An ecological jewel of Beeliar Regional Park
Manning Park (Spearwood) Ridge is an area of profound ecological significance. It forms part of the Beeliar Regional Park and is home to rare and threatened flora and fauna.
Most of the ecosystems found along the ridge line that formerly flourished in the metropolitan area have now been largely destroyed by mining or development. To have an area of bush land with such ecological value in an urban setting is a privilege and a responsibility. It acts as not only a sanctuary for the native plant and animals, but also for the many people that visit daily. It provides a connection to nature for Cockburn residents at a time when many of us are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature.
The area is unique for several reasons:
- 60 hectares of limestone ridge
- Bush Forever site 247
- multiple threatened ecological communities, including limestone heath and Tuart Woodlands
- roosting and forage habitat for Endangered Carnaby Cockatoos
- including the protected Parrot Bush (Banksia sessilis) which occurs over much of the ridge
- potential site for threatened Graceful Sun Moth (priority 4) and a recorded site for the Lined Skink (priority 3)
- Cultural significance
Aboriginal Heritage and Significance
The Beeliar District extended south of the Swan River encompassing the two chains of wetlands that form the basis of the Beeliar Regional Park - hence the name of the Park (Beeliar Management Plan, 2006). Manning Ridge forms part of the western chain. Beeliar Regional Park is significant to Noongar people and encompassed important camping areas, sources of food and other material, and sites of spiritual importance.
According to the City of Cockburn's Manning Park Master Plan:
"Within the Manning Park area there is a high likelihood that: 'unrecorded cultural sites may still be found with significant research potential.' (WAPC) Although there are currently no registered DAA sites within the boundary of the park, this does not negate the potential for rich Aboriginal heritage and significance that extends beyond registered DAA sites.
The Manning Park area and surrounds, especially the lakes of Beeliar Regional Park, are significant as previous camping sites. A respected local Nyungar elder, Patrick Hume, has made reference to sites and places of heritage significance around the Azelia Ley Homestead, including quartz and a marked tree and collected local histories on the Manning homestead make reference to camping areas at the lake. Additionally, the Spearwood Ridge and its extension beyond Manning Park to the north and south has been identified as a mythological site which is associated with the creation of Lake Coogee and other nearby lakes, possibly the eastern chain of the Beeliar wetlands."
As the CoC has identified the likelihood of sites of significance located within the Spearwood Ridge, it is reckless to be constructing mountain bike trails before the area has been further researched and local indigenous groups.
According to the Beeliar Management Plan:
"A key issue in the management of the Park is to ensure that Aboriginal sites are protected from damage which may occur during maintenance operations or works projects. It is therefore the responsibility of the managing agencies to ensure that management obligations are fulfilled according to the Native Title Act 1998 and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972, before any planning or public works take place. Additionally, it is important that local Aboriginal people are included in projects and the management of the Park."
Manning Park (Spearwood) Ridge is home to a large number of native animals. Species on the ridge and upland habitat include marsupials such as lsoodon obesulus, the Southern Brown Bandicoot; reptiles such as the threatened Lerista lineata (Lined Skink), and birds such as Calyptorhynchus latirostris (Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo), a threatened bird species. Acacia woodlands are significant as foraging areas for this species, whilst the tuart woodlands are roosting habitats.
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo
Carnaby's are a common site along the ridge - how lucky we are. They are a large black cockatoo with white tail panals, white cheek patches and short bills. They are endemic to the South West. They forage in the Acacia woodlands and tuart woodlands provide roosting habitat.
The Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is classified as Endangered. Their population has declined greatly in recent decades, due mostly to the loss and fragmentation of their preferred habitats, and they need the support of conservation programs to ensure their survival. Locally, loss of native food sources caused by urban development on the Swan coastal plain has led to the continual dwindling of their population. So much bush land has been cleared locally, including more recently at Fiona Stanley Hospital and at Jandakot Airport.
Manning Park Ridge has multiple vegetation communities, including Eucalyptus gomphocephala (tuart) woodland; Melaleuca huegelii (Honey myrtle) / Melaleuca acerosa shrublands; and, Acacia woodlands. Limited flora mapping has been completed by the CoC, and more extensive mapping is required. Weed infestation is a problem in certain sections of the area, but much of the bushland remains in good condition
Banksia sessilis (Parrot Bush)
A favourite food of Carnaby's, Parrot Bush can be found throughout the limestone ridges of Manning Park. It is a prickly shrub that has yellow flowers from autumn to summer - one of the most beautiful times of year to explore the ridge on foot is when these are flowering. As well as attracting birds, Parrot Bush is also butterfly attracting. In order for the Swan Coastal Plain to continue to sustain Caranaby's species like Banksia sessilis are crucial. Parrot Bush is also dieback susceptible, which is easily spread by biking, particularly in wet conditions.