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Living Lightly column

Being more Australian

By Bruce Nulty, Wodonga Urban Landcare Network (WULN)

The Society for Growing Australian Native plants had a strong influence in Alice Springs during the 20 years we lived there, before moving to Wodonga 17 years ago.

I revisited Alice Springs early last year and was surprised to see grass in the Todd River but  disappointed to learn that it was Buffel Grass.  Walking in the Telegraph Station I noticed it everywhere, overtaking local native grasses.  “In 1961 Government officers and cattlemen started releasing seeds on 31 stations in the Centre …”   http://www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/kids/nature/plants/bufel.shtml

When we arrived in Wodonga we were pleased to support the Gardens for Wildlife (G4W) project which was started by the Friends of Willow Park and has recently moved to the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network.   (For more information see facebook.com/wodongalandcare and facebook.com/G4WAW.)  A Wodonga neighbour said he wished he had in his garden, the beautiful little native birds we have in our garden,  e.g. eastern spine bills, striated thorn bills, red wattle birds,  superb fairy wrens, honey eaters (spiny cheeked, grey backed, yellow faced, white cheeked and new holland honey eaters),  king parrots, rosellas and currawongs. I said to him that to get Australian insects and birds you need to plant Australian trees, shrubs and grasses.

There is a website: dosomething.org whose premise is that if you are concerned about loss of habitat, global warming, climate change etc, it is better to do something about it rather than become depressed.  A “something” we can do is plant native plants in our gardens.

Another Wodonga resident recently moved to Melbourne to build a house in a new subdivision.  One  covenant in this new subdivision was that any non-native plant, e.g. a fruit tree, needed to be out of view from the rest of the estate.  Living in Albury/Wodonga has a lot going for it in comparison with living in a large city. We are closer to a variety of Australian bush localities, the hills, the mountains, the creeks and the great Murray River.  We need to preserve these natural assets.

Albury/Wodonga is also well placed so that if you need a fix of unbearable traffic it is only a bit over 3 hours to Melbourne or 6 hours to Sydney and, if you want to go around in circles, only about 5 hours to Canberra.  In the meantime please join the effort to become more Australian by planting native plants in our gardens.