Linda and Roger's Southwater Downs
Weed Control Implementation

This is a page within Roger and Linda's Southwater Downs Web-Site.

This page contains information about the activities we've undertaken on the property to address weed problems affecting the rainforest on the property.

Here's what we've done most recently, and here's what we plan to do next.

We've also made some notes on the care needed when addressing a weed problem.

The Baseline

Following purchase of the property in 2002, we saw that the up-hill edges of the rainforest were under attack from blackberries. During 2003-04, we used a weeding contractor (commercial rather than conservation-oriented), who sprayed them, and dragged some of the largest bushes out.

During 2005-06, the Catchment Authority provided advice on native species in and on the edges of the forest, and the major weeds that needed to be attacked. At this stage, the blackberries were worse at the bottom of the property than at the top. We negotiated a contribution towards the fencing of the northern edge, a second round of blackberry attack, some initial work on the wandering jew, and plantings in the riparian grass area.

The fencing was done in 2007. In 2008-09, the blackberry-spraying and planting were conducted by a conservation-oriented contractor ('bush regenerator' rather than 'weeding contractor'). The work that was done was fine, but we weren't impressed with the value-for-money, nor with the failure to attack the wandering jew and to provide the required weed-list.

In early autumn 2010, we applied our 'cut-back, then cut-and-paint-every-cane' technique to the blackberries on the edges at the top, the bottom, and beside the path between them. The technique is discussed generally here and in more detail here. In late spring 2010, inspection suggested that we'd had a lot of success. We repeated it in 2011, with significant effect, and the same again in 2012, and in 2013 we didn't need any spraying on the western edge where the problem had been! An annual cut-and-paint attack is necessary, and the work is non-trivial; but it's within our capabilities (2 people working 4-5 hours for 1 or 2 days p.a.) and it's effective. In 2014, we didn't quite get the job finished in an attack of 2 of us x 1.5 hrs one afternoon plus 4 hrs the next day.

Here are baseline photos of the forest and forest-edges.

Activities To Date

The following activities have been conducted since 2008:

November 2008

April 2009

July 2009

13 Dec 2009

21 Mar 2010

22 Mar 2010

12 October 2010

The visit was primarily to work with the surveyor to mark out the boundaries of the area that is to be the subject of the Conservation Agreement.

I used the opportunity to do some experimenting with the Trad:

When we checked the bags 5 months later, they were deeply embedded in the re-grown Trad. And as the photos below show, the bagging was a failure, because the plants were alive, and shooting merrily. Clearly the bag needs to be not only black, but also out in direct sunlight.

Bagged Trad
Bagged Trad

The other activities were:

26 March 2011

Rubucide day for 2011 came after a moist and not-hot summer, and just after very serious rainfall in the area which had flooded Albion Park at the bottom of Macquarie Pass and washed out a bridge on the Jamberoo Road. The inspection was challenging because of the lushness of the grass (even by Robertson standards). What we found was:

The attack work conducted on the day was as follows (spraying with Grazon/Triclopyr, painting with Glyphosate):

27 March 2011

We finally ran the long-intended controlled experiment on Trad / Wandering Jew. For once we had four sets of hands, because we were assisted by Roger's sister Carole and her husband Peter Waters. It made a big difference. We spent from 11:30 until 16:15, with a short lunch-break. It was overcast with occasional light drizzle, and about 16 degrees.

We selected the flat area behind the stable.

It's partly within the back yard of the house, and partly within the Conservation Area.

The reasons for choosing this area were that:

  • the Trad is almost entirely on slopes and in forests. But this is the one area that's flat and hence an easier place to experiment
  • it's relatively free of low-flying branches and vines
  • we could do tests of the weedicides in somewhat degraded forest just outside the conservation area
Click on any image to enlarge it
Satellite Image

The Trad was 12-18 inches high and very thick.

Only occasional flowers were visible.

They were white, which confirmed that it was indeed Tradescantia albiflora and not the similar native.


We conducted three experiments.

They were in the three different areas, shown on the diagram.

The forest canopy in Area 1 is thin compared with the normal forest, and in Areas 2 and 3 it's lighter again.

Oops. The satellite image has north at the top, whereas the diagram has north at the bottom.
Sorry 'bout that.


1. Manual Treatment Experiment:

Area 1.
Looking West from J9
Looking South-West from J9
Before Clearance
Before / West
Before / SW
After Clearance
After / West
After / SW

2. Triclopyr Treatment Experiment:

  • We defined an area about 8m EW x 5m NW, outside the conservation area and close to the southern boundary-fence
  • We sprayed using 20ml of Grazon (Triclopyr) in 5 litres of water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid as surfactant
  • This was done when the plants were just a little moist from the mist
  • Triclopyr is a weedicide fairly specific to broadleaf plants, which has a moderately nasty residual which lasts for a few months
  • The photo is looking East from J2
  • The Trad has been somewhat trampled, because the spraying was done from 2 feet away
Area 2.

3. Glyphosate Treatment Experiment:

Area 3. Nth
Area 3. Sth

The pile of residue was put 15m away, in the horse-paddock:


6 March 2012

Regrettably, we didn't manage to re-visit during the following 12 months, with the result that we couldn't monitor changes in the treated vegetation.

It was almost a year later when I did a quick recce, primarily to plan the 2012 rubucide day.

The areas we had worked on in March 2011 were completely smothered in trad. The only observations of note were:

We then contacted three potential weed contractors, with the idea that we would do some experimentation, and apply for a grant from the Private Land Conservation Grants Program for Community Bush Regeneration (current round closing 15 April). A better URL may be the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (FNPW) itself.

These two were no-bids:

The only positive response was from:

Gerard emailed back:

However, Gerard is away for a month, and then we go, so it will have to wait for a while.

(We also heard from Brett, the tenant, that a mate had successfully attacked Trad with a mix of diesel with a fairly small amount of salt – or was it sugar? – a ratio something like 10 litres to a couple of cupsful).

7-8 April 2012

We did a 2-day x 5-hour working weekend on Easter Saturday and Sunday. It was entirely focussed on blackberries, although we did cut-and-paint a dozen large inkweed at forest edges. We saw only a couple of verbascum, and only a couple of old thistles and first-year rosettes. We found some ivy again near the concrete blocks on the right-hand side of the upper path, and cut-and-painted four small vines.

The 2011 blackberry attacks with both cut-and-paint and spray had been very effective. There was plenty of work to do this year, but there were fewer plants than in 2011, and only one patch remained that was too large for cut-and-paint attack.

On the first day, we started at the bottom part of the property. Linda did the cutting-and-painting of the large number of small plants in the riparian zone and the lower slopes. Roger worked the forest-edge, mainly on the northern end (the right as you look down at the creek). The central area contains the remaining large infestation. The bottom of the path on the right appeared to have been effectively cleared last year.

We then came up to the forest edge below the paddock. Linda did the open areas. Roger went into the forest and came back out to the forest edge from within. The native re-growth on the forest-edge has been very substantial, making it difficult going. The blackberries comprised vigorous single- and double-strands, many growing from old roots; but nothing like the tightly-entangled infestations of the past.

On the second day, Linda loaded up with 10 litres of water plus 50ml Grazon/Triclopyr. She sprayed:

Roger went back to the top of the forest beneath the paddock and attacked isolated blackberries that could be reached from outside the forest, plus a small patch of inkweed amongst the vigorous native re-growth. There was also one low, grass-entangled infestation just below the stable-paddock gate, which took quite some time and 30 cuts.

The large paddock still has many blackberries that need to be sprayed next year.

21 February 2013

Meeting with Gerard Proust of PBS re the Trad flum work we want him to quote for.

Then a quick reconnaisance, to plan the next visit and the blackberry attacks, the plan being:

17 March 2013

Linda cut-and-painted blackberry at the western / creek end. None were extensive enough to require spraying this year – the last two years' work on the big patch has reduced it to individual bushes. There were plenty of stragglers in the grass, and it took the full 4 hours before and after lunch to get them done.

Roger cut-and-painted blackberry at the eastern end of the northern forest. The bush on the northern fenceline needs more work yet. Several previously-attacked root-bases had sprung further stalks, some up to 5m, others less vigorous. They were mainly attacked from the forest outwards, tracking the high stalks, cutting them and piling on top of other vegetation. Then, once the roots were located, crawling in underneath, cutting-and-painting low down, and parking the cut stalk high enough that it can't re-grow. It took almost all of the 4 hours on about 8-10 such infestations, none fearsome, all awkward. A start was made on what turned out to be a large complex of blackberry and inkweed on the southern side of the V.

In several patches there were also very vigorous inkweeds to be pulled – up to a dozen stalks each up to 2 metres, off a single root, which, once located, could in most cases be pulled out of the soft ground.

The edges of the forest along the eastern V need to be attacked next time, by Roger, while Linda sprays in the large paddock. There's plenty of inkweed to be pulled in the V area as well.

No other serious weeds presented themselves for attention, in fact few other weeds serious or otherwise.

29-30 March 2013

We spent Good Friday and Easter Saturday on the property, about 3-1/2 hours' working-time each day, overnighting in Campbelltown.

Down the Y to the creek, Roger first widened the entrance to the path, which had become uncomfortably overgrown with (native) vegetation. He then cut-and-painted about 20 young blackberries down the pathway. The 15m 'blackberry alley' incursion into the northern forest was comprehensively beaten by our previous attacks. But unfortunately the Trad has since invaded into that area as well.

Roger then worked on the southern (left) side of the Y, below the stable. We haven't had time to do a comprehensive attack in that area for some time. The good news is that the blackberries have to be virile, because the edge of the forest is extremely vigorous. The blackberries have all had to fight upwards to the 2-3m level, spread along and through the pioneer vegetation, and develop 2cm diameter ground-stalks. Roger cleared the trailing stems into a pile. As it wasn't practical to store all of the cuttings off-ground, Linda sprayed the pile to limit the new growth. Roger then used natural access points into the forest where possible, but in some cases had to battle into the edge of the forest, in order to locate and cut-and-paint the main stems.

Roger continued along the fence-line below and behind the stable, clearing both blackberry and some vigorous inkweed. He also cleared a massive complex of inkweed in the stable paddock. The roots were so strong and intertwined that he had to cut and clear the stalks into the rubbish-hole in the middle of the paddock, and then chop into the roots with the miner's hammer (but had no glyphosate handy at the time, which should have been brushed onto the exposed root-flesh).

In the large paddock, Roger pre-cut the large blackberry bushes, and Linda sprayed most of them (maybe 300) with 50ml of Grazon/Tripochlyr to 10 litres of water.

The cluster of smaller blackberry bushes on the southern edge close to the shed and house she cut-and-painted with glyphosate and water 1:1. Roger carried the residue (a dozen armfuls) and tossed it over the paddock fence on top of the blackberries on the wide strip above the road.

Linda sprayed into the densely blackberried triangular enclave beside the driveway, from both the northern and southern fencelines, and also cut a path in and sprayed east and west from it.

Linda then cleared a massive blackberry growing through the 10-foot hydrangea between the house and the shed. It turned out to be a seven-stalk monster, plus side-shoots growing westwards into the edge of the forest. The main stems were left hanging above-ground, with both ends painted with glyphosate.

30 March 2013 – Inspection of the Plantings of April 2009

This comprised:

Initially, the growth had not looked hopeful, with some dying immediately, and others looking not particularly healthy.

During the second and third years, some did get moving, however.

After 4 years, when we looked at the area critically, we concluded as follows:

The A. melanoxylon did not fare well. But enough of the A. mearnsii and E. radiata are now sufficiently well-developed that a protected enclave exists, and there's a real prospect of the south-western corner of the forest eventually extending itself by as much as a 15m x 15m area down closer to the creekline.

On the right-hand side of the path (NW side), there are:

On the left-hand-side of the path (SW) side, what is in effect a 'forest edge' been developed around the N and W sides, comprising:

On the left-hand-side of the path (SW), in the gap between that new 'forest edge' and the rainforest, some filler has been provided, comprising:

The survival rate appears to have been:

Most of the E. radiata and A. mearnsii are 3-4m in height, most of the A. mearnsii with considerable spread, but the E. radiata more varied and generally with less spread that the A. mearnsii. The A. melanoxyon are smaller.

So the A. mearnsii have sustained their reputation as a pioneer species, and the E. radiata as well. Hopefully A. melanoxylon might develop of their own accord, now that a protected section has been established. Perhaps we should plant a few more in that area?

11-22 October 2013 – PBS Work on Trad

Proust Bushland Services (PBS) attacked the Trad flum on the forest floor, with Gerard Proust some of the time, and a team of 3 on-site. The dates on site were:

I turned up on the third morning, to get an idea of the process, the weedicide, progress, issues, prospects, next steps.


The Weedicide:




Next Steps:

14-31 January 2014 – PBS Work on Trad

Proust Bushland Services (PBS) continued the attack on the Trad flum on the forest floor, with Gerard Proust some of the time, and a team of c. 3 on-site. The dates on site were:

The focus was on consolidating the core areas already done by attacking re-growth, and expanding into some of the remaining zones.

Gerard Proust provided the following:

Site-Map of the Works
Pre- and Post Shots ...
... of Nov 2013 and Jan 2014

9 March 2014 – Annual Blackberry Attack

The autumn was going to be very busy, so we arrived a little early, spending 1.5 hrs on Sunday afternoon plus 4 hrs on the (Canberra holiday) Monday, 10 March. Apart from blackberry, the forest edges had few major weed problems, e.g. 2 or 3 inkweed, just turning their awful purple, two thistles at the bottom of the stable-paddock, one large Conyza beside the creek.

The work done comprised:

What we did not get done was:

19, 26 November 2014 – PBS Work on Trad

Proust Bushland Services (PBS) continued the attack on the Trad flum on the forest floor.

[Awaiting photos]

16 January 2015 – Inspection

This was the next available opportunity to inspect PBS's work on the Wandering Jew.

It's been very effective. After 6 weeks, there was only scattered re-growth, with some areas remaining fairly bare, some showing the early stages of re-growth of both Trad and native species, and some areas showing vigorous re-growth of natives, and as-yet not-vigorous re-growth of Trad.

Behind the Stable
looking South
Looking SE
A sample of
the re-growth
Northern Forest
Across the slope
Down the slope
Southern Forest
At various levels ...
... of detail
More regrowth here

I also did a check of the blackberry situation. All areas will need a patrol, but no one area is bad enough to be regarded as the primary target area for the Autumn Rubucide Attack. I removed the sole Thistle that I saw. I had no time for the scattered Inkweed.

The neighbour has brought down the dozen mature Pinus radiata on his side of the fence in the extreme SW of Southwater Downs. He had limited choice in where he dropped them, and they've demolished the fence (such as it was). There's minimal to no damage done to vegetation on our side. There may be more vigorous growth near the fence due to increased sunlight.

2015 – Nil Report!

October 2014 saw the departure of long-term tenants. They left the property covered in a vast array of large not-very-collectables. We spent multiple weekends clearing the place, filling three of the largest available skips with heavily de-constructed and packed-down rubbish. We then had a succession of contractors in to refresh the place and fix various problems. By the end of that, in April 2015, we'd run out of energy and time to attack blackberries!

11 April 2016 – Inspection

On the way back from Russell and Karen's wedding celebrations near Nowra, we spent an hour checking blackberries and wandering jew.

Giving the blackberries a year off has let them get away a bit. All forest-edges need attention, and there are plenty of small plants in the grass near the creek and on the lower path.

We need to get the contractor back into the forest to deal with the resurgence of wandering jew. The attacks of the previous years have been very effective, with some previously bad areas showing a lot of small native ground-plants. But there's also re-growth in the lower northern forest and the central southern forest.

The ink-weed is a bit of a problem in some areas.

But generally the forest looks pretty good, certainly much better that it was before we got the grant, and were able to put PBS in there.

1 May 2016 – Annual Blackberry Attack

We got most of the intended work done, despite a very windy day:

We still haven't attacked the bushes that are encroaching from the eastern road-side slope, nor the large infestation along the northern side of the drive-way. As they're not affecting the forest, they've remained lower priority.

It was a very productive day, and after feeling a tad daunted at the beginning we felt we'd done the necessary work for the year in a mere 4-hour day.

5, 7, 11 Oct 2016 – Final PBS Attack

After long delays due to the excessively wet season, PBS finally got into the forest for the fourth and final attack on the Wandering Jew / Tradescantia fluminensis / Trad.

Gerard Proust reported:
"We have eventually completed the maintenance weeding of the entire site; despite the variable weather conditions and a car mishap.
"We hand weeded approx 75% of the site and then site prepped and sprayed:

"We took 18 large 'feed bags' off site for safe disposal.
"Most of the site is in maintenance mode but you will have to keep on some zones esp the area near the house on further maintenance weeding"

27 Oct 2016 – Inspection of Final PBS Attack on the Trad.

Roger did the inspection on 27 Oct 2016. There's still Trad. in the area behind and beside the house, i.e. outside the conservation area. No Trad. was visible anywhere else.

Some areas were barer than healthy forest-floor usually is. This was presumably where the Trad. had regenerated and PBS had attacked the re-growth. In those areas, I assume that native species had still been suppressed and few of them would have survived the latest assault.

In many other areas, however, there was a lot of native re-growth evident at ground level, and in some cases a bit higher. There was little evidence of weeds in those areas, although a few ink-weed are grabbing their chance in relatively bright zones where old trees have fallen and the new growth hasn't filled the gap in the canopy yet.

Gerard didn't get any photos on 5-11 Oct, so Roger took these on 27 Oct:

Behind the Stable:

The area was clear of Trad., but so far with only modest re-growth of native species at ground-level.
That's no surprise, because this was one of the worst-affected areas.
We'd done our first experiments here, with very little success
Southern Block, i.e. West of the House
Some patches very good,
a lot of litter,
but native re-growth readily apparent
Northern Block
Some areas are a little barer than desirable ...
(Compare this shot with these photos, from 2013 and 2014)
... and some areas are recovering very well

Roger also checked weeding priorities for the coming season. They appear to be:

31 March 2017 – Rubucide Day

Roger spent the first half-hour inspecting the damage to the water-tank from the fallen 40-foot Acacia melanoxylon.

Linda sprayed with 50ml Grazon to 10 litres of water, as follows:

Roger cut-and-painted as follows:

The future work-plan looks like this:

21 April 2017 – Rubucide Day

The inspection of the blackberries relevant to the forest at the start of the day found:


The wandering jew is getting under way inside the forest again. It's terrible behind the house, as far as the end of the stable. In the large forest, it's sporadic, but already becoming a real problem again in a few places. There was modest re-growth of native species in the areas that had been cleared, although less strong than we'd hoped. There was a newly-scraped area mid-forest and towards the northern fenceline (presumably from wombat parties?). We should start looking for some more funding assistance, and get Gerard Proust back in to have a look and provide a quote.

Linda sprayed along most of the forest perimeter, along the littoral area, and in the (nicely-developing) re-planted area in the SW corner, then up the pathway. She emptied the tank in the NE corner and along the eastern edge. She used Grazon at 30ml per 10 litres water. No wind. Some fog, a few drops of rain. total of 20 litres. After lunch, she worked the paddocks.

Roger spent the entire 4 hours working up the southern side of the 'Y'. Glyphosate, water and a little Grazon. As noted last year, a vast amount of cutback was needed, in order to find and get access to quite small numbers of stems, some base-of-thumb thickness. He only got three-quarters of the way up to the fence, so Linda sprayed the remainder before we left.

'First, do no harm'

Two important aspects of conservation are distinguishing between weeds and not-weeds, and avoiding doing more harm than good. The rule is to not touch it unless you know what you're doing. That has two components:

A nice case study from Southwater Downs is a Senecio, which we think is S. linearifolius (Fireweed Groundsel). PlantNet identifies 72 species in the Genus in Australia, of which 9 are Introduced (i.e. generally, weeds), and several seriously so. They include Senecio madagascariensis, which is declared noxious in much of the Southern Tablelands and SouthEast Region.

The plant we have is a pioneer, vigorous, looks like a weed, and, if we've identified it correctly, its common name has the word 'weed' embedded in it. But it's a highly desirable local.

In the words of SouthEast Weeds, "... the native "fireweed groundsel" (Senecio linearifolius) ... is a robust species to over a metre in height, which grows as a cluster of stiff stems. 'Petals' are shorter and fewer (8 or less) than in fireweed [S. madagascariensis] and leaves are much larger, with the veins conspicuous on the upper surface and the margins finely and regularly toothed and slightly rolled under. This difference in the leaves is apparent in the seedlings as well. This species is an opportunistic coloniser of bare ground and may give some cause for alarm by behaving in a weedy manner after disturbances such as clearing of forest, fire or drought".

Future Activities

Our general approach to weed management, and specific approaches to particular species, are explained in the Weed Management page within our Bunhybee web-site.

In roughly descending priority order:

This is a page within the Southwater Downs Web-Site, home-page here

Contact: Linda or Roger

Created: 22 March 2010; Last Amended: 23 April 2018