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Australian Parks

Cape Arid National Park

Cape Arid National Park

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Cape Arid National Park, situated 731 kilometers southeast of Perth in Western Australia, is a vast and diverse natural wonder. Nestled 120 kilometers east of Esperance, this pristine park unfolds along the southern coast, encompassing the eastern end of the Recherche Archipelago. The park is characterized by its unique geography, featuring prominent landmarks such as Israelite Bay on the eastern side and Duke of Orleans Bay on the western end, with notable coastal features like Cape Arid, Sandy Bight, and Cape Pasley.

History

The European discovery of Cape Arid dates back to 1792 when French Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux explored the area, originally named Cap Aride. In 1802, Matthew Flinders anglicized the name, and the park derived its identity from this prominent feature. Pioneer graziers arrived in the 1870s, leaving behind historical remnants like homestead ruins, dams, and gravesites near Pine Hill and Thomas Fishery. Notably, bay whaling operations were conducted by Thomas Sherratt and John Thomas in the 1860s and 1870s at Barrier Anchorage and Thomas's Fishery, respectively.

In recent times, Cape Arid National Park faced environmental challenges due to bushfires. The 2015 Esperance bushfires significantly impacted the habitat of the Western Ground Parrot, a critically endangered species. The fires destroyed up to 90% of their remaining habitat, prompting concerns about the species' survival. Efforts were made to rescue two parrots from the fire, but unfortunately, they did not survive in captivity.

Environment

Geography

Cape Arid National Park showcases a diverse landscape, featuring sandy beaches, rocky headlands, low granite hills, and the jagged Russell Range to the north, primarily composed of pre-Cambrian quartzite. Tower Peak, the park's highest point within the Russell Range, stands at an elevation of 594 meters. Sand-plains, rich in flora, surround the hill areas. The eastern boundary connects with Nuytsland Nature Reserve, while the northern border meets the Ngadju Indigenous Protected Area.

Fauna

The park boasts a rich variety of flora and fauna, making it a crucial site for birdlife in Western Australia. Over 160 bird species inhabit the park, including endangered and restricted species like the western ground parrot, Australasian bittern, Carnaby's cockatoo, and Cape Barren geese. Fauna diversity includes the western brush wallaby, quenda, southern bush rat, small marsupial predators, reptiles, amphibians, and a rare species of ant, Nothomyrmecia.

Flora

Vegetation in the park mainly thrives on young dune systems, hosting extensive coastal heath, along with yate, banksia, paperbark, and mallee communities. Mount Ragged features orchids, ferns, and a small population of the sticky-tail flower (Anthocersis viscosa).

Trails

Cape Arid National Park offers a network of walk trails catering to various preferences. Notable trails include the Len Otte Nature Trail, Tagon Coastal Trail, Boolenup Walk Trail, and ascents of Mount Ragged and Mount Arid. The Thomas River campsite, accessible by conventional vehicles, provides amenities like barbecues, toilets, and water tanks. More secluded campsites at Mount Ragged, Poison Creek, and Deal Creek are accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles.

In essence, Cape Arid National Park stands as a testament to Western Australia's natural beauty, providing a haven for diverse ecosystems and offering visitors a chance to explore its rich history, unique wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes.

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