It was an early start for the wheel cactus volunteers, arriving at the Crystal Mine car park near Mt Kooyoora at 9 am. In keeping with the environmental theme a car pool was organised, with eight volunteers travelling from Bendigo in two cars.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very cold and strong wind. Much to our surprise, outdoor ed students from Latrobe uni were also in the area to practice their orienteering skills. The students had seen wheel cactus plants in the area, including a plant near one of their controls.
James Nelsson from Loddon Plains Landcare Network and his wife Trudy soon arrived with all the wheel cactus eradication equipment. This time the volunteers decided to split into teams to cover a greater area. My team set off for the steep northern slope of Mt Kooyoora while the other teams hunted in the area where the outdoor ed students had seen the wheel cactus plants.
Luckily the cold wind died down and it became a warm and pleasant morning. My team was guided by Julie Flynn who did a great job of picking an easy path over Mt Kooyoora. After a bit of searching, we spotted a large patch of wheel cactus and set to work. This patch had been tackled at the last wheel cactus day but it was so large and thick that the inner plants couldn’t be reached. Ten months after poisoning, the outer plants had rotted to the ground and the inner plants were now all accessible.
It seems that even the hardy wheel cactus can struggle in dry Australian conditions; the plants were much thinner and softer than they were in the previous year. This made them much harder to inject with the poison, so progress was slow. Eventually all the wheel cactus plants in the area had been injected, just in time to get back to the car park for lunch.
As the volunteers sat together in the wonderful autumn sunshine and enjoyed our lunch we were all satisfied that we had done our bit to fight the wheel cactus scourge. Kooyoora is such a fantastic area, not just for the challenging orienteering but also its natural beauty. It truly deserves our care and protection.
A big thank you to James and Trudy Nelsson for supplying the equipment, and volunteers Neil Barr, Julie Flynn, Andrew Lewis, Lorraine Leversha, Jim Russell, Dianne Searle and Peter Searle.
The next wheel cactus eradication day at Mt Kooyoora will be held on Sunday 29th April. This initiative is being supported by Bendigo Orienteers, Loddon Plains Landcare Network and Parks Victoria. Volunteers are required to participate in the eradication of the wheel cactus plants. The work itself is not very physically demanding but volunteers need to be fit enough to walk to the wheel cactus plants growing on Mt Kooyoora’s steep northern slope. All the necessary equipment and training will be provided. If you are interested in volunteering or want to know more, please contact Andrew Wallace.
About Wheel Cactus:
The Wheel Cactus, native to Mexico, is considered a Weed of National Significance in Australia as it spreads rapidly and is difficult to destroy. The plants produce fruit containing numerous seeds. Birds and foxes consume the fruit, then spread the seeds far and wide. Wheel cactus grows particularly well in shallow granitic soils. The plants have distinctive wheel shaped segments that are covered with fine sharp spines, up to 5 cm long. These can easily pierce a person’s skin.
Wheel cactus plants have been spreading in the northern part of the Kooyoora State Park for many years. If this is allowed to continue it will make this area much less favourable for orienteering events. Furthermore, the natural beauty of this area will be significantly degraded.
A very effective method of eradicating wheel cactus plants is to poison them with Glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup). The poison is carried in a knapsack and is fed through a flexible tube to a hand-held pump that is adjusted to deliver a precise dose of the poison. To the pump is attached a hollow lance with a sharp tip. The lance is inserted into the wheels of the cactus plants and the poison is injected. This method minimises harm to the surrounding native vegetation and keeps the user away from the cacti’s sharp spines.
PLEASE NOTE NEW START TIMES: Courses 1 to 3 start at 9 am. Course 4 and 5 entrants can start between 9.05 am and 9.30 am but are welcome to join the mass start at 9 am.
The Heathcote Hagaby is being held on Sunday the 4th of March. The event is on an area of gentle spur gully and mining terrain that was recently mapped by Neil Barr. Neil is also the course setter for this event. There are five courses from 8.0 km hard to 2.7 km easy. Courses 1 to 3 have a Hagaby format. This means that the entrants start together but the variations on each course causes the field of entrants to seperate. The event is pre-entry and pre-pay only on Eventor at https://eventor.orienteering.asn.au/Events/Show/6227. You must be logged onto Eventor before entering. The normal entry deadline is at midnight on Wednesday 28th February.
Directions: From the main road through Heathcote turn south onto Spring Flat Rd. Follow signs from Headley’s Dam Track.
The Fowl and Fizz will be held on Sunday 4th February at the Koolamurt Park Scout Camp.
There will be a 45 minute score event with a 7 am mass start. This will be followed by a Chicken and Champagne breakfast. Juice and water will also be provided. After our breakfast there will be a brief Special General Meeting (SGM). At the SGM we will have another 2017 financial report and welcome our new committee members.
The Fowl and Fizz was a late inclusion in our fixture and we have not applied for an event permit. Consequently, there is a limit of 30 competitors for this event. Based on the numbers from previous years, this should be sufficient. If you want to compete you must pre-enter on Eventor (follow link). There is no such restriction for members who just want to attend the breakfast and SGM.
If you only want to attend the breakfast and SGM do not pre-enter on Eventor. Instead contact Julie Flynn by the 1st of February so she knows the total number of people to cater for. If you are coming, please bring a chair.
Directions from Bendigo:
Southbound on Spring Gully Rd, continue straight through the roundabout onto Mandurang Rd. After 1.1 km turn right into the Koolamurt Park Scout Camp. Park in the nearby carpark and proceed on foot along the track to the shelter.