In Australia, many of us are lucky enough to be able to buy a piece of paradise. We may be about to retire away from the bustle of city life, or just want to move into the bush as a lifestyle choice. Often after years in the ‘burbs, many of us are not really sure what we want to buy. I reckon after getting legal advice on the property (eg easements etc.) the local Council, and plenty of helpful advice from the estate agent, it would be a really good idea to talk to someone who knows a bit about the bush in the area you are moving to.
You can’t beat long-term local advice.
I recently had a person in who was really excited about their new block. This is great to see. The block in question was bought in an extended dry spell. This person had no idea that it was notorious for flooding. Big floods. Right where they were going to put their shed. The flood mapping available from Councils is good, but does not cover everything.
If you intend running some cattle or horses, don’t expect the green, lush paddocks you see in March/April to be like that after a drought year in October. Consider the carrying capacity of the land. Different country has different carrying capacity. Stocking rates will depend on grazing land type, whether you have native pasture or sown grasses. A rough average for a 450kg beast is one animal per two hectares. Indeed thinking of any production should demand a thorough appraisal before committing yourself. Try www.futurebeef.com.au or on the Sunshine Coast www.countrynoosa.com
Whilst we have very different weather patterns to Victoria, bushfire is still a risk. Consider the site of your house. Fire likes to burn up hill, so putting the house site on a ridge might give you a good view, but could increase the fire risk.
The big one that I really worry about is the presence of weed species on the block and the type of weeds. This is particularly true for lifestyle blocks. All those lovely light green trees along the creek could be Camphor Laurel. The vine with the pretty yellow flowers could be Cat’s Claw Creeper. The pretty white ones could be Madeira Vine. These are all hard to get rid of, so you need to take this into account. The above three weed species are all listed as Category 3 Restricted Invasive Plants in Queensland. This means you cannot give away or sell these plants or any material infested with their seeds.
Some are sneaky and hard to identify to the untrained eye, and will cost a lot of money. I am thinking about the various Sporobolusspecies such as Giant Rat’s Tail Grass (GRT) and Giant Parramatta Grass. These are also listed as Restricted Invasive Plants and may take ten years or more, and up to $20,000, to control effectively if you have a decent sized property. GRT is the gift that keeps on giving. It can set seed throughout the frost-free period of the year and can produce 85,000 seeds per square metre each year with seeds remaining viable for up to 10 years.
So, think, research, and get advice from a local such as a Landcare Group, regional NRM body or Land for Wildlife Officer – these are all great places to start!
Article by Phil Moran
Manager, Noosa & Districts Landcare
Land for Wildlife member, Cooran, Sunshine Coast