Since Fraser Island’s World Heritage nomination was prepared 25 years ago, the number of identified weeds has grown from 40 to 200. Most of the additions to the weed list are garden escapees or alien grasses and pasture plants.
Most of these alien grasses and pasture plants have arrived on K’Gari as hitchhiking seeds stuck in the under-bodies of vehicles that haven’t been cleaned adequately before going to the island, or in the luggage and freight brought inside those vehicles by island visitors. This is evident by the fact that the epicentres for the invasion of almost all of the grasses and pasture plants, such as Green Panic and Siratro, are in the township or camping reserves. By diligence, we are whittling away at these weeds that arrived essentially as stowaways.
A more difficult challenge is countering the weeds that were deliberately taken to Fraser Island as garden plants. Landholders sought to establish hardy plants that could thrive on the island with little care or attention when they were absent for long periods. Thus they came up with a group of plants that were ideal to survive if they got loose in the Fraser Island bush. Roses and many of the more classic garden plants just can’t survive on Fraser Island. However, garden plants like Clivias, Coral Creeper, Singapore Daisy, Easter Cassia, Mother-in-Law’s Tongues, Glory Lily, Mother of Millions and Fish-bone Ferns, which looked attractive around the houses and required little care, all escaped their garden enclosures and ran riot on the island. Because these plants are so hardy they are now very difficult to eradicate.
Landholders are being encouraged to plant and cultivate attractive native plants. However, sourcing those plants has been a major problem. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has a nursery, but lacks the staff to operate it as a supplier of plants on demand to landholders who are told not to take any plants at all onto the island.
Now, as another FINIA collaboration, FIDO and the Fraser Island Association are building up a stock of plants to entice landholders to opt to grow natives that are grown from seed collected on the island, and which, with a little tender loving care to establish them, can do just as well as the weeds we are working to eliminate. As well as purchasing pots and other nursery supplies, FIDO has been scrounging cleaned used pots and recruited a very experienced seed collector to help build up the nursery.
The resorts at Eurong and Happy Valley have set the tone by purging their properties of weeds and establishing wonderful rich gardens of natives. FIDO is prepared to cooperate with other landholders to replace exotic plants with plants from the Eurong Nursery as part of a long-term strategy to reduce weeds on Fraser Island.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO