Monthly Webinar Series.

We are also launching our 2024 monthly webinar series in March – so you have an easy and accessible way to learn more from our small but expert team about the ecology of our beautiful region, its many precious native species and what you can do to help save our environment.

This webinar series is set to explore topics that challenge conventions on conservation issues facing Central Victoria and beyond, and aims to educate and mobilise people to take action for our environment.  Put it in your diary! The first webinar in our webinar series – Secrets of the Wombat Forest – will take place on International Day of Forests on 21 March from 6pm.

Connecting Country

The Misunderstood Magical Mistletoes: ABC Online Article

Connecting Country has a long history of raising awareness about the often misunderstood native mistletoe in our region and the benefits it provides to a large array of birds, insects and marsupials. Our bird walk for beginners along Forest Creek, Castlemaine VIC, highlights various patches of healthy eucalypt and acacia species that host the semi-parasitic mistletoe plant and provide a healthy ecosystem function for many of our woodland birds. Read the full article on this link.

Photo competition

Connecting Country – To celebrate our Instagram debut and celebrate our latest project – Habitat Trees for Phascogales – we’re hosting an exciting giveaway for one of our Instagram followers via a photo competition. We will be giving away a phascogale nestbox* for the best large old tree photograph taken in the Mount Alexander region during February 2024. To enter, simply upload your favorite photo to Instagram and tag @connectingcountrycastlemaine. Link to competition details:

We would love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts in the comments, and join the conversation using our official hashtag, [#connectingcountrycastlemaine]. Your feedback will help shape the content you want to see!

Brush-Tailed Phascogale!

The brochure is aimed at educating our community and raising awareness of the Brush-tailed Phascogale and their habitat needs. It is available for download immediately – Click Here, or you can pick it up from the Connecting Country office in Castlemaine VIC.  The brochure is part of our ‘Habitat trees for Phascogales’ project that aims to protect and enhance habitat stepping stones for the Brush-tailed Phascogale and other native fauna, by protecting existing large old trees on grazing land.


Lerderderk Track Project (from Wombat Post- 2/2))

The Great Dividing Trail Association last week launched a project which involved the installation of interpretive signage along the 87km Lerderderg Track from Daylesford to Bacchus Marsh.

Trailhead sign at Lake Daylesford. (Photo: Tim Bach)

The signage is installed on large trailhead signs at entry points to the Track and on trail marker posts along the Track. Signage tells the history and the stories of the people who lived and worked in the area and the unique flora, fauna and geology of the Wombat and Lerderderg State Forests. The stories on the signage are brief but each sign includes a QR code which links to more extensive information and images on the GDTA website (gdt.org.au)

About 40 members of the GDTA  watched last Sunday as Mayor, Cr Brian Hood and Mark Rak, Chair of the Community Bank Daylesford and District, unveiled a trailhead sign at the Lake Daylesford Lookout in Bridport Street. The ceremony started with a smoking ceremony Welcome to Country by local Dja Dja Wurrung elder, Uncle Ricky Nelson. After the ceremony, GDTA President, Tim Bach, led a pleasant walk along the Lerderderg Track from the Lookout to Jubilee Lake and back.

“Our goal was to make the Track more interesting and attractive for walkers and cyclists,” said Tim Bach. “It’s easier and more compelling to engage with your environment if you know the stories that are embedded in it.”

Hepburn Shire Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, congratulated the GDTA on the completion of their project. “We’re very fortunate to have a beautiful, natural environment surrounding us,” he said. “This project will enhance the experience of visitors to the area and make their visit more meaningful.”

Placard sign at Square Bottle Track near Mt Blackwood. (Photo: Gib Wettenhall)

The interpretive signage project is the second stage of the GDTA’s work to refurbish the Lerderderg Track. The Track was built by the GDTA as the final stage in the 310km Great Dividing Trail Network which includes the Goldfields Track from Ballarat to Bendigo. In recent years, the Lerderderg Track had fallen into disrepair. The GDTA obtained a substantial grant from Victorian Department of the Environment (currently DEECA) in 2018 to renew posts, signage and other infrastructure along the Track. This first stage of the refurbishment was completed in 2020.

In 2022, additional funds were obtained from Moorabool and Hepburn Shire Councils and from the Bendigo Community Banks in Daylesford, Trentham and Bacchus Marsh to design and install interpretive signage and develop web-based resources to enhance the visitor experience for users of the Lerderderg Track.

“We’re proud to support this project by the GDTA,” said Mark Rak. “We have a good relationship with the GDTA and also supported their publication of the Central Victorian Highlands Walk and Ride Circuits Booklet which has been very popular. Since the Bank was established, we have reinvested more than $1.25 million in community projects like this for the benefit of our local community.”

Local historical societies in Daylesford, Blackwood and Bacchus Marsh provided information, images and inspiration for the project.

For more information see www.gdt.org.au/tracks/lerderderg-track/lerderderg-track-interpretive-signage

North Central Catchment Management

Keeping you up to date with all the Landcare and WaterWatch news – dates, new appointments, new projects in link below.

North Central Chat February 2024 | North Central Catchment Management Authority (nccma.vic.gov.au)


First Nations

Nalderun Annual Report


Nalderun is a not-for-profit Aboriginal run and led organisation, on Djaara Country in Castlemaine, under the guidance of Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

Nalderun is a Dja Dja Wurrung word which means ‘all together’ , because we believe by moving forward together we can make the change needed for our children, local mob and the wider community in the region to thrive. We know what our Community needs, as we are a part of it. Over 12 years we have seen our children become stronger, proud and deadly.  Nalderun came about through the work and legacy of Uncle Brien Nelson who believed that sharing is the way forward for everyone. Aunty Julie McHale has also worked tirelessly for over 40 years and has carried on this legacy which we continue today.



Newstead Post-Referenum Ally Group

A new group has formed in Newstead.  Arising from a post-referendum gathering, local people from Newstead are meeting monthly to connect and learn as allies in practical and visible ways.   It is early days for this self organising group and already themes and possible activities about how to be good allies to first Nation people are beginning to emerge.  Themes so far are – connection, learning, field trips and events, practical and visible allyship.  Possible activities – field trips like Franklinford, making signs about caring for country and more, book sharing sessions,  supporting local indigenous events, history of local region.  For more information about next group meeting contact Andrew Shirres on andrewshirres@gmail.com  or Laurel Freeland laurelfreeland@bigpond.com


History, Books and Libraries

2023: Dr Deborah Wardle  Subterranean Imaginaries and Groundwater Narratives. Published by Routledge, Environmental Humanities series.


This book interrogates the problems of how and why largely unseen matter, in this case groundwater, has found limited expression in climate fiction. It explores key considerations for writing groundwater narratives in the Anthropocene.

2024: Susan Murphy’s new book, A Fire Runs through All Things: Zen Koans For Facing The Climate Crisis (Shambhala, 2023).

“The koans point firstly at ourselves-at the very nature of “self.” Until we hold “self” as a live question rather than its own unquestioned answer, we’re stuck looking on from the “outside,” hoping to engineer change upon a problem called “climate crisis,” all the time oblivious to the fact that we’re swimming in a reality with no outside to it, an ocean of transformative energy. Do we dare relinquish our wish for absolute control and fearlessly surf the intensity of our feelings about the suffering earth?” See details of book launch March 18 in Arts and Culture section of this newsletter.


Sustainable Living Resources

Sustainable Hepburn Day

Saturday, 16 March 2024

10:00 AM to 03:00 PM

Volunteer shifts available



Castlemaine Community Co-operative Official Launch

When and Where: Wednesday 6 March, 5:30pm- 6.30pm, Castlemaine Town Hall.

Come along and hear about our vision, where we are up to, and what help we need to set up our first offer (to buy the Hub).

Members and friends  are welcome. You can also join beforehand  at: https://castlemaine.coop/join/   $40 annual full/ $20 Concession/Strapped/Under 18

You can also buy a founding member t-shirt for $20/$15.


Focus on Trees – Tree Photography Workshop with Alison Pouliot

Large old tree Photography workshop with Alison Pouliot


Fri, 15 Mar 2024 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM AEDT

2905 Lancefield-Tooborac Rd2905 Lancefield-Tooborac Road Tooborac, VIC 3522

More info  about the event

More info about the  large old trees project here



International Women’s Day 2024

♦  Hepburn Shire

♥ Silver Apron Award- Hepburn Wholefoods Collective

Friday 8 March 5.30 – 7.30pm
Hepburn Wholefoods Collective, 66A West St, Hepburn

♥ Celebration of extraordinary women in our Shire at the International Women’s Day (IWD) Heather Mutimer Honour Roll event 

Thursday 7 March 2024 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Daylesford Town Hall,  76 Vincent Street , Daylesford VIC 3460
Bookings and info

We encourage you to think about a woman you know who deserves to be recognised. Nominations will open again in August 2024.


Mt Alexander Shire

My Home Network- Castlemaine and Surrounds


Tiny Homes On Wheels (THOW), vacant dwellings, collective housing models, tenants working group

For more info or to join a MHN working group-, contact Kaz cneilson@castlemainehealth.org.au

For more information 

Mt Alexander sustainability group- (MASG)

Community Energy Conference 

6 – 7 March
In Sydney or hybrid (online) or in Bendigo hub
More info


♥ Wash Against Waste Trailer – Volunteers needed

March 10thTaradale Mineral Springs Festival

March 17thBendigo Sustainability Festival

If you can help please phone Chris Hooper on 5470 5508 or email Chris at chrislhooper1050@gmail.com with your phone number and times available.

♥ Mount Alexander Regenerative Agriculture Group (MARAG) – 2024 program

♥ Home Energy Audit – Free Workshop

Limited to 20 people.
To book, email wer.energygroup@gmail.com
When: Sunday 25th February
Time: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm – morning tea provided.
Where: Castlemaine, address provided after registration

 Repair Cafes

Castlemaine and Daylesford…Bendigo  Ballarat Creswick ….

In 2024, the Repair Café turns 15! We’re for repairing, but also for collaboration, volunteering and a shared commitment to a sustainable future.


Online Permaculture series: Do with Su: Season Two is on pre-sale now!


Learn seven more essential homesteading skills,
including cheesemaking
and Su’s guide to bulk foods
– from permaculture’s radical grandma.



Building Community







Castlemaine Free University Wage Peace Event

Monday 4th March, 7pm Northern Arts Hotel, 359 Barker St, Castlemaine

WAGE Peace is part of a global campaign for Earthcare not warfare.

Listen to podcasts and their back story in the WAGE PEACE series.
de-militarisation, non-violence, on creating peace… https://anitranelson.info/cfu/

Local Government News

♦  Mount Alexander Shire

Reflecting on Australia Australia Day – Survival Day 🖤💛❤️

Watch the event, which was filmed live, on our YouTube channel.

Mayor, Matt Driscoll, shares the latest Council news

Repairs to the Market Building: Read more about these works

Flood recovery works continue Learn more about these works

Have your say by signing up to Shape Mount Alexander

Find out what’s on in the shire

♦  Hepburn Shire

♣ Kerbside bin collection is set to change in townships in Hepburn Shire, with a weekly food and garden organics service starting on Monday 8 April. Read more about this service.

♣ The annual Community Satisfaction Survey for Councils is underway and you may receive a call from National Field Services. We want to hear how you think we’re performing. From roads to parks and open spaces, community support and more, this is an important opportunity to give us your feedback.

♣ Update on structure plans: One of the major components of our strategic planning project, Future Hepburn, is the development of structure plans for Trentham, Clunes, Creswick, Daylesford/Hepburn and Glenlyon. These structure plans will guide the future development in each township to 2050. Find out more

Central Springs Reserve refresh : The rejuvenation of Central Springs Reserve is underway, with a major project starting to install new mineral spring pumps, a shelter with an electric BBQ, new park furniture, landscaping and connecting path network.
Find out more.

Solar savers for pensioners: Get in quick to secure one of the last few places in this year’s Solar for Pensioners program. More info

Reconciliation advisory opportunity
We are inviting expressions of interest to join our Reconciliation Advisory Committee (RAC).  Complete an expression of interest by Thursday 15 February. Want to have a chat about the RAC to see if it’s for you? Call our Reconciliation Officer on (03) 5348 2306.

‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Workshops and Courses

Nature course for Hepburn, Mitchell and Macedon residents: Are you passionate about the environment and keen to learn more about nature? If so, consider becoming a nature steward. The ten-week program kicks off in March.
Find out more.


Build Your Organisation’s Capacity to Support Autistic People:

online 90 min webinar run by Castlemaine resident, Samantha Wittenberg. For teachers healthcare professional, first responders or parents, this event is designed to equip you with practical tools and resources to enhance your capacity to support Autistic individuals.
To book and find out more


Castlemaine based Trevor Scott’s statement  to the Magistrate at his court hearing in January 2024:

“Your Honour, I’m 76, a retired architect, a father & stepfather of  five children and grandfather to 5 more. I live in central Victoria.  Millions of human lives have already been lost to Climate Change caused by Global Heating, not to mention the lives of  billions of wildlife creatures. Many species have already become extinct, all of the above due to storms, fires, floods and other disasters around the world. This is something that our state and federal governments continue to ignore; in fact they make matters much worse by opening new coal mines and continuing to export coal while not counting the cost of its emissions. I’m no longer prepared to expose myself, my children and grandchildren to this threat, so blocking the shipping channel in the Port of Newcastle on 26th November last year without permission was an opportunity I took to shine a light on this predicament. I regret that I had to break the law to do this and I regret that the Court’s time has to be spent on my defence, when I have always been hopeful that in the light of scientific evidence, common sense would prevail”.

This was my statement to the court when my case came up before the magistrate in Newcastle on Thursday, 25th January.  Earlier I had pleaded guilty to the charge of occupying a waterway with a vessel, with more than a hundred others, at the entrance to the Port of Newcastle without permission. It was actually an only-just seaworthy raft made from 44 gallon drums tied together with bamboo poles and wire and there were five of us on board with 4 paddles.

Pertinent to this is the statement issued in April last year by Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN:- “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels”.

We know from recent announcements by Environment Minister Plibersek that during this climate emergency which we are currently experiencing, not only has the export of coal increased, but also new coal mines have been opened and existing mines have been expanded. So, in my eyes the need to protest has not gone away. My journey to Newcastle in November last year was the 4th time I had travelled there to protest against the largest coal port in the world.

In 2016 I was part of a group of locals who drove up to Newcastle in a van powered with recycled oil from a fish and chip shop. We had our canoes stowed neatly on a trailer following close behind. This action was called “Breakfree from fossil fuels”. At the time Tony Abott was PM and he infamously declared that he would “turn back the boats” referrring to the boats that arrived on Australian shores carrying “illegal immigrants”. I recall that the “Breakfree” action was one of the first of its kind in Newcastle where a solution was negotiated. What I mean by this is that with more than 2,500 people taking part in this action and their safety being of paramount importance, Nicola Paris and the other organisers were able to negotiate with the Police and the Harbourmaster for our safe occupation of the entrance to the port for a whole day. So the very next morning, actually the Sunday of that weekend, more than 100 of us got into our kayaks and canoes and whatever else would stay afloat, and paddled out into the water. I remember how much we laughed at the sign that someone was holding up that said “Look Tony, we stopped the boats!”

My second visit was in 2019 and the huge stockpiles of coal were our target. The coal was enclosed in a large fenced-in area where there were huge machines that loaded it into the ships. Early in the morning someone cut the wire and about 50 of us broke into the enclosure. Many of us locked on to one of the coal loaders, once again effectively shutting down the port for a whole day. I recall being held in police custody for an hour or so, and then being released without being charged. As we walked back to the buses that we had come on, we noticed much to our amusement, that there were 3 police officers on horseback, carefully guarding the hole that we had made, earlier that morning in the fence.

My third visit to Newcastle was in 2020 during the Covid pandemic. I planned to do an arrestable action – lock on to the railway line and stop a coal train that would have been carrying hundreds of tons of coal to the port. I was all set to do it the next day, but unfortunately the group that was called Blockade Australia, held an emergency meeting that evening and the action was sensibly called off. It was agreed that rather than being arrested and charged for a Covid offence, which was very likely, we would abort until that emergency was over.

So this, my fourth visit to Newcastle in November of last year, was the first time that I actually took part in an arrestable action, and actually got arrested. Although initially there were 109 of us who were arrested, eventually only 99 of us were given notices, and ordered to attend court on 11th January of this year.  As it turned out, my case was adjourned to Thursday 25th January but, following legal advice from the EDO (Environment Defenders Office) in Sydney, I decided to plead “guilty” and not return to Newcastle for the hearing.  I heard later that those who appeared before Magistrate John Chicken on Thursday came from Queensland, Victoria, and Canberra – as well as locally. Apparently many represented themselves, though the Environmental Defenders Office took up the case for a few. In the end, probably due to the large number of us offenders, the EDO was not able to defend us all, and I ended up putting my case to the court in a written plea.  As in the previous hearing, this one on 25th January included people from a broad range of professional backgrounds such as teaching, nursing, psychology, environmental engineering. It even included a 97 year-old minister of the Uniting Church and a former Navy serviceman. Of the 36 people who entered a plea on Thursday, 30 had their charge dismissed. The largest fine was $400. The ruling for each individual’s case was based largely on their prior record, the court heard. I was one of the lucky ones in that category and did not receive a conviction, a fine or even a good behaviour bond.

Magistrate Chicken said the protesters had “noble intentions, albeit they ended up in an infraction of the law”. He said they were motivated by “selflessness” and “out of genuine concerns for the climate and the future of the earth”, which was a mitigating factor in sentencing. And he praised police for their handling of events as they unfolded. “In all of the material before me, there has not been one suggestion of inappropriateness of police on the day,” he said. While Magistrate Chicken said peaceful protests were important in democratic societies, they should take place legally. “There is no suggestion the protest was anything other than peaceful,” he said. “There’s no doubt that the people involved in this protest were all doing so out of a genuine desire to better the world. There is not one person here who has been charged with this offence who did so out of an act of selfishness.”

So maybe the tide is turning. If magistrates and judges are at last realizing the need for real action on the climate, maybe there’s still hope that our leaders will wake up too. But we’re not there yet. Join us this year in November when Rising Tide plans to have 10,000 people join in a protest lasting 10 days. You can contact Rising Tide at  www.risingtide.org.au, or for details on local action call myself (Trevor Scott) on 0412 250 392 or Serena on 0408 550 110.


Food for Thought

Watch this short video (2 minutes) about our recently completed 138-hectare Spring Plains Watershed Repair Pilot Project.

This pilot project offers a beacon of hope and demonstrates what can be achieved through simple but strategic ecological interventions.


New episodes from Planet Local Voices, new video and podcast series featuring cutting-edge thinkers, writers, movement-builders and activists from across the world.








Sustain food network – https://sustain.org.au/

Scroll to top