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(2 pictures)
Picture relating to Chinchilla - titled 'Abandoned property overtaken by Prickly Pear in the Chinchilla area, May 1928'
Picture relating to Murgon - titled 'Fire at the Royal Hotel, Murgon, 1928'

Abandoned property overtaken by Prickly Pear in the Chinchilla area, May 1928

contributed by QldPics, taken in 1928
(contact QldPics about this picture)


Chinchilla was known as the town at the heart of the eradication of the dreaded prickly pear. In the early 1920s there was more than 25 million hectares of Australia covered with prickly pear. The cactus had been introduced into Australia in 1839 and by 1862 it had reached the Chinchilla area. By the turn of the century it was increasing at a rate of 400 000 hectares a year. Farmers tried to fight it by cutting and burning but they had little success. In 1925 the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board, realising the scale of the problem, introduced the cactoblastis moth and larva from South America. Initially 3000 eggs arrived from Argentina and from a population of 527 females a total of 100 605 eggs were hatched. Half these eggs were sent to the Chinchilla Prickly Pear Experimental Station and half were kept in Brisbane.

The moth was spectacularly productive. The second generation yielded 2 539 506 eggs. At the height of the operation Chinchilla was sending out as many as 14 million cactoblastis eggs a day. Locals decided to dedicate a hall to this small insect. Located 10 km east of Chinchilla on the Warrego Highway is the Boonargo Cactoblastis Hall which was built by the local farmers and dedicated to the redoubtable insect which had managed to eat its way through the jungles of prickly pear. (Information taken from: Sydney Morning Herald database, 2005, retrieved 17 January 2006, from <http://www.smh.com.au/news/Queensland/Chinchilla/2005/02/17/1108500202248.html>)

This picture is also part of the Bonzle Farming (open in new window) photo collection.