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January/February 2024 newsletter

I will train myself to look deeply to see your true nature: you are my loving mother, a living being, a great being—an immense, beautiful, and precious wonder.

(From Ten Love Letters to the Earth, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh- cited in Emergence Magazine 24/12/23)

Welcome to the January/ February edition of Localising Leanganook’s e-newsletter. There’s lots of local news and events as well as a thought-provoking feature article on Housing and Community Land Trusts. Let our editing team know (Keppel, Laurel, Samantha and Nikki) if you’ve got items for inclusion in the February/March 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: It’s Time for a Housing Disruption- Karl Fitzgerald

CLT’s remove land from the speculative market by placing a legal covenant on the land and housing’s resale value. A CLT may limit the resale value of a home to 60% of the median price in the suburb. Or it may use a formula where it limits housing costs to 30% of the median income for the bottom 40% of income earners in that region. This is known as the 3040 rule.

Long term affordability is the central aim of the Trust, with both legal and economic protections put in place. The land is managed by an independent board that is composed of ⅓ residents, ⅓ neighbours and ⅓ civic minded individuals. The board holds the land in trust to ensure it is perpetually affordable for residents and maintained as an important community resource. Residents sign a contract accepting this arrangement, in effect agreeing that the trust will give them access to this land in acceptance that little financial return will occur for this ownership.

Deposits required to get into a CLT home can be up to 70% lower. This can help renters find security of tenure up to a decade earlier than on the open market. By ensuring an affordability lock is placed on the land and housing, this grounds pricing growth to the reality of our wages. In doing this, we place a shield over housing, recognising it as a place of shelter – as a human (rather than speculative) right.

Grounded is advocating to improve the right for community led housing. There must be an alternative to market-led cookie cutter homes. We have no statutory definition of CLTs anywhere in the country. This means government hasn’t provided a legislative definition of the concept. Banks are therefore less likely to lend to a housing model more popular in permaculture circles than on the pages of the AFR. Building confidence in the banking sector is a major objective. With Bank Australia joining the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, the move towards ethical banking is growing. They have lent to the ACT’s Land Rent Scheme – a public land trust, so a precedent exists.

At the Federal level, a number of tax incentives have been established to support Environmental Land Trusts. We need similar reforms in place for community owned trusts in either the residential or affordable farmland sectors too.

CLTs: history and why they’re important

The history of Community Land Trusts is compelling. They have been in operation since the early 1970’s in the US, with examples going back to the early 1900s under land rent colonies. In 1973, landless African American farmers understood that the battle against segregation in the deep south meant little if one couldn’t afford a roof over their head or land upon which to stand. This led to the world’s first CLT – New Communities, Inc Farm, established by Slater King, Charles Sherrod and Dr Bob Swann. Unfortunately, their tenure was challenged with racist impediments relentlessly thrown at these pioneers. From building delays to watered down fertiliser, they fought a valiant battle that was finally recognised in a multi-million dollar payout decades later.

Now with over 50 years of CLT history, the data is revealing. Community-led housing leads to better outcomes – just like it does in health, education and many other core components of life. Many CLTs incorporate financial planning into their community ethos, helping residents plan for unexpected events. During the GFC, US foreclosure rates were 82% lower in CLTs than in the mainstream market. Over in the UK, the health, well being and income distribution positives are such that for every $1 invested in CLTs, there is a $3.1 return over 30 years. This is virtually unheard of in housing. Policies such as the Albanese government’s Help to Buy policy and the wretched Regional First Home Buyers grant both act to inflate land values.

With less spent on land by a CLT resident, the homeowner can afford to invest more in resilient buildings. UK CLTs have been estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 15-50%. US CLTs in places like Florida are being built to be hurricane resistant, and in Alamedia, a bushfire retardant bunker is incorporated into the design. We look forward to a future where we can incorporate permaculture design into housing developments so that our entire living envelope can be more resilient to the climate shift we are witnessing. Underpinning this is a need to recycle the ever increasing value of location, location, so that it helps to make our communities stronger – rather than falling prey as a gentrification target. Without stable and secure housing, there is no freedom, no matter who we vote for. We need more than democracy, we need an economic democracy where we all share from the rising value of living in effective communities.

(Written for the 145th edition of Friends of the Earth’s Chain Reaction magazine.). Karl Fitzgerald is the Managing Director of Grounded CLT Advocacy. He lives in Malmsbury. Karl ran the Renegade Economists podcast on 3CR for 13 years, whilst working at Prosper Australia as Research Director. 

What’s on in Central Victoria

Arts and Culture

Newstead Live 2024


Where: multiple venues around Newstead (see website for details)

When: Thursday 25th January – Sunday 28th January

Cost:weekend pass $160, youth/student weekend pass: $90, day and evening passes $50-90 – see website for details

Australian folk-roots music festival in the historic country town of Newstead. Newstead Live Music Festival takes place over the last weekend in January, when a range of diverse and highly regarded international and national artists perform in live music venues, concert spaces, workshops, impromptu sessions, spoken word performances and open-mic sessions. Music for all ages and a variety of genres.

For more information and to book tickets: https://www.newsteadlive.com/

Mechanics Lane Spring/Summer Program- Castlemaine

When: Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 January 2024

What: Street Latin Dance: Summer Salsa

Where: Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine

This is an outdoor space that runs live music, performances and community events. To view our upcoming events, visit Mt Alexander shire’s Events Page.

For more information contact Sam Thomas, Creative Programs Officer on 5471 1700 or s.thomas@mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

Learn easy, sizzling salsa steps in a group class, then put them into action with some of the hottest Latin tunes. It’s all about fun and encouragement with top-notch dance instruction.

Yandoit Cultural and Yandoit Faith Community

We’ve recently received the good news that the lease at Yandoit Uniting church has been extended for a further 12 months. This has been supported by the Castlemaine Uniting Church minister and church council as well as regional Presbytery.  So, for 2024 Yandoit Cultural is planning a varied program of  music,  spoken word, Open Mics, with an emphasis on local, acoustic and quality. Our historic church is an intimate community space, seating 100/110 people, with excellent acoustics. Let us know if you’d like to perform and/or give it a go with at of our seasonal Open Mic’s . (Nikki on 0432 232 073)

We will also be establishing a ‘faith community’ at the old church in the bush- something we, as a community, can develop in a way meaningful to us in these times. The faith community will be supported by Minister Sarah Tomilson. We will be holding a faith community dreaming/visioning session towards the end of January/early February. Contact Nikki if you are interested in participating- nikki.marshall@mmnet.com.au or 0432 232 073.

Guitar Concert- Music of Spain and South America

When: 6.00pm, Friday 23rd February, 2024

Where: Yandoit Cultural– the historic church in the bush, Uniting Church Rd (off High St), Yandoit.

Classical Guitarist, Darcy King returns to Yandoit Cultural in collaboration with Ross Morris (UK), a partnership formed during their studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. With a programme of solo and duo music for guitar, this concert is a celebration of the vibrant and expressive music of Spain and South America.

Entry by donation.  Bookings: ycfcpg@gmail.com or Nikki on 0432 232 073

Open Mic- Locals sharing stories, songs, poems, history and more

When: Sunday February 11th, 2pm

Where: Yandoit Cultural– the historic church in the bush, Uniting Church Rd (off High St), Yandoit

Join us at Yandoit Cultural for an afternoon of stories, song, music, poetry and history shared by locals. Anyone and everyone can have their 5-10 minutes. You’ll enjoy a variety of performances and you’ll discover and experience the many talents within our neighbourhood and surrounds. And stay for a country-hospitality afternoon tea at the end, where you’ll meet other locals and Open Mic contributors.

Entry by donation.  Bookings: ycfcpg@gmail.com or Nikki on 0432 232 073

Castlemaine Johannine Community aka the Grail Community

The Castlemaine Johannine Community practises ‘pagan Christianity’, a spirituality based in the mystical tradition of St John and the Rosicrucians, and grounded in deep reverence for the sacredness of the Earth and the wisdom of the ancient Celtic, Aboriginal and Native American spiritual traditions. Through both inner and outer work, we seek to collaborate with the Christ impulse to create bring healing and renewal to our communities and the Earth. We meet monthly for eucharist services and other special events shaped by the sacred calendar of the seasonal Christian and Celtic festivals.

February’s events include the Lammas/Lughnasadh service on 4th February from 11am followed by a shared lunch, the Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day service on 14th February at 7.30pm, and a Full Moon service on 24th February at 8pm.

Where: the Grail Chapel, 75 McMillans Rd, Green Gully

Cost: all events are free, donations are welcome

Enquiries: contact Ken Killeen on 0423 194 878 or email johannine@hotmail.com

The Coolroom at the Northern Arts Hotel

The Coolroom at the Northern Arts Hotel's logo

Upcoming events:

27th Jan: The Anteclinal Fold with Jo Huf $18-22 + booking fee

3rd Feb: Daniel Champagne $30 + booking fee

10th Feb: The Amazing Magic Lantern Music Show $15-20 + booking fee

17th Feb: Langue de Chat French Musette Quartet $18-22 + booking fee

24th Feb: Peter and the Wolves $18-22 + booking fee

All events start at 7.30pm.

For more information and bookings visit: https://events.humanitix.com/host/the-coolroom-at-the-northern-arts-hotel

Inkwareny Artists of Yuelamu come to Castlemaine

When: Throughout February 2024- Opening Friday 9th February at 5-7pm.  Katherine Coff from Nalderun will open the exhibition. The gallery will be open over three weekends in February: 9,10,11, then 16,17,18 and 23,24,25.  11am -4pm.

 Where: Lot 19 Gallery, Castlemaine
Inkwareny Artists is the Anmatyerr people of Yuelamu’s new art centre and gallery. We are situated three hours northwest of Alice Springs at Yuelamu in the Tanami desert, Northern Territory, Australia. We only just formed in October 2023 from a desire to assert Anmatyerr identity through art and this is our very first exhibition.  We are presenting paintings from almost all of our artists and four of our most prolific painters including: Alison Ngal Daniels, ShonellePwerrerlStafford, Lisa Mpetyan CookeandJuliette Napaljarri Morris. Three of the artists will be attending the opening and gallery sessions over the first two weekends. Inkwareny Artists of Yuelamu is self-funded and governed by the Anmatyerre people and artists of Yuelamu. 
In Anmatyerr, Inkwareny means ‘honey ant’ and is from the inkwareny anengkerr (songline). This exhibition will express Anengkerr (songlines) of: inkwareny (honey ant); Irrkwely (women); mwelyar (stone curlew); arnperrk (centipede); ankara (emu); yerrakwerr (bush onion); anek (bush potato); anakety (bush tomato) and kwaty (water).
RSVP if attending the opening:  to Natalie Moxham – 0448 372 466; nataliemoxham@wantaac.org

Newstead Arts Hub- Musical Instrument makers…  plus much more

What: Musical Instrument Makers

When:  Friday 26 & Saturday 27 January 10am-5pm, Sunday 28 Jan 10am-12noon  A special event as part of Newstead Live

The Hub will host a brilliant array of musical instrument makers during Newstead Live 2024. A chance to see and hear some of the most skillfully crafted instruments around, and to talk to the makers about their craft.

Nine instrument makers will be there during the festival: guitar makers Jack Spira, Roderick Octigan; Ray Black – banjos & mandolins; Joe Gallacher – guitars, mandolins & Irish bouzoukis; Trevor Phillips: guitars, banjos, ukuleles; Patrick McNamara – ukuleles, hollow body electric guitars, dulcimers, banjos, banjo ukuleles; Mark Aspland– Cajon percussion; Andy Rigby harps; and Jeff Wilmott, clay ocarinas (and the gumleaf!).  Danny Silver and Marcus Goddefroy will demonstrate the gentle art of slow making!

To find out what else is coming up  at Newstead Arts Hub go to: https://newsteadartshub.org/

Radius Art Gallery

An art space for the inspirational creative people living in a radius around us.

re:create – the art of sustainability

Join us for a month of all things renewable at Radius!  We have joined forces with SideShow & reAWARE to celebrate the National Sustainable Living Festival 2024. and Daylesford’s Repair Cafe. Included in our program is a host of things to help us all get creative & eco!  Giving life to forgotten materials, learning skills, repairing, swapping and foraging.


The Tap Room- Mill Markets


A variety of music, locally brewed beer and pizzas made on site,  at the Mill Markets complex . For details go to: https://www.facebook.com/castlemainetaproom/

Theatre Royal- Castlemaine


Cinema, music, pizza and more .


Castlemaine Art Gallery- Ancestor Treasures: First Nations Tools and Adornment on Jaara Country

Many of these items are being exhibited for the first time in Ancestor Treasures, under the direction of Uncle Rick Nelson (Jaara), Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Elder; Alvin Darcy Briggs (ADB) (Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Ngarigo Walbunga), Artist; Tiriki Onus (Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung), Associate Dean of Indigenous Development and Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, University of Melbourne; and Sharnie Hamilton (Djaara), Cultural Values Manager, Djandak.

This exhibition follows a private viewing for First Nations people of the region. Ancestor Treasures also includes traditional tools made by contemporary artist ADB (Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Ngarigo Walbunga), in response to the Collection, and a video by First Nations photographer James Henry in collaboration with Henry Harmony Nelson’s Descendants – the Saunders family from Mooroopna, documenting their Meeting at Marna bulatj dharak (Meeting of arms), Lake Eppalock.

Registered as significant on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register (VAHR) [2015], the majority of these works were obtained by settler Australians through largely unknown means and primarily donated during the early years of the Museum’s operation. These works hold significance for First Nations communities across Australia. In 2019, three items were repatriated, while the rest of the Collection has since been safely rehoused in handcrafted museum storage.

For more information: https://castlemaineartmuseum.org.au/

Castlemaine Documentary Festival Call-for-Entries for LOCALS Opening Night Showcase

Real stories, Real Issues, Real Characters, Real Conversations.

Be part of the Castlemaine Documentary Festival’s tenth anniversary and realise your big screen dream. We are calling for filmmakers (from all walks and experience levels) to submit a 6-minute documentary film for screening at our LOCAL’S Opening Night showcase. Works can be about anything in any style and entry open to all who live, work, play (or have some meaningful connection) with Regional Victoria.

Deadline is May 1, 2024. Entry is free. For support and advice with editing for screen, attend our full day Workshop for filmmakers, led by Bergen O’Brien and Rob Buttery. Happening March 2, 2024 in Castlemaine.

For more information, visit: https://cdocff.com.au/locals-2024/


Food Growing, Farming and Food Security

Mt Franklin Organics


A variety of fresh organic veggies, fruit and seedlings. Available at Daylesford’s Sunday market or order and pick up from Florian on Saturday afternoon.

To get updates via the newsletter, subscribe : newsletter@mtfranklinorganics.com.au

Orchard Keepers- Harcourt Organic Farming Coop

A variety of fresh organic fruit including: boxes of plums and apricots, you-pick and by the kilo available at

Castlemaine Farmers Market weekly on Wednesday afternoon, Farm Shop in Harcourt and Wesley Hill Market, weekly on Saturday morning.

The Farm Shop will be open on Friday 26 January- 10 am to 4 pm; and Sunday, 28 January-  10 am to 1 pm.

You can pick-your-own (PYO) fruit or buy it pre-picked.

There’s also the beginning of Gravenstein  apples-  a very old heritage variety from Europe. They’re not like modern apples – the flavour is more complex, with both sweet and tart flavours.

For more information: https://hofcoop.com.au/


Trewhella Biodynamic Berry Farm

It’s blueberry harvest time. After a couple of challenging years from which much has been learnt to improve the flavour of our Blueberries,we’re now back on track & just commenced harvest.

To access our berries contact via email or txt to 0408 548 359 or leave a message on (03)53485593.


Hepburn Wholefoods

At Wholefoods, we are continually trying to keep packaging waste to a minimum by talking to our farmers and suppliers about packaging, ordering bulk whenever possible, and re-using buckets and bags.  This is by no means a perfect system, but it helps. There’s a few ways you can help us as well. We welcome donations of large clean un-labelled jars; Sometimes packaging can be returned for re-use. This includes medicinal cream brown jars, clean egg cartons, clean berry plastic containers. We have a compost system behind the shop that takes small food scraps, and we also sometimes need donations of straw to add to the compost. You can also help by tending to the wicking beds – watering, weeding and harvesting are all welcome.

Where: 11 Perrins Street · Daylesford

Opening Hours: Mondays 9.30-11.30am; Wednesdays 2-4pm;Thursdays 3-5pm; Saturdays 11am-1pm

Two fold Bakehouse

LOCAL BREAD FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. By ordering Thursday bread you are joining our bread family of farmers, millers and bakers who work to regenerate the land and value small scale, local food systems. Your support means we can bake to order, with no bread going to waste.

Where can you buy our bread?  THURSDAY BREAD, WEEKLY; ordered online weekly as a one off, or monthly as a subscription with pick up each Thursday from Daylesford, Yandoit or Kyneton hubs. DAYLESFORD SUNDAY RAILWAY MARKET- FORTNIGHTLY . HEPBURN WHOLEFOODS COLLECTIVE-Fresh bread every Thursday from 3pm



Ecology and Environment

Natural Newstead


Geoff Park’s regular blogs are a wonderful way to learn more about local bird species. Here’s a Diamond Firetail which recently arrived at the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve (between Clydesdale and Strangways). An adult arrived first, announcing its presence from a distance with a couple of mournful whistles, followed by a wary juvenile. Both birds drank and bathed briefly before departing. It’s always good to see evidence of successful local breeding by this declining woodland bird.

To see more or to subscribe to Geoff’s blog: https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/

Mapping Precious Large Old Trees

Connecting Country is asking the local community to map our precious large old trees, through their online mapping portal. The mapping portal aims to engage with the community about the importance of the old, and often large trees of central Victoria, as part of Connecting Country’s larger project, ‘Regenerate before it’s too late’. Anyone can access the mapping portal. To date, we have mapped over 30 old trees on the database and are keen for the community to continue mapping trees that are important to them and our local wildlife.

Coppiced long-leaved box of Chewton- Joel B: Its story is literally etched on it – first lopped, it has regrown with multiple branches, having survived a wildfire, multiple axe wounds and sawn-off branches, this is a living example of bush resilience!

The mapping portal is now open for any community member to record the old trees in your area. You will need to register with the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) (its quick, easy and free), then upload a photo and enter the field details needed for the survey. The portal will ask you simple questions about the tree location, size, species, age (if known), health status and habitat value. By recording these trees, you will help build our understanding of the large old trees in our region, and contribute to the largest biodiversity database in our country. As the database grows, you can also access the portal to learn about other wonderful large old trees in our area and view the photos.

For more information:  https://connectingcountry.org.au/

Wombat Forest Care


Wombat Forest Care’s December 2023 newsletter includes stories on mountain skinks, salvage logging, Blue Mount’s woodland herb-land, and a variety of birds that live in and visit the forest including the white-bellied cuckoo shrike, blue winged parrot, and rufous whistler and the barking owl. There’s also information about the Victorian State of Environment Report 2023.

Visit the website –https://www.wombatforestcare.org.au/ 

Don’t Undermine Daylesford

Protecting the aquifer, and Daylesford in particular, from exploration and mining. The group is urges the completion of legislated new National Parks in Wombat Forest as this would be a major step in protecting the mineral water resources. The Daylesford-Hepburn Springs region holds over 80% of Australia’s mineral springs, a truly unique and ecologically important resource. The extraction of gold can have a number of negative impacts, including the release of heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic into the environment. These substances can be harmful to both the ecosystem and the health of local communities.

First Nations

Australia Day – Survival Day Event 


Join us for a free, family-friendly event on Friday 26 January from 10.00am at Castlemaine’s Victory Park. The day will include a Welcome to Country, citizenship and awards ceremony, and Survival Day concert programmed and hosted by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

The line-up will offer some incredible performances. Last year’s Survival Day concert saw world-class musicians such as Bart Willoughby, Yung Warriors, Tjimba Possum Burns, Darcy Spiller, The Rattlers, and more.

Where: Victory Park/Djaara Park, Castlemaine

When: Friday 26th January from 10am – 2pm

Self-reflection Conversations- Djaara Country

When: 4 x Tuesdays: Feb 20th, 27th and March 5th and 12th, 5.30-7.30pm

A series of facilitated conversations for and by local non-Indigenous people to reflect on privilege, allyship and structural racism. Created in conversation with Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation.

To work in effective allyship, non-Indigenous people need to reflect on our understanding and attitude surrounding significant events impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and our own beliefs and values – privilege, structural racism and cultural bias. It is only when we have some knowledge and critique of the dominant culture and its systemic racism, and our own ingrained and often unacknowledged privileges and biases that we can go with open hearts and minds to find ways to work with and support First Nations people.

To book in or find out more email reflectionconversations@gmail.com

Overview of Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation

by Floria Maschek

Nalderun (Nalderun Education Aboriginal Corporation), meaning ‘all together’, is a local Aboriginal run and led organisation and registered charity that predominantly focuses on providing opportunities for young, local First Nations People, whilst also supporting their families. The organisation also provides historical and cultural learning opportunities to the extended community, instilling the values of Country, truth telling and Indigenous world views, having many partnerships in government, community, education and health. Connection to Country, Community and Culture is at the core of Nalderun’s work – walking together for a thriving future for all. 

For more click here:     Walking Together- Nalderun overview (final).doc

History, Books and Libraries

History of Werona

Local historian Ken James has produced a book about the history of Werona, a village on the outskirts of Mt Alexander and Hepburn shires. Ken has previously written books on Guildford, Sandon, Strangways and Joyces Creek to mention a few. The book is 265 pages in length and made up of 11 chapters, 16 appendices, a list of references as well as a surname index.

It is to be launched at Strangways at Don & Floss Hepburn’s residence on Sunday March 3 at 2pm.  To determine the number of copies to be printed Ken is taking pre-orders. If you are interested in ordering a copy, contact Ken on 0457 600 668 or knjames47@gmail.com  If you wish to attend the launch, contact Carmel Longmire for details on 0427 766 256 or longmire3@bigpond.com

Free IT help for seniors at Castlemaine Library

Oldest adults may have much to gain from social technology | Stanford News

Need help navigating the ever-changing digital world?  Access free one-on-one training and support at your local library.

Drop in or give us a call, tell us what you would like to know about or learn, and we’ll make an appointment for you.

Where: Castlemaine Library and other Goldfields Libraries

When: during library hours

Cost: free

Happy Birthday, Dickens

Andrew Barrie shares his exuberance over the life, time and works of Charles Dickens in celebration of Dickens’ birthday (7th Feb, 1812).

When: Thursday 8 February, 5.30-6.30pm

Where: Castlemaine Library 


Sustainable Living Resources

Do with Su: Online Permaculture Series

Join renowned permaculture elder Su Dennett as she shares her passion for food and nourishment, and her wisdom on the household non-monetary economy with a generous dash of frugal hedonism.

Where and When: online and  access any time

Cost: $45 for 7 sessions plus resources, $75 including access to a live Q and A with Su, $295 including a private online Q and A with Su

Bookings and more information: https://hub.holmgren.com.au/lp/do-with-su/season-one/online-permaculture-series/

Castlemaine Free University: Creative Community Participation for Social and Environmental Change


Participatory designer and Castlemaine resident Dr Michael Chew explores a range of creative grassroots experiments reflecting community participants’ engagement with environmental sustainability and social justice, Michael offers space for discussions around using creative participatory methods in community engagement projects.

Where: Northern Arts Hotel, 359 Barker St, Castlemaine

When: Monday 5th February at 6.30pm for 7pm start

Cost: free, drinks are available  for purchase from the bar.

Newstead Solar Farm

Construction of the Newstead Solar Farm is underway and will be completed in the first quarter of 2024.Households in Newstead will be able to formally sign up to source their electricity from the farm next year.* We expect this will be in May and will update you when that offer becomes available. Solar tracking systems are going in. Solar panels will be installed next. Next will installation and connection of Battery, Power line to be extended from the Pyrenees Highway to the site, and Panels to be connected. (Underground wiring will mean sheep can graze beneath the panels.)

Watch out for two key next steps in the first half of this year. They are: a community open day on site; and an offer from our farm builder and electricity retail partner Flow Power to sign up as customers. You have previously signed an expression of interest (EOI) via the RN website so don’t need to do so again. When the retail offer becomes available, Flow Power will email you inviting you to formally sign up.

For more information: www.renewablenewstead.com.au   e: info@renewablenewstead.com.au 

Sustainable Hepburn Newsletter

Find out what’s happening around sustainability and the circular economy  in Hepburn Shire.  The newsletter includes:

  • Sustainable Hepburn Day on Saturday 16 March 2024 at Victoria Park in Daylesford;
  • Nature Stewards- short educational course which aims to foster a connection with nature and provide ways to get active for the environment. The ten-week program will allow people to discover more about their local environment, connect them with others in their community, and help them learn how to volunteer for nature as a citizen scientist, advocate for nature or a nature guide.  Find out more here. 
  • the soon-to-be-released Circular Hepburn Toolkit for Businesses;
  • Purchase low-cost e-waste items at Creswick and Trentham Transfer Stations.  Electronic items that pass safety inspections are available through the Resource Recovery Shops (aka tip shops). The function of second-hand items cannot be guaranteed, and they are sold as-is.
  • Food and garden organics collection coming soon- a weekly kerbside collection of food and garden organics for township residents in 2024, which will help to divert thousands of tonnes of organic material from landfill.
  • Solar Savers program- For more information, including eligibility and the special rates charge, visit Hepburn Shire Solar Savers;
  • Establishment of Sustainable Hepburn Community Advisory Committee- a diverse group who represent business and community leadership across the Shire and who share a passion for making our Shire more sustainable.
  • Noxious weed guide-  explains which weeds are noxious and ways to manage them, as well as providing images to help residents identify common weeds. The guide is available at transfer stations, customer service hubs and online. 
  • Biodiversity assessments inform township planning as part of the ‘Future Hepburn’ program.  For more information check out Future Hepburn

To subscribe to the Sustainable Hepburn newsletter go to: https://vic.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ed7363da7342d76568c38d847&id=ac5ba36264


Repair Cafes

Castlemaine: The Cafe resumes for 2024  on Sunday January 28th, 10am to 1.00pm  at Castlemaine Community House, 30 Templeton St.  For further information join our Facebook group, visit our website or call Chris on 5470 5508.

Repair Cafés are about keeping things out of landfill, saving you money, and giving members of the community the opportunity to volunteer. Bring along broken household appliances, sewing repairs, toys, etc. Learn bicycle maintenance. Join the Mending Circle and swap tips on crochet, darning, knitting, hand sewing, etc. or learn to do these so your clothes continue to be usable. There’s also help with mobile phones, wiping information before recycling, settings etc.


Daylesford: The Cafe resumes for 2024 on Sunday February 18th, 1pm-4pm , this time at Radius Gallery,  76 Main Road, Hepburn Springs, as part of the Sustainable Living Festival. In addition to repairs there’ll be a clothes swap, an exhibition of repurposed and environmental themes; a chance to fix, learn, up-cycle, swap and share knowledge; and a series of talks and speakers to inform and inspire us with sustainable journeys & information.  For further information: Nikki 0432 232 073 or  https://www.facebook.com/daylesfordrepaircafe/

Gold Coin donation.

Castlemaine Seed Library

The First working bee for the year is Thursday 1st Feb 2024. 11am at Castlemaine library, as usual. All welcome! Come along and pack seeds with us.

We are having a quick AGM on Friday 26th January 2024, at 3pm, in the Hub Plot garden.  There will be tea and cake, and we’d love to see you there.

Hands on Seed Saving Workshop – Start the year with some solid, useful training in seed-saving by coming along to our Hands-On Seed-Saving Workshop at Newstead Community Garden.  Gregg Muller will be facilitating the workshop. The garden is ready so the workshop will be  17th February.  

Building Community

Tiny Towns Funding Available

Funding is available through the Tiny Towns Fund for local government and community organisations to deliver infrastructure projects to build stronger local connections. The fund offers grants between $5,000 and $50,000 to deliver infrastructure projects, such as hiking trails, splash parks, playgrounds, barbeques, community hall and library upgrades, public art and more. Applications open until February 25, 2024. Further rounds will be available from 2024. Eligible applicants include community and non-profit groups and councils in towns with under 5,000 people across regional Victoria and outer metro-Melbourne.

To find out more about the fund, visit rdv.vic.gov.au/tiny-towns-fund.

Fixed wireless broadband for Sailors Falls

A fixed wireless broadband project at Sailors Falls will replace existing satellite service providing improved mobile and broadband connectivity to Sailors Falls and surrounding areas in the Hepburn Shire.

The rollout schedule will be published on the carriers’ websites once contracts are executed.


Resident-led Housing

The Resident-Led Housing workshop held as a Castlemaine Free University session at Northern Arts Hotel on 8 November 2023 attracted a lot of interest. Local follow-through involved a brief discussion at the My Home Network Forum (MHN) on 30 November 2023. The Forum supported a Monday 12 February 2024 6 pm ‘springboard’ meeting at Northern Arts Hotel for all interested in forming and joining a MHN working group you wish to progress, such as cohousing, purchasing land jointly, sharing existing owned land, a tiny-house ecovillage, or any other model you would like to come along and propose.
Contact Carolyn Neilson (Kaz) for more information – cneilson@castlemainehealth.org.au

Wombat Post

A community run newsletter for Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and surrounds published every Friday afternoon.

The most recent edition includes an update on Dan Murphy and the VCAT decision: In VCAT case P493/2023 – Banco Properties v Hepburn Shire Council, VCAT has denied the appeal which would have allowed the sign ( to be installed on the corner of Central Springs Road and Bridport Street, Daylesford. VCAT agreed with Council and the objectors that the sign was not in keeping with the aesthetics of the area. The original design of the sign had a height of 6.4 metres, width of 1.6 metres, and a panel area of 10.2 square metres. The sign was to be double sided, and internally illuminated with a lux level of 1500 and have Dan Murphy’s face on it. However, the applicant changed the sign prior to the hearing, to the design below and to reduce the height to 5.0 metres, change the width to a maximum of 3.2 metres, increase the overall area of the sign, and reduce the internal illumination to 1000 Lux.

However, the overall design was determined by VCAT to be “not compatible with the character of the area or the streetscape or setting.” The member stated in the findings: “The introduction of a 5-metre-high pole sign with internally illuminated display areas will be inconsistent with the character of this area, both the commercial land to the north of Central Springs Road and the residential land to the south.” Thanks to VCAT, the pole sign will not be going ahead.

To read the full VCAT findings you can click this link https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2024/4.html?context=1;query=banco;mask_path=au/cases/vic/VCAT

Local Government News

Have your say with Shape Mount Alexander

Help us prioritise our budget spend for 2024-2025
We have a nifty new online budget tool where you can tell us how you’d allocate our budget. Tell us how much you’d spend on roads, arts, venues, waste management and more. Sign up to Shape Mount Alexander

2024 Community Grants

Do you have an idea for a community project or event? Apply for the next round of Community Grants to get it up and running. Applications open on Monday 22 January and close on Monday 12 February. Apply for a Community Grant

Free pool entry on 26 January

Our outdoor pools in Castlemaine, Harcourt, Maldon and Newstead are open for summer fun. Each pool offers lap-lane swimming, aqua aerobics, swim classes and free entry on Australia Day!

Find out what’s on in the shire

Upcoming Council meeting

Our next Council meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday 20 February. To raise a question at the Council meeting email the Governance team at governance@mountalexander.vic.gov.au or write to them at PO Box 185, Castlemaine VIC 3450. Messages must be received by 12.00pm on the day of the meeting. You can also Livestream the Council meeting via YouTube

Hepburn Shire Community Grants Program

The Grants program has reopened for Round 2.   Submit a project idea for funding of up to $5,000. Applications close on 12 February 2024.

The Community Grants Guidelines are available at www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/grants.

Workshops and Courses

Systemic family Constellations


When: Sunday February 18th, 10am – 4pm

Where: Wesley Hill Hall

Explore dynamics within yourself and within your family system.

For more information:  amyjonesroberts@yahoo.com.au 





The People’s Blockade of Newcastle Harbour, and the largest coal port in the world, was always going to be big. It was well organised from start to finish by the climate action group, Rising Tide.  Around 500 visitors from all around Australia zeroed in on Newcastle between November 24-27, 2023 and camped at the reserve adjacent to Horseshoe Beach. Up to 2,500 more arrived over the next 4 days to support and take part in the blockade. Camping on the reserve was authorised by the city council and it all went smoothly except for a few motorists who received parking fines.

Horseshoe Beach, at the mouth of the harbour was a colorful and spectacular scene over the weekend of 24th-27th November. The tiny beach was awash with canoes and kayaks and seaworthy vessels of every shape, size and colour. There were inflatables, yachts, pedal driven vessels and even a few rafts made of bamboo. By agreement with the police and the harbour master, we occupied the shipping lanes and kept the coal ships at bay for 30 hours from 10am on the Saturday morning to 4pm on the Sunday afternoon. The vigil was maintained throughout Saturday night and into the wee small hours of Sunday morning by canoeists and kayakers working in shifts.

What was not so widely known was a secret plan for as many of us as possible to continue to block the shipping lanes after the cutoff time of 4pm Sunday. During the protest, there were many, many people on the beach. Most of the better-known climate action groups were represented: Extinction Rebellion, the Pacific Climate Warriors, Knitting Nanas, Doctors without Borders, Bob Brown Foundation and SS4C (school strikers). The Greens were also represented. Most of these groups had little marquees higher up on the beach. Although the main action was to stop the coal ships, the blockade also included many activities for children such as face painting, sand sculpture, and kite making to name a few. There was even a pirate school taking place in the Kids’ Tent. One of the highlights on Saturday was an inspiring speech by former Greens leader and champion of the Franklin River Blockade, Bob Brown.

On Sunday, the second day of action, at around 3.30pm, we slipped into our canoes and kayaks and headed out. I looked around for a boat but almost all had left the shore. So we were directed to the remaining vessels, a couple of rafts made from 44 gallon drums tied together with bamboo poles and wire ties. They looked seaworthy enough so 5 of us with our life-jackets and paddles, clambered aboard. As the police boats lurked about in the background, we paddled out and joined the flotilla. I felt really empowered to be part of this mass protest. I felt that I was in exactly the right place at the right time. After staying out on the water for at least an hour longer than the 30 hour deadline one of the police boats came alongside and told us that by remaining in the shipping lane we were breaching a maritime law, and that if we didn’t desist, we would be under arrest. At this stage, every one of us was aware that this was our opportunity to make a powerful statement. So we remained in the channel until the police boat pulled alongside and we were informed that we were under arrest. Most of us arrestees were charged and given CAN’s (Court Attendance Notices) for January 2024. 

Food for Thought

Degrowth Central Victoria (and the World) -A collection of writings concerned with the need, philosophies and practicalities of degrowth, with particular emphasis on Central Victoria, Australia, but with relevance to, and sometimes contributions from, the World. Click to read Degrowth Central Victoria (and the World), by Peter Yates- https://degrowthcentralvictoria.substack.com/

Return of the Fourth Bark Petition to Yirrkalahttps://thewombatpost.com.au/2023/12/22/return-of-the-fourth-bark-petition-to-yirrkala/

Friends Don’t Let Friends Destroy Themselves – Charles Eisenstein Essay, 29/12/23 – https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/friends-dont-let-friends-destroy

Transcript of conversation with my son Philip – Charles Eisensteinhttps://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/transcript-of-conversation-with-my?utm_source=substack&publication_id=427455&post_id=139831485&utm_medium=email&utm_content=share&utm_campaign=email-share&isFreemail=true&r=1r08bh 

Post Carbon Institute- Indigenous voices on the great unravelling – with Dilafruz Khonikboyeva, In our conversation, she discusses how people can live through collapse while maintaining their core identities and values, by grieving, but then drying their tears and carrying on.  https://holdingthefire.buzzsprout.com/

Final Snapshots of Planet Local Conference : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLcItcv-Djo

Milkwood Permaculture skills and blog : https://www.milkwood.net/


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