Renewing our street trees with Flynn Hart

June 30, 2014

The role and value of trees in Newstead’s streets will be addressed at a Rocket Science talk at the Welshmans Reef Winery on Sunday, July 27th.

Landscape architect Flynn Hart will be the key speaker when the talk kicks off at 3.30pm.

Flynn is a practicing landscape architect and sessional lecturer at RMIT University School of Architecture and Design. He grew up in Newstead and recently moved to Castlemaine after many years in Melbourne.

His company, Pollen Studio, designs public and open spaces including children’s playgrounds, community gardens and other open spaces.

While not an arborist, Flynn is keenly aware of the role and value of trees in streetscapes.

Trees are incredibly valuable assets for communities. Just imagine Melbourne’s Royal Parade without its magnificent trees. It would be a completely different experience, one that sadly threatens to be all too common as our climate continues to change. Without street trees these vital public spaces are an impoverished experience.”

“Newstead without its elm trees would be similar,” Rocket Science Series II co-convenor Genevieve Barlow said. “The old elms have graced the town for decades, providing shade in summer, colour in autumn, stark beauty in winter and a tranquil presence all year round.”

Renewing Newstead’s street trees is a key priority in the town’s community plan which was completed and presented to Mount Alexander Shire Council last year.

Council responded to this priority by highlighting its development of a shire-wide street tree policy and said Newstead’s own community audit of its street trees could be considered in its annual budget allocation for street tree renewal.

“We understand the budgetary and other limits facing council so we are very keen to help move this critical project along by working in partnership with council staff to ensure we continue our forebears’ wonderful legacy of providing shade and beauty for this town’s residents and visitors for decades to come,” Genevieve said.

“We have also invited council’s street tree planner along to our Rocket Science session to give us some insight on the street tree planning process and how council decides what trees to plant where and what plans are already in place for street tree plantings in Newstead. We see this as a key opportunity to inform our community on this process and invite residents and others to come along to be part of the discussion on July 27.”

Rocket Science talks are informal, information sharing forums to educate and inspire. The first series began in 2008. The current series is funded by Mount Alexander Shire with a ‘Strengthening Our Community’ grant.

Details: Genevieve Barlow 0427 762 633


“Rocket Science” – Series 2 … back by popular demand

June 3, 2014

Can we shape our town?
with Trevor Budge

Welshman’s Reef Winery, Newstead

Sunday 22nd June at 3:30pm
Coffee and wine available!

Trevor will address what it takes to design a community friendly town and the need for an overall vision. He will tell us how good design and planning for private and public property helps engender a spirit of care and humanity in a changing climate.

Trevor Budge is a leading voice in regional and rural planning. He is currently an Associate Professor (Professional Practice) at La Trobe University and holds the full time position as Manager of Strategy at the City of Greater Bendigo. He is a former co-ordinator of the rural and regional planning undergraduate and postgraduate courses at La Trobe University, and a former adjunct professor at RMIT. He also holds the position of a Visiting Professor in the Town and Country Planning Program at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. In 2011 he was awarded an AM – Member in the General Division in the Order of Australia ‘for service to town planning, particularly the development of regional and rural communities in Victoria, and to education’. He has been awarded a Life Fellowship and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Planning Institute of Australia. He was Victorian President of the Institute for three years. He chaired the Institute’s National Education Committee for six years, which is responsible for the national accreditation of courses and has a long running involvement with the Institute’s Planning for Health Program. He is a Board Member of Victoria Walks, which is sponsored by VicHealth and a member of the Victorian Food Alliance Advisory Council. He has played a leading role in establishing the Planning Institute’s six-year Post Tsunami project in Sri Lanka. FDor six years he was a Ministerial Appointee on the Victorian Catchment management Council.

He has a BA with majors in Geography and History, a Diploma of Education, a Diploma of Town and Country Planning, and an MA by research in Town Planning. He has worked for State government departments, regional planning bodies and local government and he conducted his own consulting business for 16 years.  He established Victoria’s first courses in urban and regional planning offered outside a metropolitan setting and secured national accreditation for them by the Planning Institute of Australia.

This series is designed to explore and prompt debate about how we might achieve the goals outlined in Newstead’s Community Plan. It has been funded by Mount Alexander Shire’s Strengthening our Community Grants Program.

Further details, contact Genevieve Barlow 0427 762633, David Stratton 0428 310825, Geoff Park 0418 138632

To Revive the Murray Darling … just add water!

March 28, 2010

At the conclusion of his excellent talk at March Rocket Science our guest speaker Paul Sinclair encouraged us to “do our bit” for the health of the Murray Darling Basin. What can we do? The Australian Conservation Foundation is currently leading an initiative to return 200 million litres of water to the Hattah Lakes wetlands. The Australian Government has already provided some water to this unique wetland system, but much more is needed to ensure its future health. If you would like to help this important program visit for more information on how you can assist.

Rocket Science guest speaker Paul Sinclair from the ACF in action at DIG Cafe - 28th March 2010

Where are the Hattah Lakes? – visit via Google Maps

Rocket Science #13 – What future for our rivers?

February 20, 2010

DIG Cafe on Sunday the 28th March at 3.30pm.

Dr. Paul Sinclair, Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Paul is well known for his marvellous book “The Murray: A river and its people”, published in 2001. He grew up at Kerang, on the Loddon River, a tributary of the Murray. His first memory of the river is a flood in the early 1970s when he was 12. The book explores the reasons why the river has become degraded, and what these changes have meant to Australians. According to Martin Flanagan, Paul Sinclair “is a new sort of Australian public intellectual. His view of the environment goes way beyond the polarity of greenies versus rednecks”.

At Rocket Science on the 28th March Paul will tackle the topic “What future for our rivers – is it possible to reconcile competing demands for a scarce resource….in a drying climate?” It promises to be a great discussion.

Download a copy of the flyer.

Paual Sinclair and the Rocket Science audience debated carbon, water and biodiversity.

Rocket launchings in 2010

February 2, 2010

Rocket Science has been in recess over summer but the 2010 Program is shaping up well.

Our first session will be on Sunday 28th March featuring Dr.Paul Sinclair, Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager with the Australian Conservation Foundation. More details to follow soon. In August Prof. John Wiseman, Director of the McCaughey Centre at the University of Melbourne will speak on social and community dimensions of climate change.

Watch out as we confirm other topics and speakers for the year ahead.

Rocket Science #12 – Social Networking

October 17, 2009

To be held on Sunday 22nd November at 3.30pm – DIG Cafe

Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter – you know the kind of thing. A panel of three speakers will guide us through the dangers, the delights and the decorum of this new digital world. Facebook for family ties? The computer version of the Village Square? On-the-wire political culture?

Who needs the village square when we have Facebook? Or polling booths when we could, potentially, vote online? And will this new-age social networking on the net kill real-life communing?

Political strategist Ben Hart, human network researcher Associate Professor Barry Golding and lecturer in computer networking Dr David Stratton will form a panel to debate the pros and cons of online networking (Facebook, Twitter etc) versus the real thing at Newstead’s Rocket Science on November 22.

Ben Hart, a chief of staff with the Victorian Government, says Barack Obama’s incredible online campaign was a key to his election and believes online networking is likely to be a big part of our political future.

Education academic Assoc. Prof. Golding, who researches human face-to-face networking, argues that online networking could be another great divider setting new lows in social inequality between those who do and those who don’t.

He says the net has stolen our young people and created a world that locks out the technologically incompetent and ill-equipped and the poor. Is he right?

“Never before have we been able to be more in touch with the world, find out more and hear more, “ Dr Stratton says, “ yet in this new age of Facebook and Twitter there are those who argue humanity is losing a vital dimension, that of being able to commune face to face.

“Our panel will explain what online social networking is, how it works and look at its positives and negatives.”

“We have a skeptic and a devotee and my job will be to keep the conversation on track and make sure we cover all points of view. We’ll use show and tell on a projected computer screen to demonstrate tips and tricks.  Online networkers can come and share tricks – and indulge themselves with some face-to-face networking. Those worried about the consequences of this trend are welcome to come and talk about it.”

To download a copy of the flyer click here.

Rocket Science #11 – David Holmgren “Sustainable Energy from Sustainable forests: opportunities in a world of climate change and the end of cheap oil”

September 7, 2009

This special “Rocket Science” session featuring local sustainability practitioner David Holmgren will be held on Sunday 25th October at DIG Cafe [3.30pm start].

Know locally and globally for his work ton the development and evolution of permaculture, David lives at Hepburn Springs where he lives and works using the principles he developed more than 30 years ago. His talk precedes the world climate treaty talks scheduled for Copenhagen in December and focuses on energy generation from renewable sources.

Bill Mollison and David coined the word Permaculture in the 1970s. Today David explains the word means: “Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.”

To read a short article written by David entitled Firewood: Sustainable and Appropriate Energy Source click here. For further information visit

Rocket Science #10 – Central Victorian Solar Cities

September 5, 2009

DIG Cafe on Sunday 27th September at 3.30pm.

Michael McCartney (Project Director of the Central Victorian Solar Cities Program) will tell us about:

The Solar Cities’ visionary energy initiative brings together industry, business, government and communities to rethink the way we produce, use and save energy.

In seven key locations across Australia, the Solar Cities’ vision is to create new partnerships and trial ways to save energy, increase up-take of Australia’s leading-edge technologies, reward energy efficiency and solar power generation, and showcase the economic and environmental benefits of wiser energy choices.

Visit for further information

Download a copy of the flyer

Newstead 2021 Energy Survey – preliminary results

June 29, 2009

At the June 28th Rocket Science session Ray Culvenor presented some of the preliminary findings of our recent renewable energy survey. The purpose of the survey was:

* to find out about current sources of electricity and water heating in Newstead

* to examine the interest in adopting renewable energy

* to identify barriers to adopting renewable energy systems

To view a copy of Ray’s presentation click here or to view the actual survey click here.

A more detailed report is in the pipeline so stay tuned for further details.

Rocket Science #9 – The Hopetoun Community Sustainable Energy Initiative

May 24, 2009

Dig Cafe on Sunday 28th June at 3.30pm

The community of Hopetoun in north-west Victoria have been active in exploring alternative energy options for their town and district.


  • How they worked out their current and future energy needs
  • About options for solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy production
  • How they sought and gained funding for their work
  • How we might learn from their experience in pursuing future sustainable energy options for Newstead

Download a copy of the flyer

To book call DIG CAFE on 5476 2744