Gamba grass fires

This is a note of warning to any birders thinking of visiting the Top End.

Gamba grass, a weed that grows to nearly five metres in height is out of control in much of the area bounded by Darwin/Litchfield Park-Daly River/Katherine and Kakadu. This area includes several popular birding spots.

It’s only June and already there have been several uncontrolled fires, many (according to our local firefighters) lit by arsonists tempted by the sight of a wall of grass exploding in flame (gamba grows to nearly five metres in height). Last Thursday it took several firies aided by two water-bombers, two spotter helicopters and a grader the best part of a day to extinguish a fire that came very close to us.

Gamba burns at similar temperatures to a southern forest fire. but can move much faster. If you’re caught in one you will not survive. And every authority I’ve spoken to – scientists, Bushfires Council chief, our local fire-chief, and park rangers – expects people will die in these fires this year.

I posted a photo of one conflagration on the chatline some time ago. If anyone wants to view this or other photos email me.

I doubt the tourist authorities will warn visitors so please pass this message along.

Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

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