Boxthorns given the boot on Juliette’s YP property
After an 11 year assault on African Boxthorns on her Flaherty’s Beach property near Warooka, Juliette Riddall has finally removed the last one and can truly say she has won the fight over the weed.
With her late partner Larry Tidswell, Juliette estimates they have removed literally thousands of boxthorns over the years on the 81-hectare property and now feels a real sense of achievement in reaching the milestone.
"Removing that last boxthorn I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and in actual fact was a bit dumbfounded that I had actually achieved the goal," she says.
"Over the years there would have been thousands and thousands that we have removed with contractors and volunteers helping us, including some really big, old bushes that would have been at least 100 years old and we think originally planted as wind breaks.
"Some of the trunks were two hand widths across and the bushes as big as trees."
The African boxthorn is a declared weed in South Australia and was introduced from southern Africa, originally planted in Australia as hedges for shelters and barriers to stock movement.
The perennial shrub grows up to 5 metres high and 3m wide with an extensive, deep, branched root system and if neglected, form dense impenetrable thickets.
Along with their persistent efforts in removing boxthorns, Juliette and Larry revegetated their property – of which 60 per cent is remnant scrub - planting some 3200 trees on the arable areas.
The couple worked with Natural Resources Northern and Yorke to achieve their goal, and early on received $4000 in NRM funding, as well as a further $18,000 over the past two years in NRM Community Grants.
However, they invested about $40,000 of their own money to the fight, as well as thousands of hours, blood, sweat and tears and Juliette says seeing the last boxthorn removed made the effort worthwhile.
"While it’s a continuous job, and I’ll still be monitoring and removing shoots, it’s quite rewarding because in parts of the property now there are areas where there’s no bushes and none coming back and it’s just really amazing how quickly the native vegetation springs up," she says.
"That last boxthorn that was removed at the end of August was just massive and was around a big, old sheoak tree that must be at least 150 years old.
"Already that tree has a new lease of life now that it’s free from the boxthorn and is sprouting again."