Mowing schedule woes continue amid long grass, rain … and goats?

Lottie Twyford 29 November 2021 161
Slow down near mowing operations.

Long grass has become the bane of many Canberrans’ existence. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

With rain comes growth – and while no one would argue this is a bad thing, many agree it is possible to have too much of a good thing. As in grass.

There’s long, out-of-control grass everywhere you look – and in some cases, local sports grounds are out of action and motorists are struggling to see past it as it takes over roundabouts and verges around Canberra.

While the ACT Government says it’s only two weeks behind its regular mowing schedule, the Opposition simply doesn’t think that’s good enough, saying the same excuses of ‘unexpected rain’ are heard year upon year.

In response, Opposition whip Jeremy Hanson last week moved a motion in the place of Opposition spokesperson for city services Nicole Lawder calling on the ACT Government to update its mowing schedule in response to weather patterns and increase funding.

Mr Hanson wasn’t willing to cut the government any slack, even though the Bureau of Meteorology has just declared a La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, and it’s very likely this month could become the city’s wettest month ever recorded.

“Every year, when we get a bit of rainfall, the government just does not keep up with the mowing,” he said.

“Their excuse is ‘oh, well, we weren’t expecting this.”

“They need to be better prepared.”


READ ALSO: NCA approves $500 million War Memorial redevelopment’s main works


The Opposition called for more resources, surge funding and a better long-term strategy to get the mowing done.

Mr Hanson said the motion was being moved in order to express the concerns of frustrated Canberrans.

He accused the ACT Government of continual neglect of basic services and of losing touch with the ordinary Canberran.

“There’s no doubt that this government is not focused on suburbs and on the things that matter to Canberrans,” Mr Hanson said.

“It’s got its priorities wrong.”

Minister for City Services Chris Steel, however, said staying on top of mowing was already one of the government’s highest priorities.

He said preparation for this year’s mowing program started in July and is now going ahead at full capacity, but the Government could not control the rain.

“Even with the best-laid plans, you can’t mow a lawn when it’s wet,” he said. “It damages the equipment and it’s a safety issue.”

Mr Steel said that despite all of the rain, the mowing program was only two weeks behind and mowing crews were working as hard as possible.

The Government did not support Mr Hanson’s motion, instead almost entirely amending it to call on the ACT Government to “continue providing high levels of funding to mowing activities” and to recognise the impacts of recent rainfall and the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the city, innovative methods are being used to keep on top of land management.

Elisabeth Larsen with a goat

Elisabeth Larsen with one of her star goats, Monty, who chews away at invasive weeds on NCA lands. Photo: NCA.

The National Capital Authority, for example, uses goats to manage introduced weeds on some of its lands that are outside of the National Triangle.

NCA Open Space manager Michelle Jeffrey said goats are handy because they have a massive appetite for the kinds of species land managers deem ‘invasive’ such as blackberry and hawthorn.

“What they don’t eat, they trample,” Ms Jeffrey explained.

“This helps reduce the bio-mass and makes it easier for any follow-up crews to come through.”

They are managed by Goat Manager Elisabeth Larsen who keeps them in order with an electric-fenced pen that keeps them in, and other animals like dogs, out.

Unlike crews, goats also don’t need lunch breaks and they don’t mind working weekends either, Ms Jeffrey noted.

But the goats can’t be used to mow lawns and it turns out even they don’t like the rain that much.


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161 Responses to Mowing schedule woes continue amid long grass, rain … and goats?
Jimbo Lambert Jimbo Lambert 7:44 pm 30 Nov 21

Areas in Gungahlin haven't been mowed for at least 6 months! How hard is it to use our high rates money to employ some more mowers?

Frank Arnold Frank Arnold 5:29 pm 30 Nov 21

Ohhh myyy Goddd !...Crooked pavements!...pot holes in our roads!...and now it's long grass !!!! FFS we hardly had any 3/4 years ago !!!... Canberra, the manicured garden city !...get a grip and put things in perspective please.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 1:47 pm 30 Nov 21

I'm confused as to why the grass cutters are now only doing a half R'sd job and leaving kurbsides and big chunks around obstacles? Did the Government sell off its mowing assets or leave the City with contracted services, the likes of rubbish removal contractors who held us to ransom a few years ago with their pay demands? But as long as the parks and lakesides are kept cut, the dangerous grass heights along road sides and at intersections are less important.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:07 pm 30 Nov 21

“They put the sheep in the solar panel paddocks along Monaro near Rose Cottage. Win win!”

Probably some sort of tax dodge.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:18 am 30 Nov 21

If Tim Flannery was asked about the situation he would say: “there will be no rain so no grass will grow and even the grass that does grow would not be mown”.

And he would be half-right, for a change.

Renee Osburne Renee Osburne 10:16 pm 29 Nov 21

It’s disgusting we pay rates and expensive ones at that, and the Government can’t even provide a basic service. Even the mowing they have done is appalling, still big patches of long grass where the big mowers can’t get, what do we pay our rates for?

Mateusz Jan Mateusz Jan 8:43 pm 29 Nov 21

Anthony Nolan did you give the goats to the act government

Raymond Evans Raymond Evans 4:41 pm 29 Nov 21

Canberra was so much better off when we were part of the federal government , since our local government started everything has gotten worse. Once upon a time this was not even a problem.

Anthony Fernance Anthony Fernance 4:25 pm 29 Nov 21

If it’s only 2 weeks behind then they need to improve the mowing schedule a lot because grass don’t grow 4ft high in 2 weeks

jwinston jwinston 3:08 pm 29 Nov 21

How about getting those wonderful men and women on Community Corrections Orders and non-custodial sentences out and about pushing mowers?

Garry Dodds Garry Dodds 2:59 pm 29 Nov 21

When the Federal Government were in charge before self Government the lawns were great now it's touch and go..Only in the Suburbs where Tourists rarely go.

Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 2:57 pm 29 Nov 21

I'm really not sure what the issue is here. The grass grows because it's raining. It stops and the mowers appear to cut it down.

It then rains again, tempting the grass to grow again and a few days later, the mowers appear and cut it again.

I don't expect the mowers to be sitting and immediately jump on the grass as soon as the rains stop.

Besides, if they cut the grass, it increases the pollen that's generally around and makes (at least mine) hayfever worse.

Catch 22.

    Jimbo Lambert Jimbo Lambert 7:42 pm 30 Nov 21

    Randy Goldberg you mean 6 months later? You must live in a more affluent area than Gungahlin, as it seems we have been allocated one retiree and a push mower? There were 2 intersections where you couldn't see approaching cars because of the grass height!

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:11 pm 29 Nov 21

“Never seen Canberra look so poor and unkept. Absolute disgrace”

That’s because the spick and span National Arboretum (a bottomless money-pit) gets allocated too many grass cutting resources.

    JS9 JS9 9:54 am 30 Nov 21

    Lol I’m sure that’s the explanation (insert sarcastic rolling eyes here)…..

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:05 pm 30 Nov 21

    If someone could access the financial accounts for the money tree farm there would be more eyes rolling.

Shane Scott Shane Scott 11:29 am 29 Nov 21

I have seen more of the public with there house hold mower mowing the streets around Dunlop then I have any services unfortunately. But thank you to all those men and women who have been getting out there in there own time doing something the government is paid to look after.

Sally-anne Hately Radcliffe Sally-anne Hately Radcliffe 11:03 am 29 Nov 21

Never seen Canberra look so poor and unkept. Absolute disgrace

Andrew Sage Andrew Sage 10:57 pm 28 Nov 21

On my ...

Denise Bourke Denise Bourke 10:44 pm 28 Nov 21

We love the work of mower teams and their supervisors. Keep em coming.

David Fenwicke David Fenwicke 10:26 pm 28 Nov 21

The grass needs to be mown before it sets seed otherwise noxious weeds like Chilean needle grass which I saw on Northbourne avenue today will spread like wildfire

Trish Hunt Trish Hunt 9:49 pm 28 Nov 21

We just had a week in Canberra visiting our son and we commented on the long grass everywhere we went. I ask if there was a mower shortage. Not a good look for the Nations capital

    Seti Saenz Seti Saenz 8:49 am 29 Nov 21

    Trish Hunt It has been raining a lot so it makes sense it is so tall. We are building a house and the builder has to keep canceling the lawn mower guy because of the rain. This is my backyard.

Ken Mulcair Ken Mulcair 7:13 pm 28 Nov 21

It's called work for the dole Bob 😉

    Robert Curtis Robert Curtis 9:48 pm 28 Nov 21

    Ken couldn’t happen in the Watermelon Republic of the ACT!

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