Grumpy / Any wonder the place looks like a dump

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I MUST relate a recent meeting I had with a City Services official, an absolute gentleman and understanding of my concerns, and two Parks and Conservation officials about the overgrown state of the Dunlop Reserve.

After five months writing to my five local members (of which three bothered to reply) my correspondence was somehow handballed to the City Services gentleman, who then contacted Parks and Conservation and an on-site meeting was arranged with two of their grass and burning scientists.

Well, it turns out that I am a dill as even though the grasses are more than a metre tall they are mown to a point 30 metres from my home, which makes it all fine and dandy as that is what is quoted in the “ACT Bushfire Management Standards, ACT Strategic Bushfire Management Plan Version 3 of 2014”. Phew!

When I then asked about the cluster of grass accumulated where the tractor/mower turns less than 12 metres from my home, they said that was alright because if there was an outbreak, the homes 40 metres diagonally opposite me would probably be caught up first. Good to know.

I then suggested, as I had to the local Assembly members, putting cattle back on the reserve as was done several years ago and worked a treat.

I was told that was a possibility later this year, but lo and behold, shock and horror, I was then advised by another scientist we now have a problem with the probability of the Golden Sun Moth taking up digs somewhere in the reserve region.

At this point I suggested I had wasted enough of these fellas’ time and retired to my home for a strong coffee and thought to my good self, any wonder the ACT Greens/Labor government has the once-pristine ACT looking like an absolute dump.

Grumpy is an occasional column dedicated purely to things that get up your nose. Readers are invited to vent (no more than 300 words, please) at

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  1. Hi Michael

    I liked your piece on the Dunlop Grassland Reserve and I think many Canberrans would agree with you about unsightliness and fire risk of metre high grasses in grassland reserves.

    I am a friend of grasslands, and consider Dunlop Grassland Reserve a very valuable natural asset. Natural (native) grasslands in south-east Australia are one percent of their original area. In Canberra they are seven percent of their original area. They host a huge variety of native grasses and wildflowers and some important threatened species, such as the delightful golden sun moth. Buy a copy of Grassland Flora (retails about $22) and you will see what I mean. Take a walk through Dunlop Reserve, especially in spring and early summer, and you will hopefully be delighted by the patches of wonderful flowers.

    Unfortunately, none of our grassland reserves are pristine; weed invasion, especially by non-native grasses such as serrated tussock, Chilean needle grass, African love grass, phalaris and many more, is a major issue. The ACT government largely controls the first three, highly invasive, grasses but phalaris less so as it is less invasive. I suspect phalaris is the grass that you most object to. Grassland managers are now experimenting with methods to reduce it.

    Unfortunately, government budgets are limited and so it trades off conservation against unsightliness and a minor fire risk. Cutting grass within a reserve is a fraught option because, if grass cutting machines are not property clean (and it is costly to do so), they often cause weed spread. Friends of grasslands advocate for more money to be spent on grassland conservation, although addressing aesthetics and low fire risk are not major objectives. Hopefully, in time we can tidy up the grassland edges and make grasslands more inviting.

    Meanwhile, enjoy Dunlop Reserve!

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