Saturday, 29 April 2017

Dalby dawdling ...

Nick works shift-work, so isn't always rostered off for weekends and often works during public holidays.  When we saw this opportunity for a mini-holiday, it didn't occur to either of us that it was also a long weekend for all the state.  That fact became clear when I tried to book our accommodation!

(As new QLDers we aren't yet up-to-date with our now local public holidays).

After lucking out on several destinations I found a budget, pet-friendly cabin at Dalby - so booked quickly!  I did a little research and read the town boasted a monument to the cactoblastis moth! Of course, we had to see that!

We've visited all kinds of monuments and memorials in our travels.  We regularly see prickly pear also and know it as an invasive plant. I was very surprised to see it being grown in Victoria - in netted areas to protect it from birds!  Given our extremely negative experience of prickly pear jam (purchased during our Lightning Ridge visit), it didn't make sense that a pest species would be grown as a prized crop.

Since returning from Dalby, I've done more research and some communities value the fruit very highly.  I'm still not sure what legal requirements exist for growing the cactus in Victoria.  In Queensland many of the subspecies are "prohibited invasive plants" and must be reported within 24 hours to Biosecurity Queensland, under the Biosecurity Act 2014.  ("Prickly Pear" is a general term used to describe more than ten species of cactus, most from the opuntia species).

There was an abbreviated history of prickly pear reported on the Dalby monument. I've learnt a lot more since returning home.  Some facts were revision, while others were new.  It's a very interesting story.  Biosecurity Queensland has published a detailed four-page PDF file, here.  There are more photos and facts, here.

About 70km from Dalby is another memorial to the cactoblastis moth.  The Cactoblastis Memorial Hall at Boonarga is the only building in the world named after an insect. (Boonarga is near Chinchilla, where the first prickly pear plant was destroyed by the cactoblastis larvae in 1926).  The local community celebrated the hall's 80th anniversary last year.  

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