Bendigo Orienteers battle the wheel cactus

On the 18th June, Bendigo Orienteers held its first wheel cactus eradication day at Mt Kooyoora. The wheel cactus plants growing on the northern side of Mt Kooyoora were first noticed by Julie Flynn and Neil Barr when they were setting their Bermuda Triangle event early in May. Wheel cactus is a noxious weed that spreads very easily and is covered with very sharp spines. The proposal to tackle the wheel cactus plants at Mt Kooyoora was raised at the committee meeting and the eradication day was subsequently organised.

Nine orienteers meet up with members from the Friends of Kooyoora, and Loddon Plains Landcare Network Facilitator James Nelsson and his wife Trudy. James supplied all the equipment including stabbers for injecting the wheel cactus plants with herbicide, hoes for pulling up the young plants, and gloves. Before setting off to the mountain everyone was required to don a high visibility vest, which was quite a novelty for the orienteers. The team armed themselves with hoes, stabbers, and pink spray paint for marking the plants that had been stabbed. James demonstrated how to administer the herbicide and pull out the younger wheel cactus plants.

After a hike to Mt Kooyoora the team ascended the steep slope and began to attack the wheel cactus. Many large patches of the plant were discovered. James was very impressed by the fitness and enthusiasm of the orienteers. After a few hours of work everyone decided to head back for lunch. From a high point about a hundred metres away from the mountain we were able to survey the huge number of wheel cactus plants that had been sprayed with pink paint. We were all quietly pleased with our efforts.

After a pleasant lunch we all vowed to be back in 2018, as the battle against wheel cactus is one that requires persistence and team work. We also hope that other members of the orienteering community will join the fight.

A big thanks to volunteers and supporters Daryl Fleay, Neil Barr, David and Heather Jones, Nigel and Deb McGuckian, Tony and Alison Radford and Julie Flynn.

Andrew Wallace

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