Friday 8 June 2012

Special Edition 10

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Have your say now on Buffel Grass strategy

(Media Release from PIRSA)

Biosecurity SA is seeking public comment a new strategy paper on Buffel grass – a serious invader that has the potential to spread rapidly across South Australia.

Biosecurity SA’s Manager of NRM Biosecurity, Dr John Virtue, said Buffel grass currently posed the greatest threat in the State’s arid and semi-arid rangelands.

"Buffel grass (or Cenchrus ciliaris) is a perennial tussock grass native to Africa, India and Asia," Dr Virtue said.

"Since the late 1950s, it’s been a major pasture grass sown in northern Australia but has spread into South Australia in recent decades.

"The benefits of Buffel grass for livestock production, however, must be compared with its serious conservation and social impacts. It can form dense monocultures, change natural fire regimes and threaten the survival of rare native plants and animals.

"With the need to manage fire risk and protect assets, and the loss of diversity in native pastures, Buffel grass can actually pose significant production costs. Buffel grass is not approved for planting in the pastoral regions, which has put South Australia in a unique position to take strategic actions now to protect our precious rangelands."

Dr Virtue said climatic modelling predicted Buffel grass, if left unchecked, could establish over most of the State in the longer term. Invasion of Buffel grass is considered to be a major threat to biodiversity and especially to remote communities in South Australia.

Biosecurity SA recently released a Draft Buffel Grass Strategic Plan for South Australia which is open for comment until 31 July 2012.

"The plan is part of a strategic approach to South Australia’s weed management. The overall aim is to lessen the damage caused by weeds in relation to the environment, property, infrastructure and public health," Dr Virtue said.

"This draft Buffel grass strategic plan will aid the development of state policy and regional weed management plans to direct on-ground programs to prevent the spread of Buffel grass in South Australia."

Copies of the plan and online submissions can be lodged at: or forwarded to:

Tim Reynolds, Biosecurity SA, GPO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001




A rocky track between Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta in outback South Australia has hosted a three-day Aboriginal cycling tour.

A rocky track in outback South Australia has hosted a three-day Aboriginal cycling tour, called 'COBRA' - the Coober Pedy To Oodnadatta Bike Ride Adventure.

Twenty intrepid men and boys proved they've got what it takes to conquer 200 kilometres of rocky tracks.

The ride was the brainchild of a pair of police officers hoping to bring kids 'back to the basics'. It was also a fundraiser for diabetes sufferers. 

"Obviously we see some of the issues in town, we see there is alcoholism and domestic violence and children are part of that, so I guess we want to do the things that we used to do as kids, we grew up riding bikes and we went camping," says Officer Patrick Larkins.

The participants - some as young as 11 - set up camp each night of the tour, enjoying steak dinners as they rest their weary legs. 

The tracks are tough on their bicycles, too. 

Scores of second hand bikes renovated by homeless people and schoolchildren were donated by a Melbourne program called Cycle Change. 

The 'Close the Gap' campaign also sponsored the initiative by providing some new ones.

There is strong community support for the COBRA, and there's even banter that the dusty track to Oodna could produce an Aboriginal Cadel Evans.

The campfire provides a place for youngsters to hear the wisdom of elders - who speak out against alcohol and drug use.

"It really is a better way I think, of not just sticking people in a room and lecturing them, but just building relationships, getting together, talking and sharing some of those messages," says George Laslett, of the Umoona Tjutagku Health Service.



Life lessons along the dusty outback tracks


By Nicola Gage

Updated June 01, 2012 10:53:42

The dusty roads of the outback can be challenging for the most seasoned off-track driver.

But a group of Aboriginal teenagers is attempting to tackle them on mountain bikes.

Riding along dirt tracks, a group of 19 and some older riders have set off from Coober Pedy to ride the 200 kilometres to Oodnadatta across the far north of South Australia.

It is part of a police mentorship program to teach teenagers about harm minimisation and how they can tackle boredom.

George Laslett from the Umoona Tjutagku Health Service said the group would ride about 70 kilometres per day and sleep under the stars.

"Just being out in the bush, being close to country, back to country, helps people develop a real sense of identity and a sense of pride in themselves," he said.

"In a town like Coober Pedy there's a lot of alcohol here and really sometimes well people just hang around the streets, you know, and some people get depressed because they don't have much to do."

A riding and bike maintenance club is being set up as part of the mentoring project.

"We're looking for them to find a point of interest and while we're away we'll be showing films about harm minimisation in regard to what alcohol does to your body and they're also going to develop peer relationships," Mr Laslett said.

"Certainly there's a strong link between social integration and anti-depressant behaviour.

"So exercise, nutrition, just being in a group of people lowers your chances of having a heart attack."

Andrew Dingaman from the Aboriginal Support Service is among the riders.

"It's showing them that there's more to life than just sitting around drinking all the time, you know, you can go out and enjoy this life", he said.

"I think people just get out [of school] and forget about everything and don't worry about these sort of things.

"But if you get them out there early and show them there's a lot of things out there in the world you can do, it will probably get their mind off anything (sic)."

The riders are raising money to support prevention of diabetes in remote communities.



The Australian Research Council (ARC) is a statuary authority under the Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary (IISRTE) portfolio within the Australian Government. Its mission is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community.

Two of the six ministers involved in this portfolio are Senator the Hon Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, and The Hon Greg Combet, Minister for Industry and Innovation.

The ARC Future Fellowships scheme is intended to attract and retain high quality mid-career researchers, particularly those researching in areas of critical national importance. 

The Coober Pedy News has received a request from a researcher whom is funded through the ARC, to publish a notice seeking information on the subject of lesbian relationships in Australia.

It is the Editor's opinion that the final published research will only include opinions of those members of the Australian public who are in favour of same-sex relationships, and will not include opinions of the Australian public who are opposed to same-sex relationships.

Research such as this is definitely not of national importance.

The Coober Pedy News has declined the researcher's request to publish a notice seeking information on the subject of lesbian relationships in Australia.