GOLLY, thirteen might be unlucky for some, but for the thirteen members and visitors who joined us at Allen Park Bushland, Swanbourne it was just the opposite. We were very fortunate to have passionate and skilful guides, Joan and Rob Sharpe, as our leaders. Both are long time members of the Friends of Allen Park Bushland and of course, energetic members of the Nats club.
Before setting off on our walk, Joan explained how the bushland served as a vital corridor between other green areas and some of it had only been saved from development through fierce resistance by local residents.
Our first stop was not to look at bushland, but Tom Collins House, which was relocated in the 1990s when a controversial extension of West Coast Highway was pushed through the middle of Swanbourne. Tom Collins was the pseudonym used by writer Joseph Furphy, author of the Australian classic Such is Life.
The 8.4 ha of bushland is mainly located on Quindalup Dunes with a small amount on Spearwood Dunes, which means a mixed top storey of over 300 Tuarts, fewer Marri, Peppermints and some scattered Rottnest Island Pines.
Our next task was to climb to the top of Melon Hill, the apex of a very large dune in the Quindalup Dune system. Along the way, we noticed a typical assemblage of coastal plants including Templetonia retusa, Olearia axillaris, Lepidosperma gladiatum, Acanthocarpus preissii, Myoporum insulare and Hardenbergia comptoniana.
As we crossed over into the Cottesloe soil of the Spearwood dunes we found Banksia sessilis, Grevillea crithmifolia, Lechenaultia linaroides, Calothamnus quadrifidus and Jacksonia sternbergia. We also heard that the introduced Geraldton Wax was being gradually replaced with the local Wembley Wax.
Along another path, we found a patch of Native Pellitory (Parietaria debilis) with a number of small black caterpillars already starting to fold the leaves into shelters. These caterpillars will eventually turn into the Yellow Admiral butterfly (Vanessa itea).
Our walk ended at Swanbourne Beach but the promised showers finally arrived and stopped us from spending time looking at the Friends group’s revegetation project.
The overcast weather may also have accounted for the low bird count: only fifteen species, including the White-winged Fairywren (Malurus leucopterus).