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Visitor guide

20

160



25

1-8


16-1M

Front cover Everlastings bloom in the understorey of the park’s  

woodlands during spring.



Coalseam

        Conservation Park

Above Coalseam comes alive in spring as a carpet of wildflowers erupts in the understorey

.

Below A mineshaft in the bank of the Irwin River in 19

17.

Above Coal seams are evident at sites along the banks of the Irwin River

.

Coalseam Conservation Park

Coalseam Conservation Park is renowned 

for its spectacular 

spring wildflower displays. The park encompasses an area 

of approximately 754 hectares and represents one of the 

northern Wheatbelt’s most florally diverse areas.

Geology

Where does the name Coalseam come from? 

Coalseam Conservation Park is one of the few areas where 

black coal can be seen at the Earth’s surface. It is also the 

site of the first coal mining in Western Australia. 

The Irwin River has cut through the local rock exposing 

a striking cross-section of sedimentary layers, one of 

which is coal. Other layers of rock including siltstone and 

sandstone are exposed along cliff faces beside the Irwin 

River and represent hundreds of millions of years of the 

Earth’s history



An ancient landmass 

The landscape of Coalseam Conservation Park formed 

when Australia was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. 

During this time the climate was much different from 

today and huge glaciers covered the area. The movement 

of these glaciers ground up the underlying rock to create 

sediments that form much of the rock you see in the park 

today. Around 265 million years ago, swamps and peat 

lands growing on these sediments created the organic 

material that was to become coal deposits. 

To view coal seams along the Irwin River

, walk a few 

hundred metres upstream from the Fossil site. Also visit the 

park’s Riverbend 

site for the full story of the park’s amazing 

geological history.



Flora 

Coalseam Conservation Park is among the most botanically 

diverse areas in the northern Wheatbelt region of Western 

Australia. The park lies between the northern sandplain 

country where woody heath plants flower profusely in 

spring, and the arid lands of the Murchison region where 

spectacular everlastings bloom each spring (dependent on 

rainfall). 

On the plateau, a thin sandplain covers the hard, iron-rich 

laterite capping. These sandy, dry soils are low in nutrients 

and support a highly diverse ‘kwongan’ heath community 

that includes needle bush (



Hakea preissii

), sandplain wattle 

(

Acacia murrayana

), broom bush (



Melaleuca uncinata) and 

graceful honeymyrtle (



Melaleuca fulgens). On the Irwin 

River floodplain, reddish loams have formed from silt and 

sand washed down from the valley sides and from the 

upper reaches of the river. These soils are seasonally wet 

and relatively rich in nutrients. They support a mostly wattle- 

dominated scrub that includes jam (



Acacia acuminata

and orange wattle (



Acacia saligna), with large Y

ork gums 

(

Eucalyptus loxophleba).

During spring, a carpet of 

everlastings transforms the usually 

sparse wattle understorey, covering 

the valley slopes. Everlastings are 

short-lived annual herbs, mostly 

from the daisy family, that dry out 

to produce papery petals and seeds 

that are dispersed by the wind. Have 

a closer look at the flowers you see 

and use the wildflower guide in 

this brochure to identify the more 

common species.

Aboriginal history 

The area holds significance and strong traditional values 

for several local Indigenous groups. A variety of plants 

and animals found in the park are important for food and 

medicinal purposes. For those with a keen eye, artefacts 

such as stone flakes, scar trees and grinding stones may be 

seen. Please help protect the cultural history of the park by 

leaving these items as you find them.



European history

In 1846, three brothers and 

explorers, Augustus

, Frank 


and Henry Gregory, were 

looking for suitable grazing 

and agricultural lands in the 

area when they discovered 

exposed coal seams along 

the banks of the Irwin River. 

This, the first coal discovery 

in Western Australia, resulted 

in the area being declared 

a reserve. Subsequently a 

number of shafts were dug, 

but only narrow seams of poor 

quality coal were revealed. One 

of these shafts can be seen from a viewing platform only a 

short walk from Miners Campground. 

The Gregorys’ exploration of the area made way for the 

coming of pastoralists and farmers, who developed the 

sheep and wheat properties that now surround the park. 

The new settlers brought permanent change to the lifestyles 

of the local Aboriginal groups. 

The park’s rugged terrain, which was mostly unsuitable for 

sheep and wheat, became a refuge for native plants and 

animals. In time, the area’s heritage values were recognised.

Caring for the park

Be kind – it is an offence to disturb or remove animals, plants 

or rocks, including fossils or cultural artefacts. Leave them as 

you find them for others to enjoy. 

No firearms or pets are 

permitted in the park.

Be responsible – use the gas barbecues provided at River Bend 

or use your own gas stove. Dead wood is habitat for wildlife not 

fuel for fires. 

Fires are not permitted within the park.

Be clean – take your rubbish out of the park when you leave.

Be careful – your enjoyment and safety are our concern but 

your responsibility.



Be cool – always carry ample drinking water. To avoid dehydration, 

drink three to four litres of water per person, per day.



Stay on track – follow signs and stay on the marked trails.  

Fees 

There are no entry fees for the park; however, camping fees 

apply to assist with management of the park and to help 

improve visitor facilities. Fees are collected by campground 

hosts.

More information 

Department of Parks and Wildlife 

Midwest Region Office 

Ph: (08) 9964 0901 

1

st

 Floor, The Foreshore Centre 



201 Foreshore Dve 

Geraldton WA 6530  

 

Department of Parks and Wildlife 

Perth Headquarters 

Ph: (08) 9219 9000 

17 Dick Perry Ave  

Kensington WA 6151 



Fauna

 

Much of Coalseam’s animal life 

can be difficult to observe as 

mammals are mostly nocturnal 

and many reptiles can be very 

cryptic. For most visitors, birds 

are the only wildlife seen. Despite 

this, visitors with some patience 

and a sharp eye may spot 

mammals such as the echidna, 

euro and red kangaroo. Reptiles 

such as the bobtail, Gould’s sand 

goanna, western blue-tongue, 

western netted dragon, mulga 

snake and gwardar are relatively 

common and may be seen. 

A range of different birds can 

easily be observed at Coalseam Conservation Park. Look for 

both the singing and the spiny-cheeked honeyeaters in areas 

where there are flowering trees and shrubs. Wedge-tailed 

eagles soar overhead and peregrine falcons can occasionally 

be seen along the cliff face in front of the Irwin Lookout. 

Galahs nest in tree hollows near Miners Campground 

and red-capped robins can be seen flitting around near 

ground level. Australian ringnecks (or mallee ringnecks) are 

common in the park as are nankeen kestrels, black-faced 

woodswallows, black-faced cuckoo-shrikes and crested and 

common bronzewings. 

Look carefully and quietly to discover some of the animals within 

the park. Please do not disturb them or damage their habitat. 



Above Augustus Gregory

.

Above Pompom heads (



Cephalipterum drummondii) flower under tall Y

ork 


gums (Eucalyptus loxophleba

).

Above Galahs nest in hollows 

around Miners Campground.

Below Bobtail skinks are a common reptile in the park.

This information is current at August 2016.

This publication is available in alternative formats on request.


Visitor information

Access

Coalseam Conservation Park is located 115 kilometres inland 

from Geraldton, approximately 30 kilometres north-east of 

Mingenew or 60 kilometres south of Mullewa. The park has 

year-round access for all vehicles via well-formed gravel 

roads. However, during periods of heavy rain the Irwin River 

may flood and be impassable for a short period of time until 

the water level drops. Please take notice of water depths 

before crossing and drive within your capability.

Due to steep slopes and narrow roads, caravans are not 

recommended at Irwin Lookout or the Fossil site. Please leave 

your caravan at Miners or Breakaway. 



Camping 

The parks main campground is at 

Miners, where there are unpowered 

sites suitable for caravans. 

Picnic tables and toilets are also 

provided. Generator use is only 

permitted between 9am and 11am 

and between 4pm and 6pm. When the campground is full, 

overflow camping is permitted at the Breakaway site. All other 

sites are open for day use only. 

Camping is only permitted for a maximum of three consecutive 

nights during the peak season (August to October) allowing 

everyone the opportunity to enjoy the park’s wildflowers. 

Volunteer campground hosts are located at Miners 

Campground at this time. 

Things to do 

Johnson Shaft Viewing Platform 

Take the Miners walk trail (700-metre 

return, allow 30 minutes) from the 

Miners picnic area across the usually 

dry bed of the Irwin River to a viewing 

platform over the disused Johnson coal 

shaft. Signs explain the history of the 

shaft which was sunk in 1917. You can 

see part of a coal seam at the bottom 

of the shaft. Similar coal seams occur 

as outcrops on the side of the riverbank 

and are visible as black and grey banded 

rocks. Look for them on your return walk. 

Riverbend 

Close to the usually dry Irwin River, this day-use site has 

picnic tables, barbecues, toilets and an information shelter 

with signs covering the area’s geology, flora and fauna. 

Riverbend gets its name from a section of the Irwin River 

that has carved a striking cliff face into the Victoria Plateau. A 

cross-section of the underlying rock layers is exposed, offering 

an insight into the interesting geology of the park. The layers of 

rock span five evolutionary periods and provide valuable visual 

evidence of how the local landscape was formed.



Irwin Lookout

A 560-metre loop walk leads from 

the car park to lookouts along a 

cliff edge above the Irwin River, 

where you’ll enjoy dramatic views 

of the valley below. Signs explain 

the geology of the area. Keep an eye 

out for soaring peregrine falcons 

and wedge-tailed eagles. 

Fossil 

The Fossil picnic site is situated on 

the banks of the Irwin River. Here 

you can either rest and admire the 

view or go for a walk along the Irwin 

River where you may find marine 

fossils in the river bank, exposed 

over time by erosion. You will have 

to look carefully though as the fossils are generally very small. 

Exposed coal seams can also be seen in the cliffs along the river if 

you head north from this site. 

Coalseam wildflower guide 

A guide to Coalseam’s most common everlastings and other herb-like flowers less than one metre tall.



Cephalipterum drummondii 

Pompom head 

Forms carpets of pompom–like 

white (and occasionally 

yellow) flowers.

      


Myriocephalus guerinae

Bright yellow annual usually 

less than 40 centimetres tall.

Lawrencella davenportii 

This common pink to 

white annual has its leaves 

clustered at the base of the 

stem.

Rhodanthe chlorocephala 

(subsp. rosea

A bright pink or white 

annual growing to about 50 

centimetres tall. 

Waitzia acuminata 

Orange immortelle 

A distinctive yellow or orange 

annual that flowers later in 

the wildflower season. 

Thysanotus manglesianus 

Fringed lily 

This twining plant produces 

delicate purple flowers 

during spring. 

Erodium cygnorum 

Blue heronsbill 

The small blue or purple 

flowers of this plant are thinly 

scattered through the park.

Podolepis canescens 

Another yellow wildflower 

that grows to about 85 

centimetres tall and can be 

common in the park.

  

Schoenia cassiniana 

Schoenia 

A common pink wildflower in 

the region that only grows to 

about 40 centimetres tall.



Calandrinia polyandra 

Parakeelya  

This small and delicate 

annual displays its pink 

flowers through spring.

Echium plantagineum 

Paterson’s curse 

This invasive weed is 

common in disturbed areas 

and along roadsides within 

the park. Measures are being 



undertaken to control this 

plant.



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