Land Systems of the
Name: GDA 1994 MGA Zone 50
Projection: Transverse Mercator
Datum: GDA 1994
Unique Map ID: A035
Land Systems of
the Project Area
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 Project 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 Project 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 Project 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 Project 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 -Geraldton Hills
Avon Wheatbelt P1
OPR Proposed Rail Corridor
of the Project Area
Name: GD A 1994 MGA Zone 50
Unique Map ID: A040
Of the IBRA subregions crossed by the Project 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 Project Area crosses eight conservation estates listed in Table 2.6, of which three have been
excised from the Project Area, and have been mapped in Figure 2.10 and Figure 2.11.
Conservation Estate Located Within the Project Area
Within Project 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 Project Area
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 Project 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 Project 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 Project Area.
These are described in Table 2.7.
PECs Recorded in the Project 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 Project 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 Project 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
In 2005, the DEC surveyed Banded Ironstone Formations (BIF) of the Yilgarn Craton, including areas in
Yalgoo bioregion (south of Yalgoo) (Markey & Dillon, 2008a). One hundred and three quadrats
were established during the survey and one DRF taxon and 13 Priority Flora taxa were
recorded (Table B.1, Appendix B).
Markey & Dillon (2008b) surveyed the flora and vegetation at Weld Range (Murchison
communities (and four sub‐communities) were described. Eight Priority Flora taxa were
recorded (Table B.1, Appendix B).
Caruso (2008). Fifty quadrats were established during the survey and six vegetation
communities were described. Four Priority Flora taxa were recorded (Table B.1, Appendix B).
ecologia (2009a, in preparation) conducted an extensive three phase vegetation and flora
assessment at Weld Range; surveys were completed in 2006, 2007 and 2008. A total of 239 quadrats
were established during the surveys and seven vegetation communities (and 16 sub‐communities)
were described and mapped. Twenty‐four Priority Flora species were recorded (Table B.1, Appendix
During 2004/2005, Mattiske (2005) conducted a flora and vegetation assessment at Jack Hills. One
communities were described and mapped. Four Priority Flora taxa were recorded (Table B.1,
ecologia (2009b, Draft) also conducted a two phase vegetation and flora assessment at Jack Hills in
2006/2007. One‐hundred and ninety‐five quadrats were established during the survey and six
vegetation communities (and 18 sub‐communities) were described. Seven Priority Flora taxa were
A baseline vegetation survey was conducted near Mount Magnet in 1994 by Landcare Services
(1995). Quadrats were assessed at eight sites in native vegetation and one rehabilitated waste dump
site. The dominant vegetation of the area was Acacia aneura woodlands with a mixed understorey
of chenopods and Eremophila species. Of the 206 endemic taxa recorded during the survey, three
were Priority Flora: Alyxia tetanifolia (Priority 3), Calytrix erosipetala (Priority 3) and Grevillea
inconspicua (Priority 4).
Alan Tingay & Associates (1998) completed an environmental appraisal and management plan for a
proposed railway from Tallering Peak to Oakajee. They reported on findings from several vegetation
and flora surveys conducted along the route. Eleven vegetation associations were described and 321
flora taxa were recorded. Twelve Priority Flora taxa were recorded along the route: Scholtzia sp.
Gunyidi (J.D. Briggs 1721) (Priority 2), Scholtzia sp. Murchison River (A.S. George 7098) (Priority 2),
In 1998, Landcare Services Pty Ltd (1998) conducted a flora and fauna survey from Oakajee to south
of Geraldton. Ten vegetation types were described and a total of 117 flora taxa were recorded. Two
Priority Flora species were recorded: Grevillea erinacea (Priority 3) and Stenanthemum divaricatum
Dames & Moore (1993) conducted a flora and fauna assessment at Oakajee in 1993. Six vegetation
Heaths and shrublands dominated the vegetation, with some minor woodland in river valleys. One
hundred and sixty‐five flora taxa were recorded during the survey, including one Priority Flora
species ‐ Grevillea triloba (Priority 3).
In August 1997 Muir Environmental (1977) conducted a follow‐up survey of the area surveyed by
Dames and Moore (1993), as it was extended to include a buffer zone and quarry sites. The
vegetation of the six terrain types identified by Dames and Moore (1993) was re‐assessed. Two‐
hundred and seventeen taxa were recorded (52 more than in 1993). One confirmed DRF and two
Priority Flora taxa were recorded during this survey: Eucalyptus blaxellii (DRF), Grevillea triloba
(Priority 3), and Verticordia penicillaris (Priority 4). The collection of a hybrid specimen (a cross
between Caladenia hoffmanii (DRF) and Caladenia longicauda) indicates that Caladenia hoffmanii
may have been present in the area.
followed by a threatened flora survey (in 2009) at Oakajee. Twenty‐one quadrats were assessed
during the vegetation and flora survey, and 14 vegetation units were described and mapped at a
scale of 1:40,000. One DRF and 10 Priority Flora were recorded during the surveys (Table B.1,
A biological survey of the Buller River area was conducted by ecologia (2009d, in preparation) in
2009. Five vegetation units at the sub association level were described and mapped. Sixty‐three
flora taxa were recorded, and none of these were DRF or Priority Flora.
An ecological survey was conducted by GHD (2009) for a proposed haul road between Jack Hills and
Weld Range. Twenty‐five quadrats were assessed during the vegetation and flora survey, and 18
vegetation units were described and mapped. Eight Priority Flora taxa were recorded during this
survey (Table B.1, Appendix B).
The Project Area lies predominantly in Beard’s (1976) Murchison region of the Eremaean Botanical
Province. The Murchison region is well known for the dominance of mulga (Acacia aneura)
woodlands, and the extensive flats and plains provide optimum conditions for these woodlands. On
the more favourable soils (plains and valleys) Acacia aneura generally grows in the form of a tree
with a single erect trunk and forms low woodlands. On less favourable soils (hill slopes and ridges) it
takes the form of a shrub producing shrublands/scrublands (Beard, 1976).
Most of the Project Area lies in the Upper Murchison subregion in the Murchison region of the
Eremaean Botanical Province (Beard, 1976). The vegetation of this area is described as:
deterioration and death is common in this area, and there is very little regeneration of the A.
or other Acacia species such as A. victoriae and A. tetragonophylla.
Granite and gneiss hills are generally covered with Acacia aneura (shrub form), and A.
species include Eremophila spathulata and Ptilotus obovatus. The main species at Jack Hills is
support two main species – Acacia aneura and Acacia quadrimarginea – additional species
include Eremophila latrobei, Scaevola spinescens and Ptilotus obovatus. The lower slopes are
covered with Acacia aneura and A. ramulosa var. linophylla.
Sandplain patches consist of Acacia ramulosa var. linophylla scrub, with A. aneura less
commonly. While Eremophila leucophylla, Solanum lasiophyllum and Maireana convexa occur
as understorey shrubs.
Extensive salt flats, along the upper courses of the Murchison, are covered with Atriplex
Downstream of the Murchison, the main vegetation is Acacia species scrub (A. victoriae, A.
A section of the Project Area is situated in the Yalgoo subregion in the Murchison region of the
Eremaean Botanical Province (Beard, 1976). The vegetation associated with this transitional area,
between the Eremaean Botanical Province and the South‐western Botanical Province, is described as:
Still Eremaean in character, but with the increase in rainfall and the shift of climate from
species. The vegetation also becomes lower and denser in a south‐westerly direction.
The plains of the inland portion of this subregion support mixed Acacia species scrub mainly of
scrub, with A. quadrimarginea and A. stereophylla. The sandplains have a rich flora and are
dominated by Acacia ramulosa var. ramulosa and A. murrayana. Low‐lying plains support
Acacia sclerosperma and A. eremaea scrub, with Atriplex and Maireana species.
A small section of the Project Area incorporates the Talisker vegetation system of the Eremaean
Botanical Province. The vegetation of this system is described by Beard & Burns (1976) as:
Sandplain associated with Acacia ramulosa var. ramulosa/Acacia ramulosa var. linophylla
The remaining section lies in the Greenough region of the South‐western Botanical Province,
incorporating the Yuna, Kalbarri, Northampton, Greenough and Mullewa vegetation systems (Beard,
1976; Beard & Burns, 1976). The vegetation of these systems is described as:
Yuna System: the yellow sandplains support scrub heath associations; Acacia‐Casuarina
red soil depressions. Eucalyptus loxophleba and E. loxophleba‐E. salmonophloia woodlands
occur in bottomland soils west of Mullewa. The Greenough River valley is generally covered
with Acacia acuminata scrub and scattered Eucalyptus loxophleba. Salt flat vegetation is
primarily Tecticornia species and other samphires, with some Atriplex vesicaria and Melaleuca
covers most of the area ‐ Acacia rostellifera occurs near the coast, Adenanthos cygnorum,
include Eucalyptus loxophleba, E. eudesmioides and E. dongarraensis.
Northampton System: scrub heath associations occur on mesa tops (laterite and sand); laterite
Dryandra spp., Calothamnus spp., Hakea spp. and Melaleuca spp.; while the sand community
grows taller and more open with Acacia rostellifera, Banksia, Dryandra, Casuarina and
Gastrolobium species. Melaleuca‐Hakea spp. thickets occur on the Jurassic sediments
(generally forming steep scarp slopes) and the two dominant communities are Melaleuca
undulating terrain on granites and granulites, while Allocasuarina campestris thickets occur on
gravelly soils and scattered Eucalyptus camaldulensis along drainage lines.
thickets. Acacia‐Banksia species scrub (dominated by Acacia rostellifera and Banksia
alluvial flats, recent dunes commonly support Acacia ligulata open scrub, while Eucalyptus
vegetation of the dissected terrain is Acacia acuminata scrub with scattered Eucalyptus
ephemerals comprising the ground layer.
The vegetation of the Project Area was mapped as 28 communities by Beard (1976) and Beard &
Burns (1976). These 28 units are described in Table 2.8 and shown in Figure 2.12 to Figure 2.16.
Acacia aneura, Acacia ramulosa var. ramulosa and Acacia ramulosa var. linophylla low
spp. succulent steppe.
Acacia quadrimarginea scrub.
Acacia aneura low woodland with understorey of Acacia ramulosa var. ramulosa,
Acacia ramulosa var. linophylla and Acacia grasbyi.
Mixed Acacia spp. scrub.
Acacia ramulosa var. ramulosa and Acacia ramulosa var. linophylla scrub with Callitris
columellaris and Eucalyptus spp.
scrub with scattered Eucalyptus loxophleba and Casuarina huegeliana.
Eucalyptus loxophleba and Eucalyptus salmonophloia sclerophyll woodland.
Scrub heath coastal association.
Scrub heath inland association.
Acacia ‐ Casuarina spp. thicket with scrub heath inland association.
‘Beard Code’ column refers to vegetation types mapped by Beard (1976) and Beard & Burns (1976).
Proposed Rail Alignment
Proposed Project Area
Unique Map ID: A014
Proposed Project Area
Beard Vegetation of the
Unique Map ID: A015
Proposed Project Area
Beard Vegetation of the
Unique Map ID: A016