Down to Earth – January/February 2023



Newsletter of Project Platypus
Upper Wimmera Region Landcares

Jan/Feb 2023

In this edition:

Feature Stories:
So you want to restore habitat…but where do you start?? (Part I)
Some thank you’s
Next Door Natives
Revisiting the spider wasps, and some photos from our community

In the weeds
Updates from the IPA team

Useful Resources

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

Junior Landcare Grants and Events



Preserving our land –
Protecting our wildlife


9 Ormston Rd Stawell, Victoria
PO Box 838 Stawell 3380
ph 03 5358 4410

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Feature Story

So you want to restore habitat….but where do you start??

Part I: the “Big questions”

It’s a new year, and a perfect time to reflect on why our Landcare members do what they do, and where we want to go next as a Landcare community.  Several of our Landcares have identified biolinks as being an important focus for their future. Biolinks involve habitat creation in a strategic manner, to connect fragmented patched of habitat with new habitat “stepping stones”. Of course, that means successful biolinks projects require careful planning between our groups, including the strategic selection of sites and the development of methodical project plans to ensure long term success. These projects must also appeal to the wider community, particularly to landholders who live along key biolink paths.

In this article, I want to pose some questions that might stimulate thinking about what our local Landcare community would like to achieve next, and how best to start. I’ll use a new project running under the care of one of our Concongella Landcarers, Huib Ottow, as a case study. Huib has recently launched a plan for restoring a degraded bend of the Astons Scour creek. I visited his site in November and he gave me the grand tour of the site and project! I admired the methodical way he was approaching the project and thought it would make for a great case study, illustrating many of the steps I’d like to cover.

This shaped up to be a set of three articles over the next newsletters. We start with Part I: the “Big questions”, followed next time by Part II: Building the plan, and then Part III: On-the-ground work.

Read More…
Huib Ottow, President of Concongella Landcare, giving me the grand tour of his site!
The creek along Aston’s Scour in Concongella where Huib has established his habitat improvement project

Thank you to our supporters

In December, you might have read our article about going surveying for squirrel gliders around Dadswell Bridge using thermal night scopes, which we learned are an essential tool for nocturnal mammal surveys. If you missed it, you can read that here.

We would like to share our sincere thanks to the Stawell Gold Mine who has generously given us the funding to buy our very own thermal monocular, through their Community Grants Program.

We would also like to thank Bill and Ben at J&A Shooting in Horsham for helping us pick out our perfect scope. We settled on an InfiRay Finder II thermal monocular.

This year, with our shiny new thermal monocular, we will work with our Landcare Groups to conduct more surveys for nocturnal mammals and birds across our landscape. With a better picture of which species are living in our area, and in which patches of habitat, we can pick the best habitat stepping stones to create next!

A sugar glider spotted in Rhymney, my first find with the new scope!


Do you shop at IGA?

Ritchies IGA runs a Community Benefit Program for folks who are loyalty card holders. Through this program, every time you use your card, Ritchies donates money to your nominated local charity.

We would like to gauge if there would be enough community support to enrol Project Platypus in the Community Benefit Program. To qualify for a payment, we would need folks who have a Ritchies IGA loyalty card, and who have nominated us as their chosen charity, to spend $2000 for the month as a group (excluding tobacco, gift cards, and phone recharges). So that is at least 10 people spending $50 a week (or more people spending less).

Please let us know if you shop at Ritchies IGA and would be willing to nominate Project Platypus as your chosen charity.  You can respond in our survey here.

If we have enough support, we will enrol!

Next Door Natives

Profiling the ecology of our local flora, fauna and fungi

I’ve had a couple people tell me they loved reading about the mud-nesting spider wasps from the December newsletter, so I thought I’d share a quick update! Here is the original article if you want to catch up. (Long story short, mother wasp catches spiders, paralyses them, stuffs them in a mud nest built inside any good hole she can find along with a single wasp egg, and when the egg hatches, baby gets to feast on paralysed spiders from the safety of the mud nest!)

In January, I lifted up my office printer to find the bottom stuffed full of spiders (nothing is safe from these wasps!). So I decided to save the spider wasp nests in little plastic dishes to document the development of the baby wasps. Here’s what the process looks like starting on ‘day 0’ (when I found the mud nests full of paralysed spiders). As of right now, the wasps have not yet emerged from their pupa…!

I’d also like to share a few photos sent to me by Landcarers of some of our cool local wildlife spotted in the last month!

The first set comes from Clive from Jallukar LC, who has had not one, but TWO beautiful lace monitors hanging around his property! We reckon based on these pics that Clive might be looking at a male and a female…fingers crossed for some babies in the not too far future!

Clive’s two lace monitors (note the difference in patterns along the jaw in the bottom images). We think the bottom left might be a male (with a more bulky snout) and the bottom right a female.

The next was was fun as it had me stumped for the better part of a morning! Madeline from Moyston LC sent me this bug, which was quite a big guy – a couple centimeters long. As my general rule from experience, the really weirdest looking ‘bugs’ tend to come from the “true bug” group of insects (Hemiptera), and the big ‘nose’ shape at the front reminded me of some bizarre tropical leafhoppers, so I headed down that path. And after lots of googling, I discovered that Madeline had actually spotted Ledromorpha planirostris, which is the largest leafhopper in the world! You can learn more here. It is really cool to have such a noteworthy bug around out local area, since usually the winners of the ‘biggest and brightest’ invertebrates come from the tropics.

The largest leafhopper in the world. You are looking at its body from the top down. It’s head is facing down and there are two bumps (the eyes) on either side of the big flat ‘nose’ (which is not really a nose, so much as a weird modification of the head shape, potentially to help with camouflage if I had to hazard a guess)

If you have photos of local landscapes/wildlife you’d love to share, you can e-mail them to me at or text me on 0414143456 and I will share them in the newsletter and the Project Platypus facebook page! And I am always keen to help identify a weird bug 🙂

In the Weeds

Updates from the IPA team, and information on local weeds and pests and how they are prioritised

Lachlan has some updates to share on the activities of the Project Platypus IPA team over the last two months:

“The Project Platypus field crew have been out delivering a lot of control work across the Grampians to Pyrenees area:

  • Through January we have been controlling weeds along roadsides for the Northern Grampians and Ararat Shires. In the Ararat Shire we have focused the work around the Moyston area and continued south through to Willaura controlling weeds like St John’s Wort, gorse, sweet briar rose and broom species. In the Northern Grampians Shire we have focused our work south of the Western Hwy and more recently along Bulgana Rd and then towards Landsborough West spraying St John’s Wort, sweet briar rose, broom species and horehound.


  • We have also removed more Yarra Burgan (Kunzea leptospermoides) at Halls Gap with the Landmate crew around the northern end of Scott/High Rds. This is the third year of delivery for the R E Ross funded project where we have been mapping the extent of the species and trialling methods of control when removing plants. The change to the thicker/denser areas the plant has established is something crews and landholders engaged in the project can be really proud of. Some recent work has been around High Rd and the caravan park  in town/Mackey’s Peak Rd area.
    • Get more info on our project page here


  • Stawell Urban Landcare group have funded work around Big Hill and the arboretum to control flax leaf and cape broom as well as blue periwinkle and many garden escapees. We also managed to get some treatment delivered within the grounds of the Stawell Secondary College and thanks to the staff


  • Black Range Landcare has assisted our crews and Landmate to deliver some control for St John’s wort and now we are switching our focus to blackberry control and spiny rush.


  • We have also been working closely with DEECA (previously DELWP) to finish up some blackberry control at Hickman’s Creek south of Elmhurst and Fiery Creek near Cave Hill. This work has been funded through the Good Neighbour Program and where possible, Project Platypus have worked closely with department staff to coordinate work with Landcare groups and other land managers.”

Just a quick note – if you are using Gmail, the last bits of this newsletter (Resources, Upcoming Events and Grants) might automatically be clipped off. To see the rest, please click the “view entire message” option, which you should see at the very bottom left of this e-mail.

Useful resources

Victorian Landcare Program’s new “Resource Hub”

The Victorian Landcare Program has recently shared a new “Resource hub for environmental volunteers and landcarers.”

I am still having a look through all that is on offer, but it has resources regarding topics including:

  • Attracting volunteers
  • Working with young people
  • First people’s cultural knowledge
  • Health, safety and wellbeing,
  • Money
  • Citizen science
  • Group management
  • Risks and insurance

Flood Recovery Resource list (compiled by the Victorian Landcare Program)

The Victorian Landcare Program has also recently shared a set of available flood recovery resources they have compiled from a variety of sources including Agriculture Victoria, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), VicEmergency, Department of Health (Vic), Catchment Management Authorities, Disaster Recovery Australia, and BlazeAid.

You can find all those compiled links here:

Upcoming Events

Would you like to share a story with the Victorian Landcare magazine?

The Victorian Landcare Program is looking for contributions for their winter issue will will focus on revegetation and restoration projects. If anyone is keen to share a story from their Landcare, give me a holler at or 0414143456 and I can help put together a submission! The contribution deadline is next month, March 10th.

Would you like to participate in a survey regarding volunteerism?

Social researchers at the University of Queensland are currently working on a project, led by Dr Angela Dean, on the benefits of volunteering, and what types of experiences and feedback help strengthen the capacity and motivation of volunteers, enabling them to continue making such a valuable contribution.

From the researchers:

As part of the project, we are hoping to survey environmental stewardship volunteers to explore their perceptions of volunteering and stewardship. The project website can be accessed here.

You are invited to participate in an online study to identify what motivates volunteers to participate in environmental stewardship programs, and what factors support the valuable contribution of people like you. The study is completely anonymous and takes approximately 10-12 minutes to complete. Everyone that completes the survey will be offered the chance to win one of two vouchers worth $300. The survey is being run by researchers from the University of Queensland with support from the NSW Environmental Trust. The complete the survey or to find out more information click here

Project Platypus will be shared the results at the end of the survey, which should give us useful data for promoting volunteerism within our own Landcare network!

The Regional Climate Adaptation Group is looking for EOIs for Youth Members 

Are you aged between 18 – 25?

Are you passionate about preparing for – and helping others in the region to prepare for the changing climate?

Do you want to help implement exciting projects, have your voice heard and make a difference in your community?

If you answered yes, please register your interest here

The Regional Climate Adaptation Group (RCAG) provides placed-based project guidance and advice to the Grampians Region Climate Adaptation Strategy (RCAS). Members include a range of stakeholders and community members, identified through an expression of interest process. The group is active and committed to the role of linking the RCAS and yearly delivery plans to the needs and aspirations of the community, business and key regional stakeholders. The RCAG is split into two sub-groups – Wimmera RCAG and Central Highlands RCAG.

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

Below is a run down of grant opportunities with application due dates that are coming up in the next few months:

Strengthening Rural Communities: Small & Vital grants

Foundation for Rural and regional renewal

More Info Here

Due date: 5pm 1st March.

Grants available for a broad range of grassroots, community-led initiatives that directly and clearly benefit local communities that strengthen local people, places and
climate solutions, with a preference for smaller communities (populations under 15,000).

Funding announced late June 2023

Strengthening Rural Communities: Prepare and Recover grants

Foundation for Rural and regional renewal

More Info Here

Due date: 5pm 1st March.

Grants up to $25,000 are available for a broad range of initiatives to strengthen the capacity and capability of local people, organisations, networks, and systems that help communities to be informed, skilled, connected and resourced for the future. Supports communities in remote, rural and regional communities across Australia to implement initiatives that prevent and prepare for future climate related impacts, or recover from existing disasters through the medium to long term process.

Communities impacted by the 2022 floods in Victoria are invited to apply.

Funding announced late June 2023

Strengthening Rural Communities: Rebuilding regional communities Grant

Foundation for Rural and regional renewal

More Info Here

Due date: 5pm 1st March.

Up to $10,000 to enhance the process of recovery of remote, rural and
regional communities from the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • Reduce social isolation and foster stronger, more resilient remote, rural and regional communities; and/or
  • Sustain local remote, rural and regional organisations and their work.


Highways and Byways Small Grants Program

Highways and Byways

More Info Here

Due date: March 15, 2023

Up to $4,000 for projects that promote environmental rehabilitation and restoration to
rectify the impacts of recent fires, floods or drought. These projects may
heal the land in holistic ways, promote community relationships and/or encourage the intergenerational sharing of knowledge and skills.

Financial support for flood-affected farmers

Agriculture Victoria

More Info Here

Due date: All are due 30th April 2023 4.00pm

  • Primary Producer Recovery Grants: Up to $75,000 grants to cover the cost of recovery  and get businesses up and running again.
    Note: This replaces the $10,000 Primary Producer Flood Clean–Up, Relief Grants announced on 19 October. Producers that have received a Primary Producer Flood Clean–Up Relief Grant of $10,000 can now apply for up to a further $65,000 under the Primary Producer Recovery Grant, bringing the total to $75,000.
  • Rural Landholder Grants: Up to $25,000 grants to cover the costs of disaster impacts for small-scale producers.
  • Primary Producer Concessional Loans: Up to $250,000 to restore or replace damaged equipment and infrastructure, or to cover the short-term business expenses.
  • Primary Producer Transport Subsidies: Up to $15,000 to support the transport of emergency fodder or stock drinking water, and the movement of livestock

Damien Greer Lawyers Community Grant Program

Damien Greer Lawyers

More Info Here

Due Date: Round 1 due June 30th, 2023

Up to $2,500 to support organisations that work within their local community and encourage the following values:

  • Helping the community in times of need
  • Building community togetherness and sense of belonging
  • Promoting positive health and wellbeing
  • Supporting community services and groups
  • Nurturing the local environment

Victorian Landcare Program Grants

Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA)

Stay tuned…Planning has started for a number of grants that are to open in the first half 2023 including the 2023 Victorian Landcare Grants, and the 2023 Victorian Landcare and Biodiversity Grants, which are funded by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), formerly DELWP.

More information on these grants will be on the DEECA environment grants website when it becomes available… I’ll let you all know soon as they are out!

Strengthening Rural Communities: In a Good Place

Foundation for Rural and regional renewal

More Info Here

Stay tuned: Next round will be announced in April 2023

The In a Good Place program gives small remote, rural and regional communities across Australia the opportunity to access funds for a broad range of community-driven projects, services, activities or initiatives, which clearly and directly focus on strengthening mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable community members who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues.

The program aims to support a range of approaches that are preventative or responsive in nature, reduce social isolation by increasing social participation and connectedness, and reduce stigma surrounding mental health by encouraging open discussion and supporting self-help-seeking.

Because several of our Landcares have expressed interested in creating more opportunities for kids to get involved, here are upcoming Junior Landcare events and opportunities that might be of interest:

Junior Landcare Professional Development Webinar

March 7 at 4pm AEDT

Junior Landcare Ambassador Costa Georgiadis and Junior Landcare educators Sam Harrison and Adam Shipp will host a webinar for educators and Landcare Facilitators/Co-ordinators in the new school year focused on the new First Nations Junior Landcare learning activities. New activities to be launched early 2023 include ‘First Nations Yarning Circle Series’ and ‘How to connect with Traditional Owners and First Nations people in your Community Series’. Educators will be provided with a professional development certificate.

To register please go to:

If you are already registered for the Landcare Webinar Program we will contact you with the details on how to participate in the webinar.

Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants 


More Info Here

Due Date: 17 March 2023

Woolies awards $1000 to schools as part of their Junior Landcare grants, which will reopen in early 2023. Woolies has recently shared some ideas for projects you could apply for through this grant. Find them here.

That’s all for now!

Please let me know if you would like to share anything with your fellow landcarers in the PP region through this newsletter, such as events you’re group is running, great resources you have come across or developed, or exciting accomplishments from on your own plot of land!



Newsletter prepared by
Elia Pirtle
Local Landcare Facilitator
Project Platypus Upper Wimmera Landcare Network
Mob 0414 143 456

Copyright © 2022. Project Platypus Organisation Incorporated.  All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 838, Stawell, Victoria 3380


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