Every year since 2014 a large group of Tasmanian Walking Company staff head along to the larapuna Community Weekend at Bay of Fires. The event provides an awesome opportunity to meet and get to know the various community groups who have connection to larapuna, learn from each other, and get our hands dirty working on a range of conservation projects within the Mount King William National Park.

A key focus of the project is to minimise the devastating impact of sea spurge along the Bay of Fires foreshore  Work to date has already significantly reduced the extent of the problem, providing hope that with a few more years of dedicated conservation work sea spurge could be permanently eradicated from the area.

Last year’s (2019) project stats for the three day community weekend make for impressive reading

  • a magnificent volunteer contribution of 477 hours (120 volunteers),
  • approximately 11,000 sea spurge plants eradicated by hand
  • removed and classified over 500 pieces of marine debris
  • spotted more than 20 Hooded Plovers
  • walked 32km of the Bay of Fires coastline from Stumpys Bay to Ansons Bay
  • 12kg of health scroggin consumed by volunteers to maintain energy levels!

The Tasmanian Walking Company team generously provided logistical support throughout the weekend as well as the huge community dinner on Saturday night – what a feast – thank you all!

Many thanks to Graeme Gardner for access to the larapuna site on Saturday, and to Danny Gardner for warmly welcoming us to Country. Thanks also to our Saturday afternoon presenters for their engaging and insightful talks - the UTAS/IMAS Adrift Lab team for their presentation on marine debris, Sue Robinson and Will Oliver for the presentation on their NE island eradication work, and Lindsay Dawe for his presentation on the history of the lighthouse. Thanks to the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Services (PWS) staff involved in the planning and running of the weekend including Linton Burgess, Andrew Redman, Nathan Secombe, Jenna Myers, Lionel Poole, Larissa Giddings and Fee Everts. And thanks to Amanda Blakney for sharing her Hooded Plover insights throughout the weekend.

Finally a huge thank you to Polly Bucchorn and Wildcare Friends of larapuna Coast for being integral to the planning and running of the weekend, everything from booking the buses, coordinating the mapping and getting the word out through fantastic networking, media and advertising. This may have added several hundred more hours to the total volunteer time contributed to the event, and was very, very much appreciated.

And so, what next?

We put a big dent in the East Coast sea spurge, but there’s still lots to do. Here’s more information from Polly –

  • In the three days we hunted down 27,000 sea spurge and removed 11,000 of them.
  • At eight large infestation sites, a total of 16,000 plants had to be left behind; but only after 7,500 plants were removed to prepare the sites for follow-up control.
  • PWS has conducted spraying to control numerous other large infestations before the weekend walks and is using the site records for the eight left behind to get them too.
  • Of 139 record sites 54 are marked 'patrol / sea spurge free', 70 record sites are still being controlled and just 15 have 'Uncontrolled' status and are marked for follow-up.
  • 6,600 juvenile plants were removed and will not get to flower and produce seed this season.
  • More than 5.5 hectares of sea spurge was weeded and 27ha recorded as sea spurge free.
  • More than these 27ha of the larapuna coast could be considered 'sea spurge free' after six years of effort by hundreds of volunteers and PWS as this year’s data underestimates the area.  Keeping it that way will need regular patrolling for new seafaring sea spurge seeds that take root and to get remaining infestations and patches under control.
  • View sea spurging data from the 2019 larapuna Community Weekend on a Google map

Polly and the Wildcare Friends of larapuna Coast team are planning more attacks on the sea spurge soon and would love to hear from anyone who is interested in helping. You can contact Polly at wildcare.larapunacoast@gmail.com

We looking forward to seeing everyone again, including new volunteers at the next larapuna Bay of Fires Community Weekend.