Tasmanian Coastal Dunes

In southeastern Tasmania on Bakers Beach facing the Bass Strait the dune vegetation along a study transect could be divided in foredunes dominated by Spinifex hirsutus, new sand with common species such as Pteridium esculentum, older sand largely dominated by Lomandra longifolia and Pteridium esculentum especially in the swales, and swamp forest dominated by Melaleuca ericifolia.

Foredunes and Embryonic Dunes with Spinifex hirsutum
Here Spinifex hirstum forms open-grasslands on the smaller seaward foredunes but this gives way to a rich mixture of composite shrubs (including Helichrysum paralium), scramblers (such as Rhogodia baccata and Tetragonia implexicoma), and Acacia sophorae on the second larger foredunes. Other species found in this zone include Acaena novae-zelandiae, Cakile edentula, Carpobrotus rossii, Leucopogon parviflorus, Oxalis corniculata and Stipa flavescens.

New Sand with Pteridium esculentum
Here Oxalis corniculata and Pteridium esculentum are typically the most common species. Others include various foredune species together with Dichondra repens, Lepidosperma gladiatum and Senecio minimus.

Older Sand with Lomandra longifolia and Pteridium esculentum
Here Lomandra longifolia and Pteridium esculentum dominate the swales together with various small herbs while the ridges have similar vegatation to the the second fordune with scramblers and shrubs. Acacia sophorae can reach heights of up to 2 m. Other species include Acacia echinata, Acrotriche serrulata, Banksia marginata, Coprosma quadrifida, Cymbonotus lawsonianus, Dichelachne crinita, Geranium sessiliflorum, Glycine clandestina, Helichrysum scorpioides, Plantago varia, Primelea humilis and Scleranthus biflorus.

Melaleuca ericifolia Swamp Forest
These species-poor forests at the rear of the dune system can reach heights of up to 10 m. Other species include Acacia verticillata, Bursaria spinosa, Cassytha melantha, Helichrysum dendroideum, Leptospermum lanigerum and Rubus parvifolius.

Tasmanian Alpine Sand Dunes

Associated with Lake Augusta on the Central Plateau of Tasmania there are large parabolic dunes. This is an extremely rare feature of alpine zones and has considerable conservation value. Beyond the foredunes zonation was not particularly strong but the vegetation could be divided in to nine vegetation types. These included Orites revoluta open shrubland, Olearia algida open shrubland, Grevillea australis open shrubland, Richea acerosa-Orites revoluta shrubland, Richea acerosa heath, Helichrysum hookeri heath, Helichrysum hookeri open shrubland, fen and marsupial lawn. However, most of these vegetation types have species in common.

Orites revoluta Open Shrubland
This vegetation, dominated by the Tasmanian endemic Orites revoluta, occurred in areas where fresh sand was being deposited on previously stable areas. Other relatively common species include Acaena novae-zelandiae and Senecio gunnii.  

Olearia algida Open Shrubland
This vegetation, dominated by the Tasmanian endemic Olearia algida, represented one of the foredune communites and characterisic some of the steeper slopes.  With its sand binding abilities it was helping to form and maintain the foredunes. Other relatively common species include Grevillea australis, Helichrysum hookeri and Lissanthe montana.

Grevillea australis Open Shrubland
Occurring on some of the less steep parts of the foredunes, this community also played a role in maintaining the stability of these dunes. Other relatively common species include Asperula gunnii, Carex gaudichaudiana, Leptorhynchos squamatus, Microseris scapigera, Oreomyrrhis ciliata, Restia australis, Velleia montana and the Tasmanian endemic Cyathodes nitida. In fact, this latter species is Central Plateau  endemic mainly confined to dunes.

Richea acerosa-Orites revoluta Shrubland
Occurring on the driest parts of stable dunes this vegetation intergrades with Richea acerosa heath where the water table comes closer to the surface. Both of the dominant species are endemic to Tasmania.  Other relatively common species include Deyeuxia monticola, Epacris gunnii and the Tasmanian endemic Monotoca empetrifolia.

Richea acerosa Heath
Heath dominated by the Tasmanian endemic Richea acerosa occurs on relatively humid, stable dunes where the water table comes close to the surface. Other relatively common species include Craspedia alpina, Empodisma minus, Epacris petrophila, Erigeron pappochromus, Leucopogon pilifer, Lycopodium fastigiatum and the Tasmanian endemic Pimelea pygmaea.

Helichrysum hookeri heath
Confined to stable dunes this community intergrades with the Richea acerosa heath in the more humid areas. Other relatively common species include Carpha alpina, Cotula alpina, Gnaphalium traversii, Hypericum japonicum and Plantago glabrata.  

Helichrysum hookeri open shrubland
This community is a feature of remobilised sand derived from well-dveloped soils. Other species include Brachyscome radicata and Schoenus calyptratus.

This vegetation, which is heavily grazed by marsupials and can have a bowling green-like surface, is characteristic of fertile, shallow, sandy clays. Many of the species found associated with other vegetation types can be found here including the Tasmanian endemic Abrotanella forsteroides.

Marsupial Lawn
Heavily grazed by marsupials, the vegetation is characteristic of deep, less fertile sands.  Typical species include Agrostis venusta, Brachyscome radicata, Gonocarpus micranthus, Hypericum japonicum, Isotoma fluvialis, Ranunculus nanus, Schoenus calyptratus, and Velleia montana.


Chladil, M. A. & Kirkpatrick, J. B. 1989. A transect study of the sand dune vegetation at Bakers Beach, Tasmania. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 123: 287-256.

Pharo, E, J, & Kirkpatrick, J. B. 1994. Vegetation of the alpine dunes at Lake Augusta, Tasmania. Australian Journal of Ecology, 19: 319-227.