Neerabup National Park
As you travel north from Perth to Yanchep National Park you pass a long, thin, and seemingly ordinary, piece of Australian bush. But if you stop and venture beyond the first few metres of banksias or tuarts, you will find a relatively undisturbed example of coastal plain vegetation, preserved in Neerabup National Park.
Neerabup National Park, about 27 kilometres north of Perth along the western side of Wanneroo Road, is a long, narrow piece of bushland stretching only about 12 kilometres. But this small park is still able to provide a feeling of tranquillity and isolation in an ever-expanding urban world.
The 1069-hectare park follows an old stock route, which in turn follows part of an ancient Aboriginal migration route between Lake Joondalup, in the Yellagonga Regional Park, and Loch McNess, in Yanchep National Park. The route also forms the basis for the 28 kilometre Yaberoo Budjara Heritage Trail, developed in 1988 as one of a network of heritage trails marking the Australian Bicentenary.
The park has no prominent features, such as lakes, mountains or streams, and no formal recreational areas, such as picnic sites, within its boundaries. Access is by foot, as there are no roads or car parks. But despite its lack of formal recreation facilities, there are plenty of opportunities for quiet recreation. In spring, for example, the whole area comes alive with stunning displays of wildflowers, accompanied by the clamorous songs of countless birds.
Plants and Animals:
The limestone caprock that is prevalent throughout the park supports varied vegetation, ranging from jarrah and tuart woodlands through to open banksia woodlands and hakea and dryandra heathlands.
North of Quinns Road, the vegetation is low woodland and open woodland of sheoak, banksia, Western Australian Christmas tree and pricklybark.
There are a few patches of jarrah and one of tuart, and a diverse understorey of hakea, kangaroo paws, scrub sheoak, one-sided bottlebrush, native buttercups, native wisteria, dodder, old man's beard and prickly moses.
Most of the heath is on an extensive area of limestone hills lying west of Wanneroo Road, and comprises mainly wattle, cockie's tongues and balgas (grasstrees). A wildfire that swept through part of this northern section in early 1994 produced a beautiful display of wildflowers the following spring.
South of Quinns Road, the vegetation in the park is mainly woodland of jarrah, associated with sheoak, candle banksia and firewood banksia. There is also some open tuart woodland and a few pricklybark and marri trees. The narrow-leaved red mallee (Eucalyptus foecunda), listed as a priority species and restricted to the coast between Lancelin and Mandurah, is found along the western boundary of the park.
Take a walk through the park in early morning or late afternoon and you will almost certainly see western grey kangaroos and possibly emus. Endangered Carnaby's black-cockatoos are frequently seen, and the park is also home to other native animals such as echidnas, brushtail possums and brush wallabies.
Urban development close to areas of bushland almost always heralds the flight of native animals; not so much because of the increased numbers of people, but because of loss of habitat and predation by introduced species such as cats. This has been happening all along the northern corridor as housing developments have spread northwards from Perth. Unfortunately, feral cats, rabbits and foxes are present in large numbers at Neerabup, making life difficult and hazardous for native animals, particularly small mammals such as the quenda (southern brown bandicoot), ash-grey mouse (noodji) and honey possum.
Neerabup National Park provides a narrow corridor to allow movement of animals along the coastal plain and associated wetlands. By preserving the habitat values of these areas and, with the assistance of some forward-thinking developers who retain smaller arterial strips to and from the coast, a network of adjoining corridors can be maintained and animals can move freely without the risk of being 'cut off'.
Use by People:
Neerabup National Park is valuable in providing gentle recreational activities such as photography, walking, bird watching and nature study. Use of the park for recreation is already increasing, as urban growth continues along its western edge and local residents discover its secrets. The southernmost end of the area now covered by Neerabup National Park has a long history of disturbance - principally from the extraction of limestone in the 1900s for building blocks and road making material. Old quarries in this southern section have now largely been rehabilitated. All in all, Neerabup National Park has a vital role in the preservation of the natural environment in Perth's northern corridor. It provides an escape for people, a movement corridor for native animals, a green belt between coastal housing and the string of wetlands running north from Lake Joondalup, and an important remnant of coastal vegetation in a fast-growing urban area.
The name Neerabup is thought to be derived from neerimba, the Aboriginal word for the Australian pelican.