FOBSI – Out of the Box

FOBSI Friends of Bass Strait Islands, Wildcare are currently exhibiting “Boxthorn” at the Straits Gallery, Whitemark.

There are approximately 150 members on the FOBSI mailing list and people have come from as far away as Alaska to volunteer their time to the Furneaux Islands through avenues including Parks and Wildlife Tasmania volunteering organisations.

Initially FOBSI was independently run, applying for grants through the Tasmania Conservation Trust. In 2008 they became part of Wildcare – the volunteer arm of Parks and Wildlife Services, Tasmania.

FOBSI’s travel in groups of 6-10 around the 52 islands of the Furneaux controlling (among other things) Boxthorn, a plant that was introduced to Australia from South Africa. It was used on the islands as an effective windbreak. It seemed like a good idea until birds such as Starlings and Currawongs decided to feed on the berries.

They spread the seeds resulting in an explosion of infestation on Flinders Island and the outer islands including Cat, Storehouse, Goose, Chalky, Little Chalky, Mile, Isabella, Roydon and many more.

This ‘National Weed of Significance’ disrupts the natural ecology of the Furneaux Islands effecting coastal plants, wildlife, seabirds and human recreational activities.

There are many picnic spots on Flinders Island including Lillies Beach, Fotheringate Bay, Emita and Allports where tracks to the beach were so overgrown that access to the water was a real challenge.

You can’t walk through Boxthorn like you can some coastal plants, being barbed is not at all fun and shall I mention the ticks…?

If it weren’t for the Green Corp team and follow-up work by FOBSI the Boxthorn would form thickets excluding nature and us from our favourite environments.

What do FOBSI’s do after a hard days work of eradication and maintenance?

They craft!

A gorgeous Granny Square blanket doubled as a heat source and entertainment whilst staying in the hut on Roydon Island and a spiky sculpture depicts the ensnaring of birds with fatal consequences, part of the disruption to wildlife.

You can find out how to distinguish, cut, roll, burn and paint-with-treatment a Boxthorn using the photographic sequences displayed on the gallery wall or view stunning prints that show the beauty of this beast.

The ‘Boxthorn’ exhibition is a fascinating display of arty-facts.

X Sammi & Megan

BIG thanks to Kat Hopkins for introducing us to FOBSI!! If you would like any further reading we suggest asking Kat if you can read her copy of the highly detailed Furneaux Islands Boxthorn Control publication. It’s an excellent resource that is easy-to-read yet details site descriptions, control methods, conclusions and recommendations. With step-by-step photographs and interesting facts, the contents of the publication will get you up to speed on everything Boxthorn. Visit the website here –

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  • Reply Donnalee Young August 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    This is inspiring well done, love this stuff. I need to come back soon and work on more Boxthorn. Inspired by you guys and treasurer Craig. His knitting is in that rug and his hard and infectious work is on the islands.

  • Reply Cris March 24, 2014 at 8:49 am


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