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Tennyson Dunes

Home > Adelaide > Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Cecelia (subscribe)
Cecelia's articles are illustrated by Allan who enjoys photography. Cecelia is also the author of: "Silver Springtime", "All for Love", "Mystic Evermore" and the new release: "Faith and Love". https://creativearts2009-picturefiles.blogspot.com/
Published March 26th 2017
View vegetation succession in action on the Dunes
The Adelaide plains coastline was once covered in dunes that stretched from Brighton all the way along to tip of Lefevre Peninsula. Unfortunately, housing developments have been allowed to encroach upon the land almost to the beach in some areas. Tennyson Dunes remains one of the few relatively undeveloped natural areas along the coast.

Tennyson Dunes, West Lakes, walking, ecology
Information sign at one of the entrances - Photo By Allan


The Tennyson Dunes are located along Military Road in the minor suburb of Tennyson, adjacent to West Lakes. They are a network of walking trails and access points to the beach. Looking back from high points along Tennyson Dunes, you can see the buildings of West Lakes' residential area and township.

The dunes are a natural ecosystem and habitat for a number of birds, insects and plants. Surveys have found sixteen endangered plant species and several more species so rare that they only grow in this area. This is possibly the oldest dune system existing around the Adelaide area, and is also boasts the highest sand dunes.

Tennyson Dunes, West Lakes, walking, ecology
Overview of the dunes - Photo by Allan


A walk from the beach to the road will reveal an ecological "succession" as only hardy, arid-adapted, salt tolerant plants can grow at first, and as the distance from the beach continues and the plant roots begin to anchor the sand, a greater variety of plants begin to grow. Rare plant species include: Cup Wattle (Acacia cupularis), Sea Box (Alyxia buxifolia), Woolly Mat-rush (Lomandra leucocephala ssp. robusta), Squat Picris (Picris squarrosa ) and Cushion Fanflower (Scaevola crassifolia).

The dunes are also home to the endangered Bitterbush Blue Butterfly, the regionally threatened Painted Dragon, and the Striated Worm Lizard. Brown snakes also live in the dunes, but generally do not approach people. Snakes help control pest animals such as rats which would upset the natural ecology of the dune system.

Bird species found at Tennyson include: Hooded Plovers, Red Capped Plovers, Nankeen Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite. Silver Eyes, Willie Wagtails, Red-wattle Birds and Singing Honeyeaters are also found among the dunes.

Please stay on the path and keep your dog on a leash as you enjoy walking in this area.

Tennyson Dunes, West Lakes, walking, ecology
Dune vegetation - Photo by Allan


Zones of succession:

Zone A – a bird drops a seed or a weed is blown on the wind, and grasses and creepers begin to take root in the sand. Although all dune vegetation began in this way, the process is most evident on edge of the dunes where they join the beach. Here the sea and wind continue to disrupt regular plant growth. These dunes are sometimes called incipient fore-dunes.

Zone 1 – The grass, spinifex and creepers begin to hold the sand down. This is usually evident as you walk back from the ocean into the dunes. These dunes are sometimes called fore-dunes and the plants growing on these dunes are called primary plants.(Major species include: Spinifex hirsutus, Olearia axillaris & Atriplex cinereal)

Zone 2 – Nutrients build up in the sand and shrubs and short-lived small trees begin to grow. These dunes are sometimes referred to as Mid-dunes or hind-dunes and the plants there are known as secondary species. (Distinctive species include: Olearia axillaris, & Rhagodia candolleana)

Zone 3: - As the soil becomes more stable, longer lived and full sized trees begin to grow, as well as some undergrowth. These plants are known as tertiary species and the area in which they grow may be known as back-dunes, eventually transitioning with coastal developments. (Distinctive species include: Olearia axillaris, Leucopogon parviflorus & Nitraria billardierei)

References:
1.Charlessturt.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Vegetation_Management_Plan_-_Tennyson.pdf
2.Tennyson.org.au/

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Why? One of the few relatively undeveloped natural areas along the coast
Where: Military Road, Tennyson
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