A Vline inspector has assured locals in Moorabool’s far west that work to control gorse up to 3m high will start within the next fortnight.

It comes after former CFA staffmember and Yendon woman Margot Rees contacted media outlets about the thorny weed, which is growing in an enormous 30m-by-300m-plus clump along the Ballarat-Geelong line and in huge patches across the Moorabool, Ballarat and Golden Plains district.

The 1860 Navigators bluestone bridge (pictured) is also being swallowed by the hard-to-kill weed.

“A couple of utes were out there today (Thursday) and I got a call a few hours later to say work will start in the next two weeks and there’ll be a control program every year for the next two years,” she said.

“With so much gorse along such a long stretch of rail line, it’s like a wick on a candle: a wick into the Canadian forest and a wick into Ballarat!

A 300m-plus long thicket of gorse along the Warrenheip-Gheringhap line between Yendon and Navigators

“This weed dries out and can be highly flammable. The seeds are also released by fire. If you try and burn it to control it, it’ll make it worse.”

Ms Rees lost her Cockatoo home in Ash Wednesday 28-years-ago and said she was acutely aware of how quickly a bushfire could spread.

“I’d like to see the gorse stripped back and maintained so a safe, credible level that is not going to endanger humans and animals (as a bushfire risk).

“There is no point mucking around. It hasn’t been done properly for 30 years. It’s time to get it done.

“This isn’t a weed you can just burn off.

“It’s got to be hoisted out and poisoned and then followed up until it’s gone.

“I’m someone who doesn’t like the use of poisons, but in this case it’s absolutely vital.”

Gorse – or ulex europaeus – is native to western Europe and north Africa where it generally grows at a slower rate to a shorter height. It forms impenetrable thickets where few other plants can survive and was originally used in Australia as a hedge plant. 

Gorse seeds are viable for many years and are ejected as pods dry out. Controlling the weed involves intensive work over a two-year period.

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Gabrielle Hodson
Author: Gabrielle Hodson

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