2015 September: Gympie Spray Drift from Queensland Rail

A PLANNED luncheon in the spring sunshine turned into a poisonous nightmare for long-time Theebine residents Graeme and Dolly Jensen this week.

Dolly and Graeme were expecting visitors and setting the lunch table up in their backyard in the late morning on Thursday when two trucks pulled up near their home.

The main rail line north runs parallel to Theebine Rd, where the Jensens live, and there is a vacant block also owned by Queensland Rail nearby.

For as long as Dolly can remember, vegetation on that block has been controlled by slashing, but this year, QR has started spraying the block with poison instead.

The wind at Theebine was blowing a gale on Thursday, and Dolly says a flag in her backyard clearly showed the direction was towards their house from where the QR block is.

The poison was sprayed from a large spraying implement on the back of the trucks.

As soon as the spraying started, Dolly and Graeme, who were setting up for lunch under a tree in their yard, could smell the poison drift over them.

“They could see us setting up. I thought ‘Jeez, they’re not going to spray are they’?” Dolly said.

But they did.

“Straight away I copped a whiff and I was like ‘oh no, you are joking.”

Then Dolly’s eyes started to water and her lips went numb.

Graham felt sick in his stomach.

“It looked like they were going to settle in until Graeme went over and roared it up them (pointing to the flag which showed which direction the wind was blowing). Neither of them had gloves or masks on.”

The men then appeared to make a phone call before leaving.

Dolly’s lips were still tingling yesterday morning – almost 24 hours later – as were the lips of her neighbour, who is battling cancer and receiving chemotherapy.

This is the second time the block has been sprayed. Last time, about three months ago, the Jensens weren’t home, but days later they noticed the dead block and their own dead choko vine.

“I am concerned about them spraying poison on my stuff,” said Dolly, who is proud of her organic vegetable garden.

“My grandchildren go and stand in that garden and eat tomatoes. Now we will have to wash everything down – if it doesn’t die.”

Transport Minister Jackie Trad’s office was contacted for a right of reply yesterday afternoon, but at time of print had not had time to respond.