Autumn in and around Daylesford has been fairly cool and we missed the runs of mild, sunny days that some years bring. Rainfall for May of 85.4mm has been close to average and for the year to date we have had around 272mm of rain compared to the long term average of 288mm.
The Bureau continues to forecast drier and warmer conditions for most of Australia for the coming months. An El Nino weather pattern has been developing which could create problems if it continues into Spring and Summer.
There has been lots of growth of gorse, broom, blackberries and other vegetation after an exceptionally wet 2022. Warmer drier conditions could set up high fire risks so it is important that property owners plan to reduce vegetation and fire risks progressively rather than reacting as Summer hits.
Around Daylesford, we just need to look at areas such as Cornish Hill – almost 100 acres of Crown (State) land. The wet conditions last year resulted in major growth of gorse and broom which could pose a significant fire risk this summer.
Local volunteers have done an amazing job at Cornish Hill over the past two decades to reduce invasive weeds, plant native species and develop walking trails but volunteer numbers have been reducing as people have moved or are no longer able to be involved. Covid has had a major effect on volunteer numbers for most groups and across Australia volunteer numbers have dropped by around 30 per cent.
Budget cuts by the Victorian Government have been affecting public land increasingly in recent years and areas such as Cornish Hill need the State to get in and support local volunteer committees of management to carry out appropriate vegetation reduction. Various other areas of State lands are similarly at risk. Maintenance of rural roads and the roadside areas have received less maintenance as funding has decreased.
Go to Cornish Hill and explore the trails. If you can spare some time, volunteer and join the Friends of Cornish Hill by contacting Scott McLean 0419 504 588.
Victor Szwed is a Daylesford resident who contributes a monthly column on the weather.