The Northern Territory is a harsh environment for a landscaper. For the appropriately named Ed Hardy and his company Hardy Landscaping, the rock, dust and remote locations are all part of every working day. And considering that, he’s a remarkably cheerful bloke.
“We do a lot of playgrounds,” Ed told us as his children, clearly of the same cheerful nature as their father, catapulted around in the background. “A lot of our clients are schools and community organisations, local governments, state government…those kinds of institutions.”
Things are going well for Hardy Landscaping, and recently Ed took delivery of a Ditch Witch SK900.
“I’ve actually still got two Ditch Witches,” smiled the Darwin-based operator.
“We bought an SK755 just over five years ago, maybe five-and-a-half years ago, and we loved it from the start.
“We’ve now got the SK900. There’s a few upgrades over the 755, but just because it’s a bigger number in the model name, it’s not physically a bigger unit.”
The SK900 has the same ground-drive speed in forward and reverse, but the newest model also features a troubleshooting code gauge on the dash which helps with diagnostics and saves time because there’s no need to hook up a diagnostic tool. There’s also a new paddle throttle in lieu of a mechanical lever.
Scott O’Hare, National Product Manager for Ditch Witch, highlighted a few of the SK900’s main upgrades.
“The Yanmar engine runs at a lower rpm than similar machines,” explained Scott, “so it runs much quieter than other units in the 25hp to 35hp class in the Australian market.”
“With the turbo engine, the new gearpump design and the higher-torque ground drive, the machine will push into a pile a lot more effectively, and it’s got more tractive effort. It’s really noticeable for a machine in this class.”
What is it that Ed likes so much about the SK900?
“It’s the power, mainly,” he said, thoughtfully. “It can lift and push a hell of a lot more than anything you can hire. Usually the hire ones are four-wheel drive. The Ditch Witches are on tracks, and the tracks have three points of drive contact. The high drive track system has bolt-on sprockets and wide track rollers which give the machine great traction and power.
“And when we’re doing residential jobs where we’ve got to be careful of the turf, the Ditch Witches seem to rip up a lot less than other machines.”
But it’s the range of attachments, and how well the Ditch Witches handle them, that gets Ed excited.
“There’s probably more attachments available for these machines than other brands, and some of them require power that maybe the other brand machines couldn’t even provide,” he mused. “We’ve got an agitator which is amazing for remote work. If we need to supply, two-, three- or four-cube worth of concrete, we just use the Ditch Witch and mix it in the bucket. It’s a separate bucket with an auger in it, and we just drive into the pile of dirt – there’s no shovelling, there’s a safety grill – and yeah…just mix up the premix with a bit of cement and water and we’ve got ready-made concrete. The back filler would also have to be a favourite attachment of mine. It saves a mountain of back-breaking work.”
Hardy Landscaping hauls the SK900 around on a tandem trailer, and the convenience and reliability of the Ditch Witches is important in an area as vast as Australia’s Northern Territory.
“We’re moving a lot of dirt and rock all the time,” Ed pointed out, “running at high revs and in remote locations. It’s just The Territory.”
Ed sums up his thoughts on Ditch Witch in a few short sentences: “Very happy, mate. I don’t know what compares, but I wouldn’t look anywhere else.
“We just love ’em. We absolutely love ’em.
Check out the entire Ditch Witch range at ditchwitchcea.com.au.