Home' Tennant and District Times : 2017-0127 TDT Contents news
TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 27 JANUARY 2017 7
SINKING FEELING: Another wet season peril: a bogged crane. Note the buffel grass
thriving on the footpath
CAUTIONARY MEASURES: Beware of muddy soil that could
carry the lethal meliodosis bacteria
FIELD DAY: The Barkly Work Camp crew has been busy keeping grass and weeds under control around town.
AS the skies clear after a wet and stormy
start to the year, locals must now brace
themselves for the bad news.
Insects, pests, bugs, weeds, snakes and bush
fires will increase.
Barkly residents have already been warned to
protect themselves against mosquitoes with the
rains expected to trigger an early start to the
Murray Valley encephalitis season.
The mosquito-borne disease has serious con-
sequences including delirium, coma, permanent
brain damage and death.
It is important to avoid being bitten by mos-
quitoes so use a repellent containing DEET,
wear light clothing and avoid being outdoors
and near wetland areas where mosquitoes are
active, especially at dawn and dusk.
Grounds are currently hazardous with melio-
dosis, lurking in muddy areas.
While the lethal bacteria is always present in
the soil, it comes to the surface after heavy rain
and can be contracted by drinking groundwater
and exposing cuts to dirt.
Meliodosis is often referred to as ‘the garden-
ers’ disease’ so it is important to wear waterproof
footwear and gloves when handling soil or
Children, especially, should not be allowed to
play in muddy areas.
A high profile Tennant Creek man, who was a
gardening fanatic, died from meliodosis several
years ago following a season of heavy rain and in
the wetter Top End there are a number of deaths
every year due to the disease.
Scorpions, rats, snakes, grasshoppers, flying
ants and other creepy critters will also thrive and
have already been noticed around town.
Weeds too will increase and many gardens are
Tennant Creek Fire Station OIC, Nathan Fer-
guson says as the grass and weeds dry out fire
hazards are created.
“Due to the higher-than-usual rainfall we have
high fuel loads, you just have to look around
town,” he said.
“The NT Fire and Rescue Service had planned
for an extended fire season with the possibility
of heavier fuel loads due to forecast weather
events so we are on track to ensure we minimise
the threat of bushfires impacting on the town
later in the year.
“However, now is timely to remind home and
other property owners that it is their respon-
sibility to ensure that grass and weeds do not
“Grass must be cut to a maximum of 50 mil-
“The high temperatures will turn the lush, green
growth into dry, highly flammable material in no
time at all so it is important to deal with it now.”
Weed management is a problem for the whole
Barkly region with some introduced species
proving to be major environmental hazards.
Bellyache bush, mesquite, prickly acacia, par-
kinsonia, rubber bush and athel pine are amongst
the weed species found throughout the Barkly
that are being treated with priority.
Director of the Arid Lands Environment Centre
(ALEC), Jimmy Cocking, said buffel grass, first
introduced as a pasture grass during the 1960s,
has transformed landscapes throughout Central
Australia and is a recognised threat to native
“Buffel grass is a declared weed in South Aus-
tralia but not in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“Recent rains have seen it explode across the
“Buffel grass is extremely flammable and when
conditions dry out we will have a significant
“Native plants and trees often don’t stand a
chance with these high intensity fires.”
Jimmy said ALEC was advocating for stronger
action on climate change by the NT Government
and on increasing the resilience of local com-
munities to climate impacts.
So there you have it, lots to worry about after
the cleansing rain although soon there will be a
spectacular wildflower display to ease the grief.
The ochre landscape will be transformed into
a riot of colour as pretty desert flowers come
out to play.
Parakeelya, pink rock wort, native daisies,
storkbills, mulla mulla, billybuttons, bush to-
matoes will reign in all colours of the rainbow.
The colourful vista rolling into the horizon
will be a sensory delight that will make a cameo
appearance on the Barkly landscape and then
bow out to let the toughened spinifex take centre
stage for the dry times to come.
Perils chase Tennant’s big wet
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