This free overnight rest area is set off the Albany Highway. There are trees between you and the highway to provide a noise limiter. It is a circular gravel layout with plenty of shade if desired. It is basic with picnic tables & bins only.
Look for wildflowers - Hibbertia, Wandoo, Jarrah, Dryandra, Banksias, Eremaea, Melaleucas and Pea flowers. Follow the track around to the lake (s.e corner) which is home to small tortoises.
The service and sacrifice of Western Australia's Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients will be remembered in perpetuity with each recipient being commemorated at highway rest stops south of Perth.
A plaque commemorates Private Arthur Gurney who was a recipient of the Victoria Cross (V.C.) for his actions during World War Two. The plaque is part of the Commemoration Way Project which honours Western Australian recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.
During fighting at Tel el Eisa on 22 July 1942, Gurney attacked three enemy machine-gun posts which had been holding up his company's advance. He had already stormed the first two, killing the occupants with his bayonet, and was approaching the third when a stick of grenades exploded, knocking him over. He continued on and charged the third post, "using the bayonet with great vigour" until killed. His body was later recovered from the post. His citation claimed that his company's successful attack "was almost entirely due to Private Gurney's heroism at the moment when it was needed".
Gurney was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, he also received service medals for the Second World War.
Orup Creek Cathedral Of Trees Rest Area is 13.6 km Northwest of Mount Barker, WA
The service and sacrifice of Western Australia's Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients will be remembered in perpetuity with each recipient being commemorated at highway rest stops south of Perth. A plaque commemorates Private Leslie Starcevich who was a recipient of the Victoria Cross (V.C.) for his actions during World War Two.
Tom Starcevich (1918-1989) was a quietly-spoken Western Australian veteran of the fighting in Egypt - he was wounded at Tel el Eisa in July 1942 - and New Guinea before gaining the Victoria Cross in North Borneo. In the capture of Beaufort he attacked Japanese machine-gun positions, fearlessly firing his Bren gun from the hip. "The outstanding gallantry of Private Starcevich in carrying out these attacks single-handed with complete disregard of his own safety resulted in the decisive success of the action."Tom Starcevich (1918-1989) was a quietly-spoken Western Australian veteran of the fighting in Egypt - he was wounded at Tel el Eisa in July 1942 - and New Guinea before gaining the Victoria Cross in North Borneo.
In the capture of Beaufort he attacked Japanese machine-gun positions, fearlessly firing his Bren gun from the hip. "The outstanding gallantry of Private Starcevich in carrying out these attacks single-handed with complete disregard of his own safety resulted in the decisive success of the action."
Source: Monument Australia
Image Credit: By Hughesdarren (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A bird hide and boardwalk enable you to wander through the unique wetlands fringing this biodiversity hotspot.
Lake Muir Observatory is a popular rest stop for travellers on the Muirs Highway. Overlooking Lake Muir, facilities include a 110m boardwalk, observatory, shelter, picnic tables, interpretive information and toilet.
It is an approx 2 hour detour but if you have the time, it's a beautiful spot to visit. Or if you are going through the South West this is easily accesible along the way.
Lake Muir and its surrounding wetland lies within the Lake Muir-Unicup System, a 694 square kilometres (268 sq mi) area of internal drainage containing a complex of wetland systems. Lake Muir may, in flood, overflow southwest into the Deep River catchment (and possibly also southeast into the Frankland River via Poorginup Gully).
Lake Muir is usually brackish at the end of winter, saline by summer and dry throughout autumn.
A 14-square-kilometre (5.4 sq mi) section of wetland around Lake Muir has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it provides habitat for 10 or more pairs of endangeredAustralasian bitterns. The wetlands within the IBA are shallow with extensive beds of dense sedgeland and fringing stands of shrubland and woodland. Lake Muir has been excluded from the IBA as it is unsuitable for bitterns but it has supported large numbers of Australian Shelduck and may prove to be globally significant for that species.
By J.G.Keulemans in Buller, Walter Lawry, A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1888. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Lake Muir was named after brothers Thomas and John Muir, the first European settlers in the Warren district, who settled at Deeside, 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of the lake, in 1852 and built a rush hut there in 1856
On 5 January 2001 a 106 square kilometres (41 sq mi) area was designated, under the Ramsar Convention as Ramsar site 1050, a wetland of international importance, acknowledging its rich ecological diversity.
The district was first settled in the 1850s and by 1909 a new settler named J.A. Atcheson wrote to the government asking for assistance with establishing a school and other facilities and asking for a townsite to be declared. Following inspection some land near Slab Hut Gully was set aside for a townsite which was locally known as Paul Valley. Lots were surveyed in 1910, and the Aboriginal name of Tulungup (from Teulungup) was proposed only to be rejected by the Minister of Lands. The local residents then unanimously supported the name Tunney be used. The Minister of Lands then chose the name Nymbupp only to face stiff opposition from the locals and eventually Tunney was used. The townsite was gazetted in 1912
The town was also known as Slab Hut.
The name Tunney comes from the oldest local resident in the area at the time, James Tunney, who owned lands around the area in the 1880s. He was the son of Sergeant John Tunney who was an enrolled Pensioner guard and had settled in the area in the 1860s.
An agricultural hall was opened in the town in 1913, by Mr A.E. Piesse, in front of a large Crowd including Mr Tunney. Tunney was presented with a set of pipes and his wife received a tea service from Piesse in recoginition of all their contributions to the community, including the use of their house for town meetings.
A fire destroyed the Tunney Roadhouse in May 2017. Tunney Road rest area is just off the highway among the trees.
By Geoffrey Derrin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The name honours Lt William Crossman of the Royal Engineers, who arrived in Fremantle as a second lieutenant stationed in Perth in 1852, but was responsible for works in the Albany district and for roads in the area. In 1853, in company with surveyor A.C. Gregory, he examined and reported on various routes between Perth and Albany, and recommended that the then-current routes via York or Bunbury be replaced by a straight line between Kelmscott (now a Perth suburb near Armadale) and Albany. After serving as colonial magistrate, he returned to England in 1856 and later was promoted to captain and served as a British Member of Parliament for Portsmouth. The Crossman River, a 42 kilometres (26 mi) tributary of the Hotham River, was most likely named by A.C. Gregory in 1853.
Crossman Wildflower Reserve, a year-round sanctuary for flora and fauna and home to a wide range of native orchids, including the rattle beaks, which only flower after fire.and Woolpack Lavender Farm, which opened in January 2003 and showcases lavender varieties.
You'll find the locality of Gleneagle on the Albany Highway nestled amongst mountains such as Eagle Hill (472m) and Mount Randall (513m) in southwest Western Australia. Gleneagle is 49km southeast of Perth (show me). Gleneagle is at an altitude of approximately 311m.
Gleneagle was a small forestry settlement some 26 kms south of Armadale near the junction of the Albany Highway and Jarrahdale Road. The township was abandoned in the late 1960's. At its height, Gleneagle had a school, a hall, 15 houses, teacher quarters, a forestry office, single men's huts and workshops. During the 1961 Dwellingup and Jarrahdale bushfires, the town served as a fire fighting operational centre providing necessities to all those in battle. All the buildings were removed apart from the water tower. The access road into old Gleneagle is around one hundred metres in length. The road splits and circles around the old townsite. The complete circuit is around one kilometre. The road was sealed but has fallen into disrepair although is still navigable.
The Williams Woolshed is a family operated business located 150km South East of Perth, Western Australia. The Woolshed is a great location to stop off as you make your way through the Great Southern Region.
The Williams Woolshed comprises of retail stores and a 100+ seat café. Open 7 days a week 8am to 4pm. There is a great variety of retail stores located at the Woolshed, take your time walking through our 6 different stores from the clothing shop which stocks the latest woollen and cotton brands, through to a fabulous gift& kitchenwares store. There is also a dedicated Kitchen Larder that stocks local produce you can take home with you.
The first claims on land in the area occurred in 1832. In 1835 a party led by Governor James Stirling and John Septimus Roe surveyed a route joining King George Sound with York via Williams to encourage inland settlement.No settlement occurred until after Lieutenant Henry Bunbury explored the region in 1836, despite his assessment that "on the Williams the land is generally very bad and the water brackish."
After the building of Albany Highway by convicts in the 1850s, Williams became an important stopover point for passengers and changing of horses and became the main centre in the district. The Williams Hotel was erected in 1871, and a Road Board (predecessor to the current Shire Council) first convened in 1877.
In early 1898 the population of the town was 55, 30 males and 25 females. Later the same year the local Agricultural Hall was opened by Frederick Piesse, it was built at a cost of £250 granted by Parliament.
The original town had been built on the Albany side of the river, but was subject to increasing floods due to the clearing of the land for intensive farming; therefore the town was relocated to the Perth side of the bridge. The town site was surveyed in 1905 and most of the buildings in the present town site were constructed after that time.
Today the town is a centre for the wool, cattle and coarse grains industry, and serves as a stopping point on the Albany Highway. A heritage trail takes visitors past some of Williams's historic buildings and nearby wildflowerstands and dryandra forests are also attractions. One unusual feature is the Jesse Martin museum, a historic village and memorabilia collection constructed by a local farmer on his own property from old shops and post offices on the verge of being demolished in country towns, as well as barns full of old cars and farm machinery
There is an excellent Williams Heritage Trail brochure available at the Roadhouse. It details a total of 19 places of historical interest in the local area. Of these places the most interesting are the old Agricultural Hall (1898) on the Albany Highway which is now used as an Arts and Crafts shop, the superb old Williams Hotel (1871) recognised as the oldest building in town, and the very unusual convict tank, a 4 500 litre capacity underground tank which was built by ticket-of-leave men in the 1880s. The tank is located near the river on the Albany side of town.
The Heritage trail was developed by the Williams Historical Society, Williams District High School and Williams Shire Council. The trail explores early areas settlement and has two sections - a 1km walk around the townsite and a 35km scenic drive to Quindanning.
The Dryandra Woodland is a nature conservation area in Western Australia within the Shires of Cuballing, Williams and Wandering, about 164 kilometres (102 mi) south-east of Perth and 22 kilometres (14 mi) north-west of the town of Narrogin. It is a complex of 17 distinct blocks managed by the Western Australian managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and spread over approximately 50 kilometres (30 mi) separated by areas of agricultural land. The area is considered to be one of the state's major conservation areas, and although it is far from pristine due to its history of logging operations, a number of species of threatened fauna are rebuilding populations through the removal of introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats.
In addition to the area's use as a wildlife refuge, it has anthropological significance with the indigenous Noongar people having strong cultural links there.
The Dryandra Woodland is found within the south-western province of the Yilgarn craton, "an ancient plateau composed mainly of granite, with intrusions of dolerite and capped with laterite. Past weathering of the plateau in the Dryandra area has produced a gently undulating countryside".
The 17 lots are surrounded by a largely cleared and agricultural landscape. In some cases, road reserves and other linking corridors of uncleared vegetation remain between the woodland islands. Some neighbouring landowners have revegetated areas of previously cleared private land to form additional corridors between these remnants. For certain animals, movement between blocks is necessary on a daily, seasonal or intermittent basis, to provide access to food, shelter, breeding sites and partners.
Threatened fauna receive extra protection within the 'Barna Mia' animal sanctuary, which is open to visitors by appointment for nocturnal tours on alternate evenings.Native marsupial fauna include the woylie (Bettongia penicillata), bilby (Macrotis lagotis), mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus), boodie (Bettongia lesueur), and marl (or western barred bandicoot: Perameles bougainville). The quenda (or southern brown bandicoot: Isoodon obesulus) is locally extinct but may be reintroduced.
Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia) via Wikimedia Commons
The woodland's position on the transition zone between the wheatbelt and the jarrah forest determines amphibian populations, with several species existing at the eastern or western limits of their range. Herpetofauna includes the western marsh frog (or golden flecked burrowing frog, Heleioporus barycragus) which is generally restricted to the western Darling Range. There are at least 98 species of bird in the woodland, including the almost flightless malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata).
Major populations of three nationally endangered species exist in the woodlands: the woylie, the red tailed phascogale, and over 50 percent of the total known population of numbat.
Over 800 native flora have been identified within the Dryandra Woodland, including 15 that have been declared priority species under the Department of Environment and Conservation's Declared Rare and Priority Flora List. The conservation codes of P2 thru P4 are for flora that are considered rare but have some populations in areas where they are thought not be under immediate threat; higher numbers denote a lower threat level.
Climatically, Dryandra is described as semi-arid, with a warm, dry, Mediterranean climate. It has seven to eight dry months each year with an annual average rainfall of about 500 millimetres (20 in). Seasonal changes in temperature, rainfall and wind direction are marked and more extreme than coastal areas of the south-west. The wettest months are May through September when about 70% of the annual rainfall occurs. Meaning daily maximum temperatures are 30.9 °C (87.6 °F) in January and the mean daily minimum of 5.6 °C (42.1 °F) is in August
The Kojonup Tourist Railway began in 1993 with several local residents realising what history and value would be lost should the railway line completely disappear in Kojonup. Through their hard work and perserverance and with the assistance of the Shire of Kojonup the Kojonup Tourist Railway Inc is an active volunteer organisation that is working towards the preservation of the 12 km of line between Kojonup and the Farrar siding.
Riding the Tourist Railway...
The 8km return trip takes approximately 45 minutes. Family and large group books are by arrangement and can be negotiated by contacting us by email.
The train runs on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. We may not run if the weather is bad.
Any queries and/or bookings for the train call 0400 230 309
The Three Women’s stories are such a special way to uncover the experiences of local Noongar, English and Italian women over the 20th Century. Photo: Wendy Thorn.
The Kodja Place tells the inside story of Australian country life in ways that will move and delight you. Voices, photographs, art and objects from Kojonup’s Noongar-Aboriginal and settler cultures are woven together in imaginative and richly-layered interpretations:
Trace the stories of Yoondi, Elizabeth and Maria along the enchanting pathways of the Australian Rose Maze to discover 100 years of Noongar, English and Italian experiences
Bush animal tracks in the Kodj Gallery lead you on a journey from traditional Noongar life to modern farming
Heart-felt and heart-warming, the personal stories in the Storyplace convey struggles for freedom and acceptance, hardships and achievements, and the joys and the everyday ways of contemporary country life
Enjoy yarns, billy-tea and damper in Yoondi’s Mia Mia with Noongar Elder Jack Cox.
"The Spring is definitely my favourite place in Kojonup - means a lot to me and my people." - Jack Cox, Kojonup.
In 1837, Surveyor Alfred Hillman had been sent North by Governor Stirling to blaze a trail from King George Sound (Albany) to the Swan River Settlement.
When he and his garrison of soldiers arrived in Kojonup, they were guided to the freshwater spring by the Noongar people that inhabited the land.
Hillman recommended that the land around the Spring was the best place for a townsite. In May 1840, land was opened for selection and the government held a public sale of land.
For many years, the Spring would have been a source of water for a range of travellers, including military personnel, surveyors, the mailman, merchants en route to Albany, shepherds, sandalwood cutters, Aborigines and settlers.
Today, it is recognised that the area known as The Kojonup Spring has special spiritual and cultural significance to both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people of the district of Kojonup.
In 1999, a special agreement was made, which read:
"It is acknowledged that the Aboriginal people shared the water of the "Spring" with the first white settlers and it is the wish of the present local Aboriginal people of today to continue sharing the area."
The tranquil Spring still has its place at the centre of Kojonup, and is now a popular picnic and barbecue area.
Wingedyne Nature Reserve is found on Orchard Road, offering opportunities to view native wildflowers during spring. Kangaroos and bush wallabies can often be seen at dusk in the paddocks surrounding the reserve, which are also known for parrots, lorikeets, blue wrens and the crested shrike-tit.
The town of Woodanilling was first gazetted in 1892, not far from the watering hole called Round Pool. The town is in a sheep and grain producing area and was named after a spring in the Boyerine Creek, 1 km south of town. Woodanilling is a Noongar Aboriginal word meaning place of little fishes. It is approx 37km from Albany Highway turnoff. Well worth a detour to break up your trip.
Image Credit: Shire of Woodanilling
The very first settlers came to the area looking for pastures on which to graze their sheep. Later, cutters poured into the district and decimated the sandalwood tree population.
In 1904 the railway station was the freight leader for the region, transporting mallet bark, sandalwood, grain, wool and goods for the local shops and businesses on the big old steam trains.
In the early 1900s, 800 people lived in the Shire, and the townsite boasted general stores, a hotel, banks, a hospital, a road board office, a post office, a bakery, a blacksmith’s shop and brickworks. Today the population is on the increase again and stands at about 420 people.
Opened in 2008, the Woodanilling Heritage Walk consists of 13 panels on a short walk around the townsite. There are old black and white photos on each panel together with all sorts of stories about our people and places. Heritage Walk colour guides are available at the Shire council offices.
Source: Hidden Treasures.
"Woodanilling Pioneer Heritage Trail" Guide Brochures can be collected free from the Woody Shire Offices.
Located to the north west of the Woodanilling Shire, between Boyerine and Cartmeticup, the rock has a large flat face at the summit sloping to the north, the highest point is in excess of 340 metres above sea level.
Image Credit: Woodanilling Shire
The name has probably been ascribed due to the size of the rock and majestic view from the summit. Panoramic views to the north can enjoyed as far as Mt Deception.
It became a popular picnic spot for the families in the area in the 1920's. Carts and wagons would wind their way around to the NNE corner of the rock. Here, at the foot of the rock, games and other social activities would take place.
The reserve has abundant wildflowers and is thickly timbered with sheoaks and jam trees. It is also the most easterly site of the Shire where red gums (eucalyptus marri) grow. Part of the reserve was used as a Shire gravel pit. This has since been rehabilitated.
The site is a prominent natural feature of the landscape
The site is significant as a recreational site for early settlers. The area surrounding the rock is also notable as a flora and fauna sanctuary.
You will find this salt lake about 30 kms west of the Woodanilling townsite, on Queerearrup Road along Douglas Road, approx 37km from Albany Highway turnoff. The lake has a pink tinge to it due to the caroten microbes.
Image Credit WHERE IS WITCHWAE
Woodanilling is prided on its peaceful surrounding and its ability to get close to nature, and has been recognised as a popular area for bird watching and possess many locations bursting with native and rare wildflowers and flora.
Located northwest of Woodanilling, Queerearrup lake in its former glory offered a large variety of recreational and leisure activities from skiing, swimming and picnic areas. The lake has a significant historical value to Woodanilling. However, due to falling water levels the lake is no longer used as a skiing or swimming location, although native flora and fauna, including black swans can still be admired throughout the reserve.
Located just off the Albany Highway, 24 kilometres south of the Arthur River and 33 kilometres north of Kojonup on the eastern side of the highway, 1 kilometre south of Robinson Road. This rest area is beside the Beaufort River. There are several tracks leading from the highway to the river and lots of shady trees. Take a short break from driving and help reduce fatigue.
Albany Port was the first port in Western Australia and was settled in 1826. Albany was Western Australia's only deep-water port for 70 years until the Fremantle Inner Harbour was opened in 1897
The first settlers arrived in Albany in December 1826 when Major Edmund Lockyer arrived at the harbour aboard the brig Amity The port started from humble beginnings when a finger jetty was built between 1862 and 1864 in Princess Royal Harbour. The construction was extended in 1874 and fitted with a T-shaped head and gas lighting.
Dredging and land reclamation around the port area commenced in 1893, with a further five dredging operations taking place between 1901 and 1979. Albany was an important arrival point for migrants and settlers in Western Australia with over 40,000 people arriving between 1839-1925.
The Point King Lighthouse, built in 1898, was the first navigational light for the Port of Albany and the second lighthouse to be built on the West Australian coastline.
The Great White Fleet visited Albany on 11 September 1908 and stayed for one week to take coal aboard as part of the fleet's circumnavigation of the world. The fleet arrived from Melbourne and the next port of call was Manila.
In 2004 2,685,000 metric tonnes of cargo passed through the port and in 2005 2,990,000 metric tonnes of cargo was achieved. During this time woodchip exports increased by 105%.
A huge drug seizure was recorded in the port area in 2004 when the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs Service recovered 100 kilograms (220 lb) of powder cocaine, worth over $45 million, was recovered from a local beach after being buried in the dunes. The drugs were imported on a bulk grain carrier Marcos Dias having come from South America via South East Asia, three men were arrested as a result
In 2005 handler and exporter CBH, proceeded with a $130 million upgrade of their grain handling and loading facilities at the port.
The Albany Port Authority won the national Lloyd's Port of the Year award in 2006 for its development of new technology used to restore degrade load-bearing concrete piles without disrupting cargo handling activities
The port was visited by the Queen Elizabeth II passenger liner in February 2008 as part of its final world trip. Albany was the only regional port that was visited during the Australian leg of the voyage.
The largest vessel ever handled by the port was the Bulk carrier 71,749 dwtMaritime Grace which was partly loaded at the port.
The Albany Port Authority recorded a record profit of A$ 7.1 million in 2014 after exporting a record 1.4 million tonnes of woodchips. The Albany Port Authority, which had run the port since 1950 was closed down in 2014 when it was merged with the Bunbury and Esperance Port Authorities creating the Southern Port Authority.
During dredging in 2000 to expand the harbour, a large amount of unexploded munitions was found at the bottom of the harbour so that Worksafe demanded that dredging cease until the harbour was made safe again. It was consequently found that the ordnance had been spilt during loading of excess munitions to be disposed of at sea in 1947 and 1948 by the Australian Army and Navy The Albany Port Authority took the Commonwealth government to court to pay for the clean-up of the munitions. The Commonwealth lost the case and were ordered to pay $5.25 million for past and future clean-up costs and an additional $1 million for legal costs. Some of the ammunition that has been found included a 250-pound aerial bomb, 18 pound artillery shells and rifle ammunitions.
Three recent reports make clear that we should be saving habitat in order to save species. It is pretty simple. Destroy a species’ habitat and you destroy its home.
The first report was issued last week by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Birdlife Austrlia and Environmental Justice Australia*. Its take away message is that in Australia we will do little to halt the continuing threat to and extinction of species here until we get serious about providing effective legal protection to habitat.
The second report accompanied an update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species at the end of June. It highlighted that the main threat to 85% of the 22,784 known and assessed species threatened with extinction (1,839 in Australia) is the loss and degradation of habitat.
The third study, also published at the end of June, was even more disturbing. It found that over the last century the extinction rate for many species was 100 times faster than usual and that we are heading into a human-created sixth mass extinction on Earth. It blamed this on habitat destruction, as well as climate change, trade, and pollution.
Without an adequate home, a species cannot survive. Of course, stressing the need to protect habitat is much easier said than done. Why is that? It largely comes down to three obstacles that have been intractable so far.
Protecting species, but not their homes
First, the law in Australia does not protect habitat per se. It only protects species. It does this through a process of listing and then making it an offence to kill or take the listed species. Listing species alone, however, does nothing to protect habitat.
It is true that it is possible to list critical habitat under Commonwealth law and various state laws. That has largely been ignored. The problem has been a persistent lack of political will.
Politicians are reluctant to list habitat because it means that parcel of land will be off limits to development. That is something most politicians seek to avoid in pursuit of short-term economic benefits.
Second, protecting habitat is subject to politics. Even when a species is listed, it is possible for governmental decision-makers to exercise discretion and permit a development, even if it will threaten the species.
A decion-maker will be required to consider a number of factors (ordinarily environmental, economic, and social impact) in exercising his or her discretion.
However, if these factors are appropriately ventilated, then the law allows the discretion to be exercised against a threatened species. What we have in these sorts of cases is environmental law without necessarily environmental protection.
It becomes a matter of right process and the only remedy for those dissatisfied when the process has been followed is at the ballot box.
Third, protecting habitat is economically tough. David Attenborough, the famous environmental documentary presenter, has highlighted that humans are in competition with the other species for space on this finite planet.
He correctly observed that it will take a great deal of willpower and economic strength to fix things. The questions for us is, do we have what it takes? Or, will we leave future generations with an environment less rich, less diverse than the one we inherited?
Tighter regulation, more money
The ACF report recommends that in Australia we start by improving recovery plans for species. In particular, ACF maintains that recovery plans must contain “measurable and targeted restraints on the destruction of threatened species habitat and outline restorative outcomes that any approval decisions must work toward”.
The ACF recognises this will not be cheap. It calls for an annual investment of A$370 million to implement recovery plans and purchase land for protected areas.
To follow the recommendation would be to start to seriously protect habitat. It would only be a start though.
Much would depend on whether the new recovery plan arrangements deprived decision-makers of discretion to allow the destruction of habitat despite protection.
Much would depend on where and how much habitat was set aside. Much would depend on the sufficiency of funding. Still, it is a start and you have to start somewhere. One thing is certain, we should start now.
*This sentence was updated to include the other contributors to the report.
Norfolk Island, nearly 1,500km from Australia’s east coast, is home to one of the country’s most endangered species, but you probably haven’t heard of it. Clematis dubia, a woody climber with white and hairy flowers, was known to number only 15 mature plants in 2003.
Once common on the island, this clematis illustrates what stands in the way of survival for many of our threatened plants. Around 84% of Australia’s native plants don’t occur anywhere else on Earth.
Threats to our native plants include ongoing habitat destruction, fire, invasive species, more frequent extreme weather events, and declining populations of the animals involved in their pollination and seed dispersal.
Clematis dubia is lucky to call Norfolk Island National Park home. Our national parks are places of beauty and adventure for us to enjoy. They are also a haven for many species.
We found that many of these species don’t occur outside national parks, meaning the parks play a huge role in their conservation. Few of these species have been secured in living plant collections or seed banks, and very few are regularly monitored in the wild.
We have little information on either the impacts of threats or of species biology, which limits our ability to secure these species against further loss.
Threats to plants
Clematis dubia lives in small and isolated populations. It faces many perils of modern life, like invasive weeds. We understand very little of its biology, including how its seeds are dispersed, how long it takes to start producing seed, and even how long it lives.
Another plant we assessed was the Graveside Gorge wattle (Acacia equisetifolia) found in Kakadu National Park. A small shrub, less than a metre tall with small yellow flowers, this wattle is listed as critically endangered.
Fewer than a thousand plants are growing in only two locations about a kilometre apart in a restricted area of the park. There is little information on the basic biology of this shrub.
Like other acacias, Graveside Gorge wattle is probably pollinated by, and provides food for, a variety of different insect species. It probably only reproduces sexually and its seeds might be dispersed by ants and probably germinate after fires. The main threat to this species is fires, especially ones that are too frequent or too intense.
As a safeguard against extinction, Parks Australia has collected seed from the Graveside Gorge wattle, which is now stored in the National Seed Bank at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.
Seed banking can extend the longevity of seeds to hundreds of years, protecting a species from extinction and helping in its recovery should the worst happen. Germination trials at the National Seed Bank help unlock the often complex germination requirements of different species so that they can be regrown from seed.
As a result of trials with Graveside gorge wattle, the Gardens now has a living collection of this species. In Kakadu, Parks Australia is protecting the two wild populations by planning protective burning to create longer intervals between fires and reduce the likelihood of severe fires.
Seed banking and living collections are two of the strategies we recommended to safeguard populations of threatened plant species. Some species may also benefit from establishing new populations outside national parks, similar to the management strategies used for vertebrate animals.
We also recommend surveying all endangered plant species in national parks that are not currently part of a formal monitoring program or that have not been surveyed within the past two years.
Finally, realising the gaps in our knowledge of the biology of and threats to many of Australia’s threatened plants, we recommend partnering with researchers and NGOs with restoration experience to draw on available scientific and on-the-ground knowledge.
And what of Norfolk Island’s endemic climbing clematis, Clematis dubia? Along with the low number of individuals, competition from weeds is a major threat to the survival of this species, so conservation efforts by Parks Australia have involved intensive weed control work, particularly to deal with the invasive guava plant.
Recent searches in likely habitat have revealed an additional 33 plants, a mix of adults and juveniles. Happily, new seedlings are now showing up in areas where guava has been removed, improving the future prospects for this species.
The report Constraints to Threatened Plant Recovery in Commonwealth National Parks was funded by the Australian Government through the Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews. It was authored by researchers at the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, a joint initiative between Parks Australia’s Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO.