Workshop 1 will be held on Sat 28 May, 10am-3pm (or 4pm). Dates for Workshops 2 and 3 are likely to be June and August respectively. Fingers crossed that COVID doesn’t trip us up again!
If you have booked already, you’ll get an email via Humanitix as well. If you can’t attend, please let us know as there is a waiting list. If you want to attend and haven’t booked, please use the link on our main webpage and add yourself to the waiting list.
Our workshops will be guided by Amos Atkinson and Mick Bourke, both Djaara fire practitioners. Workshop 2 will involve the Djandak crew and DELWP.
And don’t forget, you need to do Workshop 1 to be involved in Workshop 2, and do your Basic Wildfire Awareness to be on the ground during Workshop 2.
Having postponed the workshops in September 2021 – with the challenges posed by COVID and the season – we’ve taken the time to set up vegetation and bird survey transects – details below.
The proposed djandak wi – the Djaara traditional burning approach – has been approved by DELWP for the Newstead-Spring Hill Track area in Autumn 2022. No dates have yet been set for the initial workshop, nor for the burn. We’ll post an update once these are known.
Establishing a vegetation baseline
Karl Just, project ecologist, has established 20 vegetation transects, each 50 metres long and grouped in pairs at 10 separate sites. All run north-south. Along each transect, Karl has established 10 one metre square quadrats. In each quadrat Karl has recorded all vascular plant species and ground cover estimates including bryophytes/lichen, bare ground, rock, litter and course woody debris. Listen to Karl explaining the approach in this short video.
His aim is to create baseline vegetation sampling prior to the proposed cultural burn – djandak wi – that will be undertaken by Dja Dja Wurrung across an area of approx. 21 hectares to the east of the Newstead-Maldon Road.
As well as the 16 transects in the djandak wi area, two additional monitoring sites (4 transects) have been established within the adjoining area burnt by DELWP in autumn 2021.
Karl describes the area as open forest dominated by relatively young growing trees: Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), Silver Bundy (Eucalyptus nortonii) and Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon), with understorey shrubs varying from sparse to locally dense patches, with the most prominent species including Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), Sifton Bush (Cassinia sifton) and Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis). Overall the higher slopes and ridges support a higher diversity and cover of ground-layer species, with large areas of the lower flats supporting few ground-layer plants and extensive bare ground, bryophytes and litter. Overall he has recorded 95 vascular plant species were recorded across the djandak wi area, including 77 species in the transects and 18 species recorded incidentally outside the transects. Of these 79 are indigenous and 16 are introduced (but overall weed cover is low).
The most diverse areas on the higher ground contain a rich suite a of small shrubs, grasses, lilies, orchids and forbs including Gorse Bitter-pea (Daviesia ulicifolia), Slender Rice-flower (Pimelea linifolia) Red-anther Wallaby-grass (Rytidosperma pallidum), Twining Fringe-lily (Thysanotus patersonii), Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum), Autumn Greenhood (Pterostylis ampliata), Hood Orchid (Caladenia fuscata) Blue Fairy (Cyanicula caerulea), Rayless Daisy (Brachyscome perpusilla) and Murnong (Microseris walteri).
Thirty-five of the plant species recorded across the burn area have been identified as cultural plants, having documented uses for food, fibre or tool making. Others may be important medicinally or for other cultural reasons.
Bird survey transects
The Muckleford Forest Friends Group (MFFG) has a number of bird survey transects across the Muckleford Forest., each designed to build a more complete record of the bird species found here. Surveys are done quarterly and the results are added to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas – the primary information source used by DELWP when it considers management actions, including planned burns.
Two new transects were set up by Geoff Nevill and Deb Shaw in September 2021 and are now being surveyed quarterly. The method used is the Birdlife 20 minute, 2 hectare survey.
As well, MMFG, with the support of DELWP and assistance of Geoff Park, reviewed a decade or so of bird records from Geoff’s Natural Newstead blog and have added these to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.
Fire Stories – part of Newstead’s Words in Winter 2018 – celebrated transformation. In the sunshine of a winter’s afternoon, we gathered, created, reflected and then shared our creations with the fire. Mostly anyway! A few things were held back, suggesting stories that needed to be developed further, or objects that suddenly felt precious!
It was fun and very playful, with an amazing arrange of natural materials – string, leaves, branches, paper, natural ochres and more – used to create objects for the fire. As each person tossed their creation into the fire, with a story, or a few words or just in silence, it was magical to see their creation turned into some more warm for all of us around the fire.
Fire warms us in winter, but in summer fire evokes fear. Fire is part of the story of this landscape. Fire transforms and displaces. Fire creates shifts; not only of the earth, plants and animals, but transforms our own internal worldviews, experiences and memories. Transformations can create space for the new – in our lives and in the landscape.
Following on from reading and sharing fire stories as part of Words in Winter 2017, this year we will explore the idea of ‘transformation’.
Join us to express your creativity around the idea of ‘transformations’ – we’ll have materials for you to work with to express your ideas. Artists including those exhibiting in EarthBody will be there to help. Then as darkness falls, we’ll sit around a warming fire and explore the meaning of ‘transformation’ and transform some of our creations through the fire.
This event follows the opening of EarthBody at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub at 2pm.
Date & time: Sunday 5 August, 4.00pm – 6.30pm.
For further information: follow Talking Fire on Facebook.
Gold coin donation.
Part of Newstead Words in Winter 2018 – for more events go to http://nwiw.blogspot.com/
We’ll be weaving together stories about fire on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – leaving from the Newstead Railway Arts Hub, Tivey Street, Newstead – visiting a spot in the nearby forest just for an hour as it gets dark and the moon rises. Then back at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub where there will be delicious soups to warm us and a fire too. Tell us you are coming by a text to 0418512471 – just so there is enough soup!
Fire is a powerful force and a wonderful comfort. Aboriginal people have stories about how fire was brought to people and settler peoples brought their own experience of fire with them.
Kee woorroong Gunditjmara clan (south-west Victoria) tell this story:
A long time ago fire belonged to the crows who lived at Gariwerd, the Grampian Mountains. They were greedy crows and knew that fire was of great value. A little bird, Yuuloinkeear, firetail wren, was watching the crows making fun and games with fire-sticks. One fire-stick fell to the ground and Yuuloinkeear picked it up and flew away. The crows chased him and Yuuloinkeear soon grew tired. So he passed the fire-stick to Tarrakuuk. Tarrakuuk, the kestrel hawk, took the fire-stick from Yuuloinkeear and lit all the Country behind him. From that time there has been fire for all the Gunditjmara.
(Source: Nyernila: Listen Continuously. Aboriginal Creation Stories of Victoria, Creative Victoria website)
We’ll be sharing stories on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – in the forest and around the fire at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub. Join us! You need to book through Eventbrite so we have enough soup for everyone. Click this link for more information and to book.
A Talking Fire event at Newstead Words in Winter: Saturday 12 August, 4.20pm – 8.30pm.
What is the place of fire in our lives and the lives of the species in our forest?
Join us on a short journey into the forest at twilight. Sitting beneath a particular ancient tree, we will listen to the forest as night falls, and imagine what this tree has witnessed, engaging with the language of the forest. As it gets dark, we will also listen to some stories of fire, safe in the wintery forest landscape.
Then, we’ll return to the Newstead Railway Arts Hub for hearty soup and to sit around a warming fire where we will weave together our own stories, drawing on our experiences in the past and from the evening. Our guides will be Sam Strong, who writes on fire and myths, Chris Johnston plus some special guests.
This journey through place, story, memory, myth and experience is a special event offered by the Talking Fire group as part of Newstead’s Words in Winter.
This event will start and finish at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub, Dundas Street, Newstead. We will be going out into the forest, so please bring a torch, dress warmly and wear sensible shoes. Please arrive at 4.20 sharp so we can leave for the forest by 4.30pm. Our plan is to car pool for the trip.
In the last session of Talking Fire, there was a chance to reflect on what we had heard and experienced over two intense days. The big question was: How can we rethink ‘fire’ at a landscape-scale, not just as a threat to a house or a town? And then – So what might we do differently? What have we learnt? What are we puzzled by?
The notes from this session – created through small group discussions where people moved around the topic tables in a ‘world café’ format – have just been loaded onto the Talking Fire website. Many great ideas!
The Muckleford Forest Friends Group (MFFG) are pursuing the topic of “Rethinking … Values” taking on the idea of documenting the biodiversity of the Muckleford Forest, and then reporting each Easter as part of an annual health check for the large Bendigo Box-Ironbark Forest international Key Biodiversity Area. MFFG is one of a number KBA Guardians across our region that are being formed with the support of Connecting Country.
While the Muckleford Forest earns the Dja Dja Wurrung description of ‘upside down country’ – a reflection of the gold mining history – it is still a much loved and beautiful forest. There is no forest restoration plan for the Muckleford Forest yet, but maybe one day there will be!
Broadly speaking, MFFG plans to select around 10 sites across the Muckleford Forest, and monitor them regularly throughout 2017/2018, so that when the Easter Health Check comes around in 2018, we are in a better position to make an informed assessment. We’ve got ideas for systematic recording, as well as sharing those serendipitous and often wondrous encounters, using the Muckleford Forest blog.
Ultimately it’s all about what we value and how we manage our local landscapes to protect what we love. Want to get involved? If you like planning and organisation, our next meeting is Tues 2 May – or if you’d like to put your hand up to take on a monitoring site (with training on “how to”) or to propose a location you’ve already been monitoring – or with any other great ideas – drop us a line to MFFG
There’s a triangle involved in fire, which involves conditions, substrate and spark.
The “Talking Fire” weekend on 12/13 November lit a spark, but it certainly wasn’t damaging. The triangle of local, Indigenous and technical expertise, field and forest visits, and space to talk about what we’d heard and seen, all created another sort of ignition.
People are concerned about the places they love, including home, hearth and the local landscape more generally. Talking Fire was a great start to a new kind of conversation: about learning, reducing fear, building understanding, caring for our towns, settlements and the whole landscape together.
Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed. Especially Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA). For funding – thanks to Mount Alexander Shire Community Grants, Maldon and District Community Bank (Bendigo Bank), Norman Wettenhall Foundation; catering – Newstead Primary School, Newstead Mens’ Shed; gifts – Goughs Range Olives and Newstead Natives; in-kind support – Newstead Landcare, Connecting Country, Newstead Fire Brigade, Newstead Auxiliary, Friends of Box Ironbark Forests, Bendigo TAFE, DELWP; photographers – Julie Hough, Julie Millowick, Christine Sayer, Marion Williams, Simon Beckett; sound recordists – Andrew Skeoch, Sarah Koschak; oral histories – Gordon Dowell. And three cheers for the planning group too.
And mostly, to everyone who came to any of it, or all, and joined the chat. We think there were around 40 – 50 on each day, and not the same attendees, or speakers. It made for more conversations.
Because many people couldn’t attend the event, or only came to parts of it, we are curating the audio, visual and audio-visual of the weekend at our website http://www.talkingfire.org. You will be able to get a gist of the conversations there. But please be a bit patient for it all to arrive.
We are also interested in collecting ‘fire histories’ around the CFA auxiliary, and other fire experiences – to share and learn from. Contact Gordon 0467 586 881 or Janet 0439 003 469.
Day 1 of Talking Fire was a hit – plenty of listening, reflecting, talking, sharing. We learnt that fire isn’t just one thing – every fire is different. Fire shapes ecology and it shapes the stories we tell. Our bush – the Box-Ironbark forest – doesn’t need fire for regeneration, but it can tolerate very occasional fires. We heard about cultural fires, slow trickling fires that are safe fires. And we talked about where risk reduction might be best – public land, private land or a strategic combination. What’s the right path to take?
Come along on Sunday and hear more. We start at 10.30 and finish at 3.30 at Newstead Community Centre. Looking forward to another great day!