10th July – the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas: its Purpose and Significance – Elizabeth Newton

Our guest speaker in July will be Elizabeth Newton, who has worked for DELWP but is currently seconded to Trust for Nature.  Her talk will be a webinar presentation by Zoom on the importance of ensuring environmental data is recorded on the VBA.

7.30 pm Friday 10th July

If you registered for our May and/or June sessions, you will be sent the link for registering with Zoom on Monday 6th July.  If you have not joined earlier webinars and wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au

Exploring the purpose and significance of the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas database – making your observations count!

The Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA) is a foundation dataset that feeds into biodiversity tools used in the government’s everyday environmental decision making. Approvals and permits, funding decisions, and burn planning all rely on biodiversity observations submitted to the VBA.

In this presentation we will cover what the VBA is, contributing your data, and how your own flora and fauna records can make a difference.

We will also explore why the Department of Environment, Land & Water (DELWP) uses the VBA, and how it differs and interacts with other biodiversity databases such as Atlas of Living Australia, iNaturalist, and Birdata.

12 June 2020 – Solutions to Insect Armageddon: Webinar Presentation

Our meeting on Friday 12 June at 7.30 pm will be online using Zoom. The guest speaker will be geneticist Professor Phil Batterham, of Melbourne University’s School of Biosciences.

Prof. Phil Batterham’s career has spanned almost four decades at the University of Melbourne. Throughout his career, Phil has wrestled with the problem of insecticide resistance, providing both practical solutions for more sustainable control of the insect pests of agriculture and major contributions to our understanding of evolution.   In recent times Phil’s focus has switched to the impact that low doses of insecticides may be having upon global populations of insects that are in decline.

Insects are everywhere, and vital to human food production and natural ecosystems. While most of us are familiar with the tasks of some beneficial insects, we rarely stop to consider just how fundamental their role really is. Bees pollinate crops, dung beetles recycle nutrients, ladybirds control pests and bogong moths are food that sustain endangered pygmy possums. 

Globally, there is evidence that beneficial insect populations are in freefall, and insecticide use to control pest insects is a key suspect. So how can humans control the insects we don’t want, while avoiding collateral damage to the insects that we need?

Solutions to Insect Armageddon addresses this question, showcasing four fascinating stories of breakthrough research from the University of Melbourne driving new, non-chemical ways to control insects.

If you wish to attend this webinar, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.auto receive details on how to register.

Note: If you registered for the May webinar, you will receive an email with details on how to register for the June session.


Due to Federal and State Governments’ requirements that we practice “social distancing”, restrict gatherings severely and avoid non-essential travel the CNFC Committee has decided that for the time being, all club face-to-face activities will be suspended – general meetings, excursions and committee meetings. The Committee will continue to meet as necessary via teleconference and email.

So, the general meeting on Friday 17th April and excursion on Saturday 18th are both cancelled, as are all subsequent meetings over the next few months until further notice.

However, we can still enjoy nature especially during this fine Autumn weather, and we encourage you to record your observations of interesting plants, birds and other creatures even from your backyard, taking photographs of special sightings.

Consider preparing a short note on interesting observations, and emailing it to the CFNC address (castlemainefnc@hotmail.com) for the Newsletter.Watch the club Newsletter, website and emails for other ways in which we can all participate in nature for enjoyment and protection through the challenging months ahead.

14 March – Karl Just leads a walk where the Eltham Copper Butterfly has been found

Karl Just, local ecologist, has been preparing a Management Plan for the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Nature Reserve – the “wild” area up the hill, west of Barkers Creek.  Karl will lead our excursion on Saturday afternoon, March 14th, through the area, which is where the Eltham Copper Butterfly was first found in this region.  CFNC members were very involved assisting with weed removal and planting to protect the Bursaria spinosa  which is the food for the ECB caterpillars, attended by their guardian ants.  Meet as usual at 1.30 pm at the Octopus, opposite the motel in Duke Street to share transport, or in Froomes Rd, opposite Burnett Rd. The paths are steep in places and a bit rough, so wear suitable footwear.  Bring afternoon tea.

13 March 2020 – Susan Lawrence talking about Sludge: An Environmental History of the Gold Rush

The gold rush was one of the defining episodes in Australian history and has left a rich legacy in culture, architecture and archaeology. Many of the stories are well-known but the profound environmental disruption associated with the gold rush is all but forgotten. For decades a deluge of sand, silt and gravel poured from the mines. New research is showing how one hundred years later the effects of the sludge continue to shape Victoria’s rivers and floodplains. It has implications for the management of cultural heritage, river remediation programs, catchment management, public health and debates about how people and environments interact.

Prof. Susan Lawrence is an archaeologist at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She has nearly thirty years’ experience working on sites all over Australia, including Tasmanian whaling stations and South Australian farms. She is the author of several books and has published internationally on gender, artefact studies, urban archaeology, colonialism, and industrial archaeology. Susan is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London. Her most recent book is Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields (Black Inc/La Trobe University Press 2019), co-authored with Peter Davies.

Eltham Copper Butterfly Talk by Elaine Bayes and Karl Just

Castlemaine and Bendigo host the largest area of Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) habitat in the world.  Given the global decline in insects, particularity Butterflies which appear to be the hardest hit, it is now critical that we protect our Australian butterflies, of which ECB is a flagship species.

At our meeting on Friday 8th November Elaine Bayes and Karl Just, local ecologists, will be presenting the current distribution of ECB, the amazing relationship ECB has with Notoncus ants and the host plant Sweet Bursaria.  Current programs of monitoring and management will also be presented. There has been little research on the north central ECB for the last decade. Elaine, Karl and Julie Radford are trying to change this by leading the community in searching for new ECB populations and mapping colonies so we can protect them from planned burns and other threats.


Upcoming opportunities for the local community to be involved in studying and saving this species will be provided.  Monitoring ECB also provides a great excuse to walk through our stunning bushlands over the summer months when ECB are flying.

This monthly CFNC meeting will start at 7.30pm on 8th of November. Please note that this month the meeting will be held in the Chapel behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Art Gallery and Museum).  All members are all encouraged to attend and, as always, visitors are also very welcome.  There is no cost for entry, and no need for RSVPs.

13 Sept 2019 – David Cheal talk on habitat restoration

David Cheal is the guest presenter at the September 2019 Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club meeting.  David is currently the Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Environmental Management at Federation University, which is a continuation of a highly successful career in many fields of ecology (click here for further info about his research interests).  His talk is titled Habitat Restoration in the Mallee – major landscape improvements over the last 25 years or so.

Of this talk, David writes “There has been a campaign to control & reduce browsing & grazing pressure in the Mallee Parks for a few decades now.  We know how much time, effort & budget was spent on these campaigns, but have these campaigns been successful?  Have the habitats and the natural environment generally responded positively?  Where exactly is recovery evident?  What have we learned about such long-term degradation and long-term oriented recovery?  This presentation reports an objective assessment of recovery and future directions to further this encouraging process.”

This monthly CFNC meeting will be held at the usual time and location – from 7.30pm on the second Friday of the month – 13 September – in the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Art Gallery and Museum).  All members are all encouraged to attend and, as always, visitors are also very welcome.  There is no cost for entry, and no need for RSVPs.

9 August 2019 Speaker: Paul G Bates from DELWP

Paul is the Acting Regional Manager of Forest Fire Operations for DELWP in our region. He will talk about the draft strategic fire management plan that is currently out for engagement and also what is on the joint fuel management plan in the Castlemaine area. He is happy to answer questions after the talk.

The presentation will be held in the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine, commencing from 7.30pm on Friday 9th August.  Members and visitors are all welcome, and there is no cost for entry.

12 July – Speaker: Patrick Kavanagh on his studies of insects

Discovering the hidden world of invertebrates using macrophotography

The natural world has many wonders hidden from our unaided sight by their tiny scale. With the advent of digital macrophotography, these micro worlds become accessible to our perception.

Patrick Kavanagh is an avid macrophotographer of invertebrates in the woodlands of the Newstead area. In this presentation, he will discuss the challenges posed in photographing the miniscule and how digital photography makes new solutions available for these challenges. He will also share some of the fascinating tiny lives he’s discovered on his bush block at Strangways.