Proposed Rail Alignment
Proposed Rail Corridor
Soil Landscape Systems
Land Systems of the
Name: GDA 1994 MGA Zone 50
Projection: Transverse Mercator
Datum: GDA 1994
Unique Map ID: A036
Unique Map ID: A035
Land Systems of
Unique Map ID: A034
OPR Rail Development – Vegetation and Flora Assessment
The Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) classifies the Australian continent into
regions (bioregions) of similar geology, landform, vegetation, fauna and climate characteristics
(Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA, 2009). According to IBRA
(Version 6.1) the Study Area crosses three of these bioregions: Geraldton Sandplains, Yalgoo and
Murchison. Each of these IBRA bioregions is further divided into subregions as described below and
mapped in Figure 2.9. The vegetation associated with these regions is described in Section 2.8.2.
Geraldton Sandplains Bioregion ‐ Geraldton Hills Subregion
The Geraldton Sandplains bioregion is divided into two subregions ‐ Geraldton Hills (GS1) and Leseur
Sandplain (GS2). A section of the Study Area crosses the Geraldton Hills subregion. This subregion
features exposed areas of Permian/Silurian siltstone and Jurassic sandstones, mostly overlain by
sandplains, alluvial plains, and coastal limestone’s (Desmond & Chant, 2001b).
The Geraldton Sandplains bioregion is represented by the Freehold land area. The dominant land
uses are dry land agriculture (65.8%), conservation (13.8%) and rural residential (DEC, 2002).
Yalgoo Bioregion ‐ Tallering Subregion
The Yalgoo bioregion is an inter zone between the south‐western bioregions and the Murchison
bioregion (Desmond & Chant, 2001a), and it is divided into two subregions – Edel (YAL1) and
Tallering (YAL2). A section of the Study Area occurs in the Tallering subregion. This subregion is
dominated by red sandy plains and sandy earth plains of the western Yilgarn Craton. The Yalgoo
bioregion represents the westernmost section of the Pastoral land area. The predominant land use
in the Tallering subregion is grazing on native pastures (approx 77%) (Payne et al. 1998).
Murchison Bioregion ‐ Western Murchison Subregion
The Murchison bioregion is divided into two subregions ‐ Eastern Murchison (MUR1) and Western
Murchison (MUR2). A section of Study Area occurs in the Western Murchison subregion. Extensive
hardpan wash plains dominate this subregion and granite and greenstone rocks outcrop in the
northern part of the Yilgarn Craton. The Western Murchison subregion contains the easternmost
portion of the rail including the Jack Hills Loop and the Weld Range Link. Pastoralism is the dominant
land use (96%) with degradation of the region widespread as a result of this and feral herbivores
(Desmond et al., 2001).
Geraldton Sandplains -
Avon Wheatbelt P1
OPR Proposed Rail Corridor
Unique Map ID: A040
Of the IBRA subregions crossed by the Study Area, 0.01‐5% of the Tallering and Western Murchison
subregions are protected under the national reserve system, while the Geraldton Hills subregion has
a much higher percent of 15‐30% protected under the national reserve system (DEWHA, 2008)
The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (2009) announced new conservation lands
in the Gascoyne, Murchison and south‐west regions in September 2007. These included the Pastoral
land area (whole or part) of the ‘Gascoyne‐Murchison Strategy’ and the Freehold land area in the
Southwest. Most of the acquired Pastoral leases and a few of the Freehold areas are proposed to be
reserved as unclassified conservation parks under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984
(CALM Act). Conservation parks are “managed for their scenic, cultural and biological values, to
conserve wildlife and the landscape, for scientific study and to preserve features of archaeological,
historical or scientific interest. Conservation parks allow for recreation that does not adversely affect
their ecosystems or landscapes” (DEC, 2009a).
The Study Area crosses eight conservation estates listed in Table 2.6, of which three have been
excised from the Study Area, and have been mapped in Figure 2.10 and Figure 2.11.
Conservation Estate Located Within the Study Area
Within The Study Area?
Ex Woolgorong (former leasehold)*
Ex Narloo (former leasehold)*
Ex Twin Peaks (former leasehold)*
Moresby Range Nature Reserve
Un‐named Nature Reserve
Urawa Nature Reserve
Yes, but excised from corridor
Wokatherra Nature Reserve
CALM Exec Body
Unique Map ID: A071
Conservation Estates Within the
Vicinity of the
East Yuna NR
Indarra Spring NR
The 44 MileNR
Unique Map ID: A072
ex Twin Peak
Ecological communities are naturally occurring biological assemblages located in a particular type of
habitat. At a national level, Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) are protected under the EPBC
Act. TECs are listed under this Act as either ‘Critically Endangered’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’. A
definition of these codes is provided in Table A.1, Appendix A. A search of the DEC’s TEC Database
was undertaken and no nationally listed TECs occur in the Study Area.
The DEC also maintains a list of TECs that are classified as being either ‘Presumed Totally Destroyed’,
‘Critically Endangered’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’. A definition of these codes is also provided in
Table A.1, Appendix A. No state‐listed TECs occur in the Study Area.
The DEC maintains an additional list of Priority Ecological Communities (PECs), for communities that
could potentially be classified as TECs, but are not currently adequately defined or surveyed.
Communities are placed in this category while consideration can be given to their declaration as a
TEC. Five priority codes exist for PECs and these are defined in Table A.2, Appendix A.
A search of the DEC’s PEC database identified four Priority 1 PECs occurring in the Study Area. These
are described in Table 2.7.
PECs Recorded in the Study Area
Jack Hills Vegetation
Banded Ironstone Formation. No description available.
Plant assemblages of the Moresby Range system; includes the Melaleuca
thicket on superficial laterite, on Moresby Range.
Tallering Peak Vegetation
Tallering Peak in the northwest is a massif of banded ironstone and
jaspilite, with outcropping masses or rock along the spine. Vegetation is
sparse and includes shrubs of only 1.2 m of Acacia quadrimarginea, Acacia
?coolgardiensis, Eremophila leucophylla, Thryptomene johnsonii, a small
Baeckea sp. or Thryptomene sp. and Ptilotus obovatus.
Weld Range Vegetation
Environmentally Sensitive Areas
Environmentally Sensitive Areas are declared in the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native
Vegetation) Regulation 2004.
There are no DEC listed Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the Study Area (DEC, 2009b).
The Geraldton town site was populated in 1851 and declared a town in 1961. Agricultural land on
the Greenough Flats was established from 1853 to 1857, and Pastoral land was developed between
1849 and 1862. Subsequent developments in the area resulted from completion of the Midland
Railway linking Perth and Geraldton in 1894, and the completion of the government railway to
Mullewa in 1915 (Beard & Burns, 1976).
The dominant land use in the Geraldton area at present is agricultural production, with some
horticultural areas. Mining is significant and is associated with lime sand, iron ore, kaolinite deposits,
gypsum and gamet, natural gas, numerous gravel pits for road construction, yellow sand for building
materials, and a limestone quarry (Rogers, 1996).
Much of the Murchison area was vacant crown land until the 1900s, when a rapid expansion of
Pastoral leases occurred over the following three decades (Curry et al.., 1994). It was predominantly
Pastoral land (88%) from 1992 to 2001 but this area had declined to approximately 83% of the region
by 2005 (DEWHA, 2008). The Murchison Pastoral areas are still active and primarily run sheep and
cattle. Large numbers of feral goats are also caught and exported to supplement station incomes. In
addition to Pastoralism, mining (gold, iron and nickel) is an important land use in the region. The first
discovery of gold in the Murchison occurred in July, 1890 (Edwards, 1994). Jack Hills and the Weld
Range contain significant amounts of iron ore (Elias, 1982).
Meekatharra is a major service centre for the Pastoral industry and mining exploration in the
Murchison region of Western Australia. Meekatharra was first settled in 1894 but was officially
named when gold was found in 1896. Meekatharra became a railhead in 1910, forming an important
part of the Pastoral industry. Cattle arrived at the stockyards from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions,
and the shipment of wool was facilitated by the rail line, which subsequently closed down in 1978
Pastoralism is the dominant land use in the Sandstone‐Yalgoo‐Paynes Find area (Payne et al., 1998).
Mining is also an important land use and is generally associated with the greenstone belts scattered
throughout the region. Gold was discovered at the site of present day Yalgoo in late 1892 (Payne et
al., 1998). The gold rush that followed allowed the establishment of the town in 1893.
PREVIOUS BIOLOGICAL SURVEYS
Biological surveys conducted in the vicinity of the Study Area are outlined below. A selection of
surveys carried out by ecologia (2009a in preparation; 2009b Draft; 2009c in preparation), the DEC
(Markey & Dillon, 2008a; Markey & Dillon, 2008b; Meissner & Caruso, 2008), and Mattiske (2005) are
summarised in Table B.1, Appendix B.
Speck (1963) described the vegetation communities of the Wiluna – Meekatharra area in 1963.
Beard (1976) mapped the vegetation communities of the Murchison region at a broad‐scale of
1:1,000,000. The vegetation communities of the Geraldton area were mapped by Beard & Burns
(1976) at a finer‐scale of 1:250,000 and 10 vegetation systems in the South‐western Botanical
Province and two vegetation systems in the Eremaean Botanical Province were described.
Between 1985 and 1988 a survey of the vegetation of the Murchison area was carried out by Curry et
al. (1994) as part of their study of the Murchison River catchment and surrounds. Seventy‐four land
systems were described and mapped at a scale of 1:250,000. Similarly, between 1992 and 1993,
Payne et al. (1998) conducted a survey of the vegetation of the Yalgoo area as part of their
Sandstone–Yalgoo–Paynes Find study, and they described and mapped 76 land systems at a scale of