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Porongurup National Park, Mount Barker Porongurup Rd, Mount Barker, WA, Australia

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List National Heritage List
Class Natural
Legal Status Listed place (04/08/2009)
Place ID 105982
Place File No 5/01/081/0035
Summary Statement of Significance
The Porongurup National Park is a place of exceptional biological and ecological significance. The Park has one of the richest concentrations of plant species in Australia with more than 700 native plant species within the park of 2,621 hectares. The place is also highly endemic for a wide array of plant species, and represents an important remnant of the rich flora of south west Western Australia in a largely cleared agricultural landscape. Examples of plant groups which contribute to this outstanding richness and endemism include: heaths (Epacridaceae) especially beard-heaths (Leucopogon); peas (Fabaceae) notably flame-peas (Chorizema) and also bitter-peas (Daviesia and Bossiaea), and poison-peas (Gastrolobium); native myrtles (Myrtaceae); pimeleas (Thymelaeaceae), notably rice flowers (Pimelea); sundews and pitcher plants (Nepenthales); bloodroots, conostyles, kangaroo paws and their allies (Haemodorales); and banksias and grevilleas (Proteales). It is also important for richness in lilies, orchids and allies (Liliales), notably native lilies (Anthericaceae), irises and allies (Iridaceae), and orchids (Orchidaceae).
 
The Porongurup Range has acted as a refuge for invertebrate species. The granite outcrops of the Park provide damp refuges for Gondwanan relictual species, which are more closely related to groups in mountainous areas of eastern Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and other Gondwanan continents, than to the surrounding lowlands in the region. The Porongurup National Park is significant at a national scale for endemism and richness in spiders, in particular primitive trapdoor spiders (mygalomorphs). These have a Gondwanan distribution, for example some genera have a restricted distribution in Australia, but are also found in southern Africa, and are thought to be a relict of Jurassic times when Africa was joined to Australia 140 million years ago.
 
Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
The south-west of Western Australia is one of only 34 internationally significant hotspots for biodiversity (Myers et al. 2000), and the Porongurup National Park is an important remnant of the flora of the south-west, with exceptional richness and endemism of species, particularly plant species. A minimum of 700 vascular plant species have been recorded within the park of 2,621 hectares, indicating a high concentration of species. (Keighery 1993, CALM 1999, ANHAT 2008). The place is one of the richest and highly endemic areas in Australia for a wide array of plant species including heaths (Epacridaceae) especially beard-heaths (Leucopogon); peas (Fabaceae) notably flame-peas (Chorizema) and also bitter-peas (Daviesia and Bossiaea), and poison-peas (Gastrolobium); native myrtles (Myrtaceae); pimeleas (Thymelaeaceae), notably rice flowers (Pimelea); sundews and pitcher plants (Nepenthales); bloodroots, conostyles, kangaroo paws and their allies (Haemodorales); and banksias and grevilleas (Proteales). It is also important for richness in lilies, orchids and allies (Liliales), notably native lilies (Anthericaceae), irises and allies (Iridaceae), orchids (Orchidaceae), and flax-lilies and allies (Phormiaceae) (Keighery 1993, ANHAT 2008).
 
The granite outcrops of the Porongurup NP provide damp refuges for Gondwanan relictual species. The Porongurup NP is significant at a national scale for endemism and richness in spiders, in particular primitive trapdoor spiders (Mygalomorphae), including trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae) brushless-legged trapdoor spiders (Migidae), two-doored trapdoor spiders (Actinopodidae), and funnel-web spiders (Nemesiidae). These have a gondwanan distribution, for example genera of the Migidae family have a restricted distribution in Australia, but are also found in southern Africa, and are thought to be a relict of Jurassic times when Africa was joined to Australia 140 million years ago (Main 1993, ANHAT 2008).
Description
 
The Porongurup Range is spectacular in the surrounding landscape, its massive granite domes rising dramatically from the plains. This rugged forest ‘island’ contrasts with the largely cleared surrounding countryside and agricultural land patterns. The Porongurup National Park encompasses the majority of the Porongurup Range. Birdwatchers, photographers, botanists and wildflower enthusiasts are attracted to the Porongurup National Park by the beauty and diversity of the landforms and wildlife. The proximity to urban centres in the southwest including Albany and Mt Barker also makes it a popular destination for visitors.
 
The Porongurup National Park is located in the Shire of Plantagenet, 35 kilometres north of Albany in the south of Western Australia. The Park covers an area of about 2,621 hectares although the range itself is 3,200 hectares in size. The granite domes of the Porongurup Range are clearly visible from the coast around 30 kilometres to the south, as well as further inland from the Stirling Range 25 kilometres to the north. The Porongurup Range is 12 kilometres long and three kilometres wide, with the highest point of 670m at Devil’s Slide. Other summits include Marmabup, Wall’s Summit and the Rock of Gibraltar at the western end of the range and Morgan’s View, Nancy Peak and Twin Peaks in the centre.
 
The Porongurup National Park lies within the traditional lands of the Minang group of the Nyungar people (Green 1984; South Australian Museum 2006). Although the importance of the Porongurups in Nyungar cosmology is documented (Colbung & Montrose 1994), neither the Porongurup National Park nor Stirling Range National Park has been subject to a systematic archaeological survey (CALM, 1999). However, accounts of Minang society (Hallam 1975; Meagher 1974; Anderson 1984) indicate such sites are likely to occur in the area.
 
The Porongurup National Park is the largest inland remnant between the coast and the Stirling Range and one of the largest granite massifs in Western Australia (Beard 1981). It is also among the oldest mountain ranges in the world. It owes its formation to the massive tectonic forces that have shaped the southern and western coasts of Australia. The range formed about 1,184 million years ago, the likely result of a collision between the Australian and Antarctic landmasses (Black et al 1992, Abbott 1980). It is representative of the Archaean plateau of Western Australia. The range consists of gneisses and granites formed of porphyritic biotite granite and adamellite. Over time the softer sediments surrounding the granite have eroded, forming the peaks, domes and ravines visible today. Outcropping granite rocks on the south coast of Western Australia are characterised generally by diverse and endemic plant species, and the diversity of microhabitats has enabled the persistence of species beyond their main range in the face of climatic fluctuations (Hopper et al. 1997).
 
At various times the Porongurup Range has been isolated as a true island, most recently during the Eocene period (55 million years ago) when the sea reached as far as the Stirling Range (Olver 1998). Evidence for this can be found in bands of laterite which are located throughout the south-west of Western Australia. Areas of deep sand similar to that found to the north and east of the range are also evident.
 
The Porongurup Range has a Mediterranean climate with cool to mild winters and warm, sunny summers (CALM 1999). Conditions become cooler and more humid higher up in the range. Typically, the northern slopes of the range receive 840mm of rainfall whereas the windward, southern slopes receive 900-1000mm (Olver 1998). Most rainfall is received between May and October although at times, occasional snow may fall on the taller peaks for short periods during winter and spring. Most drainage lines flow north or south, with Bolganup Creek and Cockatoo Creek the only significant creeks.
 
The Plantagenet Shire is among the most extensively cleared shires in South-Western Western Australia (Griffin 1995). Only two small areas of uncleared land abut the boundary of the Porongurup National Park. Wheat-growing, grazing, forestry and more recently vineyards have altered the appearance of the areas adjoining the park and have had an impact on the plants and animals that live there.
 
The Porongurup Range possesses a rich floral diversity. Researchers have identified 822 vascular plant taxa comprising 709 natives and 113 weeds (Keighery 1999). The majority of plant species can be found in the laterite soils of the lower slopes. The largest families are the Cyperaceae (31 natives, 2 exotics), Orchidaceae (57 natives, 1 exotic), Poaceae (17 natives, 17 exotics), Asteraceae (38 natives, 16 exotics), Epacridaceae (31 natives), Mimosaceae (21 natives), Myrtaceae (44 natives), Papilionaceae (47 natives, 11 exotics) and the Proteaceae (52 natives) (Keighery 1999). There are five species and five sub-species endemic to the Porongurup Range including the EPBC listed Villarsia calthifolia and Apium prostratum subsp. Porongurup Range (CALM 1999, Keighery 1999). Five species are confined to the boundary of the National Park – Brachysema subcordatum, Hibbertia bracteosa, Billardiera granulata, Apium prostratum ssp. nov and Villarsia calthifolia (Keighery 1989). In addition, at least 26 species occur at the inland margin of their ranges (CALM 1999).
 
The Porongurup Range has been recognised by Beard (1979) as a separate vegetation system from other vegetation systems in the south-west – the Porongurup System (CALM 1999). The system is characterised by bare massive domes surrounded by karri forest.
 
There are four major plant communities in the Porongurup National Park – tall open forest (wet sclerophyll); open forest (dry sclerophyll); lithic complex (granite outcrops); and low open woodland. Karri forest dominates the tall open forest area, where the deep red soil known as karri loam and the high rainfall sustains the population (Beard 1981, NatureBase 2007). The karri forest is believed to have survived as a disjunct population in the Porongurup Range for over 5,000 years and is floristically different from the main areas of karri forest some 50 kilometres to the south-west (Barrett 1996, CALM 1999).
 
The open forest, located on the lower slopes in sandy, duplex or lateritic soils, is dominated by jarrah and marri trees. The main understorey species in this area includes wattle (Acacia leioderma), beard heath (Leucopogon revolutus) guinea flower (Hibbertia spp.) bitter pea (Bossiaea linophylla) and grass trees (Xanthorrhoea preissii) (Abbott 1982). At levels near 300m, where drainage is hindered, the open forest changes to open scrub dominated by banksias (Banksia littoralis), native myrtles (Agonis theiformis and Astartea fascicularis) and Kunzea recurva (Abbott 1982).
 
Along the rock rills and glades of the granite outcrops, scrublands, sedges and herbs dominate (Smith 1962). Most of the species endemic to the Porongurup Range are found in these areas. Granite outcrops in the South West Botanical Province, of which the Porongurup Range is the largest, support the highest levels of plant diversity, compared with any other granite outcrop in Western Australia (Hopper 1997).
 
A swamp dominated by Melaleuca preissiana is located on the western margin of the National Park and extends beyond the boundary. Minor communities including mallee heath, Eucalyptus tetragona and small areas of E. decipiens grow along Millinup Road. Higher up in the Porongurup Range regular cloud and fog cover provide an ideal environment for lichen, mosses and small flowering plants. Fifteen species of lichen and 300 species of fungi have been recorded in the Porongurup National Park (Herford 1996).
 
The varied topography of the Porongurup Range provides habitat for a wide variety of vertebrate species. The mammal species in the National Park include the western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecular), pygmy possum (Cercartetus concinnus), mardo (or yellow-footed antechinus – Antechinus flavipes leucogaster), mooti (or bush rat – Rattus fuscipes fuscipes), quenda (or southern brown bandicoot – Isoodon obesulus fusciventer) and honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus). The honey possum is the only representative of the family Tarsipedidae, and is found only in the coastal plain heaths of south-west Western Australia (Olver 1998, Herford 1996). Seventy-one bird species including the red-eared firetail (Emblema oculata) and Baudin’s black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) are also found in the park (Herford 1996). In addition, at least 17 reptile species are known to inhabit the park including King’s skink (Egernia kingii), the southern heath monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) and the marbled gecko (Phyllodactylus marmoratus) (Herford 1996). Several tree frog and southern frog species are also evident (Herford 1996).
 
A number of vertebrate species are listed under federal and state legislation as vulnerable or in need of special protection. The western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus occidentalis), crested shrike tit (Falcunculus frontatus whitei) and Baudin’s black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) are all recorded on the EPBC list of threatened flora and fauna species (EPBC Act 1999). Another listed species, the Noisy Scrub-bird was released into the Porongurup National Park in July and August 2006 as part of a translocation program.
 
The cool, wet mountain gullies of the Porongurup Range provide a refuge for a diversity of invertebrate species. A number of species have strong Gondwanan affinities, including the endemic trapdoor spider (Neohomogona bolganupensis), land snails (Bothriembryon spp.) and giant earthworm (Megacolex sp.) (Olver 1998, Herford 1996). Other species like the social crab spider (Diaea socialis) have outlying populations in the range (Olver 1998). Many of the relict species present in the Porongurup Range and in neighbouring Stirling Range are more closely related to invertebrate species found in mountainous areas of eastern Australia or on other Gondwanan continents than to the drier, low-lying areas surrounding the two ranges (Olver 1998). Other relict species found in the Porongurup Range include velvet worms (Oncophora), and an undescribed carnivorous snail (Paryphantidae sp). Land snails in particular, are an important indicator species of areas of moist refugia over long periods.
 
The Porongurup Range has the highest species richness and greatest abundance of spiders compared with other mountainous sites in south-west Western Australia. Twenty-seven species are found in the Porongurup Range compared with 26 from Bluff Knoll and 22 species from Mt Lindesay, both located in the Stirling Range National Park (Barrett 1996).
 
The spectacular seasonal wildflowers and the variety of outdoor activities draw thousands of tourists to the Porongurup National Park each year. Its conservation and management has strong support from among the local and wider community.
 
History
 
The Porongurup National Park lies within the traditional lands of the Minang group of the Nyungar people (Green 1984; South Australian Museum 2006). They feature in Nyungar cosmological accounts of the beginning of the world. It was here that different forms of life emerged from the earth and began to grow and move about (Colbung & Montrose 1994). Borongah, local Nyungar peoples’ totem beings first walked the earth during the 'Dreamtime', sometimes in the shape of human beings but not always. As Borongah walked the earth, they left marks of their travels resulting in the contours of the earth. Borongah and Waugal, the Rainbow Snake, made the shape of the earth and all its natural features (Colbung & Montrose 1994).
 
Traditionally, Minang Nyungar people followed a pattern of seasonal movement between the coast and the interior around the area of what is now the Porongurup National Park. While on the coast during the warmer months they built temporary homes from available material, including grass trees, bark, and branches. During April and September, groups travelled inland to each group’s respective territory to avoid the heavy coastal rains and damp conditions and exploit winter resources such as roots, tubers, kangaroos, and possums (Hallam 1975; Meagher 1974; Anderson 1984).
 
First contact between Europeans and the Minang Nyungar people was in 1801 when Matthew Flinders visited what is now King George Sound. Friendly relations were established as was the case when Captain Nicolas Baudin visited the area in 1803 and when Admiral Phillip Parker King stopped at King George Sound in 1818 and 1821 (Green 1984).
 
In December 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer arrived at King George Sound aboard the Amity, and established a military garrison for the British colony. Lockyer established good relations with Nyungar, which were maintained over the next ten years. However, the development of the Albany settlement led to conflict over land and access to resources and these harmonious relations began to deteriorate (Green 1984).
 
In June 1828, Captain Joseph Wakefield led an expedition inland to map the Kalgan River and explore the mountains called Purrengorup. Wakefield’s party, led by Aboriginal guides, Mokare and Nankina ascended the hill on the eastern side of the range, and enjoyed clear views to Corjernurruf (Stirling Ranges) (Mulvaney & Green 1992; Herford & Burchell 1996).
 
The Porongurup Range attracted the attention of early European settlers at King George Sound because of the richer green foliage of the karri contrasting with the surrounding country. The first pastoral lease to include the Range was taken out by John McKail in 1859. Logging of karri and jarrah commenced in the early 1900s and the Porongurup area once supported several timber mills. The Bolganup Homestead and Karribank were opened as guest houses in the 1920s.
 
The Porongurup Range was gazetted as a national park in 1925. By the 1930s it was a leading tourist destination. Historical sites within the Park include The Old Farm, Waddy’s Hut, and the ruins of the old Mira Flores homestead (CALM 1999).

Condition and Integrity
 
The Porongurup National Park is the largest inland remnant between the Albany coastline and the Stirling Range. The overall condition and integrity of the Porongurup Range is relatively good, despite selective logging which began in the late nineteenth century and only ended in the 1960s. Most of the area surrounding the park has been extensively cleared for agriculture.
 
Fire has devastated areas of the Porongurup Range a number of times in the last century (CALM 1999). A severe fire spread into the park in March 1966, seriously damaging many mature karri trees. The karri forest and the granite outcrop communities, where most endemic species grow, are particularly sensitive to fire, having evolved without the presence of frequent fire (CALM 1999). Young karri trees need to be over 20 metres tall before being able to sustain even low intensity fires. An integrated approach to fire management has been introduced to reduce fuel in the jarrah-marri forest but maintain the karri forest as a ‘no burn’ block. In February 2007 approximately 2500 hectares of the National Park were burnt in a bushfire, resulting in a significant loss of habitat for many species including the ringtail possum, quenda, Moggridgea (trapdoor spider) and other invertebrates. However, there has been widespread regeneration, and good recovery of flora species that can germinate from the seed bank in the soil (Naturebase 2007).
 
Weeds present a significant challenge for park management with 113 species documented in the National Park (Keighery 1999). The incorporation of farmland into the park boundary, good soils, and clearing have all hastened the spread and distribution of weed species (CALM 1999). Dieback disease, caused by the soil-born fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi, is present in the Jarrah forest/woodland community on the lower slopes of the range, however, it is less widespread than Armillaria luteobubalina, a native fungus (CALM 1999).
 
Feral foxes, feral cats, and the domestic dog have adversely affected native fauna populations, and are thought to have contributed directly to the decline of numerous species including the numbat, tammar wallaby and ringtail possum (CALM 1999). The European rabbit, house mouse, black rat, and feral bees are also present in the park (CALM 1999). Unconfirmed reports also indicate that feral goats and pigs live within the park boundary.
 
The Porongurup National Park offers a wide range of facilities including walking tracks and roads, carparks and picnic areas. The park is actively managed by a park ranger based on site.
 
This condition statement is taken primarily from the Stirling Range and Porongurup National Parks Management Plan (CALM 1999).
 
Location
About 2620ha, 15km east of Mount Barker.
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Report Produced  Thu Aug 28 04:39:38 2014