Oratunga Cactus Cull – September 2016

Oratunga 4th – 11th September 2016
Trip Leader Ralph A

First of all some information on Oratunga. Oratunga is a station property just north of Blinman owned by Gini and her trusty dog Skye a black rescued greyhound.

Sunday 4th
Saw us up bright and early as we had to meet the Trevor and Barbara at Roseworthy at 8:30 am. After a McDonalds breakfast we arrived at Roseworthy around 8 am and were surprised to hear the Trevor and Barbara call us on the radio as they had got away earlier than expected.

It was a pleasant drive with all the crops looking so good and the canola flowering a bright yellow. We arrived in Clare just before 10 am and found the bakery for a morning tea stop.

On the road again next stop Hawker for fuel. We found a stop for lunch, arriving at Oratunga just before 4pm. We set up camp and joined the rest of the group at the shearer quarters where Gini supplied dinner. For dinner we had soup, BBQ and finished off with a very nice Cherry pie. Well done Gini.

The team of 23 consisted of from the Overland Club, Trevor and Barbara, Les and Eileen and Rob and Marcia who arrived on Monday, plus some members of the Toyota Club, plus some of Ralph’s bike riding mates.

Monday 5th
After a good night’s sleep we all met at the shearer’s quarters for the days instructions. Trevor won the team leader for our group. Each group collected their equipment consisting of electric drills (to drill the cacti) a backpack and injection gun of Glyphosate (round up for killing the cacti) bucket and tongs to pick up small plants, a spray marker to identify treated plants and a GPS to mark all treated plants.

Receiving Instructions 1

We drove in convoy to Oratunga Creek. Morning tea time. With lunches packed we set off in search of cacti. During the morning we heard over the radio that one of other team members had stepped on a snake. But for a change of underwear no other damage was reported.

Day 1 walk – Pink line is where we drove, Red line is our walking trail

After finding Cacti at the last third of our walk we returned to the cars at about 4:30 having walked nearly 10km felling, well I’ll let you be the judge of that. Back to Oratunga for a nice hot shower. Rob and Marcia had arrived with their caravan and had set up camp. We all cooked for ourselves tonight and it was not long before we were all in bed.

Day 2
Once again we met at the Shearers quarters for our daily instructions. Unsure of how much chemical we had left Ralph asked if anyone would volunteer to go to Hawker for more chemicals. Marcia and Eileen put their hands up and with the rest of us with packed lunches headed off for day 2. The chemical hunters ended up going to Quorn as Hawker only had litre containers.
Gini with the help of Skye came with us and pointed out some of the features of Oratunga. She left us at Oratunga Creek as we were going to go up the Mount Samuel track as Ralph had found the key that he had misplaced the day before.

Day 2 track

As the track was very rough it was lunch time that we arrived at our starting point. As you can see by the map above we finished off a small section that we did not complete on day one, we then moved to our new search area. Today’s walk only being about 4.5 km, but many cacti were treated.
Arriving back at camp the two chemical ladies gave us their story of the day with Coffee shops and lunch cafes visited. I think they had a good day. After our evening meal we all returned to the shearer’s quarters where we watched some slides of trips that some of the Toyota Club members had done. As the power to the quarters was run by generator lights out was to be at 9:30 so once again in was not a late night.

Day 3
We had learnt the drill by now meeting at 9am at shearer’s quarters, load up gear and head for the Mount Samuel track again. With Ralph leading the way we came to a very rough step up section of the track. Ralph came over the radio that he had to reverse and have another run at the step up. Still didn’t make it, so we are all out trying to fill in some of the holes for him. It then came out that although he was in 4WD without locking in the hubs he was still only driving on the rear wheels. What a difference the hubs made.
Marcia stayed back at the homestead and did some gardening for Gini. Weeds will grow anywhere.

After reaching our search area it was morning tea time. As we had to get through a fence to start our search Les used the drill he was carrying to balance himself. Wrong move – the drill bit bent nearly at right angles, but with the aid of a fence post he was able to straighten it. As we did this area 5 years ago it was surprising how many cacti we still found. This being our shortest walk day just under 3km. but a lot of small ones found.
After evening meal Ralph did a slide show of his overseas trip. Enjoyed by all.

Day 4
Rest day for the cacti. The drive that Ralph had planned half the roads were closed due to the rain they have had in the area, so it was decided to go to Chambers Gorge.


Some of the rock art at Chambers Gorge.

On our way back to Oratunga Trevor took us to where his Great Grandfather had a market Garden. It was certainly hard times back then.

Trevor’s Great Grandfathers market garden. It was closed the day we were there.

Thursday night it was dinner at the Blinman Hotel. Gini gave us prior warning that rain was expected, but dry until.
Half way through our meals there was a great clap of thunder and all the lights went out. Being well prepared a number went to their cars for torches, but the power came back on and we all got our meals.
But the rain started. This made for an interesting trip back to Oratunga. We were one of the last groups to leave the hotel and with Les & Eileen leading Trevor and Barb with Marcia and Bob following. There was some interesting chatter coming over the radio with the Trevor and Barbara going sideways at one stage. We all arrived back at Oratunga without any mishaps.

Day 5
With 16mm of rain at Oratunga and over 25mm at the neighbour Ralf called the rest of the weekend off as the tracks were too wet.
So we all packed up and headed for home. We were following Rob and Marcia and their caravan out and we saw both sides of the car and van at times sliding in the mud, but once we hit Blinman it was all black tar.
A stop at Hawker for fuel and lunch and it was rain showers most of the way home, which was good as it washed most of the mud of the cars and campers.

Some Stats for the weekend:

  • 23 including Gini
  • 1,661 Cacti treated
  • A large numbers of small Cacti dug up.
  • Close on 40 Litres of Glyphosate used. 40 litres equals 40,000 ml. At 4ml per wheel = 10,000 wheels treated

Great effort.
Thanks Ralph for the memories.

Oratunga Homestead






Swarm of bees less the honey
Emu nest less the Emu





Track at Oratunga before we left







Les & Eileen…