Friday, May 11, 2007

Tall Grass (Gamba)

On my way to Palmerston I pass an area so thick with Gamba Grass that nothing else can exist where it stands! Although earlier this year the environment minister failed to declare it a noxious weed this grass it threatening to destroy native habitat in the Territory and a great example greets commuters within 15 km of Darwin itself!
At the Stuart Hwy end of McMillan's Rd there is a clear example of how Gamba intrudes into native habitats and totally consumes it!

Gamba eats trees
Gamba eats trees

10 ft tall gamba
This stand of Gamba is about 10 ft tall

This grass, grows faster, is much taller, denser and carries a far higher fuel load than our native grasses. The result is that it provides good feed for cattle but if allowed to grow to maturity becomes a deadly enemy to all other life. The intensity and frequency of Gamba Grass fires threatens to destroy native savanna wherever it spreads to. Trees life is decimated within a couple of years and small shrubs and other low lying life forms can not survive at all amongst the thick stands of Gamba!
Gamba burns when it's seeds are dry and they are lifted by dry season winds and the updraft of the fire and then spread across the land.

Enough about the killer Grass.

The phantom rubbish collector

As I rode the bike path yesterday I came across a fella who was carrying a bunch of plastic bags full of stuff. There are lots of Long Grassers (itinerant people make camp in the bush) around at this time of year but I rarely see any out this far. As I approached I realized that his bags contained nothing but rubbish. Food wrappers, beer cans, all the stuff that you'd expect to see littering the roadside scrub if you cared to look.
Earlier yesterday I was listening to the radio and heard about a, supposedly unemployed, guy who has been going around Darwin picking up rubbish from the parks or scrubland and leaving it in neat bundles to be collectedby the side of the road. The story stirred me and it reminded me that there are still some people around who will do things because they feel right rather than simply for profit.
I was curious about the guy on the track so stopped to talk. Low and behold it was the very same guy I'd heard about that very morning. (I'll allow him some anonymity and won't print his name) We chatted for about half an hour and I asked him why he was doing this, it's so hot! In a calm and relaxed voice he simply said he was doing it to fill in his days. He went on to say it seemed a good thing to do. I can't argue with that! I thought about that a little and reflected on all the Rhetoric and big ideas that are floating around in the name of protecting the environment or serving the public and here's this guy just quietly getting about picking up our trash! I know he has made an impact because I've seen his piles of junk heaps of times and wondered who had left them and why.
When I first arrived in Darwin I was shocked to find that people leave rubbish everywhere! They just drop it in the street and take no responsibility for it at all. They mustn't have had the don't rubbish Australia campaign up here! I was equally astounded when I saw guys riding quad bikes with bins on the back going around picking up after every body! This is ridiculous! Contractors have to be payed to clean up after us! So it was a great relief to meet a citizen who has taken it upon himself to clean up the masses of stuff that the contractors can't reach. What a great example this fella is.
I was in a bit of a rush and had to leave but noticed that the guy looked parched, he was a long way from any taps that I knew of and had no water! It's so easy to dehydrate out there! I shared some of my water and continued on my way, a feeling of satisfaction came over me as I peddled on. Being a cyclist pays hearty dividends! I'd taken the time to stop and talk to someone quite remarkable who I would never have noticed if I was driving the car!

Wild Gamba
Grass reaching for the sun

Just for a bit of paradoxical relief, the my view of the Gamba grass as ugly is very much biased by my understanding of the destruction it causes to native habitat. Like many destructive imports it can also appear quite beautiful when viewed in isolation or in a different context.

No comments: