Cinnamon fungus in the Castlemaine Diggings NHP?

Parks Victoria has closed the Loop Track to vehicles at the south end of the Diggings Park, in an effort to control the spread of a possible infestation of Cinnamon Fungus in the area. FOBIF walkers had expressed concerns some months ago about the deaths of numerous plants along Loop Track and the southern end of Porcupine Ridge Road, near the Goldfields Track. Suspecting possible presence of the fungus, Parks undertook to take soil tests and consider limiting access. This closure is the result.

Scented Bush-pea die off, Porcupine Ridge Road, Summer 2023…

‘Known variously as die back, root rot and Jarrah dieback, PC and Phytophthora, Cinnamon Fungus derives its name from the bark of Cinnamon trees where it was initially isolated in Sumatra in 1922. Phytophthora literally means plant killer and this pathogen has lived up to its name, destroying vast tracts of vegetation around the world.

‘It is listed in the top 100 of the world’s most invasive species and is Victoria’s most significant plant pathogen affecting both native ecosystems and the horticultural industry.

Dead bushes, spring 2023. Cinnamon fungus is the suspect. Walkers should clean their footwear before going into the area.

‘Cinnamon fungus was first detected in Australia in 1935 and has since spread across the country infecting hundreds of thousands of hectares of native vegetation in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Heathlands, coastal woodlands and dry Eucalypt forests are most at risk.

‘Within Victoria, the pathogen has had serious impacts in the Brisbane Ranges, Grampians, Great Otway, Lower Glenelg, Point Nepean, Kinglake, Croajingalong and Wilsons Promontory National Parks in addition to Lerderderg State Park, Lake Tyers, Anglesea Heathlands and the coastal forests of east and south Gippsland.’

The pathogen (it’s not actually a fungus!) is easily spread by soil adhering to car tyres and walkers’ boots. Walkers entering affected areas should clean their gear before and after each trip. FOBIF strongly recommends that anyone entering such an area pay particular attention to footwear. Cleaning spray will be available to all participants on our monthly walks this year.

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