Dealing with weeds in Bass Strait
Deal Island, located in north eastern Bass Strait, midway between Flinders Island and Wilson’s Promontory, is the largest Island of the Kent Group National Park and arguably Tasmania’s most remote National Park.
The Wildcare branch ‘Friends of Deal Island’ (and previously the Friends of the Kent Group), have been working to manage weeds since 2002. Our group has also worked with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service on the repair and maintenance of Australia’s most intact historic lighthouse precinct. The 1884 Superintendents residence on Deal Island remains largely unchanged from its original construction. It houses the Kent Group Small Museum, which members of our group have fully catalogued, and in which we have developed an interpretive display. It is high on the list of places to visit for the 500 or so visitors who each year drop anchor or pull up their kayaks at one of the island’s three isolated sandy beaches.
Our group aims to run two working bees per year of 10 to 14 days with 8 volunteers accommodated on each trip. For us, a visit to the island involves flying from Launceston or Bridport to Flinders Island, then by charter boat on a 4 hour trip from Flinders to Deal. The total cost for each trip averages around $7500 – the actual cost depending on number of days weather-bound on Flinders and Deal.
Thanks to a grant of $5000 from the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, a grant of $2000 from Wildcare, proceeds from fundraising at the 2009 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, plus contributions to costs from the volunteers participating on each working bee, we can proceed. Two working bees have been planned by the group at a meeting of the executive in mid June, and more recently approved by the Ranger in Charge, Flinders Island. The first working bee will be held in the last fortnight in November, and the second will be in March 2020.
Our priorities for the first working bee will be searcing for any sea spurge which may have germinated from soil stored seed, or washed in from other infestations. We will also search for and remove horehound, thistles, arum lily, mullein, and other occasional weed species. Ragwort is the other major weed which we are working to control with the biological control agents, ragwort flea beetle and ragwort plume moth. We will survey for both these, and also the native blue borer. If time allows, we will remove as many of the developing flower spikes as possible.
On the revegetation front, the plan is to prepare cuttings of coast saltbush (Atriplex scinerara), planting some directly on the East Cove slope, and potting some for planting in March. We will also find time to admire the newly completed restoration of the lighthouse, and the shiny new steel roofing that has replaced the old asbestos on all the buildings, thanks to Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.