The southern gateway to South Australia’s iconic Heysen Trail is located at Cape Jervis. The opening section of the Trail runs adjacent to the coast for approximately 10 kilometres before ascending to the Deep Creek Conservation Park at Blowhole Beach. Along this section walkers experience magnificent views across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island, access to small rocky coves and patches of native scrub.
Significant flora include Eucalyptus porosa and Melaleuca lanceolata. Birds of conservation significance are the Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis), Eastern Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) and the Elegant Parrot (Neophema rubricollis).
Unfortunately, it is also the case that the coastal strip is severely degraded due to soil erosion, the activity of off-road vehicles and infestation by invasive plant species. There is a need to remediate this area to provide an attractive and welcoming experience for walkers that highlights the natural attributes of this area.
The Southern Fleurieu Coastal Action Plan and Conservation Priority Study, 2007 concluded that the beaches and lower slopes of Cape Jervis, Lands End and Fishery Beach were areas of high conservation value and were also facing a high level of threat.
It was identified that the area from Deep Creek CP to Morgans Beach (to the north of Cape Jervis) includes coastal reserves that have been successfully improved by community groups. Actions that would improve connection between vegetation blocks would greatly enhance the value of the area.
The section between Cape Jervis and Fishery Beach is the responsibility of a number of land management agencies including the District Council of Yankalilla, the Coastal Protection Board, community organisations and private land holders. The Council, under the auspices of its Coastal, Estuary and Marine Officer Corey Jackson and others, has made significant improvements including the establishment of an environmental hotspot between Lands End and Fishery Beach.
The gateway section is managed by the Council and the initial section from Cape Jervis to Lands End is managed by the Coastal Protection Board. Maintenance and re-vegetation activities have also been undertaken by group of dedicated volunteers led by Dr Carolyn Schultz, the Cape Jervis Coastal Community Group. COOTS (Conservation of our Threatened Species) a subgroup of the Australia Plant Society, manage the public lands just inland from the Heysen Trail, between Lands End and Fishery Beach.
The Warren Bonython Heysen Trail Foundation has identified the Heysen Trail gateway at Cape Jervis as a focus for greening activity and will allocate volunteer resources and grant funding, where successful, to facilitate this activity.
Biodiversity threats in the area of interest are:
- Western Coastal Wattle (Acacia cyclops)
- Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides)
- Creeping Saltbush (Atriplex prostrata)
- Wild Oat (Avena barbata)
- Perennial Veldt Grass (Ehrharta calycina)
- False Caper (Euphorbia terracina)
- African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum)
- Soursob (Oxalis pescaprae)
- Onion Weed (Asphodelus fistulosus)
- Pincushion (Scabiosa atropurpurea)
- Gazania (Gazania linearis)
- Olive (Olea europaea)
- Blue / sand lupin (Lupinus cosentinii)
- Tufted Honey Flower (Melianthus comosus)
- Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
- Apple of Soddom (Solanum linnaeanum)
The Foundation was established with the objective of raising funds to support the sustainability and integrity of the Heysen Trail and other walking trails in South Australia. Over the last two years, the Foundation has supported greening activities along the Heysen Trail. In coming years, the aim is to extend the Foundation’s involvement in tree planting on other walking trails and activities such as improvements to infrastructure which protect the environment by reducing the impact of the trail in sensitive areas.
Working with volunteers from the Friends of the Heysen Trail, the Foundation has financed the planting of 750 trees along the Heysen Trail at Dutton’s Trough near Worlds End south of Burra. Walkers familiar with the Heysen trail will be aware that this is a particularly barren section of the trail and desperately in need of some shade or shelter. However, as it is on Goyder’s Line, it is also a challenging area to grow trees. This has meant that the Foundation has financed several supplementary waterings to encourage the trees to thrive.
The Foundation has also financed the planting of 600 trees along the Bundaleer Channel where the Heysen Trail crosses Railway Dam Road east of Spalding. Once again the work has been undertaken by volunteers from the Friends of the Heysen Trail and it follows from a previous tree planting at that site. The plantation has progressed to the stage where there is the semblance of a forest which warranted the clean-up of the site with the removal of guards and stakes.
In the coming year, the Foundation is expected to finance work to better protect trees planted by the Friends of the Heysen Trail around Hiskey’s Hut, west of Georgetown. And negotiations are underway to assist in greening the Lavender Trail with tree planting along the trail near Point Pass.
The Foundation continues to search for other opportunities to improve the environment of walking trails in South Australia and welcomes any suggestions of necessary works.