Inventor's tree-climbing tool 30 years in the making
MACKAY has some of the best-preserved coconut trees in Australia thanks to the innovation of inventor and coconut climber Hurse Cutler.
Mr Cutler has spent three decades trialling, researching and developing Hurse Irons - a climbing tool that leaves minimal damage to trees.
For 20 years the prototype has been in wide use in Mackay. Mr Cutler said as a result, the trees in the region (there are 3200 on council land) are in much better condition than in other coconut tree regions in Australia.
The wheels were set in motion when Mr Cutler started coconut climbing 30 years ago.
"I could see the horrendous damage the traditional irons do to the coconut palms," he said.
"So we started climbing barefoot, we were the first professional barefoot climbers in Queensland. You can only be so productive climbing barefoot,so we had to design our own apparatus that wouldn't damage the trees."
Hurse Irons were only released officially in February, after Mr Cutler felt they were finally perfect, "exactly how I wanted them to be".
"I'm a perfectionist. A lot of people think it's crazy, but we've put the perfect tool on the table at the end of the day," he said.
"It's going to save lives, it's going to save trees. It's the biggest environmental breakthrough the climbing industry has seen."
In its long history, about 30 engineers have worked on the tool and two overseas company have held licences to develop the prototype.
"There's been so many ergonomic improvements, it's easy, comfortable, fast, safer. We've solved all the problems and put more technology on the table," Mr Cutler said.
A key feature to the tool is that it had two "gaffs" (spikes) per leg, instead of the traditional one gaff. The traditional iron leaves large holes in the trunks of trees.
"It makes them structurally unsound... when you've got big holes in the trunks, they become permanent water catchment areas," Mr Cutler said.
"They hold water and that causes bacterial and fungal infections, which can kill the palms."
Hurse Irons aren't limited to use on coconut trees, and Mr Cutler has sold the product in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
Mackay Regional Council has written into its contracts with coconut climbers that they must use Hurse Irons. Apart from Townsville, it's the only council in the country to have done so.
"I take my hat off to (the council), they've shown a duty of care," Mr Cutler said.
Mr Cutler has also invented a cat collar with an audible warning for birds.
He sold 80,000 collars but eventually gave up prosecuting numerous patent infringements.
For more information, visit www.hurseirons.com.