Avoid spreading myrtle rust in bushland

Rusts are highly transportable because they can produce large numbers of very small spores.

Person's wearing a fleece jacket with yellow spores on the sleeve

Myrtle rust can be dispersed by:

  • movement of infected plant material (nursery stock, plant cuttings)
  • movement of contaminated equipment (secateurs, chainsaws)
  • wind, water (wind-driven rain) and gravity
  • animals and insects, including bees, birds, other wildlife and pets
  • humans (on clothing, shoes and jewellery) (Figure 1)
  • vehicles.

The bushland that you visit could be infected with myrtle rust without you knowing it. Before entering such areas for work or recreation, consider the risk of your activity spreading the rust and how to minimise this risk using the following measures.

If possible, limit the number of sites you visit to 1 per day.

Arrive clean, leave clean


Ensure your vehicle is clean before entering a bushland area to reduce the chances that your car will carry the spores into bushland.

Where possible, leave vehicles in a designated car park and don't allow host plants to come in direct contact with the vehicle. If possible, limit the number of vehicles entering the bushland area.

Vehicles (including trailers, trucks and skips) that have been in contact with myrtaceous plants should be washed thoroughly before going to a new bushland site.

Tools and equipment

If possible, clean equipment such as secateurs, shovels and chainsaws before moving to another site. Remove soil, leaves and mud, and clean with water and detergent (or a disinfectant such as a benzalkonium chloride compound). For ease of cleaning, use tools that don't have wooden or cracked handles.

Wipe electronic items, such as mobile phones and GPS units, with a disinfectant cloth, or use them in a plastic bag and wash or dispose of the bag before moving to another site.

Work groups should consider having a designated area where all clothing and equipment can be cleaned.

People (clothing, footwear and personal effects)

After visiting bushland, wash clothes, hats and gloves before wearing them in another bushland site or garden. Change into clean clothes, including hats, gloves and footwear, before moving to another bushland site.

To clean footwear, remove soil, leaves and mud, then wash using water and detergent or a disinfectant.

Wipe down any other personal effects with water and detergent or a disinfectant cloth.

If possible, clean camping and hiking equipment before moving to another site or when you arrive home.

Place personal rubbish in a bag and seal it. Wipe down the outside of the sealed bag before removing it from the site.

Pack light

Minimise the number of items you bring to the site to reduce the opportunity to spread myrtle rust.

Keep to tracks

When driving through bushland areas, try to stick to allocated roadways and tracks to minimise contact between vehicles and myrtaceous plants.

When hiking or bushwalking, stay on pathways wherever they are available.

Don't move plants

A plant may be infected with myrtle rust before is shows visible signs of the disease. Don't move plants or plant cuttings into or out of bushland areas.

Page last updated: 09 Jan 2023