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Walkabout Park's Vegetation Communities

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What is a Vegetation Community?

A vegetation community is a group of plants occuring together to form a characteristic vegetation type. Walkabout Park is home to at least 9 different vegetation communities. It is important that we all do our best to preserve our bushland wherever possible. Read about the threat our park has faced from Sand Quarrying in this area.


 

Community one

Community type:

Open woodland on rocky plateau

Dominant trees:

  • Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemostoma)
  • Sydney peppermint (E. piperita ssp piperita)

In places the open woodland thins and pockets of heath develop. This is an example of how heath plants spread, even over bare rock, eventually creating conditions for larger shrubs and trees to establish and form open woodland.

This process, known as succession, begins with the spores of spaghnum moss exploiting cracks and moist depressions in the rock. As the spaghnum grows it traps leaf litter, sediment and moisture. Small herbs and groundcovers such as Darwinia glaucophylla, which is considered rare due to its limited range, Sundews (Drosera spp) and numerous orchids including green hoods (Pterostylis sp), Caladenia sp, leek orchids (Prasophyllus spp) and Cryptostylis sp grow throughout the moss, their root systems helping to stabilise the Spagnhum. The small shrubs, Melaleuca thymifolia, Leucopogon microphyllus and Banksia spinulosa and others follow, then larger shrubs and trees which eventually die, fall over and create clearings in the open woodland.

Community two

Community type:

Open forest on undulating slopes

Dominant trees:

  • Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemostoma)

On the protected slopes below the plateau occasional pockets of open forest occur. Large scribbly gums provide protection for a variety of large shrubs, such as flaky barked tea tree (Leptospermum attenuatum), coresticks (Petrophile spp), Hakea and Banksia spp. Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea resinosa) are conspicuous in the understorey.

This often dense shrub layer creates habitat for many honeyeaters and small insectivorous birds, such as yellow robins, grey fantails and spotted pardalotes. Diamond pythons are know to frequent this area and may sometimes be seen sunbathing on the track.

Community three

Community type:

Open forest on upper slopes

Dominant trees:

  • Red bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera)

This area was cleared for the construction of the Sydney-Newcastle oil and gas pipeline. The area shows excellent recovery after disturbance, with many native herbs, shrubs and trees in various stages of regeneration. The dominant red bloodwoods provide habitat for pollen and nectar feeders, such as possums, bats and birds.

Returning to the mid-storey are stringybarks (Eucalyptus sparsifolia), several species of wattle, Banksia ericifolia, Dillwinia florinabunda, Persoonia lanceolata and Melaleuca thymifolia, which with a diverse understorey of grasses, herbs and scrubs provides habitat for numerous animals including swamp wallabies, bandicoots, wombats and several species of reptiles and birds.

Community four

Community type:

Low closed woodland on rocky plateau

Dominant trees:

  • Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemostoma) mallee form

The occurrence of scribbly gum in mallee form and the presence of a low, dense shrub layer reflects the harshness of the conditions in this area: shallow, rocky, sandy soils and exposure to winds prevent the establishment of larger trees.

The shrub layer consists principally of Banksia species, the purple-flowered Melaleuca thymifolia, conesticks, dwarf apple (Angophora hispida) and dagger hakea (Hakea teretifolia), which provide excellent habitat for honeyeaters, finches and other small birds, mammals, reptiles, frogs and insects.

Pools of water by the side of the track attract many of these animals to drink or bathe. Birds may often be seen splashing about on warm afternoons. Bird-feeders are popular with red-browed finches, double-barred finches and other seed-eaters.

Community five

Community type:

Open woodland heath on rocky plateau

Dominant trees:

  • Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemostoma) Mallee form

Heathland makes up for its lack of trees and large shrubs with a remarkable diversity of small shrubs, herbs, ground covers and grasses.

Purple flag (Patersonia glabrate), grey spider flower (Greviallea buxifolia), the rare Grevillea diffusa ssp filipendula, Guinea flowers (Hibbertia spp) and Melaleuca thymifolia and others produce spectacular arrays of wildflowers in the spring, creating an ecosystem rich in insect, bird and reptile life, which in turn attracts the larger predators.

Community six

Community type:

Open forest on upper slopes

Dominant trees:

  • Red bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera)
  • Grey gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa)

The gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa) occurs in the understorey of this community, producing crimson flowers in spring.

Eriostemon australsius, Banksia serrata and Acacia oxycedrus form the mid-storey while Patersonia glabrate and several species of mat rush grow in the understorey from fissures or crevices in the rock.

The rock formations in this area consist of shallow overhangs and deeply weathered sandstone formations which provide good habitat for reptiles such as Lesueur’s velvet gekkos, yellow-faced whip snakes and tiger snakes.

Darwinia glaucophylla is present in the vicinity and has begun to colonise these rocks given the favourable conditions.

Community seven

Community type:

Open forest to forest on lower slopes;
Pockets of tall closed forest and dry temperate rainforest along Popran creek (directly ahead)

Dominant trees:

  • Sydney red gum (Angophora costata) (Aboriginal: Kajimbourra)
  • Sydney peppermint (Eucalyptus piperita)

Two shrubs uncommon in the sanctuary occur at this site. To the left is the parasitic sour currant bush (Leptomeria acida), which has edible but extremely sour fruit. The white-flowered wedding bush (Ricinocarpus sp), which flowers in th spring, is located next to the sour currant bush on the cliff edge.

Purple flag (Patersonia glabrate) is a common herb which produces masses of large, delicate purple flowers in October.

Community eight

Community type:

Open forest amongst rock outcrops

Dominant trees:

  • Sydney red gum (Angophora costata) (Aboriginal: Kajimbourra)

The exposed, rocky ridges in this area of the sanctuary create niches for a different array of plants. Here the Sydney red gum or Angophora dominates, and the huge gymea lily (Doranthes excelsa) produces crimson flowers on its long scape (flower stem). Also conspicuous in the understorey is the grass tree (Xanthorrhoea resinosa).

The mid-storey comprises three species of banksia, mountain devil (Lambertia Formosa) and other tall shrubs, which provide habitat for many species of mammals and birds.

Community nine

Community type:

Open woodland with closed mid-storey on moist undulating slopes

Dominant trees:

  • Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemostoma)

This unusual community has several large trees, including the paperbarks (Melaleuca sieberi), which you can see through the natural clearing ahead. The closed mid-storey with Banksia robur, dagger hakea (Hakea teretifolia) and flaky-barked tea tree (Leptospermum attenuatum), makes good nesting sites and foraging areas for ring-tailed possums and small birds. A large colony of pouched coral fern (Gleichenia dicarpa) is located just to the left. In other areas of the understorey, it consists of Xanthorrhoea resinosa, E.m and various grasses.

The moist, shaded conditions throughout this area attract many insects, frogs and small reptiles which provide food for birds, mammals and larger reptiles.

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