A Guest Member Post from Buffel Free Champion, Debbie Page.
In 2000 when our family relocated from basic residential living in Alice Springs to Heenan Road, our main goal was to put some ‘space’ between our neighbours and our family of four young boys. Initially, our 5 acre property was quite desolate but with a few good seasons that followed we soon found ourselves surrounded by acres of dense healthy Buffel; up to a metre high in spots. Like many of our neighbours, we spend most of our spare time and many weekends mowing and slashing and dreaming of the day we could afford the luxury of a ‘ride-on mower’ like the ones we looked longingly at while pushing our old victa round and round the paddocks!
In 2003 a friend suggested I investigate Land for Wildlife, as their pilot program promoted and encouraged local landholders to manage their property for nature conservation with an emphasis on awareness of natural vegetation, local wildlife and sustainable management.
Looking back, I was a bit nervous about my scheduled 2 hour appointment with Bill Low and even considered offloading our menagerie of domestic animals for the day rather than take a ‘beating’ , particularly if I was about to become a ‘Greenie” myself!
Fortunately, our property assessment went without a hitch and somewhere between, following Bill around our property (some areas I had never even stepped foot on) and listening attentively to his spiel on each and every ‘alive and growing’ specimen and the following few weeks, my appreciation of where I was living and my level of awareness of the local flora and fauna that surrounded me, was enlightening. You could say our 5 acres of ‘Bush and Buffel’ turned overnight in my mind into a ‘vision’ of sustainable land for Flora and Fauna conservation. Even in the early days this seemed a much better option than spending the rest of my spare time ‘mowing & slashing’ Buffel and consequently destroying any hope of native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs to rejuvenate.
So up went the green diamond (Land for Wildlife) on the front fence and off I went into town with a new dream and focus to buy a weed sprayer and a few litres of weedkiller; much easier on the pocket than the ‘ride-on mower’ I had previously pined for! I learned the ‘window of opportunity’ for spraying was after rainfall, so I dedicated as much time as I could afford, to spraying during these periods, particularly when the young plants were smaller, prior to seeding and in a rampant growing stage. Looking back, I certainly can not remember spending more than 2 hours at any one time on my new passion and I often had a few days break in between sessions while I waited for the sprayed grass to yellow and therefore spot the missed patches. Now days, after rain it is exciting to fill up the sprayer and set off hunting for the odd Buffel plant, not to mention the joy of keeping in close contact with every corner of our property, always learning and discovering some new flora or fauna has moved in to reward our efforts.
Right from an early stage, eradicating Buffel was extremely rewarding and never really felt like ‘hard work’. Native grasses quickly filled in the blank spaces, wild flowers and native shrubs seemed to rush in to re-claim their favourite spots and local birds steadily increased their presence and variety; I personally believe this is due to the abundant food and shelter now on offer. A large family of Blue Wrens came to stay last year (perhaps 20-30) they enjoyed living here so much they raised a new generation of little ones before moving on just recently. Somehow, I just know they will return later in the year because everything they need for a happy life is here!
Debbie Page, “Snakegully”