Farewell to Ocean Reef Bushland¦GollyWalk

NS Branch Golly Walk – June 2020

It was great to be able to recommence our monthly Golly Walks with a bracing walk at Ocean Reef that was good for our physical and mental well-being. The downside was, we were there to view the bushland and limestone cliffs that are to be destroyed to make way for a marina and residential development at Ocean Reef. Although WA had begun easing COVID-19 restrictions, we limited the walks to ten per group with starting times of 8.30am and 10.30am.

With over a hundred native plants, dozens of bird species, hundreds of insects, more than a dozen reptiles, quendas and possibly echidnas, the bush and coast contain some of the highest biodiversity in the State. However, this did not stop DWER from issuing two Clearing Permits in late June as a prelude to a much greater clearing of 42 ha (24 ha being bush, 19 of which had been excised from Bush Forever site 325). While August-October is the best time to walk through the area we took the opportunity to visit before access is denied.

Our first stop was to examine the many plants growing at the base and on top of a limestone hill. Amongst the 20+ species were the southernmost recorded specimens of the Yanchep Rose (Diplolaena angustifolia). This species has a narrower leaf than its southern cousin.

Our first stop was to examine the many plants growing at the base and on top of a limestone hill. Amongst the 20+ species were the southernmost recorded specimens of the Yanchep Rose (Diplolaena angustifolia). This species has a narrower leaf than its southern cousin.

Image: Don Poynton

The top of the hill gave us an opportunity to compare the two species of Leucopogons that are very common at Ocean Reef and make an outstanding display when flowering. Styphelia insularis (formerly Leucopogon insularis), which has short, spikey leaves, had just finished flowering while Leucopogon parviflorus which has longer and narrower leaf without a spike, will not flower before August. Leptomeria preissiana, a hemi-parasite was one of the plants many were not familiar with.


The second stop was to examine the only recorded example of the hybrid grevillea, Grevillea sp. Ocean Reef. DNA analysis confirmed the guess that the specimen was a cross between the vigorous and prickly G. vestita and the softer G. crithmifolia. Since first being recorded in the 1990s, what is believed to be a single plant, has spread to cover over half a hectare.

On the way to examine the limestone cliffs and their unique flora we passed numerous quandongs (Santalum acuminatum) some being large trees with canopies over five metres across. Unfortunately these will be amongst the first vegetation to be cleared. We also saw the only recorded patch of Coastal Hop-bush (Dodonaea aptera) in the City of Joondalup. As we walked back along the one kilometre of cliff face that will be dozed and used to reclaim land over WA’s most prolific abalone reef, we saw samphires and the Native Grape (Nitraria billardierei). These, along with the quandongs and Coastal Ground Berry were just a small part of the foodstuffs gathered and hunted in the area by the Indigenous people for thousands of years.

Native Grape (Nitraria billardierei) growing on cliffs that will be destroyed to reclaim land for housing over the partly submerged reef just visible as darker colour under the shallow water. Image: Don Poynton

Ian Abbott kept a bird list (excluding sea birds) which resulted in 18 species: Spotted Scrubwren, Magpie, Welcome Swallow, Magpie-lark, Singing Honeyeater, Little Corella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Silvereye, White-cheeked Honeyeater (performing aerial flight display), Raven, Spotted Dove, Laughing Dove, Willie Wagtail, Galah, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Fairy-wren (1 adult fully-coloured male), Nankeen Kestrel and Grey Fan-tail.

After the walk, the common cry was, GOLLY, how can they do this!

Don Poynton