Kalbarri has a climate classified as semi-arid (Gentilli 1972). It is situated in the Irwin Botanical District
(Beard, 1980) i.e. the Geraldton Sandplains Biogeographical Region (IBRA, 2000). Mean annual rainfall is
mm (Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2005) with the potential annual evaporation in excess of
1800mm (Hocking et al., 1982). Winter rain is generally reliable with a growing season of about 4 months
The coastal area at Kalbarri is part of the Perth-Carnarvon sedimentary basin bounded to the east by the
Apart from the dissected
horst in the Ajana area (part of the Northampton Block) and the Murchison River valley, most of the
Kalbarri area south of the Murchison River is part of the Victoria Plateau. The latter landform is thought to
have formed in the vicinity of the late Miocene era and comprises a gently-undulating, quartzose sandplain
overlying the much older Tumblagooda Sandstone.
The Kalbarri coastal area south of the mouth of the Murchison River mouth was included in this survey
(Fig 8). This area is a plateau of Tumblagooda Sandstone truncated at the Indian Ocean by tall cliffs. The
cliffs are composed of either exposed sandstone (such as the cliffs at Red Bluff) or sandstone capped with
Tamala Limestone (such as the cliffs at Goat Gulch). From Jake’s Point to Red Bluff there are also coastal
dunes perched over the sandstone. The coastal dunes included a low foredune fronting the ocean and
inland an irregular series of roughly shore-parallel low dunes. The rocky shore of Tumblagooda Sandstone
of this area contains small exposures of relatively recently formed calcareous rocks known as the
Chinaman’s Rock formation. Between Jakes Point and Red Bluff there is a watercourse (Wittecarra Gully)
draining the hinterland through the coastal dunes by intermittent breach of a sand bar at its mouth.
Surface sediments of the Kalbarri transects ranged from red –brown siliceous sands (with large fractions of
skeletal remains of marine organisms) (Table 7).
than the other sands encountered at Kalbarri in this study. They were light-coloured (cream to light brown),
very low in organic matter and medium-to-fine in texture. The plateau at the top of the Red Bluff transect
was overlaid by fine, light red-brown coloured siliceous sand (very low in carbonate materials), whilst the
finer sediments collecting in rocky cliff crevices were dark red-brown siliceous muddy sands. The coarser
siliceous sands forming low mounds at the base of the Red Bluff transect were relatively high in carbonate
content and were cream-coloured to pink. The limestone pavement capping the plateau above Goat Gulch
was overlaid by shallow, fine light-grey siliceous sand along with some calcareous gravel. Along the slope
in the gulch there was a poorly-defined seasonal watercourse amongst limestone boulders with pockets of
deeper, slightly humic grey siliceous sand. The steeper rocky slopes of the gulch were generally
characterized by shallow, m
edium, light-grey, siliceous sand with gravel to boulder-sized limestone.
base of the transect, the Tumblagooda Sandstone was exposed down to sea level. In the jagged ledges of
the sandstone above the splash zone there was shallow fine, red-brown siliceous (mainly quartz) muddy
sand along with some calcareous gravel-sized particles.
Jakes Point foredune
with sparse shrubs
Medium to coarse, cream-coloured
siliceous (mainly quartz) and
Jakes Point to Red Bluff
swale in leeside of primary
(mainly quartz) and carbonate sand.
Fine, cream-coloured, mainly
sheet over sandstone at base
Herbland inc. Gunniopsis
Coarse, cream-coloured to pink,
siliceous (mainly quartz) and
carbonate, muddy sand.
below cliff (close to start of
Thryptomene sp. Kalbarri AG
Coarse cream-coloured to pink
Red Bluff crevices and
ledges of cliff
Herbland inc. Goodenia
berardiana , Calandrinia
remota, Poaceae spp.
Medium to fine, red-brown,
siliceous (mainly quartz) muddy
sand (with very little carbonate).
with grasses Triodia
Fine, light red-brown coloured,
siliceous (mainly quartz) sand (with
very little carbonate).
transect. Shallow soil in
crevices of sandstone just
above splash zone.
Fine, red-brown siliceous (mainly
quartz) muddy sand with some
carbonate gravel-sized particles.
Shallow sand amongst
Frankenia pauciflora –
Sclerolaena uniflora low
heath with herbs.
Medium to fine, cream – light grey
coloured, siliceous (mainly quartz)
and carbonate sand.
Goat Gulch mid slope.
Deeper sand in a seasonal
Melaleuca lanceolata open
scrub over Parietaria debilis
& Zygophyllum fruticulosum
Medium to fine, grey, humic,
siliceous (mainly quartz) sand (with
very little carbonate).
limestone pavement and
Species- rich very low heath
inc. Melaleuca campanae,
Beyeria cygnorum with
Fine, grey coloured, siliceous
(mainly quartz) sand with some
carbonate gravel sized particles.
A total of 33 indigenous and 5 alien flora taxa were collected from the short transect through the foredune
at Jakes Point and opportunistically from the dunes between Jakes Point and Red Bluff. (Appendix 2).
The low foredune of the Jakes Point transect (Figs 9 &10)
was sparsely vegetated with the rhizomatous
grass Spinifex longifolius and the low open shrubs Angianthus cunninghamii and Olearia axillaris (Coastal
Daisy Bush) generally less than 1m in height with the perennial herb Lotus australis. Also common on
foredunes of this area were Carpobrotus modestus (Inland Pigface), Euphorbia sharkoensis, Ptilotus
Rhagodia preissi subsp. obovata, Threlkeldia diffusa, Senecio pinnatifolius, *Salsola tragus,
Jakes Point). included *Bromus diandrus, *Centaurium melitensis (Maltese Cockspur),*Ehrharta
Thistle) and *Reichardia tingitana. The swale on the leeside of the foredune hosted a heath to scrub
assemblage including Acacia rostellifera (Summer Scented Wattle), Austrostipa elegantissima, Pimelea
microcephala, Santalum acuminatum (Quandong), Stylobasium spathulatum (Pebble Bush) and
The secondary dune was inhabited by a more species-rich open heath less than 0.5m in height often
sp. Red Bluff and Beyeria cygnorum and associated with Acanthocarpus
and Zygophyllum fruticulosum.
The dunes inland from the above were dominated by a heath less than about 0.5m in height of Melaleuca
leafed Fanflower) and Melaleuca cardiophylla with a sparse understorey of Desmocladus asper were
prominent on the crests of the dunes within this zone with occasional clumps of prostrate mallee
Eucalyptus oraria less than 1.2 m in height and 4m or more in diameter. Melaleuca cardiophylla closed
heath to closed scrub was the dominant vegetation of the dunes adjacent to the highway on the eastern
border of the coastal reserve.
The lagoon formed by the waters of Wittecarra Gully (that is usually dammed by a sandbar at its mouth)
was fringed in places by a patchy closed heath dominated by Halosarcia indica subsp. bidens and Atriplex
cinerea with Sporobolus virginicus and Cyperus gymnocaulis. Closer to the highway there was a low
closed forest of Casuarina obesa (Saltwater Sheoak) with Sarcocornia quinqueflora and Frankenia
The transect at Red Bluff spanned a bare rocky shore of Tumblagooda sandstone, a zone of shallow sand
over the sandstone (Figs 11,12 &13). The study area was located adjacent to private property and a caravan
park. The rocky shore at the base of the transect was used as an informal car park
The gentle slope overlaid by shallow white sand at the base of the transect was vegetated by an open heath
of herbs including Brachyscome iberidifolia, Calandrinia remota, Carpobrotus modestus (Inland Pigface),
annuals and grasses (in shallow soil in crevices) that included Calandrinia remota,*Ehrharta brevifolia
subsp. cuspidata, Eragrostis dielsii, *Euphorbia sharkoensis, Goodenia berardiana, Nicotiana
rotundifolia, Phyllanthus erwinii and *Reichardia tingitana.
The vegetation of the moderate slope above the cliff differed to that of the sandy zone at the base of the
and Melaleuca concreta with a species-rich seasonal herb and geophyte layer. Common associates in this
zone were Acacia andrewsii, Calandrinia polypetala, Calandrinia remota, Calocephalus francisii,
Centrolepis cephaloformis subsp. murrayi, Clematicissimus angustissima (Native Grapevine), Conostylis
prolifera, Dioscorea hastilifolia (Native Yam), Grevillea pinaster, Phyllanthus erwinii, Rhodanthe
oppositifolia subsp. oppositifolia, Sarcostemma viminale subsp. australe (Caustic Bush), Setaria dielsii,
Trachymene ceratocarpa and Trachymene pilosa.
As the slope graded into the deeper sands of the plateau the heath assemblage varied to include Austrostipa
The transect at Goats Gulch extended from the Tamala Limestone capped plateau, down the centre of a
steep gully that drained the plateau to the exposed Tumblagooda Sandstone near sea level (Figs 14, 15 &
16). The base of the Goats Gulch transect, just above the splash zone where there was shallow moist soil
in crevices and ledges, was host to sparse prostrate halophytes including Sarcocornia quinqueflora,
Samolus repens, Wilsonia backhousei and Frankenia pauciflora.
Further up the slope, in shallow sand with limestone cobbles, there was a more species-rich low open
heath, less than 50cm in height that included Atriplex paludosa subsp. moquiniana, Enchylaena tomentosa,
Eremophila glabra subsp. tomentosa, Frankenia pauciflora. Rhagodia latifolia subsp. recta, Sclerolaena
uniflora and Threlkeldia diffusa. These species (with the addition of Zygophyllum fruticulosum, Parietaria
debilis and Diplolaena grandiflora) were also present amongst limestone boulders further up the transect.
Melaleuca lanceolata open scrub inhabited a poorly defined channel and rock crevices iwith deeper sand
about half way up the gulch. The steeper upper slope was a low heath dominated by Frankenia pauciflora,
and Senecio pinnatifolius.
The plateau vegetation was a species-rich, very low, wind-pruned open heath over Desmocladus asper.
2373). In contrast to the low heath along the slope and on the plateau, some of the same species (Grevillea
in the more sheltered channel of Goat Gulch on the plateau.