Wangaratta must be Australia’s most stereotypical Australian regional centre. Its white bread, sliced: don’t you have a knife? Not like Shepparton; Europeans before the war, Asians since and most recently Middle East and Africans. The road from Shepp to Wang passes through the orchards of the Varapodios, Boumbous and Kalafatis on the eastern borders of the town. Soon, you are in canola, wheat, sheep and beef; intent on making the transition to Wang.
Dookie is the first stop. No lunch at the pub. Its closed on Mondays. Just out of town someone is digging a dam, revealing the deep blood red soil, metres deep, moist and fertile, edible like Christmas pudding waiting for white sauce. It is sinful to contemplate using this resource for anything but horticulture. More and more, vineyards are making use of this treasure. Tallis wines, for example.
Devenish is the next town. Most homes make use of their flagpoles.
The single lane of bitumen from Devenish is the alternative to the Hume Highway to Wang. You meet few cars, but if you do its best to slow down before leaving the tarred surface, get off the track and avoid stones thrown up by the other. Today high winds nudged the car. It was risky, more than taking the Hume, but fun.
This back-way was a most atypical way to arrive in the most typical Wang; its plane trees, churches, red brick homes, cafes, courts, schools and public buildings.
On the way home, we stopped in a David & Stella’s to learn how things were going. The wind could blow you over. The hogweed has set up home and forming a layer of carpet in the tree-lines. David bought the 400 L sprayer and had applied Basta via the dome. He was waiting to see what would happen.
‘It takes ten days to show impacts. What concentration did you use?’
He had used half the required amounts. I explained that at that concentration, it will have no impact. I have tried to use a similar dilution and had to wait two weeks to learn of my failure. Meanwhile the hogweed occupies more and more of the treeguards.
It was pleasing to see the seeds of the rootstock poking their heads up through the soil. 50% have appeared. They will all come. They have popped a treeguard on each one. Once all have sprouted and treeguards are in place, will allow them to spray the treeline with Basta at the correct concentration via a T jet on a boom. It is crucial to stop the hogweed from taking control of the treeline. If it takes over, spraying it leaves a dead lattice work of wire-like stems that can only be removed with a whipper-snipper.