A few hints and tips for dealing with these unique Australian characters
Kangaroo come on to the property every evening to drink
The 34 acre site that is now the home of Mudlark Permaculture is an open grassland strip 250 metres wide and 500 metres long, set between native Australian bush land and a 280 metre diameter artificially created wetland.
The land was considered so poor by its previous owner that it had not been fenced or stocked for 30 years. The only things to graze this land for years have been a few rabbits, hares, the odd wallaby and around 100 kangaroo.
In taking all those things into context, I had to acknowledge that I was basically on the kangaroos turf and I had better learn how to live with it.
Kangaroos jump in very long powerful strides and are very fast when they have to be. Anything that may be in their way will be jumped on or over.
The expense of a two metre high, everything-proof fence was not an option first up. So I have had to be a little creative in order to slow down the collateral damage to the first vestiges of my permanent human centered activities.
Most of the original ‘bull wire’ fencing was still in position, but on the ground, with the fence posts all having rotted off at ground level. This wire is very heavy gage and stiff. I have cut it into approximately 2 metre lengths as I worked my way along cleaning up the old fence lines.
I replaced the fence with simple steel posts and plain wire strands, and ring lock mesh in a few sections, depending on finances at the time.
I have been working my way back along the fence, weaving the lengths of old bull wire vertically into the new fence, securing it with small lengths of tie wire. It does look interesting and it is very functional. It is slightly springy if the kangaroo do try and jump it.
The old wire is very heavy, stiff and rusty, it can not be
straightened without breaking it
In other sections, where the old wire was too rusted to be of use, I have been vertically weaving in long slender thinnings into the fence to add height. Some of these are from a local acacia species that is regenerating in large clumps which then self thin, with about half of them dying at around the 10 year mark. These are often 6-7 metres tall with a base diameter of less than 10cm. I can often get 2 or 3 poles out of them.
Poles woven through ringlock netting
Detail of pole tie wire
I have around 3kms of perimeter fence to work on over time and I haven’t intended to block all the wildlife out overnight. It’s more a case of slowing them down for now.
Another great ‘free’ fencing material that abounds in the first world is the shipping pallet. I usually don’t leave home without the trailer as there are always ‘free’ resources to be gathered around the country side, building sites, backs of shops, etc. (I always ask first!)
Some of the ways I have used these pallets is arranged in a simple triangle with very long screws through the corners. This is working well on single trees that are regenerating out in exposed areas of the property.
Pallet corral, with damaged tree on the outside
In sections where natural regeneration is appearing in clumps, I have put up ‘corrals’ using 10 to 20 pallets, set slightly in a zigzag to help with stability. The kangaroos won’t jump inside these corrals, as they are too small to jump out of. For the most part the kangaroos don’t eat these acacia, but the pressure of continually being jumped on or having the growing tip knocked off really retards their growth. Once protected by the ‘corral’ they take off in height and become excellent candidates for stem pruning.
Inside and outside the corral — spot the difference. After 18 months these
inside trees are now large enough to withstand kangaroo pressure
and this ‘corral’ will be unscrewed and moved over.
The excellent plant growth experienced on the new swales has frustratingly been matched by the wallaby populations desire to eat it all. With over 1km of swale this has called for a plan where I have had to pick my battles.
A fresh young apricot tree with cover crop — prior to being striped by a wallaby
The local wildlife have avoided some plants and I will be re-seeding and replanting more of those varieties in autumn. Anything completely devoured as a wallaby favorite will be chalked up to ‘experience’.
The kangaroo apples were almost the only plants left untouched — they have made very fast growth. I will be planting these by the hundreds next autumn.
Picking my battles has meant favoring the precious fruit trees first and foremost. I did this by placing large branches gently in a cage type formation around the tree. This has acted to slow down the curious wallabies. This open stick basket has still allowed the cover crop to grow, especially the vetch which likes to climb.
Young apple tree in the middle of an acacia branch cage