Above Gorse in seed at Mt Clear in 2020.
Gorse is an upright, woody shrub with bright yellow flowers that can produce huge numbers of seeds. The seeds spread rapidly and can remain dormant in the soil for up to 30 years. Gorse is one of the worst weeds in Victoria. It degrades pasture and creates habitat for rabbits, foxes, and feral cats. It is a tough weed to tackle and requires ongoing vigilance.
The Ararat Landcare Group (ALG) and Upper Hopkins Land Management Group (UHLMG) have been working with industry partners to reduce the spread of gorse in the region since the early 2000s. It is a project that has required dedication and persistence from many Landcarers.
Initially, the gorse was so tall and dense that it was impossible to walk through and Cemetery Creek was completely covered. The Ararat Prison Community Support Gang worked to clear heavy infestations of gorse in 2002, which enabled access to Cemetery Creek so the gorse control program could continue.
TRecently, a Working for Victoria work crew from Glenelg Hopkins CMA has assisted with gorse control on crown land around Ararat.
Now that gorse has been controlled in and around Ararat, the native vegetation can flourish.
The existing native vegetation has been supplemented by tree planting projects by Landcarers, high school students and other community members. The landscape in the Flint Hill Reserve has also been significantly improved.
Part of the success of the weed control program in Ararat is due to the dedicated volunteers and the partnership between ALG and UHLMG with support and coordination from Peter Forster and Una Allender. This partnership has resulted in control of the gorse infestation around Ararat, on public land, and along key waterways and roadsides. The groups continue to share equipment and knowledge.
John Graham was one of the leaders of Ararat’s gorse eradication program. John was an incredibly active member of the ALG, committing two mornings every week to spraying gorse and other weeds, while carefully avoiding native vegetation. John spent 14 years controlling gorse and training others to identify and control weeds. His efforts have made a remarkable difference.
Other leaders in the war on weeds in the region include Peter Forster, Keith Little, Aileen Banfield and Stephen Hughan.
It is an ongoing challenge to control weeds as they spread along waterways, roadsides, and on private land in the region, and Landcare members continue to monitor the sites and remove gorse by spraying and chipping during their monthly working bees.
Ayesha Burdett is Landcare Facilitator for UHLMG. Ayesha’s position is funded through the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.
For more information email Facilitator@upperhopkins.org.au