Fred the Philistine’s comment repeats an age-old misconception of the …

Comment on Todd River: Trees in, buffel out by Alex Nelson.

Fred the Philistine’s comment repeats an age-old misconception of the state of the Todd River bed.
In general it isn’t blocked by saplings and sand. The main impediments to the free-flow of the water are causeways, these act to impede the current and cause sediment to deposit on the upstream sides.
Conversely scouring of the river bed occurs on the downstream side which sometimes exposes the water table; and in these conditions permit a larger number of young trees to germinate and grow than might normally be the case. No such problem pertains to bridges.
Many people, including long-term locals, are under the impression the Todd riverbed in town (mainly adjacent to the CBD) is unnaturally high.
The old river gums clearly tell a different story, as many of them have exposed roots which indicates the river bed has actually gotten lower.
Also, there are old river gums adjacent to the Todd River which clearly show that inundation of the surrounding land is a natural feature of the central town area.
The best example of this is the old Parsons Street river gum but also those next to the Memorial Club carpark, too. In addition, there once used to be other river gums in Todd Street (as old photos clearly show) which were cut down in the late 1940s.
River gums only germinate and begin to grow naturally in conditions of inundation so it is obvious the central area of Alice Springs has been inappropriately developed across a natural floodplain.
Historically there is now significantly less widespread flooding occurring in Alice Springs in the past few decades than what was observed in the earlier period of last century, and in large part this is due to the lowering of the Todd riverbed.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Todd River: Trees in, buffel out
Keep in mind that there was a concerted effort to eliminate buffel and couch grass in the Todd River from the Taffy Pick Crossing to Heavitree Gap 15 years ago, which (if I recall correctly) was part of the Alice-in-10 program.
The project cost about $400,000 and involved Aboriginal workers. The grass was mainly slashed and sprayed with Round-Up.
There was also removal of sand and silt build-up at Heavitree Gap. This was intended to be the beginning of a program of systematic removal of exotic grasses and other weed species along the entire length of the Todd River from the Telegraph Station to Heavitree Gap.
Both my father and I commented in the media at the time this will prove to be a waste of public effort and expense.
Our predictions proved correct – there was no more funding made available for this work, other than sand excavation of the Todd River adjacent to the town centre combined with upgrading of the Wills Terrace Causeway in 2006.
There also was no follow-up to the grass control work near Heavitree Gap. Here we go again …
In reply to Laurie Butcher’s comment about Glyphosate (Round-Up and related weedicides), there’s no obvious long-term adverse impact on the environment from the use of these chemicals. However, there’s plenty of evidence (especially in Australia) that some of the target weed species are developing resistance to this chemical.
I first started using Round-Up for buffel and couch grass control in the early 1980s when our family lived at the CSIRO Field Station (now Centre for Appropriate Technology). It cost $30 per litre at the time. I achieved complete control of theses grasses in the area around our home but after we departed in 1988 there was no further management of that ground, consequently both grasses have returned to dominance exactly as they were before I controlled them.
Prior to living at CSIRO at Heath Road, our family resided at AZRI next door (then called the AIB Farm).
It was during this time that extensive work was undertaken by the Soil Conservation Unit and AIB Farm management to achieve dust control through the establishment of buffel grass.
This was mainly done for the benefit of passenger jet airliners at the Alice Springs airport which required clean air for safe operation (yes, we can blame tourism just as much as pastoralism for the systematic introduction of buffel grass in our region).
I started gardening when I was six years old (1969), and amongst the first weeds I had to contend with was buffel grass.
I recall at first I didn’t know what to do because everyone in those days thought this was a good plant – anyway, I can reasonably claim having the longest continuous experience with controlling buffel grass of any person in Central Australia.
If anyone wants to see a good example of what can be achieved with sustained control of buffel and couch grasses, both from spraying and chipping – and consistent follow-up – go take a wander through the grounds of the Olive Pink Botanic Garden.
I’m proud to be the person who was the major contributor to achieving this result, during my time of working there from 2000 to 2008.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

From mud, dust to grass: The beginning of Anzac Oval
@ Dr Ongo (Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm): You raise an interesting point; however, your observation applies equally well to other listed heritage sites, eg. such places as the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Alice Springs Heritage Precinct (including Stuart Park, old hospital, old Alice Springs Gaol, and several houses in Hartley and Bath streets), and the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.
There are histories, stories or law applicable to all of these places since time immemorial but other than to acknowledge previous Aboriginal occupation or use of such sites, I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment about them.
In regard to “untyeye that once grew there” at the Anzac Oval site (referring to corkwood trees – Hakea divaricata), only one still survives just inside the boundary near the Senior Citizens Club. It’s the same tree on the right of the photo, framing the new school, taken by Prue Crouch’s father in the early 1950s.
The heritage statement for the nomination of Anzac Oval does state: “The Anzac Oval Precinct contains several sacred sites.”
Thanks for your comment.

 

Corkwood


Home owner bonus: New build sector bleak, says CLP
The situation generally in the Northern Territory is giving every indication that it’s rapidly spiralling out of control.
I suspect the NT Government’s reactions are too little, too late; and this latest scheme will likely end up being home owner bogus rather than bonus.


West Macs fire mitigation critically inadequate: Scientist
Such a shame, Steve, that we’re unable to harness your sprays to put the wildfires out.


Government fails to protect major tourism asset
My recollection is that the major wildfire years in the earliest period of this century were 2002-03, and again in 2011. Both of those periods closely followed years of exceptionally high rainfall (2000-01 and 2010 respectively).
This isn’t unusual in itself – there were significant wildfire years in 1968 (following the breaking of the drought in 1966) and in 1975 (following 1973-4, the wettest period on record in Alice Springs).
What’s different now is that this major wildfire event has occurred after a very dry year, with a record set at Alice Springs in 2018 for the longest period without rain being recorded, although (as I recall) this wasn’t the case further west of town.
In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel west and east of Alice Springs a number of times and also to fly frequently to Darwin and back with clear views of the area around town.
The clear impression I’ve gained on every trip is the extent and dominance of the spread of buffel grass in the ranges.
It’s like a blanket hugging the ground as far as the eye can see. It’s spread is overwhelming, and the ecology of this region is forever changed.
There are often comments about the need for protecting Alice Springs from major floods but that’s the least of our worries.
It is major wildfire that poses the most serious risk to our town, and the recent disaster in the West Macs demonstrates this risk can occur at any time.


Don’t mess with our treasures, says Alice
@ Gavin Carpenter (Posted February 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm): Not the case, Gavin, the original structure overall is in remarkably good order, even down to one of the old projectors still existing on site inside the front entrance.
Neither is it the case that management or maintenance of other heritage-listed sites is too difficult or complicated “and eventually fall down anyway”.
Suggest you contact the chairman of the Heritage Council, Wayne Kraft, for a full explanation.


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