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Samphire Discovery Trail

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by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published January 2nd 2015
Make your own self-guided discovery of mangroves
A short detour from the Port Wakefield Road onto the Middle Beach Road leads visitors to the start of the Samphire Discovery Trail. This trail provides a unique opportunity to walk through three distinct coastal habitats with mangrove forests, samphire flats and intertidal seagrass meadows on the sand and mud flats in the area. Visitors and students are able to experience a range of habitats and become aware of the effects human activities have on natural systems.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Trail starts behind Kiosk - Steve Hudson

The main part of the Trail is a self guided walk that takes visitors on a journey of discovery through a mangrove and samphire ecosystem. It starts from behind the kiosk, and follows an embankment alongside a tidal creek before crossing on to a 100m boardwalk, then running over an ancient dune system to a viewing platform, which overlooks the tidal creek.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Information Shelter - Steve Hudson

Along the way there are nine interpretive signs to introduce and inform walkers to the fascinating tidal world of Middle Beach. At the first stop is a welcome to visitors with a revelations about what they will see on their meandering journey. Visitors are also advised that birdlife and noise don't co-habitat together too well, so to observe the birdlife it is best to keep as quiet as possible for the duration of the trail.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Interpretive Signs - Steve Hudson

The second stop, inside the large Information Shelter, looks at food chains, revealing that some animals graze directly on the energy rich leaves of coastal plants, while other animals, such as crabs, eat leaves after they have started to decompose. The mangroves are also an important habitat for worms, shrimps and snails, which feed on decayed leaves.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Smooth and wide trail - Steve Hudson

As visitors make their way onto the boardwalk across a bridge over the tidal creek, interpretive signs detail the importance of tides and the samphire flats, which, when covered by the rising tide, are important feeding areas for fish, crustaceans and birds. Taking this walk at high tide provides a chance to watch the feeding action as it takes place.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Bridge over creek - Steve Hudson

Towards the end of the boardwalk, the signs explain the grey mangrove, which grows between 3.5m and 5m high. It is South Australia's only species of mangrove and has adapted to thrive in saltwater. The soil in which they grow lacks oxygen, so they breathe through aerial roots called pneumatophores. The pencil-shaped roots can be seen pushing up through the mud. The mangroves flower during mid-to-late summer and have a small orange flower.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Samphires - Steve Hudson

The trail continues along an area known as a chenier ridge - the remains of an ancient sand dune deposited 4000 to 6000 years ago. As the mangroves became established on the mudflats, the chenier became stranded and are protected from any further wave action. The interpretive signs through this section of the walk look at a range of wildlife, including wading birds, such as the white faced heron and the white ibis, while the second sign examines bush tucker, such as the nitre bush and saltbush.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Bush Tucker - Steve Hudson

The trail then reaches the viewing platform above the tidal creek, offering excellent views of the tidal creek system and the mangroves.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Viewing Platform - Steve Hudson

The trail is 500m long (1km return) and the signage indicates that it is open daily from 9am-5pm following the payment of a small $2 donation to the kiosk operator for its upkeep. The Trail is in very good condition, although it does appear as though there were some areas that were requiring some maintenance including some of the signs which were suffering a bit of sun damage.

Samphire Discovery Trail
Tidal Creek - Steve Hudson

Overall the Trail was very informative, and provided an opportunity to experience this diverse eco-system, and provided a break in the extended journey along Port Wakefield Road. The Trail is located 9km along the Middle Beach Road at Middle Beach, just behind the Kiosk.
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Why? To see how these things grow
When: Any time
Where: Middle Beach Road, Middle Beach, South Australia
Cost: $2 donation
Your Comment
Looks like it might be worth the detour when the kids get a little grumpy on the long drive to the Peninsula
by Stefano (score: 2|215) 2248 days ago
Dont bother to go!!!!! the kiosk is closed......the trail is over run with the saltbush plants and weeds
by theke (score: 0|2) 2227 days ago
Hi Steve

Thanks for the information about the trail. Just a quick note. Your photo captioned 'Samphires' is actually an Exocarpos syrticola or Coastal ballart (native).


by g8tor (score: 0|2) 2177 days ago
After visiting today I noticed that this trail is now only open on Saturday & Sunday's from 10am
by nmohring (score: 1|10) 2091 days ago
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