Karst Care

Doing the chicken wire dance!

Karstcare has been involved with two related projects over past few months. These projects are extremely labour intensive, so we’ve called for help from both North West Walking Club (NWWC) and Launceston Walking Club (LWC) – alongside members of Northern Caverneers (NC) who who regularly volunteer with Karstcare.

The first projects have been cleaning out dolines (sinkholes) of rubbish. Unfortunately over many years it has been the practice of land owners to dump their rubbish into such holes. Fortunately in more recent times landowners have better attitudes.

Seepage from these dump sites can enter the underground water system, including caves and the Mole Creek township water supply.

Tas Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) have assisted us greatly with the provision of a truck to cart the rubbish away and dispose of more appropriately. Whilst doing this we’ve cleaned up a number of old fence dumps.

Our parallel job has been tackling invasive plants, mainly Holly and Laurel. Again this is very labour intensive requiring chain saw operators. (Wildcare assisted greatly with an accreditation course recently), loppers and chemical dabbers. It’s hot, hard work often requiring considerable vegetation clearance just to get in to a Holly tree, then we cut and paste quickly to ensure the tree’s demise. In the last few months we’ve had 8 days on this (378 volunteer hours!), but unfortunately there’s still plenty more to deal with! As volunteer Steve Jacobs (SJ) said;

“We continue to have wins. Many hands though continue to impact on this stuff which is labour intensive but strangely satisfying.”

Steve writes in details about the recent working bee eradicating Holly at  Honeycomb Block of Mole Creek Karst National Park (MCKNP):

“We really are making a difference and can see it in the landscape.”

Before the trailer was loaded

On Thursday 9 and Friday 10 November, members from NC, NWWC, LWC and NRE joined together to do some additional clean ups in the Honeycomb Block of the MCKNP.

On Thursday, the participants split into 2 groups with DB taking his swashbuckling chainsaw enthusiasts to continue where they had finished in September. They were particularly targeting “bigger” established trees and when I asked Bob how their day went, and he responded that they did not move more than a car length in the first hour of work I knew it had been a hard day.

SJ took the remaining team over to the doline (sinkhole) to remove as much as possible of what had been historically deposited there – including bottles and glass, tin, fencing materials, 44 gallon drums, rolls of barbed wire, batteries, car parts, farm machinery, cutlery, crockery, pottery, steel fire ovens, plastics etc. Some of the more interesting finds included carving knives and forks, 3 sets of false teeth, a fob watch and the final retrieval for the day – a porcelain toilet.

“An additional bonus of walking these blocks and volunteering some time is that we get to understand the landscape more intimately and who knows, maybe even find some new caves or treasure for ornamental discussions.”

After the trailer was loaded

At the end of this day, all rubbish had been sorted and stowed onto a Dept. of Natural Resources & Environment (NRE) trailer that was laden and driven by PWS Staff member Michelle through the landowner’s property to the tip. Our return walk also gave us an opportunity to break down and cut up 2 fence piles, an old fence and a wheel and drag the contents back to the carpark for collection the following day. An outstanding effort!

On Friday 10th, we were met by Chris and Simon from PWS. After some logistical planning we were able to load on their vehicle the fence wire we had dragged back from the previous afternoon and plans were made to catch up with them later in the morning. Participants were again split into 2 groups. With a couple of new chainsaw operators in DB’s team (incl. Simon from PWS), the crew were off again to deal with Holly. They were really going hard at it and filled all their allotted herbicide containers for the final push for 2023! They had another massive day. What an effort!

SJ walked his group with some new members back over “The Arch” towards the same area as yesterday. They dealt with the remaining 3 piles of fencing material and collected some additional star pickets and then dragged this rubbish down the hill towards # Tip site 1.

Wire in the park

Once that was sorted, the team then went a spent an hour dispatching some simple Holly Trees until Chris arrived with the dump vehicle. Lunch was had and some more fence materials were cleaned up as were some larger Holly trees. Finally, another sweep of the “mined” site from yesterday’s work was undertaken, all the materials were loaded onto the truck and Chris drove this back to the Honeycomb site to meet us upon return. Together, we then looked at the next doline of rubbish on the block and rejoined the other group at the conclusion of the day.

A big shout out to all the participants and NRET/PWS staff for supplying the necessary tools and equipment, administration and access to local landowners’ property.