You are here

Home > Park management > Environment > Ecosystems > The coast

The coast

Pied Oyster Catcher (photo: Fiona Smith)

Pied Oyster Catcher (photo: Fiona Smith)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: The coast

Coast Tea-tree (photo: Matt Hoskins)

Coast Tea-tree (photo: Matt Hoskins)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: The coast

Moonah tree (Photo: Peter McConchie)

Moonah tree (Photo: Peter McConchie)

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: The coast

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach

Photo by: Parks Victoria

Location: The coast

Often lashed by the wind laden with salt spray, the coast is very dynamic and a difficult environment for living things, with some of its physical features such as dunes and cliffs subject to continual change. Exposure to the power of large waves generated in the Southern Ocean has produced the rugged, eroded landforms that characterise much of our western coastline. In more sheltered areas there are a wide range of other habitats.

Wind, salt, and unstable low nutrient soils made largely of sand that hold little water are the critical influences on the vegetation of the coast and plant communities growing in these areas have evolved a range of strategies to help them cope with this challenging environment.

Plant communities typically found along the coast are:

  • Coastal Dune Scrub –includes plants well suited to the most exposed section of the coast and include many pioneering dune binding plants such as Hairy Spinifex (Spinifex hirsutus)
  • Coastal Moonah Woodlands – often growing on calcareous dunes and cliffs on the coast dominated by the Coastal Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata subsp. lanceolata)
  • Coastal Banksia Woodland – restricted to near coastal localities on secondary dunes behind Coastal Dune Scrub, these areas are dominated by a woodland over story of Banksia tees
  • Coastal Saltmarsh – in flatter areas of low energy coastlines some areas are dominated by succulent plants that can cope with high salinity soils and some inundation and exposure to salt water and poor drainage.

More about the coast

  • Hardy shrubs such as Coast Tea-tree, Coast Beard-heath, Seaberry Saltbush and Coast Wattle occur on secondary dunes or exposed rock headlands
  • Moonah, Boobialla, Drooping She-oak and Coast Banksia are found on the stabilised dunes and swales on the landward side
  • The most prominent group of large coast dwelling animals are birds such as Orange-bellied Parrot and Pied Oystercatcher which depend directly on saltmarsh plants or a wide range of invertebrates (animals without backbones) for food
  • The Little Penguin and Short-tailed Shearwaters (Muttonbirds) nest in burrows in the dunes.

Key Threats

  • Issues related to impacts from increasing visitor use, combined with edge effects from urban development are key threats to this ecosystem.
  • Rising sea levels and greater frequency of storm events due to climate change may impact on vegetation, estuaries as well as coastal assets.

Where to see the coast and intertidal shores

St Kilda Pier Click to view the news RSS feed.

Plans for iconic St Kilda Pier facelift

09 Oct 2017

One of Melbourne’s most iconic piers is set to get a makeover with early planning underway to renew St Kilda Pier.St Kilda Pier is one of Melbourne’s most popular piers and attracts over 800,000 local, national and international visitors annually.St Kilda Pier was built in 1971 and is approaching the…

View all latest news

What's on

Click to view RSS Feed

What was that?

15 Sep 2017 8:00pm - 31 Oct 2017 9:30pm

This play is set in the 19 century and based on the true story of the Chirnside family. Brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside came out from Scotland to Australia in 1839. Told by two fictitious characters, Maggie, the head maid and Mr Duncan the butler, you will be transported to…

Click to view RSS Feed

Down to Earth

7 Oct 2017 8:00pm - 31 Oct 2017 9:30pm

An enthralling night as you journey through the rustic old farm at Werribee Park. Filled with history and comedy and plenty of scares as the evil creature Black Anny haunts the farm.

Click to view RSS Feed

what was that

13 Oct 2017 8:00pm - 28 Oct 2017 9:30pm

An exciting roaming play performed in the Werribee Park Mansion that combines history, scary elements and loads of comedy.

Click to view RSS Feed

Portsea Running Festival

18 Nov 2017 4:00pm-9:00pm

The inaugural festival will bring together keen runners for an undulating 10km or half marathon. A mixed trail event offering road, gravel tracks, sand and steps combined with stunning twilight views of the national park and surrounding waters.