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Wheel Cactus has been virtually eliminated from Nardoo Hills Reserves, thanks to volunteers. Photo David Baker-Gabb.
Wheel Cactus has been virtually eliminated from Nardoo Hills Reserves, thanks to volunteers. Photo David Baker-Gabb.

Weed control

Once weeds are removed or reduced, native species can recolonise naturally or we’ll replant to help re-establish native habitats.

Weeds usually occur where grazing and farming activities have been concentrated – around stock yards, dams and along tracks. Many start as introduced pasture grasses or arrive on vehicles, in stock feed, or with cattle and sheep.

When not controlled, weeds can out-compete native plants, smother native vegetation and can change fire regimes by providing fuel for wildfires.

At each of our reserves different weeds provide different challenges. Here are just a few.

Volunteer weed sprayers prepare for a working bee at Nardoo Hills in Victoria. Photo Craig Allen.

Siam and Lantana

At Yourka Reserve in the Upper Herbert River catchment, far north Queensland, staff have been working on the control of Siam weed for almost a decade.

It occurs alongside Lantana, along creek lines and can be hard to spot until it’s almost ready to seed. After trialling a range of control methods, they’ve established an effective cyclical approach using fire to reduce the plants and trigger seeds to germinate, then returning to spray the juveniles.

Reserve Manager Paul Hales with Siam weed at Yourka Reserve. Photo Martin Willis.

With the help of contractors and volunteers, they’ve reduced weed numbers by over 90% across the treatment area.

Importantly, this work at the top end of the river catchment has had a significant regional impact, helping to protect other areas such as the wet tropics downstream.

Buffel Grass

Buffel grass came to Australia about 150 years ago with Afghan camel trains. It was soon the pasture grass of choice in the north as it can withstand heavy grazing and drought conditions.

It’s a dangerous and invasive weed that produces wildfires so hot it has the potential to transform entire woodlands into grasslands of a single species.

A Buffel Grass tussuck. Photo Cathy Zwick.

At our Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia, Buffel Grass infestations along a 65km stretch of the Stuart Highway have been a focus, to prevent further spread onto the reserve. Tens of thousands of litres of herbicide have been used in a significant joint project by Bush Heritage volunteers, SA Main Roads, the SA Arid Lands NRM Board and the Native Vegetation Council.

It’s a battle that’s likely to continue for many years, with vigilant monitoring and support for community efforts to control the weed in surrounding areas.

Mike Chuk sprays Buffel Grass along the roadside. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

Control methods

We remove weeds by hand, burn, spray or inject them with herbicide. In the case of highly invasive pasture grasses such as Serrated Tussock and Buffel Grass, we’ve sometimes used grazing to reduce seeds and to reduce density (alongside other control measures). 

Weed control stories

Buckrabanyule landscape. Photo Stu Heppell.

BUSHTRACKS 14/01/2022

Beyond the cactus

Together with Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Custodians we are walking to Dhelkunya Dja (heal Country) at one of Victoria’s most heavily infested Wheel Cactus sites.

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BLOG 15/09/2020

Weed management at Tarcutta

This year has been a volunteer year like no other. As we slowly begin to move back into our new normal, our volunteers are able to move back into the field in their home states. Volunteer Stephen Gye has written about his recent trip to our Tarcutta Hills Reserve to help with weed management.

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BLOG 28/08/2020

Removing Paterson's Curse

With its vibrant purple flowers, Paterson’s Curse is often mistaken for a native wildflower but is in fact one of the most conspicuous weeds in paddocks and roadsides throughout Australia. Supposedly named after the Paterson family of Cumberoona, New South Wales - who planted it in their garden in the 1880s – the weed is now highly competitive in disturbed land, competing with agricultural crops and pastures, and unique and fragile native species. It was introduced to Australia from Europe.

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BLOG 26/08/2020

Siaming solo in 2020?

Annual 'siaming' at Yourka Reserve took on a whole new look in 2020. This year, for the first time in 11 years, we faced the daunting prospect of siaming solo. With travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of covid-19, it was impossible to recruit a team of volunteers to help with the annual survey and treatment.

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BLOG 08/04/2020

Buffel grass surveys

In 2018 and again in 2020 Dave and Sue Akers travelled to Pullen Pullen Reserve - our Night Parrot sanctuary - as volunteers to undertake buffel grass surveys.

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BLOG 30/03/2020

Winning the war on weeds

Long-term volunteer and renowned 'King of Cactus', Ian Haverly, describes how we're winning the war on Goonderoo Reserve's sword cactus infestation.

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BLOG 30/10/2019

Plucking weeds from the wildflowers

Charles Darwin Reserve has once again celebrated its annual spring weeding session. A group of enthusiastic weeders donned their armor and attacked the inevitable, but diminishing crops of Patterson’s Curse, Double Gees and Brassicas.

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BLOG 04/10/2019

Weeds working bee at Boolcoomatta

In the second week of September 2019 I took the long road across the Barrier Highway and out to South Australia for 12 days of African Boxthorn control on Boolcoomatta Station Reserve.

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BLOG 06/02/2019

Weed control at Wunambal Gaambera

Uunguu Rangers have been doing weed control for many years and their hard work is paying off.

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BLOG 19/10/2018

Woody weeds at Reedy Creek

The dry winter experienced by much of Queensland, including Reedy Creek Reserve, has had at least one positive outcome - perfect conditions to stomp into the swamp. In this often-difficult-to-access country there were some woody weed outbreaks that we needed to address. This past September their time was up.

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BLOG 26/09/2018

The king of Sword Cactus

I'd like to introduce you to Ian Haverly, committed Bush Heritage volunteer and undisputed King of Cactus up here in the northern region.

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BLOG 08/02/2018

Gorse & thistle on Tassie's east coast

Tasmania's east coast was hard to beat as a location for a working bee, so maybe our volunteers got more than a little inspiration from the stunning location. Our team of nine volunteers removed over 800 thistle plants and seedlings, hundreds of gorse plants, and helped with erosion control and South Esk Pine monitoring. Volunteer Helen Tait explains how our working bees are not just about hard work.

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BLOG 30/10/2017

Killing cactus at Goonderoo

Volunteers play an important role in weed control projects across the country. On Goonderoo Reserve in Central Qld, the target species is Sword Cactus (Acanthocereus pentagonus) a tall, columnar cactus that reaches a height of 2-7m. Sword cactus is multi-stemmed and highly spiky. It has the ability to form dense thickets and will dominate a vegetation community to the exclusion of many other plant and animal species.

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BLOG 15/10/2017

Volunteers vs weeds at Boolcoomatta

In September we had an amazing group of 11 volunteers make the long trek to our Boolcoomatta Station Reserve to help with vital weed management. The group were focused on our long-term management strategy to control the African Boxthorn and Pepper Trees in the beautiful Oonatra Creek system.

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BLOG 09/07/2017

Long-term weed management

Bush Heritage volunteers have been running an amazing weed removal effort at Charles Darwin Reserve in Western Australia for around 10 years. The Charles Darwin weeds working bee is run twice a year by volunteer leader and weed expert Janet Dufall.

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BLOG 24/05/2017

Paddy Melon picking at Hamelin

Volunteer Richard McLellan can now add 'Paddy melon picker' to his qualifications after spending a week at Hamelin Station Reserve in Western Australia for some annual leave and a bit of volunteering.

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BLOG 18/05/2016

A weed herbarium for Hamelin

Valued volunteer Charlie Nicholson has provided important help in the West for over 10 years. Charlie's just completed his second stint at Hamelin Station Reserve helping us prepare a weeding manual for volunteers. We're extremely lucky to be able to tap into Charlie's knowledge of the region and his great knowledge of plants and weeds of the Rangelands.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/09/2015

Battling buffel to protect our desert jewel

Bon Bon Station Reserve in South Australia is a true outback marvel, an expansive landscape dotted with shimmering salt lakes, red dune sands supporting mulga trees, open ironstone plains studded with stately myall trees and stunningly beautiful expanses of pearl bluebush. Our challenge is to protect it from invasive Buffel Grass.

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