Lake Cave is leading the charge on weed control in environmentally sensitive areas, with the popular site declaring itself “99.9 per cent arum lily free” amid increasing awareness about the invasive lily.

The Advanced Ecotourism Certified attraction is located within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and has had a front-row seat to the region’s decades-long arum lily influx. However, the not-for-profit tourism destination – operated by the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association’s Capes Foundation – has impressively managed to wipe out the lily and reduce control efforts to small-scale maintenance.

“We have a long-established integrated weed management approach and have managed to get things under control,” long-time site manager Andrew Green said. “Thanks to the dedication of our highly-skilled weed-fighting conservation team, we’ve been proudly arum lily free for about 15 years now.

“We only get the occasional new arum popping up here and there, mainly from seeds being dropped by birds, and these new sprouts are swiftly dispatched. We’re noticing a real shift in community attitudes, and as more people get involved, reinfestations will slow down too.”

Many of the local arum lily success stories can be attributed to Nature Conservation Margaret River Region’s Arum Lily Blitz, which offers free herbicide, spray contractor subsidies and other resources to participants. The program has been successfully bringing together local and state government agencies, businesses and private landholders over the past four years for coordinated arum lily control.

Nature Conservation Project Officer Mike Griffiths said Lake Cave was a major success story and highlighted what could be achieved with a concerted effort. “Lake Cave is one of the Margaret River region’s most beloved attractions,” he said. “Given its high visitor numbers and location in an environmentally sensitive area, Lake Cave being virtually arum lily free is a huge feat. It goes to show that arum lilies can – and are – being controlled.”

Lake Cave is operated by the not-for-profit Capes Foundation, which generates funds through visitor entry fees and reinvests in the conservation and restoration of natural assets. Capes Foundation also invests in broader projects that focus on growing economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes throughout the region.

Mr Green said this meant visitors were directly contributing to on-ground conservation and restoration activities, like arum lily control. While these control efforts have become less intensive as weed numbers have dropped, Mr Green highlighted the extent some of Lake Cave’s “arum lily hunters” were occasionally required to go to.

“They’re a very cunning and tenacious weed and they can set up shop up in some wild places, even up on the walls of Lake Cave’s stunning doline, or sink-hole,” he said. “To sort these ‘aerial arums’ out, we’ve had professional abseilers from the SES and WASGA Caving club abseil down the cave walls manually removing arums, being sure to dig out all of the bulbs.”

Mr Griffiths lauded MRBTA’s efforts but said thankfully most landholders don’t have to go to such extremes. “A small amount of carefully applied herbicide is appropriate and highly effective for most landholders,” he said. “And for anyone unsure how to get started, we have all the resources and support available.”

Collect free herbicide, learn more about contractor subsidies and access other resources by registering at natureconservation.org.au.

The Arum Lily Blitz is funded by the Western Australia Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program.

Lake Cave has recently reopened after extensive restoration work on the external stairways that lead down to the cave entrance. The cave itself was unaffected by the fire, and the surrounding forest is bursting back to life, with lush new green shoots popping out all over the place.