Since 2010, Friends have been involved with local schools in tree planting days.

The first school to be involved was Daylesford Primary School. 150 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses were planted above the creek just north of the picnic table.

Since then, Daylesford Secondary College Gettin’ Dirty and Hands on Learning students and more recently the students from the Dharma school, Wesley College Clunes campus, Bullarto, Yandoit and St Michaels Primary schools, have assisted the Friends with their planting endeavours.

Grants from State and Federal Government, the Daylesford and District Community Bank, Daylesford Community Op Shop, Landcare Victoria, North Central Catchment Management Authority and Hepburn Shire have enabled these events to go ahead.

Gettin’ Dirty

The Gettin’ Dirty program was initiated by Leading Senior Constable Jim Ross from Moorabool police back in 2006 when young people who seemed at risk of leaving school early were invited to take part in a community-based program which aimed to increase and develop basic skills and self-esteem, and also to develop a sense of ownership of public places by young people.

The Friends have been the chosen community group to work with Year 7 and 8 students at Daylesford Secondary College and over the years they have planted over 700 trees along the corridor of Smith’s creek. Additional funding has enabled the engagement of educational programs.

Child Safety Policy

Please download the FOCH Child Safety Policy. This policy will be reviewed annually.


Bu-Ka Lo-Wurru (Breaking the silence)

Silence was broken on Thursday 27 th May when staff and students from Yandoit, Bullarto and the Dharma primary schools gathered at the Daylesford Community Park for the Friends of Cornish Hill’s final one day workshop. The workshop was named Bu-Ka Lo-Wurru, in Dja Dja Wurrung language meaning breaking the silence.

Being the first day of Reconciliation week, this gave Friends an amazing opportunity to honour the Dja Dja Wurrung people. Believing that reconciliation is a journey for all Australians, we wanted to recognise this day and to make a difference in moving forward and breaking the silence which surrounds the history of loss for all First Nations people.

A Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony was conducted by highly respected Dja Dja Elder Aunty Marilyne Nicholls. Federal Government funding enabled the Friends to engage environmental education specialist Nicole Howie, ceramists Ann Ferguson and Kaori Fujimoto and visual artist Forest Keegel whose involvement with Aunty Marilyne added to the expertise. These activities included creating simple string and stick mobiles, discussion about the plants and animals that call Cornish Hill home then translating the names into Dja Dja Wurrung language. Models of some of these animals made from straw and bound with wool. For the final activity, each student created their own symbol of recognition being a clay handprint made from a slurry of clay gathered from Cornish Hill representing Djaara country. The event was well supported by Friends volunteers.

Friend’s member Susan’s comments “The children were so engaged. Such an important event on many levels: education, reconciliation and connection…Great being part of this, thank you”. These workshops have been a feature of the Friends work for over 5 years and the hope is that the local schools will take over the organisation.

From Principal of the Dharma School Jen Willis: “What an absolute delight it has been for the children of the Dharma School to participate in such engaging and rich learning experiences with the Friends of Cornish Hill. The environmental, cultural and peer learning programs that they have experienced have been such a valuable addition to their experiential learning. We are so grateful for such a meaningful community offering.”

The Friends have collaborated with the Bendigo Community Bank to install an exhibition of the students art work completed at the “I care for Landcare” event on 27 th April. This exhibition will be open to the public and will run for 2 weeks beginning 14 th June. Clay items will be returned to the schools at the end of the exhibition.



Spending some relaxing time beside Smiths creek and listening to a book reading was the best way to finish off a very busy year.  The book chosen for this was When Water Lost Her Way, by Meg Humphrys. Click on this link to find out more.  Storyteller, writer, broadcaster, MC and public speaker Anne E Stewart hosted the story telling on our behalf. Thanks to both Meg for writing such a beautiful story and to Anne E for finding the time to read to the students from the Dharma school.

Anne E reads to the Dharma students

Anne E reads to the Dharma students


RAINBOWS IN THE SKY – 15th October 2019

Timed to coincide with the Aussie Backyard Bird count, the Friends hosted another one day workshop, this time featuring our local birds. The focus of the entire day was on our local birds and the habitat we are creating to ensure their survival. The students took part in 4 rotations as follows:

  1. Bird Trail – conducted by environmental educator Nicole Howie with permission from Bugblitz Nature Trust. By observing life-sized models of laminated bird models which were located around CH and using a simple field guide, students identified and record bird names on a fact sheet.
  2. Making a bird. Conducted by Jodie Goldring and also with permission from Bugblitz. By studying and observing photographs and observing the structure of each bird, students made their own bird which was displayed on the Hill before each bird was returned to their schools.
  3. Lead by Friends member Andrew Pearson, seeds of trees and shrubs collected from the Reserve were propagated and tube stock was planted during this rotation.
  4. Finally, after lunch the students and staff walk to the Community Park where we met Martin Scuffins from Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl brought raptor birds and presented the final session.


The Friends are grateful for the funding received from Daylesford Community Op shop, Hepburn Shire and Landcare Victoria as well as support from Bugblitz and the Daylesford Community bank.

Read more about this event by opening the program outline.


Hands on Learning Program

We have been working with Daylesford Secondary College since 2012 and are indebted to the College and their students who give us their time to complete our tree planting program.

In June this year, team staff member Tania Dunn, volunteer Tim Farmer and students Brandon, Sam, Jett, Sebastion and Josh from the Hands on Learning Program got on with the job planting 100 trees and shrubs on the Reserve below Stanhope street.

HOL is a method used by schools to engage students who otherwise may fall between the cracks. The focus is on forming and maintaining quality relationships between the students, their peers and their community and we couldn’t do all the work required without their help.


The Gettin’ Dirty program:

Later in the year, students from the Gettin’ Dirty program will be joining us for their 8th visit.

Leading Senior Constable Jim Ross has been our person of contact and over the years, some 800 trees and countless grasses have been planted by the students.

We are looking forward to welcoming the Gettin’ Dirty team on Monday October 21st October as well as Monday 1th November when they will be will be helping us plants more trees and shrubs.


Wesley College Clunes visit Cornish Hill, May 30, 2019

Despite the terrible weather, we were joined by Wesley staff and students on Cornish Hill today.

Whilst we didn’t complete any tree planting, the students were treated to a seed propagation session conducted by Friends committee member Andrew AKA Percy Sam Pearson.

And then a walk around the Reserve to check out the mining sites of particular interest was the Argus mine. There is something about tossing a stone down the 1000 foot shaft and waiting to hear it land!

A great day after all spent with interested students and staff, loving our connection with Wesley College and we hope that there is another time this term that they can come and plant the trees.



On Tuesday 26th March, staff and students from the Dharma school, St Michaels, Bullarto and Yandoit primary schools got out of the formal classroom to take part in an interactive environment program on the Cornish Hill Reserve. By being out in the fresh air and in touch with nature, the students learned to manage their own learning to become confident, caring and well informed environmentally aware citizens.

Lead on the day by passionate and well qualified presenters Nicole, John, Erin, Jodie and Ann, students discovered the wonders of creek life as they explored the world of macroinvertebrates, tested the water quality of Smiths creek, discussed the connection between land, water and people, made little grass boats each containing a message of hope to sail down Smiths creek, used various magnifying techniques to discover insect life and to top it all off, each of them made their own clay frogs which once fired, will be exhibited in the Daylesford Community Bank.

Success with funding from Landcare Victoria, the Daylesford Community Op Shop as well as the Daylesford Community Bank enabled the Friends of Cornish Hill to host this event and we look forward to being able to offer more wonderful educational opportunities to our local schools.



On Thursday April 4th, Hands on Learning students from Daylesford College gave the Friends a lending hand when they helped plant out trees on the Reserve.

An area high up on the Hill had been troubling us for some time. It had been completely denuded of any vegetation during the mining era, the gorse infestation had also been sprayed some years ago, it had been earmarked for a CFA training exercise burn about 4 years ago and that fell through, the gorse had been brush cut down and was starting to grow again. Due to the effect of mining, the soil consisted of largely of compacted clay with some well-rotted down gorse acting as a bit of a mulch. Ouch! Ably led by staff team leader Tania Dunn and staff member Tim, the crew planted 30 trees in that clay which we mixed with native potting mix. The trees were watered both before and after planting and protected by weeds and tree guards. We also had great support from Daylesford Rotary member Colin and the ever reliable Friends member Ivon. The Friends are eternally grateful for any help they can get when it comes to revegetation and we can’t thank these kids and everyone else enough. And it was terrific to welcome the new comers and see some familiar faces amongst the crew today. Thanks to funding from Landcare Victoria for funding us for this project.

The hands on crew.


Friday 26th October – a visit from the Dharma school and installation of handmade frog signs along the Smiths creel corridor.

Monday 5th November

In total, 200 grasses were planted by the students from the Gettin’ Dirty program. This achievement contributes to us meeting our target of 500 grasses for the year.

Thursday 15th November – Visit from Wesley College Clunes.

Our focus has been on planting the common tussock grass or Poa labillardierei and another 200 were plants be the staff and students. We have been working with Wesley now for a couple of years. With students being Melbourne based and attending the Clunes campus for one school term the Cornish Hill experience is very different one for them. Plants are sourced from Matt Pywell’s wild Plants in Ballarat. Matt has been a keen supporter of the Friends since we began working with schools. You can always reply on him supplying plants of very high quality as well as being the right provenance for Daylesford area.

Thursday 27th November – Year 9 DSC Hands on Learning ear marked for this date was cancelled due to the weather.

The remaining grasses will be planted by the Dharma school years 5 and 6 students on Friday 7th December. And that will complete our school programs for 2018.

On March 26th 2019, Students from local primary schools will take part in a one day workshop on the Reserve called Under the Microscope. Details to come early next year.

Members of the public are welcome to attend these events however you must have a current Working With Children Card.


This year as well as planting 400 grasses on the Reserve, the students were treated to a presentation by Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary.  Martin Scuffins brought along a Nankeen Kestrel, a Hobby falcon, as well as a Wedge Tail Eagle.  The following week we travelled to Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre, the largest feral-predator-free ecosystem in Australia, located just north of the You Yangs, near the town of Little River.  The fenced 420-hectare site protects a large number of threatened species and contains native carnivorous marsupials such as the Eastern and Spotted-tail Quoll, the critically endangered Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, and the mainland’s largest population of the now extinct (outside of our fences) Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Past and present volunteers have been instrumental in the development and maintenance of Mt Rothwell and they continue to play a major role in the sanctuary’s ability to save wildlife and survive. Being totally fenced, the property is predator-free but they do have a problem with rabbits.  During our visit, the students assisted with the installation of a rabbit-proof fence along a boundary line, securing fine wire mesh to larger mesh of the fence and attaching the wire using staple guns. Programs like these can only go ahead if we secure funding.  This year, Gettin’ Dirty was funded by Landcare Australia in partnership with Coca-Cola Foundation.


On October 18th and 25th 2016, the program was funded by Landcare Australia in partnership with RACV. The objectives of the program are for each student involved to achieve success, gain self-esteem, improve their social skills and increase their connection into the community. Its success lies with getting the students outdoors to learn hands-on skills such as plant identification and revegetation techniques.


Kids Teaching Kids

Kids Teaching Kids is an education model that uses local environmental issues as a theme for learning and such a program involving the Dharma school, Yandoit and Bullarto Primary Schools was held on Cornish Hill on Wednesday 28th October 2015. Students from Bullarto Primary school were the teachers. Guided by Environmental educator Nicole Howie, the students ran a workshop involving water quality testing, exploring the underwater world of macroinvertebrates and studying habitat of birds commonly found on Cornish Hill. The event was funded by both North Central Catchment Management Authority and the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.