18th May - Eventing

Before European settlement there was a kind of balance in the Australian bush. There is a great deal of debate about what this balance was. In particular about the role fire played in this balance. Never-the-less there was a balance.

For there to be a complete range of species occurring at Wirrapunga that occurred before European settlement, it is necessary to have the events occurring that triggered their growing.

What were these events? They would have been predominantly two things. Firstly grazing by animals such as kangaroos and wallabies. The second would have been fire.

Now, neither of these events can be used at Wirrapunga. For a grazing event to work properly we need a mob of grazers to descend on the bush and do their job in a relatively short time and then move on.

In today's subdivided, fenced landscape this is difficult. I did spend many years trying but could not manage to gain the support I needed to do it.

On the other hand for fire to do the job it needs to occur at a time when the plants are basically dormant. When the bulbs and seed-bank are safely under the soil. It needs to be the middle of summer. For obvious reasons this is not available to me either.

I have found that the best and easiest replacement for both fire and grazing is a Victa lawnmower. If I mow a bit of bush in February with my mower then I can achieve nearly the same result as a fire or a mob of kangaroos.

However! A word of warning. Since the seed-bank in the soil is made up, today, of predominantly introduced weeds, any event will trigger an explosion of unwanted plants as well as a few wanted ones. I will talk more about this in an article on “planning”.