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Biodiversity Blitz – Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Situated on the southernmost tip of The Yorke Peninsula, South Australia lies Innes National Park, famed for its rich and diverse wildlife.

The Yorke Peninsula stretches into the Southern Ocean at the apex of The Spencer Gulf, Gulf of St Vincent and Investigator Strait.

3 hours from Adelaide (by car) will be sufficient time to get to Marion Bay at the far south of The Yorke Peninsula, however, you will need to allow substantially more time if other attractions beckon.

The most direct route is north from Adelaide to Port Wakefield along National Route 1 and then turn south on B86.

Whilst not particularly a wine region, The Yorke Peninsula offers the explorer an abundance of attractions and sightseeing.

The Aboriginal Narungga people have lived on Yorke Peninsula for many thousands of years. Their lives revolved around the rules laid down in their Dreaming. They knew the land intimately – its physical features, animal and plant life and water resources. The Narungga nation was made up of four clans, the Kurnara in the north of the peninsula, Windera in the east, Wari in the west, and Dilpa in the south.

Today, the Narungga people continue to maintain strong cultural links to the region.

European colonisation of the Innes area began in 1847 with land occupied for sheep grazing near Cape Spencer. Small scale cropping occurred increasingly throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Innes National Park takes its name from William Innes, who discovered commercial quantities of gypsum in the area in the early 1900s. In 1913 he set up the mining township of Inneston where gypsum was produced until 1930. During the boom phase the township boasted a population of around 200 people. Although isolated, Inneston was completely self-sufficient, having its own school, post office, bakery, general store and tennis court. The Stenhouse Bay jetty was built to enable ships to berth and load the bagged gypsum.

Lying on the ocean bed off the coast of Yorke Peninsula and Innes National Park are the remains of around 40 shipwrecks. Many fell victim to the unpredictable storms that frequent the area.

The Investigator Strait Shipwreck Trail along the coast of Innes tells a tale of the tragedy, bravery and the final agonising moments before these ships sank beneath the waves.

Cape Spencer and West Cape have operational lighthouses to aid in the safe navigation of the hazardous waters surrounding the park. Both historic lighthouses can be viewed along walking trails.

Biodiversity Blitz Flora

Around 333 native plants have been recorded in the Innes National Park, 115 of which are of conservation significance, making up a diverse range of vegetation associations and wildlife habitats. Innes National Park turns into a rich carpet of colour during the spring months when wildflowers and shrubs come into bloom.

Biodiversity Blitz Fauna

Innes National Park is home to approximately 140 species of birds. Many of these species are of conservation significance, being listed as rare, endangered or vulnerable. The Tammar Wallaby was once widespread across Yorke Peninsula. However, by the late 1920s they had disappeared from their entire former range. Tammar Wallabies were reintroduced to Innes National Park in 2004.

Biodiversity Blitz Scenery

Over a period of thousands of years the forces of storm and wave action have eroded the crumbling cliffs along the coastline, exposing layers of our geological history. Innes National Park is home to very rare rock-like formations known as stromatolites. There are only three places in the world where they are known to currently exist in their present form.

Biodiversity Blitz People

The Friends of Innes National Park is a community-based group of volunteers who assist park staff to protect the natural and historic features of the park. Their work includes collecting seed, plant propagation, tree planting, controlling weeds, maintaining walking trails, bird surveys and restoration of heritage buildings. Further information on Friends of Innes is available at the visitor centre.

The Biodiversity Blitz was arranged by The Biodiversity and Endangered Species Team (BEST) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and aimed to survey and monitor the threatened species in the Southern Yorke Peninsula. The activities included:-

• Beach assessments for Hooded Plover and Fairy Tern.

• Control of Weeds in Western Whipbird (vulnerable) habitat.

Bird, reptile, small mammal, bat and vegetation surveys in Mallee habitat scheduled for prescribed burning

• Workshops including Indigenous cultural awareness.

• Identification of Bat Calls.

• Heritage works and support of Friends of Innes National Park.

• Active monitoring of micro-bats.

• Spotlight and population monitoring for the reintroduced Mainland Tammar Wallaby (extinct in the wild).

Tammar Wallaby speaker, night activity, kid activities, trivial night and more.

The event provided an introduction to the nature and conservation work being carried out in Northern and Yorke Region of South Australia and the areas of Stenhouse and Marion Bay provide a fantastic location for exploring the surrounding areas; notably, Shell Beach, Inneston Historic Township, Cape Spencer Lighthouse and the multiple locations which offer superb fishing all year around.

If you would like to find out more about BEST, please click here

If you would like to find out more about the birds of  The Yorke Peninsula including The Hooded Plover, please click here

If you would like to download a brochure about Innes National Park, please click here