canola paddock, clouds in sky

Spring 2022 newsletter

Landcare news and opportunities

Opportunities and awards

  • On-farm biosecurity planning workshops: Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of free workshops for livestock producers to understand the disease, pest and plant biosecurity risks in their area, the impact they may have on their business, and to develop an on-farm biosecurity plan. Walk away from this workshop with your farm biosecurity plan in hand. Wednesday 28 September, Glenthompson. register online
  • Art competition for kids: Wild At Art is an opportunity for kids to raise awareness about the extinction crisis amongst both their peers and adults, and highlight the urgent action we need to take. Submit an artwork
  • National Biodiversity Market: The Australian Government is calling for input into the design of a proposed biodiversity market.  Such a market would operate in a similar way to the carbon market with buyers and sellers transacting defined ‘units’ of biodiversity. More info
  • 2023 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: Grants of $22,000 in agriculture! Applications close 23 September.
  • Aussie Bird Count (17–23 October 2022): To complete the Aussie Bird Count, spend 20 minutes standing or sitting in one spot and noting down the birds that you see. Register online
  • Colin Seis in Dunkeld 7 November: Listen to woolgrower and pasture cropping pioneer Colin Seis about his experience with perennial grassland and regenerative agricultural practices. Watch for registrations soon.

Information and Resources

  • Australia State of the Environment Report 2022: In a rapidly changing climate, with unsustainable development and use of resources, the general outlook for our environment is deteriorating. Read the report online:
  • Protecting critically endangered grasslands on private land: Grasslands are among the most threatened ecosystems in Victoria. ARI researchers have been working with partner agencies to help manage grasslands on farms. Projects include monitoring to detect changes after management actions (like burning and weed control) and using modelling to identify high-priority sites for further action. Read more online.
  • Climate Bill becomes law: Australia’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels), is enshrined in law after the climate change bill passed the Senate.
  • 2022 Australian Farmer of the Year: Sixth-generation wool grower Michael Taylor, Kentucky NSW, has been named the 2022 Australian Farmer of the Year for running a diversified and innovative farm with a focus on sustainability. 
  • National women’s award recognises rural trailblazers: Tasmanian rural motherhood advocate, farmer and podcaster, Stephanie Trethewey, was this week named the 2022 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Winner, with magazine founder and editor, Kimberley Furness, Victoria, announced runner up.
  • 2022 Young Farmer of the Year: Brad Egan says that managing the soil with precision, and an eye to future generations, forms the backbone of his philosophy on farming. Read more
  • ‘Building global sustainability through local self-reliance: Lessons from landcare’: The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Global Landcare have released a publication exploring the role, impact, and success of the landcare movement, with contributions from landcarers and researchers across Australia and beyond. To read the book in PDF format or to order a hard copy, please visit:
  • Greater Gariwerd Landscape Management Plan: A new Management Plan for Greater Gariwerd (Grampians) Landscape.
  • VicFlora: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria re-launches VicFlora database to help identify plants. More info online

Webinars and podcasts

  • Biosecurity planning for security providers: Agriculture Victoria is presenting advice on what biosecurity practices you should be considering for your business to minimse biosecurity risks and impacts to the agricultural sector. Tuesday 20 September, 9am register online
  • Victoria Nature Festival (12-25 September): With more than 50 events and experiences, there are heaps of fun ways to connect with and act for nature at the Victoria Nature Festival. Wherever you live in Victoria, you can get involved. Find out more online..
  • What do emissions reduction targets mean for farmers? Polly Hemming, the Australia Institute, and Liam Walsh, Climateworks Centre, explain the impacts and opportunities of these policies for farmers. Watch the recording online
  • Managing farm dams to reduce carbon emissions while improving biodiversity and water security with Dr Martino Malerba: In this 1 hour presentation, Dr Martino Malerba, a senior environmental scientist at Deakin Uni.’s Blue Carbon Lab, discusses how farms can be managed to reduce carbon emissions whilst improving biodiversity and water security. Watch it when you can
  • Recording: A farmer perspective – making sense of carbon and emissions: Cam Nicholson and Fiona Conroy discuss the benefits of managing the natural resources on their farm. View online anytime

From the President’s Desk

Jack Tucker, President 

Welcome to the Spring edition of our newsletter, and thank you once again for all the hard work you do for the group Ayesha, and in putting together this great publication.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying it feels like it has been a very long, cold, drawn-out Winter. This being the case, it has not been the most productive time for outdoor Landcare activities, but it has been great seeing the landscape re-hydrated. With some luck we will see some runoff in the Spring to fill some dams and rivers.

Following Don Rowe being awarded the Australian Government Individual Landcare award for Vic last year, he and Goldie were invited to attend the National Landcare Awards ceremony in Sydney recently. This was a very auspicious occasion, and a great opportunity to put our group on the national Landcare map. Well done Don and Goldie!!

With Spring here and the weather on the improve (hopefully) it is still perfect conditions for planting tubestock and direct seeding projects alike.

Gorse has started flowering and putting on new growth recently, this makes for a perfect time for chemical control. The task of locating small gorse plants in amongst grass etc is far easier when they are flowering.

Another task which may be on people’s radar before the real flush of Spring growth is weed control in pre-existing reveg projects. When considering weed control options it is important to ensure there are no native grassland species present where chemicals are going to be applied. The benefits of weed control vary depending on the weed pressure and species. Phalaris and Cocksfoot are probably the two main problem grasses – they create a perfect habitat for foxes, cats and rabbits, they shade out small trees and compete for water and nutrients, and form a large potential fire fuel load in the dry months. A tried and tested method for controlling grasses in tree areas is to overspray with 1L/Ha of glyphosate 450 with NO WETTER. It won’t harm the trees with their waxy coating on the leaves but it will take down the grasses, albeit a bit slower than a fully loaded glyphosate spray.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Ayesha if you have any potential Landcare projects which may qualify for funding. She can provide you with a site planner and talk you through the process. Remember if you don’t ask you don’t get!

Please spread the word – we are always looking for new members, and happy Landcaring!


AGM and Strategic Planning workshop

Mark your calendars for the Annual General Meeting of the Upper Hopkins Land Management Group at the Maroona Recreation Reserve.

9 am, Thursday 13 October

The AGM will be followed by a strategic planning workshop, led by Sophie Bickford from Central Victoria Biolinks Alliance.

Watch for more information in your email soon!

Perennial Pasture Systems 13th Annual Conference; Ararat

Perennial Pasture Systems logo

Rob Shea, Project Manager

Perennial Pasture Systems is a regional, independent farmer driven group; one of the activities that is conducted as part of their annual calendar of events is a full day conference.  The 13th Annual Conference was held on the 23rd August in the Ararat Town Hall.  Each year the conference follows the same format of speaker sessions, a farm tour, concluding with the Annual meeting and dinner, including a guest speaker.  

This year’s conference was well attended with over 100 people participating during the event.  Land managers were keen to get back to an in-person conference after using virtual tools for the last eighteen months or so.  Farmers from far and wide attended the conference coming from across Victoria.  The theme of the conference was – “Cracking on from Covid” – Farming on a High.  The speakers all presented on topics related to the latest innovations, pasture research and current best practice management for farmers.

Current seasonal conditions and favorable markets mean it is a great time to be a livestock farmer.  This was emphasized throughout the day.  The opening presenter Jess Revell, from Rumenate Livestock Services, discussed the practicalities of feed tests, particularly the influence of Digestible Fibre on animal intake. Jess used information from the PPS trial results as examples of feed quality changes.

Dr Rachelle Hergenhan, from the University of New England showed us a glimpse of the future with opportunities arising in their innovative Smart Farms program. The UNE SMART farm campus has expanded its research facilities over the past ten years.

Richard Hayes from the New South Wales Dept of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga, showed the latest research on sowing legumes with grazing cereals, Serradella plantings and managing acid soils.  Richard said “researchers do what farmers don’t want to” in taking risks to prove if an idea will work or not.

 Matt Dalgleish from Thomas Elder Markets discussed the figures, dollars and cents of farm input costs with a short and medium term outlook. Matt also discussed the implications of a Foot & Mouth disease outbreak in Australian livestock, reinforcing the need for the strict quarantine levels currently in place.

Following the seminar sessions, the conference moved to A F Gason, agricultural machinery manufactures in Ararat where the group followed the processes of automated laser cutting of raw steel to finished air seeders & other machinery.

The conference ended with the Annual Dinner where meat market analyst, Simon Quilty was guest speaker who told of his time in China around the time of the uprising in 1999. PPS acknowledges the support of conference sponsors and the great assistance of Ararat Town Hall staff, Deb’s Diner and the Ararat RSL.

To find out more about Perennial Pasture Systems, contact Rob Shea (, 0438 521357).

Observations on Farm Biodiversity 

Peter and Christine Forster

This article was first published in the Angair Quarterly, spring issue 2022

Christine and I moved to a family farm south of Ararat in 1982 in the middle of a severe drought. The farm environment was hostile with constant dust blowing off overgrazed paddocks. We knew that post-drought we had to better manage the farm to conserve soil and protect the sheep (sustainable farming) as well as creating a more biodiverse landscape.

The farm is situated on the Victorian Volcanic Plain and the original vegetation was native grasses, silver tussocks/rushes and a few redgums on Captains Creek. Years of farming had removed most of the native grasses and drainage works in low-lying areas – combined with rabbit damage and particular soil conditions – triggered massive gully erosion. Captains Creek which was once a discontinuous waterway became a very large actively-eroding gully (see photos).

Our repair work started with creating narrow windbreaks for stock protection. Any tree was considered good as there were no local indigenous plant nurseries. We began propagating 3000 plants per year in large pots. We also moved to wider windbreaks (first 10 m, then 20 m), local native species only and we trialed direct seeding.

Three kilometres of creek frontage was progressively fenced to exclude stock and revegetated, starting at the upstream end as we had a kilometre of gorse to control at the downstream end. The fencing for stock exclusion had an immediate effect of reducing erosion on the gully sides and heads. Later stony rises were landclass fenced  – landclass fencing refers to fencing farm areas based upon best or suitable use according to soil type, topography etc. –  and grassy woodlands were created on these non-arable areas. Providing a mid-storey of acacias, bursarias and melaleucas along the creek has greatly increased bird life for small and medium-sized birds. Species such as Hedge Wattle provide safe refuge and nesting sites. They also provide habitat for ground dwelling reptiles and other species such as marsupial mice and Swamp Rats. When the creek has water the frog noise is almost deafening.

Wildlife responded quickly to the changing local environment. Swamp Rats proliferated in the long grass along the creek. We didn’t know they were on the property! Swamp Wallabies moved into wind breaks and then the creek as landcare work continued. Kangaroos took up residence and are now numerous. They were a very rare and exciting event if seen on farmland in my youth.

Bird life has increased in diversity and population numbers. In 1982 the number of the most common bird species was 18 with some of them finding shelter in the old Red Gums on the creek. Today another 37 species plus 11 raptor species are resident, regular or occasional visitors (see lists).

The lists don’t end there. Less common to very rare sightings include one Spotted Nightjar, one Rufous Fantail, Golden-headed Cisticolas, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Varied Sittellas, a Red-capped Robin and a Painted Button-quail. It is of interest that there are no Noisy Miners even though they are common on some nearby farms with Sugar Gum plantations.

Spring visitors can be regular and irregular: Rufous Whistlers, Brown and Rufous Songlarks, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoos and Singing Bushlarks are more regular visitors while the White-winged Trillers come irregularly.

When the creek is running we have observed Sacred Kingfishers, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, various egrets, herons and Night Herons. Flocks of Straw-necked and White Ibis often search the paddocks for grubs. Occasionally we have a massive influx of Black-tailed Native-hens. Their movements are hard to predict but overnight they arrive in their hundreds, very likely to breed and then suddenly move on. Mixed species flocks of woodswallows are also likely to arrive in great numbers with a strong weather front in spring and sometimes stay on to nest along the creek.

Raptor diversity has increased over the years with 11 species observed including nesting Wedge-tailed Eagles (see list). The nocturnal hunters, Southern Boobooks and Barn Owls, are regular visitors.

Farm dams attract many duck species with Masked Lapwings and dotterels around the edge. Banded Plovers prefer cultivated paddocks and visit occasionally. 

In summary, all farms can be managed to dramatically improve native biodiversity values (and carbon stores) sometimes with simple management changes like fencing wetlands and appropriately managing stock to allow breeding events to occur, protecting old paddock trees especially those with hollows, connecting remnant bits of vegetation with corridors of new vegetation, resting paddocks to allow grassbirds to breed and creating woodlots to sequester carbon and gain dryland salinity benefits by lowering water tables.

AgriFocus Returns to Streatham for 2022

Michelle McClure, Communications & Engagements Coordinator

Southern Farming Systems premier event AgriFocus returns to the Streatham region on Wednesday 19 October.

AgriFocus is a leading technical event for the High Rainfall Zone (HRZ), where farmers and advisors can come and get the latest farming systems information, view cropping trials in the heart of the South-West, discussing solutions to seasonal issues, talk to industry experts and machinery displays.

Presentation topics include:

  • crop variety evaluation trials and agrichemical comparison trials in cereals, canola & pulses
  • agronomic developments with weed & disease management
  • latest machinery
  • soil science
  • crop nutrition
  • climate & forecasting information
  • and much more….

The program is flexible allowing visitors to attend the sessions that are of greatest interest. Talks will be held outside on the trial site, along with a selection of tent sessions. Lunch is available to purchase, supporting the local Lake Bolac Kindergarten, and a courtesy vehicle is on hand for weary legs.

Partners and supporters of Southern Farming Systems will have representatives available to discuss products and to provide valuable networking opportunities.

The program is currently being finalised and will be released on the SFS website in early October.  AgriFocus is open to the public SFS members and students are free, non-member entry is $30, tickets can be pre purchased from the website or on the day with eftpos available.

For further details on the program, visit the SFS website: or contact the SFS Head Office on 0488 600 692.

GHCMA Staff Profile: Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF)

Mary Knight, Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator

Between growing up on the family farm and now living on her own property in the Glenelg Hopkins region, Mary Knight has lived and worked in the Western District all her life. Following her passion for agriculture, on completing school, Mary undertook a Degree in Agricultural Science and worked as an Agriculture Extension Officer for, the then, Department of Primary Industries for 7 years. Returning to farming in 2012, Mary co-managed a sheep, cattle and cropping operation while balancing a growing family of her own.

In early 2022, Glenelg Hopkins CMA was fortunate to secure Mary in the position of Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF). Stepping into this role on the retirement of well known, and highly regarded, agronomist Dion Borg, Mary is already proving more than able to fill the rather large shoes left behind. Her broad understanding of agriculture in the Glenelg Hopkins region, means Mary understands the importance of managing agriculture for profit but also preserving the farms natural resource base of soil, biodiversity and water, to achieve farm production that is sustainable.

Mary has worked with farmers and agriculture specialists across the region to assist in achieving better outcomes on the farm.  Now working as the RALF, Mary brings extensive knowledge and a natural connection with people on the land which we can all benefit from.

Sustainable Agriculture Community Grants

Grants of up to $5,500 (GST Inc) are available for Community Landcare and farm production groups to undertake activities to promote sustainable farm practices and manage soil acidification. Grants will cover up to 70% of full cost of an event or demonstration. The remaining 30% is a cash or in-kind contribution from the group. A clear public benefit must be shown.

CMA staff can help you complete an Expression Of Interest (EOI), plan and even run your event.

To find out more or make your EOI, contact: Mary Knight at Glenelg Hopkins CMA on 0417 513 724 or email

The Glenelg Hopkins Sustainable Agriculture Project is funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Updates from Landcare Victoria Inc (LVI)

Debbie Shea, LVI Board member

Landcare Victoria Inc (LVI) is the State association for Landcare in Victoria.  It has around 550 member groups, including many in the Glenelg Hopkins catchment region.   Debbie Shea is the regional representative director on the Landcare Victoria Board from the Glenelg Hopkins Region.

LVI works to support its member groups.  It has a Strategic Plan that highlights three main goals:

·       A Strong Voice for Victorian Landcare

·       A Thriving and Resilient Landcare Community

·       A Healthy Organisation

LVI is your voice in working closely with the State Government Landcare Program, delivered through DELWP and the CMAS, and collaborates on key projects.  LVI is actively working to increase its capacity to support member groups in a variety of ways. 

LVI has recognised that it is time for the landcare community to take stock of its directions and its future if it is to remain thriving and healthy.  With DELWP funding support LVI has commenced the preparation of a new landcare plan for Victoria that will identify opportunities and priorities for the future of landcare in the State.  The first stage consultation report has been published and work will shortly commence on development of the plan.  Consultation with the landcare community and stakeholders is core to success of the planning process, so please keep an eye out for opportunities to have your say.

With the State election approaching in November, LVI has produced its policy recommendations for landcare and invited all parties to consider them in preparing their election platforms.  LVI’s document Building a Strong Future for Victorian Landcare highlights key ways a future government can support landcare.  Central to our advice is the need for continued and expanded support for the Landcare Facilitator and Grants programs. 

LVI is always eager to hear from its member groups.  If you have any ideas or issues you would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact Debbie Shea on or the Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Maclean on or 03 9034 134. 

Did you catch the Landcare Conference this month? It was a packed program with a broad diversity of presentations reflecting the diversity of Landcare groups and projects throughout Australia. About 1600 people attended the conference (500 delegates in Sydney and 1100 virtual delegates online).

Presentations were streamlined into several topics, including Landcare Farming and Emerging Environmental Markets, Environment and Climate Change, community Partnerships in Action and Urban Landcare. There were over 140 presenters across the two days.

Anyone can now view the presentations from the conference online. Go to this website to view all of the talks. I enjoyed the keynote presentation by Prof. Mark Howden from the Institute for Climate Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University.

During the conference, the 2022 National Landcare Awards were presented. The Upper Hopkins Land Management Group was represented by the indefatigable Don Rowe for the Australian Government Individual Landcarer Award. Congratulations to Don for his recognition!

Advance your career with a farming and agriculture sector women’s leadership scholarship

Partial scholarships of $1000-$5,000 are available to help women in select industries participate in our world-class leadership courses.

Enquire now to find out if you are eligible.
Applications close Friday October 7 2022.

Urban Trees in Ararat and District

Nick Moll, Project Officer for Ararat Landcare Group

This July, the Ararat Landcare Group, partnering with Ararat Rural City Council and assisted by a number of invaluable volunteers, planted 102 urban street trees across 4 locations around Ararat. The project was a great success, with the aesthetic difference of adding trees to the street being immediately apparent. If you haven’t seen the demonstration planting sites yet, head over to McGibbony St, Tuson St, Gordon St or Laby St to check them out!

A new tree at one of the demonstration sites in Ararat

A number of other major developments have happened within the Urban Tree Project since then. The creation of a booklet, covering the benefits of street trees and the benefits of trees in resident’s private backyards is soon to be completed, along with 5 short videos, focusing on different aspects of urban trees and why they’re so important. These educational materials are due for release across Ararat very soon, so keep an eye out for them!

Last week we were also welcomed to an Ararat Rural City Council meeting where we had the opportunity to present the benefits of urban trees, why they’re needed in the region, and how to create a successful urban forest. It was very interesting to get Council’s thoughts on the project and begin the process of creating a strong urban forest program in Ararat.

With the Urban Trees Project drawing to a close, in the coming weeks a short follow up survey will be released to see how the project has influenced Ararat and how many people have begun thinking about urban trees. Although the project may be winding down, Ararat’s urban forest is just starting out. It has been an amazing journey so far, sparking the conversation around urban trees and their value, and we are very excited to see where this project leads.

Urban trees make us happier, healthier and more connected, and provide numerous essential ecosystem services. As Sir David Attenborough once said, “Ancient trees are precious. There is little else on earth that plays host to such a rich community of life within a single living organism.”

Urban Trees logos

This project is supported by the Victorian Government and funded through the Sustainability Fund – Supporting Our Regions to Adapt program and our partner Ararat Rural City Council.

Protecting wetlands together

Lisa McIntyre, Landcare Facilitator with South Grampians Environment & Landcare

The GHCMA Our Catchments, Our Communities project is focusing on improving catchment health and climate resilience through activities that support wetland cultural knowledge, health and connectivity in the upper Wannon and Hopkins River catchments. 

Wetlands – particularly seasonal herbaceous wetlands – occur in abundance throughout the ”Our Catchments Our Community” (OCOC) focus area (the area depicted by green shading on the map), having some of the highest density clusters found across Victoria.  However, approximately half of these have been lost due to drainage, stock access, and cropping.

Map of the OCOC region

The OCOC focus area covers the reach of 4 landcare networks, each supported by a landcare facilitator who are working together to support farmers -by enabling them to consider protecting their wetland sites, and demonstrating no negative financial impact because of that. 

And the exciting thing for our area is that we’ve received funding from the OCOC Project to work on two landscape projects!

Protecting Wetlands Together – with effective, efficient landscape scale rabbit control

We don’t need to tell you of the negative and devastating impacts rabbits have had in Australia.  But we can tell you that now we have funding to help get on top of this problem.

By helping communities to work together on their rabbit populations – across the OCOC area – we will be able to significantly reduce rabbit numbers.  We all know that working in this way (involving neighbouring landholders and land managers) provides the most effective, safe and humane means to achieve large-scale rabbit control.  

The OCOC funding will provide for effective, efficient rabbit control, by engaging an experienced pest animal control business.

But of course we’ll need your help! Participants will identify warrens and then mark (using flagging tape or similar) and map them. Participants will also need to be available when the contractor is working on their sites.  They’ll also check the sites soon after control, to record any reinfestations, and notify if follow up action is required. For long-term success, monitoring of the sites need to be maintained and appropriate action undertaken when required, as if this is not done, we all know that the site can be reinfested in just a few years.

We’ll be having an introductory evening meeting later in the year, to introduce you to our contractor, and discuss logistics.  We’ll also have a short site assessment form to fill out – to help the contractor determine control methods and streamline the work.  Actual control work will happen in Feb – April 2023.

What happens now?

If you live within the OCOC (green shaded) area, have wetlands close by, and have a rabbit population, then please get in touch!

  • Lisa McIntyre,  Landcare Facilitator for Panyyabyr, Mirranatwa, Bunnugal, Glenthompson, Mooralla & Bulart Landcare Groups  on 0428 749 235  or email
  • Jileena Cole, BBCAG Facilitator on 0428 341 869 or email 
  • Ayesha Burdett, UHLMG Facilitator, on 0429 021 500 or email
  • Joel Owins, Landcare Facilitator for Beaufort, Skipton, Lake Goldsmith & Stoneleigh Landcare Groups on 0457 008 895 or email

Protecting wetlands together…Precision Ag

Jileena Cole, Landcare Facilitator with Beyond Bolac Catchment Action Group

Beyond Bolac Catchment Action Group, together with Upper Hopkins Land Management Group and a number of other landcare groups from Southern Grampians and Beaufort region have secured funding for a new project called Protecting Wetlands Together…Precision Ag. This project has been funded as part of GHCMA program called Our Catchment Our Communities (OCOC) Landscape Scale Grants.  

This project aims to provide clarity on what precision ag strategies and software is currently being used within the OCOC region and inspire a select group of cropping farmers and agronomists to consider precision ag strategies to protect and manage wetlands. This group will become known as the OCOC Precision Ag Advisory Group. The group will then be provided the opportunity to learn about the latest technology available for precision ag by attending the Agri futures Evoke AG ‘Down to Earth’ conference in Feb 2023. This will be followed by a workshop to explore further what precision ag strategies could be used to protect and manage wetlands within a cropping system.

A survey is currently being developed to learn about what precision ag strategies are currently being used. This will be circulated mid-October to mid-November 2022. If you are a cropping farmer, it would be very much appreciated if you could complete the survey, and indicate if you would be interested in being involved with the advisory group and attend the conference.

For further information about the project, please contact your local Landcare Facilitator:

  • Jileena Cole, BBCAG Facilitator on 0428 341 869 or email 
  • Ayesha Burdett, UHLMG Facilitator, on 0429 021 500 or email
  • Lisa McIntyre,  Landcare Facilitator for Panyyabyr, Mirranatwa, Bunnugal, Glenthompson, Mooralla & Bulart Landcare Groups  on 0428 749 235  or email
  • Joel Owins, Landcare Facilitator for Beaufort, Skipton, Lake Goldsmith & Stoneleigh Landcare Groups on 0457 008 895 or email

Platypus updates

Ayesha Burdett, Upper Hopkins LMG Landcare Facilitator

About 12 months ago, the Great Australian Platypus Search recruited citizen scientists to collect information about platypus across Victoria. Several Landcarers from our region participated in this massive data-collection event, including me and my family. We were asked to collect water samples from set locations and return them to the lab, along with some photos and notes about the location.

Results from the Great Australian Platypus Search in the Upper Hopkins. An orange X indicates that no platypus DNA was detected.

In the lab, the water samples were analysed for environmental DNA. eDNA is created as animals constantly shed small fragments of DNA into the environment (through faeces, hair loss, urine, skin cells, etc.). The water samples we provided are a snapshot of the DNA present in the river or creek at the time of sampling. In the lab, the researchers sort through the water samples and look for different types of DNA.

The results from the 2021 surveys are now available online. Go to to look for platypus in your favourite waterway.

I took a closer look around my area (Wickliffe) and was disappointed to see that no platypus DNA was detected. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no platypus in the Upper Hopkins! It only means that no DNA was collected in the sample – maybe the platypus were somewhere else that day.

We see platypus fairly frequently around here, and I often hear from landholders in the area that they have platypus in their stretch of river. At this time of year, they seem to enjoy the clean running water and we’re much more likely to spot them.

It would be great to let other people know that we do have platypus in our region, and record it for posterity.

Platypus sightings recorded in the Platy Project. Yellow is recent and green is new.

In the last newsletter, I talked about using iNaturalist to record data and share it with the community (including your friend and neighbours, and researchers using the Atlas of Living Australia). If you spot a platypus, you can easily record it in the app (even better if you have a photo or video!).

Another way to record your platypus sightings is to take part in the Platy Project month of action organised by the Australian Conservation Foundation. Your data will help researchers understand more about this elusive animal, and how we can better protect it. You can sign up online to add data:

I took a look at the platypus sightings recorded so far on the Platy Project. The second map shows the Upper Hopkins region with lots of observations that are recent (recorded between 2001 and 2010) or new (recorded between 2011 and now).

I plan to take a few long walks along the Hopkins in the next two weeks, to see if I can add any more data to the Platy Project. Can you do the same?

More Productive and Biodiverse Farms is a half day forum to share our vision for restoration on farms in Australia’s temperate woodlands. We will share ground-breaking research on the opportunities to improve biodiversity conservation and productivity on farms through investments in improved management of natural assets, including remnant vegetation, plantings and farm dams.

This event will bring together environmental scientists, economists, regional field ecologists, farmers and investment advisors for a reflective and robust discussion about how we can save our disappearing woodlands.

Featured speakers include:

  • Professor David Lindenmayer, Lead Scientist Sustainable Farms, Professor of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University  
  • Dr Martino Malerba, Research Fellow, Blue Carbon Lab, Deakin University

View the full program and list of speakers here

Wednesday 12 October
9am – 12.30pm followed by lunch
Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Melbourne

Please RSVP by Monday 3 October (click here to register)

Wet Weather Release: Treated recycled water into the Hopkins River

Recent wet conditions that have produced significant flows in the Hopkins River have enabled GWMWater to start releasing Class C water from the Ararat Wastewater Treatment Plant into the river from Tuesday 30 August 2022.

Managing Director Mark Williams said recent rainfall had limited the opportunity for water to be used off site, resulting in a significant increase in water held in storage at the wastewater treatment plant.

The wet weather release will continue while flows in the river allow for sufficient dilution in accordance with GWMWater’s operating licence.

Mr Williams said Class C Water was treated recycled water typically used to irrigate racetracks, golf courses, vineyards and recreational reserves.

GWMWater has developed a water quality monitoring program and a management plan to ensure that water releases comply with our licence. The water business has liaised with the Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Management Authority which manages the Hopkins River and has notified the Environment Protection Authority Victoria. Water samples will be taken to monitor water quality during and after the release period.

Members of the community who would like further information are encouraged to contact GWMWater during business hours on 1300 659 961 or visit our website at

Mulcahy and Co logo

Meanderings and reflections

I picked a couple of dry but cool days for water sampling this month. It was great to see so many sites flooded with water, including a few ephemeral wetlands that have resurfaced in the past few months. In the Upper Hopkins, we are lucky to have hundreds of wetlands. They provide a unique habitat for an important community of flora and fauna, trap sediment and nutrients, and add aesthetic values to our landscape.

I have been monitoring water quality in the Upper Hopkins for more than three years now. Down below, I have tried a new way of presenting the EC data, replacing the summary table with graphs for each catchment. These graphs include all of the data collected since 2000 (many thanks to Una Allender and her team!). The green boxes show the range of data (from 25th quartile to 75th quartile) with the median in the middle and outliers to the left and right. The big blue dots are the recordings I made this month.

You can see that most of the blue dots are to the left of the median, indicating that EC is relatively low throughout the region compared to the long-term data. This is not surprising at all! It has been a wet winter/spring and the little tributaries are running. Plus, there has been a release of water from the Ararat wastewater treatment plant. All of this means that there is a flush of fresh water coming down the river, diluting the saltiness of the water.

Water monitoring results

EC levels for livestock water supplies.   Value given in brackets for each type of livestock is the EC level at which production decline begins:  beef cattle (6,200 EC μS/cm), lactating ewes and weaners (6,000 EC μS/cm), dry sheep (9,300 EC μS/cm)), horses (6,200 EC μS/cm), pigs (3,100 EC μS/cm),  poultry (3,100 EC μS/cm).