Australian town overrun by giant tumbleweed

Giant piles of tumbleweed as high as two metres have overwhelmed parts of a small town in south-eastern Australia, blanketing homes and cars and creating both a novelty and a nuisance for locals.

"It started earlier this week. People suddenly found their houses surrounded by giant dry weeds," said Rod Roscholler, an administrator for Wangaratta on the Sydney-Melbourne highway.

"This is a major problem that has never happened before. It needs to be dealt with and people need to be careful," he told dpa.

Around 20 houses in two streets at the edge of the town have been badly affected, local council worker Steve Burke said. 

Also known as hairy panic grass, due to the long hairs along the edges of the leaves, the native weed grows throughout south-east Australia. It grows rapidly in wet weather and dries out when temperatures rise.

The grass was blowing in from a nearby paddock that had been neglected by its owner, according to local residents, Burke said.

The council held an emergency meeting about the problem on Friday.

"We are trying a couple of things. We have asked for a vacuum truck from a nearby municipality, which we will receive on Monday. We hope it will do the cleaning," Burke told dpa.

Hairy panic is not hazardous to humans, but could cause liver damage and jaundice to sheep if consumed in large quantities, according to Australia Department of Primary Industries.

Last update: Fri, 19/02/2016 - 11:54
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