Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Bribie Island bursts into spring colour

Beautiful flowers are appearing in the bush once more, thanks to the increasing length of our daylight hours heading into spring.

Last weekend, I sought out blossoms at two of my favourite places from the past year, Dawn Road Reserve at Albany Creek, and Bribie Island National Park at Woorim.

Dawn Road patron Trina McLellan has written a wonderful account of what we found together at Albany Creek on Saturday, that you can read here.

Sunday's Bribie adventure was a solo occasion, however, and I spent most of the morning in the wallum heath beyond McMahon Street, protected as part of the island's National Park.

Walking a few kilometres down the gravel road, I came to a small sandy track branching off to the east that I had been wanting to explore better for quite some time.

The first flowering shrub I came across was the wallum hakea (Hakea actites).

Wallum hakea, Woorim.

Its flowers are tiny and delicate, and it is more easily noticed by the large, warty seed pods that proliferate amongst its branches.

Rising up out the dense groundcover flora were the white star flowers of the sprengelia (Sprengelia sprengelioides).

Sprengelia, Woorim.

Along this track, the sand is as pure and white as fresh snow, creating an environment that is beautiful to look at, but harsh for the plants to grow in.

In South-east Queensland, one of our hardiest trees is the broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia), and it is one of two dominant trees at this site.

Broad-leaved paperbark, Woorim.

The other is a banksia (Banksia aemula) species which the South-east Queensland Indigenous people know as the ‘wallum’.

Wallum banksia, Woorim.

Because the latter is such an iconic tree for this environment, it has lent its name to the entire habitat.

Less common than the banksia, but probably the most eye-catching wallum plant in my opinion, is the wedding bush (Ricinocarpos pinifolius).

Wedding bush, Woorim.

At this time of year, this three-metre tall shrub is covered in a dense layer of gorgeous, cartoon-like flowers that stand out from a long distance away.

They are nicely complemented by the wallum phebalium (Phebalium woombye), a smaller, white-flowered shrub that grows around them.

Wallum phebalium, Woorim.

More subtle are the tiny, yellow, tubular flowers of the wallum geebung (Persoonia virgata).

Wallum geebung, Woorim.

Up close, the blooms of this open shrub reminded me of a peeling banana.

Springing up out of the groundcover layer were many spikes of yellow pea flowers.

At the time, I thought I was dealing with just the one species, the showy parrot pea (Dillwynia floribunda) shown below.

Showy parrot pea, Woorim.

Closer examination of my photos, however, revealed that a very similar plant was growing at this location also, the heathy parrot pea (D. retorta).

The two can be told apart by the angle from which the leaves grow out of the stem; the showy parrot pea has leaves that lay almost flat against the stem, whereas those of the latter plant grow at a right angle.

On the way back along the trail, I noticed a plant that I must have completely failed to see earlier, called the wallum zieria (Zieria laxiflora).

Wallum zieria, Woorim.

It was quite different to the other white-flowered shrubs I had previously seen; its flowers have only four petals, not five, and the leaves are arranged in a trifoliate pattern.

Wallum habitat is becoming increasingly rare as the demand for coastal development intensifies.

It is a vegetation type that is unique to South-east Queensland and Northern New South Wales, so it is upsetting to see more of it disappear each year.

If you find yourself on one of the coastal sand islands, or somewhere near Noosa, the Mooloolah River, Southport or the Coolangatta Airport, keep an eye out for it.

From a distance, it may seem like just a flat, shrubby grassland, but a closer look will reveal its remarkable beauty.


  1. Thank you so much for your work sharing these pictures and your notes.

    1. My pleasure, Jennifer, and thanks for taking the time to appreciate it all and leave a comment :)

  2. You are blessed with a fine array of native plants and flowers Christian, and you certainly "know your stuff." What strange common names most have. Almost food for another post about the origins of names, a subject that I find tells much about social history.

    1. Definitely, Phil, living in the subtropics means there's heaps to look at as far as plants are concerned - very blessed indeed! And yes, a few of these plants have interesting names behind them - 'geebung' is Aboriginal and also the name of a Brisbane suburb (though the plants are long gone there), and the 'banksia' was named after Joseph Banks, botanist on board the first fleet.

  3. Wow you found a lot of different ones. They are small but beautiful when looked at up close. Great shots.

    1. Thank you, it's a floral wonderland on Bribie!