Rain brings glorious nature back, with a lot of help


p2308-block-plant-15On our two hectare block in the rural area, 69 different native plants are growing after the big summer rains.

Eminent Central Australian botanist Peter Latz (pictured below) identified and counted them last week.
Two decades ago the block was pretty well overgrown with buffel, some of it waist-high. We fought it with a huge effort of spraying with Roundup, during periods of vigorous growth, and then keeping regrowth in check.
“The land has gone back to what it used to be,” says Mr Latz.
He says winter rains would add about another 20 species.
p2308-block-plant-70-LatzThe multitude of plants is also assisted by the absence of fire over nearly 40 years.
“Native seeds last a long time and native birds bring seeds in. About a dozen breeds of birds can help to bring plants back,” says Mr Latz.
And in turn our multitude of plants bring the birds back: Every morning we wake to the most fabulous chorus of bird song.
This is what Nature Notes, a publication of the Alice Springs Desert Park, says about buffel, a native of eastern Africa and Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India: “In 1961 Government officers and cattlemen started releasing seeds on 31 stations in the Centre, ranging from Mongrel Downs in the northwest and Argadargada in the northeast, down to New Crown and Mt Cavanagh in the south.
“Seeds were also sown in the Alice Springs farm area and at Maggie Springs (Uluru).”
From a conservation point of view it was certainly a very bad call, with buffel now spreading throughout our reserves, national parks and Crown land, pretty well unchecked by authorities. (Google this site for more reports on buffel.)

Kieran Finnane and Erwin Chlanda


PHOTO AT TOP: Ruby Saltbush in fruit.




ABOVE: Simpson Desert Fuschia.

Button grass.
Kerosene grass.
Many native plants in an area previously covered in buffel.
Perennial daisy, one of the few natives that can beat buffel.
Ruby Saltbush narrow leaf.
Oat grass, “No 2 tucker for cows, same value as lucerne,” says Mr Latz.


  1. Its so sad to see this feral grass destroying the biodiversity of Central Australia. I agree with Evelyne, an excellent article.

  2. Steve Brown will be annoyed to see native vegetation reappearing.
    He’s stated his clear preference for buffel grass.

  3. I think maybe we shouldn’t skite about it too much, but El Nino often brings a good wet summer to the Centre.
    And the one we’re now in couldn’t get much better.

  4. Hi Hal, we didn’t mean to skite, but we’re mighty proud we got rid of buffel on our five acres.
    With the same amount of rain, this is what a frightening lot of country in The Centre looks like right now (photo below): Nothing but buffel.
    All the best, Erwin Chlanda.

  5. Erwin: Sorry if I gave the impression that you were skiting. That was not my intention.
    I just meant that with El Nino causing a fair bit of havoc around the world, we in Central Australia do get off luckier than some when that weather pattern emerges (knock on wood).

  6. Great story Erwin, good on you for clearing the buffel from your block. Quite a few people in the Rural area have done / are doing that, more power to them. And always good to hear from Peter Latz again. He has featured in several stories on buffel and fires on your website, including the burning of the corkwood forest out near the Hugh on the Ormiston road back in 2002 as I recall.
    Well worth, readers, looking up those stories on the Alice Springs News Online archive if you are not familiar with them. The archive is a treasure trove for those of us interested in Alice / Centralian issues.


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