Keeping tyres clean to stop the spread of a deadly fungus

Students from Mount Clear Secondary have teamed up with Parks Victoria and the Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club to help stop the spread of a deadly plant fungus. 

SQUEAKY CLEAN: Mountain bikers such as Jason Weston are being encouraged to clean their tyres to help the environment. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

SQUEAKY CLEAN: Mountain bikers such as Jason Weston are being encouraged to clean their tyres to help the environment. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

Cinnamon Fungus, also called ‘Dieback’, is a microscopic, soil-borne pathogen that attacks and destroys plant root systems and is normally transferred on moving agents such and hikers shoes and bike tyres. 

The three groups worked together to build a mountain-bike tyre-cleaning station that has been installed in Woowookarung Regional Park to scrub and sterilise mountain bike tyres to stop the spread of the fungus.

The Austral Grass Tree, which is prominent in Woowookarung Regional Park, is particularly susceptible to the fungus so made for an appropriate testing ground for the cleaning station. 

The group has also improved drainage along the park’s mountain bike trails behind Mount Clear Secondary School, and installed an information sign about the plant disease.

Parks Victoria, Ranger Team Leader, Alex Schipperen said the bike tyre washing station shows ecological preservation and recreation can co-exist. 

“This is a great example of creating a healthy balance between recreation and conservation,” he said. 

“Woowookarung Regional Park has a wonderful display of grass-trees and indeed, the Austral Grass Tree is something of a park icon.”

“Protecting the habitat from invasive diseases such as the Cinnamon Fungus is an important role for Parks Victoria.”

“We’re keen to also work with horse riders, walkers and other park users to ensure we can control this serious plant disease.”

Dale Boucher from the Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club said it’s important recreational park users respect the environment they are utilising. 

“The Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club acknowledges the unique species of flora in Woowookarung Regional Park,” he said. 

“To preserve native species and minimise the spread of cinnamon fungus, the club is encouraging all members and recreational cyclists to utilise the bike-wash station located in Mount Clear.”

The recently established Woowookarung Regional Park incorporates the previous Canadian State Forest and former Victorian Plantation Corporation.