Down to Earth – May 2023



Newsletter of Project Platypus
Upper Wimmera Region Landcares

May 2023

Hi everyone, Victorian Landcare Grant season is now behind us and we are back with lots of updates…including a new manager at Project Platypus, and announcing the date for our 23rd annual winter plant out!

Enjoy the read,

In this edition:

  • Introducing our new Manager and Communications Officer
  • 2023 Victorian Landcare Grants are a wrap
  • Our 23rd Annual Community Plant Out
Landcare Roundup
  • On the farm: Improving farm dams in the Northern Grampians
  • In our towns: Proposing to power our local communities with bioenergy
Next Door Natives
Mozzies, midges and Hairy Marys
In the weeds
Updates from the IPA teamUpcoming Events

Upcoming Grant Opportunities



Preserving our land –
Protecting our wildlife


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

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General Updates

Introducing our new manager, Mark McLean!

The Board of Project Platypus is thrilled to welcome a recently appointed Manager, Mark McLean! Mark is local to the Stawell area and for the least 20 years has been leading projects at Agriculture Victoria at their Horsham facility, while farming wool, lamb and cereals at home.

Mark McLean, new manager of Project Platypus
Read More…

Also introducing me as the new Communications Officer

Since January, I have been busy behind the scenes working one day per week as a part time Communications Officer, in addition to my three days per week as the Local Landcare Facilitator. We now have a new Communications Plan, a design to overhaul our website (and we are excited to unveil the new site later in the year), and plans for increasing our engagement events & media coverage.  Stand-by for an exciting year of community engagement!

2023 Victorian Landcare Grant applications are a wrap!

Congratulations to all our landcare groups who together submitted a whopping 16 Victorian Landcare Grants earlier this month!! That’s nearly double from last year – well done everyone!! Now we cross our fingers and wait. The results are usually announced in
In the meantime, visit our blog for a run down of what everyone applied for, and what might be in store for our region in the next year, including lots of habitat protection work, revegetation, and school collaborations!

Read More…

Announcing the date for our 23rd Annual Community Plant Out!

This year we are teaming up with Jallukar Landcare Group to restore 16ha of land in the Grampians region. Come help us plant 7,000 native, endemic trees, shrubs and grasses, to create new habitat for our local wildlife. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm!

Project Platypus ran its first community plant out event in 2000, and it has been a beloved tradition ever since. Through these weekend events, hundreds of volunteers have planted over half a million trees across the Upper Wimmera. To all our returning volunteers – thank you for your continued dedication to our local environment! And to any new folks joining for the first time, thank you for helping carry on our tradition of coming together as a community and creating more and more habitat every year. We are so glad to have you on the team!

Find more details for the day and register at the Eventbrite page.

Register to help us plant!
The 23rd Annual Project Platypus Community Plant Out

Find more details for the day and register at the Eventbrite page.

Landcare Roundup

Updates from our local landcare groups and other partners covering activities happening in the bush, on the farm, and in our towns 

On the farm: Improving farm dams in the Northern Grampians

Northern Grampians Landcare has recently begun a process of identifying opportunities to improve farm dam and associated wetland management in a portion of the Northern Grampians Landcare Area between Mount William Creek and the Wimmera River (near Dadswell Bridge and Glenorchy).

Last year the group invited expert ecologist, Dr. Paul Foreman, to visit five properties in the Northern Grampians to assess the hydrology and habitat around farm dams. Dr. Foreman then created recommendation reports, identifying opportunities to improve habitat quality, water quality and drainage of farm dams and associated wetlands areas.

Dr. Foreman and a Northern Grampians landcare member discussing options for new fencing to protect habitat around a farm dam

Earlier this month, Dr. Foreman came back up to share the results of his assessments. We visited four properties and together we laid out a plan to get started. Two of the landholders are taking the first steps, involving on-the-ground fencing and revegetation works. These properties will serve as test cases to showcase resources and options available for local farm dam improvement to the wider audience.

Read More…

In our towns: Proposing to power our local communities with bioenergy

Moyston Landcare hosted a very interesting session on the potential for biofuels to support small town power needs, complementing intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. Daryl Sherger was our guest presenter. He has been working to progress the Ararat Renewable Energy Project.

Daryl pointed out that due to the peak output of solar panels being during summer, but peak community energy demand being in winter, even after investing in solar, our communities still rely considerably on coal to supply their winter energy needs. This is because, with current battery technology, it is cost prohibitive to store summer produced energy to use in the winter time. Daryl’s proposal is to invest in a local bioenergy system to provide that winter season energy, moving us off our reliance on coal and giving our town energy independence.

You can find out more, including Daryl’s description of the proposed project, at our blog. If you like what you read, Daryl notes that at the moment, he is a ‘committee of one’! As such if anyone is interested in helping to make this project happen, he would love you to get in touch.

Read More…

Next Door Natives

Profiling the ecology of our local flora, fauna and fungi

We are back in orchid season! Local citizen scientists have been reporting several species in flower over the last two weeks, including:

  • Tiny greenhood
  • Blushing tiny greenhood
  • Red banded greenhood
  • Small mosquito orchid
  • Bearded midge orchid

See all the recent records on our Upper Wimmera iNaturalist project.

Greenhoods, midge and mosquito orchids are flowering at the moment!

Anthelid caterpillars also seem to be on the move this month, as I’ve had two friends in the last two weeks send me a photo of one for ID. Anthelids are some of the fluffiest caterpillars you’ll see around, and one of its members holds the honour of what I reckon is one of the best names in the caterpillar world: the “Hairy Mary!”

The “Hairy Mary” or Anthela varia. This species is recorded widely across southeastern Australia, including in Stawell.

Image credits clockwise from top
© Jacky Lien., some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-ND)
© Marilyn Hewish – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)
© dianadavey – some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND)

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:

We’ve been working at several sites across the region over the last two months, including:

  • Kunzea in Halls Gap
  • Rabbit Control in Ledcourt
  • Woody weeds in Stawell
  • Bridal Creeper in Concongella
  • Bridal Creeper and rabbit control at the Stawell Pony Club
  • Spiny rush in Gibblings Swamp and Moyston
  • General weed control for offset Bush Blocks in Deep Lead and at the Parks Victoria Plantation Campground 
  • Regular autumn weed control along Ararat and Northern Grampians Roadsides, Horsham Quarry and Western Quarries 

The RE ROSS kunzea project in Halls Gap has pretty much finished its third and final year. We have some shrubs to plant around town and that’s about it to finish it off. But this week we are getting started on the work associated with Halls Gap Landcare’s 2022 Vic Landcare Grant project.

Then the Landmate crew will focus on knapsack spraying watsonia and any other weeds that are up:

  • along Grampians Rd south of Brambuk
  • Reserve at the bottom of Silverspring Falls Rd
  • North side of Mackey’s Peak Rd
  • Cricket Clubrooms/Oval
  • Creek behind YHA

Upcoming Events


Online Forum: Have your say in the “Landcare Plan for Victoria”

Event run by Landcare Victoria Inc.

Landcare Victoria is committed to developing a plan for Victorian community landcare that will establish directions for our movement over the next decade and beyond. This is the first time a movement–wide strategic plan has been attempted using a community–driven consultative approach. During 2022, a desktop review was conducted, and over 400 people participated in engagement activities. From this, a Strategic Priority Statement was prepared, outlining a vision, outcomes, and priority activities for the Plan. The community contributed their feedback to the Strategic Priority Statement during March 2023. After 12 months of listening to the landcare community and other stakeholders, the draft Landcare Plan for Victoria is now available for review and comment.

Online Forum

Join us on Zoom to get an overview of the draft Landcare Plan, provide feedback and ask questions.
Date: Thursday, 1 June
Time: 6pm – 7pm
Register: via Eventbrite

You may also provide feedback by completing the online survey, available here


Risk Management and Insurance for Landcare Organisations (webinar)

Landcare Victoria Inc.

In this Landcare Victoria webinar learn some tools and strategies around risk management and mitigation including an overview of Landcare Victoria’s member insurance.

Youth engagement for environmental volunteer managers

DEECA has partnered with Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) to deliver two free online workshops:


Youth participation 101 – this interactive session will engage your passion and fill up your group’s toolbox for effective youth participation.


Ethical practice and youth engagement – this session will provide some basic theory and guidance on developing strategies for ethical practice in your group.

  • When: Tuesday 27 June 9am – 12pm
  • Register: via Humantix

The 23rd Annual Project Platypus Winter Plant Out

This year we are teaming up with Jallukar Landcare Group to restore 16ha of land in the Grampians region. Come help us plant 7,000 native, endemic trees, shrubs and grasses, to create new habitat for our local wildlife. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm!

Find more details for the day and register at the Eventbrite page.

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

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

Click here for a list of all “ongoing” grants, that are open year round, or until the funding runs out

Financial support for flood-affected farmers

Agriculture Victoria

More Info Here

Due date: The closing date for applications has been extended to 13 July 2023.

  • 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

NAB foundation Community Grants


More Info Here

Due Date: The next round closes on 31st August 2023 and will be awarded in Oct 2023.

Funding available for projects that help communities prepare for natural disasters, support long-term recovery and build resilience to future disasters and climate change.

2024 Nuffield Scholarships

More Info Here

Due Date: Round 1 due June 9th, 2023

Each scholarship is valued at $35,000 and open to Australian citizens or permanent residents directly involved in food and fibre production typically aged between 28 and 45. The bursary allows scholars to travel overseas both individually and in small groups.

In addition to a study topic idea that may relate directly to your industry sector or rural community, we are encouraging applications this year from those keen to research both drought resilience and sustainability.

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 © 2022. Project Platypus Organisation Incorporated.  All rights reserved.Our mailing address is:
PO Box 838, Stawell, Victoria 3380



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