The Busselton Ironstone community is characterised by very unusual soil and an equally remarkable plant community. The ironstone soils are extremely restricted in distribution on the Swan Coastal Plain. These soils are thought to have historically been bogs with the iron being deposited by water percolating through the soil followed by evaporation to create a very hard stony habitat. The ironstone is associated with seasonal waterlogging from ponding due to impeded drainage over the wetter months.

The Busselton Ironstone community is restricted to the eastern side of the Swan Coastal Plain along the base of the Whicher Scarp near Busselton. As this area contains heavy soils that are particularly good for agriculture, this highly restricted community has suffered from extensive clearing with less than 10 per cent of its original extent remaining.

The community contains a number of declared rare flora and priority flora that are restricted to the ironstone soils. Typical and common native species in the community are the shrubs Kunzea aff. micrantha, swamp teatree (Pericalymma ellipticum), Hakea oldfieldii, snakebush (Hemiandra pungens) and swishbush (Viminaria juncea), and the herbs Aphelia cyperoides and pointed centrolepis (Centrolepis aristata).

THREATS

Historically the biggest threat to the community was clearing, with now only a few isolated locations remaining. Many of the plant species within the community are also highly restricted in distribution and are Phytophthora dieback susceptible and/or obligate seeders (only seed after fire). The major threats to the community are therefore dieback, clearing, too frequent fire (plants are killed before they are mature enough to set seed), weed invasion (especially from grass species from surrounding farmland), grazing by cattle and rabbits, drought caused by a drying climate and possibly salinisation.

“I was looking forward to photographing the Ironstones.
The colours and texture moved from vibrant flowers to dark red, gravelly textures.
It seemed amazing that in such a harsh landscape anything, let alone anything beautiful, could grow in such abundance. A spectacular afternoon sunset played the scene for a stunning panorama.”
Tim Swallow – Photographer