We are tree-changers who purchased part of a subdivision of a 4000-acre grazing property near Murrurundi, New South Wales, 11 years ago. The entire 4000 acres had been over-grazed, and it was so weed-infested that none of the locals would buy it. The subdivision enabled sale of those parts of the property that were not included in a weed-control order. Among the smorgasbord of weeds we inherited were widespread cactus.
We initially tried to pull out the cactus (roots and all), but quickly discovered that they shoot out hundreds of tiny spines when “under attack”. We then tried every technique John van Tiggelen mentions (October), until we realised we had only been successful where we had completely removed the cactus. We could handle the plants if we used particularly strong suede gardening gloves (preferably to the elbow over long-sleeved overalls) and a gentle touch, and so we removed many tonnes of cactus.
It is clear from the article that, just as in our story, the cactus’ arrival preceded the tree-changers’ arrival. Why is John van Tiggelen so critical of tree-changers? The work we carried out in attempting to eradicate the cactus represented only a small fraction of our efforts to renovate our degraded property. There are many tree-changers like us, just as there are many farmers who let weeds get out of control.