3. 1 kalbarri jakes Point, Red Bluff and Goat Gulch

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Jakes Point, Red Bluff and Goat Gulch (Kalbarri National Park) 


Regional setting of Kalbarri transects 

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 

(Beard, 1976). 


The coastal area at Kalbarri is part of the Perth-Carnarvon sedimentary basin bounded to the east by the 

Darling Fault and the Yilgarn Block (Hocking et al., 1982).


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.  


Landforms and sediments of the Kalbarri transects 

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 

quartz) to pink and cream-coloured quartz sand with a significant proportion of carbonate grains (being the 

skeletal remains of marine organisms) (Table 7).





The sands of the dunes between Jakes Point and Red Bluff were generally higher in calcareous content 

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.

 Near the 

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.  























Table 7: Kalbarri transect surface sediments.  

Soil sample site : Transect 

and landform 


Dominant vegetation  

  Sediment description 




Jakes Point  foredune  

Spinifex longifolius grassland 

with sparse shrubs 

Medium to coarse, cream-coloured 

siliceous (mainly quartz) and 

carbonate sand.  

Jakes Point to Red Bluff 

swale in leeside of primary 


Thryptomene baeckeacea 


Medium, light brown siliceous 

(mainly quartz) and carbonate sand.  

Jakes point secondary dune 


Melaleuca cardiophylla- 

Thryptomene spp. heath    

Fine, cream-coloured, mainly   

carbonate sand. 




Red Bluff shallow sand 

sheet over sandstone at base 

of transect. 

Herbland inc. Gunniopsis 

septifraga, Pogonolepis 

stricta, *Cotula coronopifolia 

Coarse, cream-coloured to pink

siliceous (mainly quartz) and 

carbonate, muddy sand. 

Red Bluff: small dune 

below cliff (close to start of 

RB transect).  

Thryptomene sp. Kalbarri AG 

Gunness heath  

Coarse cream-coloured to pink 

siliceous (mainly quartz) and 

carbonate sand. 

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). 

Red Bluff plateau at end of 


Melaleuca longistaminea – 

Acacia andrewsii open heath 

with grasses Triodia 

bromioides, Austrostipa ssp., 

and herbs. 

Fine, light red-brown coloured, 

siliceous (mainly quartz) sand (with 

very little carbonate). 




Goat Gulch base of 

transect. Shallow soil in 

crevices of sandstone just 

above splash zone.  

Sarcocornia quinqueflora 

Wilsonia backhousei and 

Samolus repens herbland.  

Fine, red-brown siliceous (mainly 

quartz) muddy sand with some 

carbonate gravel-sized particles.  

Goat Gulch mid slope. 

Shallow sand amongst 

limestone boulders. 

Frankenia pauciflora – 

Atriplex paludosa- 

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). 

Goat Gulch : plateau with 

limestone pavement and 

shallow soils 

Species- rich very low heath 

inc. Melaleuca campanae, 

Grevillea argyrophylla, 

Beyeria cygnorum with 

Desmocladus asper. 

Fine, grey coloured, siliceous 

(mainly quartz) sand with some 

carbonate gravel sized particles. 





The floristics and vegetation of the Kalbarri transects 

1. Jakes Point to Red Bluff 

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,




Scaevola crassifolia (Thick-leafed Fanflower). Common alien taxa (particularly around the carpark at 

Jakes Point). included *Bromus diandrus, *Centaurium melitensis (Maltese Cockspur),*Ehrharta 

brevifolia subsp. cuspidata,* Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (Ice Plant),* Sonchus oleraceus (Sow 

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 

Zygophyllum fruticulosum. 


The secondary dune was inhabited by a more species-rich open heath less than 0.5m in height often 

dominated by Thryptomene


sp. Red Bluff and Beyeria cygnorum and associated with Acanthocarpus 

preissii, Acacia rostellifera (Summer Scented Wattle), Austrostipa elegantissima, Brachyscome 

iberidifolia, *Bromus diandrus, Calandrinia remota, Carpobrotus modestus, *Ehrharta brevifolia subsp. 

cuspidata, Lomandra maritima, Melaleuca cardiophylla, Olearia axillaris, Pimelea microcephala, 

Rhagodia preissi subsp. obovata, Santalum acuminatum (Quandong), Scaevola crassifolia, Senecio 

pinnatifolius (Coastal Groundsel), Sporobolus virginicus, Stylobasium spathulatum, Threlkeldia diffusa 

and Zygophyllum fruticulosum. 


The dunes inland from the above were dominated by a heath less than about 0.5m in height of Melaleuca 

cardiophylla with Beyeria cygnorum, Eremophila glabra subsp. tomentosa, Thryptomene baeckeacea and 

Desmocladus asper. Associated with this were Acacia idiomorpha, Alyxia buxifolia, Austrodanthonia 

caespitosa, Austrostipa crinita, Austrostipa macalpinei, Calothamnus kalbarriensis, Diplolaena mollis, 

Diplopeltis intermedia subsp. intermedia, Euphorbia tannensis subsp. eremophila, Halgania littoralis, 




Melaleuca longistaminea, Phyllanthus calycinus, Phyllanthus scaber, Pimelea microcephala, Ptilotus 

gaudichaudii, Stackhousia dielsii, Triodia bromioides and Waitzia podolepis  Scaevola crassifolia (Thick-

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 

pauciflora fringing the lagoon..    




2. Red Bluff 


The transect at Red Bluff spanned a bare rocky shore of Tumblagooda sandstone, a zone of shallow sand 

overlying the sandstone, a small sandstone cliff and a moderate slope up to the plateau with a sand sheet 

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


A total of 71 indigenous and 10 alien flora taxa were collected from the Red Bluff transect and adjacent 



The gentle slope overlaid by shallow white sand at the base of the transect was vegetated by an  open heath 

less than 1m in height of Thryptomene sp. Red Bluff (A.G. Gunness 2358) over a species-rich assemblage 

of herbs including Brachyscome iberidifolia, Calandrinia remota, Carpobrotus modestus (Inland Pigface), 

Centrolepis eremica, Eragrostis dielsii,  Euphorbia sharkoensis,  Gunniopsis septifraga, Pogonolepis 

stricta, Ptilotus villosiflorus, Senecio pinnatifolius (Coastal Groundsel), Trachymene ceratocarpa and 

Triglochin mucronata. Alien taxa include * Cotula coronopifolia,*Ehrharta brevifolia subsp. 

cuspidata,*Polycarpon tetraphyllum and *Rostraria cristata. 




The rocky cliff above the sandy area at the base of the red Bluff transect was largely bare except for 

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 

transect. It  was a heath less than 1m in height that included Scholtzia sp. Red Bluff (A.G. Gunness 2373) 

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 

elegantissima, Conospermum stoechadis (Smoke Bush), Ecdeiocolea monostachya, Hibbertia 

potentilliflora, Melaleuca campanae, Melaleuca cardiophylla, Melaleuca longistaminea subsp. 

longistaminea and Triodia bromioides.     





3. Goats Gulch  

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, 

Phyllanthus scaberSclerolaena uniflora and the annuals Calandrinia aff. remota, *Centaurea 

melitensis,*Emex australis, Lotus australis, Nicotiana occidentalis, Oxalis perennans,*Rostraria pumila 

and Senecio pinnatifolius.   


The plateau vegetation was a species-rich, very low, wind-pruned open heath over Desmocladus asper

Common shrub species less than 20cm in height on the plateau were Beyeria cygnorum, Bossiaea 

spinescensGrevillea argyrophyllaHibbertia spicata subsp spicataMelaleuca campanae, Melaleuca 

longistaminea subsp. longistaminea, Scaevola crassifolia and Scholtzia sp. Red Bluff (A.G. Gunness 

2373). In contrast to the low heath along the slope and on the plateau, some of the same species (Grevillea 

argyrophylla, Melaleuca cardiophylla and Acacia rostellifera) formed a closed scrub of about 3m in height 

in the more sheltered channel of Goat Gulch on the plateau.  

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