Australia: 'Hairy panic' grass takes over rural town

australia tumbleweed takeover pkg_00012026
australia tumbleweed takeover pkg_00012026

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Story highlights

  • 'Hairy panic' grass has overtaken a town in rural Victoria, Australia
  • Dry conditions have made the tumbleweed a pain for local residents

(CNN)Photos have emerged of a small town in rural Australia buried in a bizarre type of grass.

The so-called 'hairy panic' grass has engulfed Wangaratta's homes, gardens and garages. And as fast as residents get rid of it, it just rolls right back in.
"We have a table and eight chairs," says Pam Twitchett to CNN affiliate Seven Network, motioning towards a mountain of dry weed where her yard once was. "And a day bed... and probably a few plants."
Wangaratta resident Pam Twitchett stands by her yard.
'Hairy panic' grass, also known by its Latin name Panicum effusum, grows quickly and is found in every Australian state.
"The grass is around most years," a spokesperson for Rural City of Wangaratta told CNN. "But conditions are ideal for it at present because we had quite a wet January."
The grass contains a toxin that can be deadly to sheep, and causes a condition called "yellow big head" if its eaten in large quantities.
But more than anything, for local residents, it's just a massive pain.
"It's physically draining, and mentally more draining," said Twitchett.
"It is frustrating," another resident said. "You know you've got a couple of hours of work ahead of you."
A nearby unmaintained paddock is being blamed for the mess.