Tuesday, May 27, 2014

and now for toaday’s news

Let it be known that sometimes, just sometimes, fruitcake brings timely news on time. Yes, friends, here’s a news item dated 27th May 2014!
No less than seven cane toads managed to hitch a ride from Kununurra to Perth*. 

Photo: Perth Now News

Most of us know the cane toad as bufo marinus, but don’t say that if you Wants to be a Millionaire: the cane toad is now officially rhinella marina.
Briefly, these little – the largest recorded specimen weighed 2.65 kg (5.84 lb) and measured 38 cm (15 in) from snout to vent – buggers are taking over Australia. 

Australian distribution of the cane toad

We imported some in 1935 from Hawaii to fight a grub that was destroying our sugar grain crops. Naturally, they were useless because the beetle producing the grubs likes to sit high up on the cane where even cane toads could not reach them.

In 1988 Mark Lewis made a doco called Cane Toads: An Unnatural History which quickly developed a cult following. If you’ve nothing better to do with 50 minutes, you can watch it starting here.

I had missed the cult doco first time around but now realise the best thing about it, I’m embarrassed to admit, is the cast – oh, and there are a few amusing digs at Joh** as well. Then there’s the bit where… oh, you would probably have to see it yourself to really appreciate it.

The toad is native to areas shown in blue on the map above, while red marks show places they have been introduced; nowhere as “successfully” as Australia - if you were to ask a toad.
There had never been any reason for Australia’s native fauna to adapt to the toad and its toxin, so the beastie is wreaking enormous devastation on our wildlife and ecosystems.

If you can’t beat them, love them… right? Why not visit the cane toad races at Kununurra with Our favourite Australian travel reporter, the intrepid Red Nomad Oz?

Wikipedia tells us the toad can be useful for lots of things, including
… pregnancy testing, as pets, for laboratory research, and the production of leather goods.

*For visitors: To get some idea of the distance from Kununurra to Perth, when you look at the Australian distribution map above, just remember Mainland Australia is only a smidgin smaller than the lower 48 states of the U.S.

**Joh Bjelke Petersen was Premier of the state of Queensland from 1968 to 1987. To many people NOT living in the north-eastern Australian state of Queensland, he was an ultra-conservative, corrupt, racist weirdo – always good for a laugh [if you are white] . Because of his policies and style, Queensland was long known as “the deep north”.
His predictable answer to any difficult question was “Oh, well, by golly, don’t you worry about that!”

In his other life, Joh was also a peanut farmer. When a political storm raged about a poison known as 245T, some wit wrote that he didn’t know what all the fuss was about… “Joh’s been spraying his nuts with 245T for years, and there’s obviously nothing wrong with him…”


  1. The cane toad story is a bad one. We seem to have less than we did 30 years ago maybe they have all hopped over to WA.

    1. I'm glad for you that they are decreasing in numbers... if only they weren't simply migrating. Yuch.

  2. I can't even begin to tell you how p... off I was when I saw that on the news a few days ago FC.. for gods sake people keep your ughy introduced things to yourselves over there :) no seriously it makes me so mad, most of the time the rest of Australia acts like Perth doesn't exist and then THIS! It's too much I tell you :) Don't mind me FC it's just the thought of it!

    1. They are ugly things - none in cold old Melbourne. If push comes to shove perhaps I'll have to move to Tassie - if it still exists.
      Seriously, Gina Rinehart gets the lion's share of WA's budget allowance, don't you think? In any case, the longer the government ignores you, the more reason to be relieved.

  3. p.s. I meant to say that yes the slate pavers in Forest Place are wonderful when they get wet, lovely rich rusty colours..