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Lesueur National Park


This walk showcases an abundance of wildflowers in Spring along with interesting land formations and spectacular views to the Indian Ocean from the top of Mount Lesueur. A mecca for wildflower enthusiasts with over 820 species, including plants not found anywhere else in the world.

Don’t frack the Lesueur National Park

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Lesueur National Park. Photo: ugmedia.com.au

Australian oil and gas company AWE has signalled its intention to mine for unconventional gas on farmland bordering Western Australia’s Lesueur National Park. The proposal, released in October, includes plans to use the damaging process known as “fracking” to extract gas, starting in March next year. The national park is a environmentally significant area. It holds more than 900 different plant species and more than 10% of the total known flora of WA. It also holds seven species of declared rare fauna, and nine taxa found nowhere else in the world. It is a major destination for wildflower tourists and is important for its reptile biodiversity. The proposed fracking site is close to the Beagle Fault, which could provide a pathway for chemicals to spread into the aquifer. The roads, trucks and drilling rigs that the fracking industry brings are also likely to spread dieback (highly invasive soil-borne mould that causes root rot) into the Lesueur National Park. It is also quite farcical that AWE intends to frack as soon as March, given that a parliamentary inquiry into fracking in WA has not yet been completed. There are concerns that if fracking is allowed on the border of the national park, a precedent would be set that would result in fracking throughout the mid-west of WA. The Conservation Council of Western Australia estimates there could be 130,000 gas wells across WA, permanently changing the landscape. The northern Perth Basin, between Perth and Geraldton, is estimated to hold 1.2 trillion cubic metres of unconventional gas. Almost all of this area is covered in exploration leases and two production licences have already been granted. If gas production in the mid-west goes ahead, it could threaten the Yarragadee aquifer, which mid-west farmers depend on for their livelihood. The Yarragadee is also an important groundwater resource for Perth. The threat to the water is also a threat to Yamatji Aboriginal cultural heritage, given that there are many sacred water sites throughout the mid-west. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) received 242 public comments on the proposal, nearly all of which were opposed to it. Despite the public opposition, the EPA decided not to assess the impact of fracking, as it is “unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment”. The Conservation Council of Western Australia and No Fracking WAy have indicated they will appeal this decision. The strong campaign against coal seam gas mining around the country has brought widespread attention to the risks of gas mining. Unlike other states, WA mostly has reserves of shale and tight gas, rather than coal seam gas. The gas industry uses this to downplay the risks and says the depth of shale deposits means fracking for shale and tight gas is safer than mining coal seam gas. But the use of fracking — which involves the high-pressure injection of large volumes of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals into the ground to release the gas — can contaminate groundwater aquifers at that depth. As the gas industry prepares to frack areas across WA — including the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne and south-west regions — the community is preparing to stop them. The anti-fracking movement is strong in Geraldton, and it is also active in Perth, Fremantle, Jurien Bay, Carnarvon, Eneabba, Exmouth and Busselton. Community activity has already prompted the government to start an inquiry into the industry. Public pressure has successfully defended the Lesueur National Park before. Plans for coal mining in the area were defeated by community resistance, which led to it being gazetted as a national park in 1992. More recent community victories over the James Price Point gas hub and the Vasse Coal mine planned for Margaret River also demonstrate that it is possible to defeat mining and petroleum projects that threaten our environment, health and livelihoods. [No Fracking WAy will hold a protest and concert on Cottesloe Beach on February 22. For more information, visit No Fracking Way Perth on Facebook.]

 Approx 50km north of Cervantes, straddling Cockleshell Gully Road, this park was named after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, a natural history artist aboard the Naturaliste on Hamelin’s 1801 expedition. The French government commissioned the ships Naturaliste and Geographe to chart those areas of the coast not documented by Captain James Cook. Many features along the west coast bear the names of members of that expedition, including Mt Peron (the expeditions naturalist) and Mt Michaud (the botanist-gardener). Jurien Bay was named after Charles Marie, Vicompte Jurien, a naval administrator at the time. Lesueur is extremely rich in flora and fauna, with over 900 species (about 10% of the state’s known species) of plants, 50+ species of reptiles (the highest lizard diversity of any of the worlds Mediterranean climate ecosystems), and 120+ species of birds. Birds species particularly well represented include honeyeaters, thornbills, fairy wrens, southern emu, white brested wrens, and calamanthus. The woodlands of Lesueur have also been identified as one of the last remaining breeding habitats of Carnaby’s Black cockatoo. Lesueur National Park covers 26,987ha, and its status as a National Park recognises the area’s outstanding conservation, landscape, and recreational importance. These were identified in the 1950’s when the Government botanist Charles Gardner, concerned by the effects of land clearing for agriculture recommended the creation of a reserve. The area around Mt Lesueur itself was protected by being designated a reserve for educational purposes. Since then there have been proposals for a national park and nature reserve, but concerns about the availability of coal resources in the area delayed action until the park was gazetted in 1992.Access to Mt Lesueur itself is via 4WD only, however a number of walk-trails are being developed to allow the visitor to experience this unique area.

Wildflower Walk at Lesueur National Park

Home > Perth > Walks | Outdoor | National Parks | Escape the City
by Judith W (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published October 28th 2011
Areas north of Perth have always been famous for their spring wildflower display and Lesueur National Park is one of the best locations to represent this claim. The variety of wild blooms to be seen every spring in this park is staggering. For the uninitiated, the words "wildflowers in Western Australia" would probably conjure up an image of a kangaroo paw plant, but here we learned that they really come in diverse shapes, sizes, and colours: red, orange, pink, yellow, purple, green, white, you name it...
Walking among the flowering bushes with Mt. Lesueur in the background

Located about 250km north of Perth, you could reach this national park by driving north on the Indian Ocean Drive, turning right onto Jurien East Rd just after you pass the town of Jurien Bay, and then turning left into Cockleshell Gully Rd. The National Park is sign-posted on the right hand side of this road.This distance of about 3-hours' drive I consider borderline, whereby depending on your preference you could either visit it in a day trip or stay overnight. The national park itself does not have camping facilities. However, you could stay at one of the accommodations in Jurien Bay, or camp at Sandy Cape Campsite. In any case, allow a few hours to explore the national park even if you don't plan to climb Mt. Lesueur, as there are several places where you could stop by, take a stroll, and enjoy the view.
 One must-stop area is about half-way through the 18km one-way scenic drive through the park. It has well signed-posted walks of various lengths, the shortest being the 250m wheelchair-friendly Wilson Lookout and the longest being the climb up Mt. Lesueur (8km return). No matter which one we choose, this is where we could really sink our teeth into the business of wildflower-spotting. While walking, be sure to take turns glancing down to catch the often low-lying and tiny blooms and up to view the mountains and surroundings (try and see if you could spy the resident wedge-tailed eagles).
Some of the colourful spring blooms around Wilson Lookout

Make the most of this stop as most of the other ones along the scenic drives are more of a lookout and don't really allow us to have long meandering bushwalks. Walking outside the tracks are strongly discouraged due to the easily spreading dieback disease that you might carry under your shoes.
Fields of grass trees

Closer to the exit of the scenic drive, the scenery changed a bit and there were grass trees as far as the eyes could see. Although a grass tree may look a bit boring from afar, a closer inspection proved otherwise. The long white flower is usually full of busy creepy crawlies that are fascinating to watch (provided you have a strong enough stomach).
A grass tree's insect-attracting flower

To sum it all up, the DEC's website says it much more eloquently than I could, "Lesueur National Park is undoubtedly one of the scenic and biological jewels of the southern half of Western Australia, with its diverse plants and animals, rich in rare species, and its spectacular landforms." Enjoy.


Wish you were here - Lesueur National Park


lesueur_np_vista.jpgTwo hundred years after natural history artist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur sailed what would become our Coral Coast aboard the Naturaliste, the area maintains its natural beauty and fascination for visitors. 

Located 20 kilometres north of Jurien Bay and 250 kilometres north of Perth, Lesueur National Park is 24 kilometres across and covers 26,987 hectares. Only gazetted in 1992, the park is relatively new but its value to the conservation of flora and fauna has been long recognised. 

The park contains undisturbed expanses of the northern sandplains region, with a wide range of geologic formations, landscapes and soil types. These vary from salt lakes in the west to laterite ridges in the east and partly explain the reason that it is a biodiversity hotspot, renowned for its wildflowers, birds and reptiles.

mt lesueur flowers.jpgMore than 800 plant species have been identified, making it one of the richest sites for plant species in the world. Nine of these are found nowhere else in the world while 81 are at their most northern or southern limits, providing unique plant communities.

There is always something flowering in the park but in the months of September and October Lesueur erupts into colour with a range of species from Leshenaultias to Melaleucas bursting into flower.

The construction of new recreational facilities has recently been completed, opening the very heart of the park and allowing easy access for visitors to explore all the area has to offer.

A bituminised 17-kilometre tourist drive takes visitors through the Cockleshell Gully valley providing panoramic views of the park. Pull off bays are provided throughout the drive to allow tour operators and visitors to stop and explore the flora close to the road in a range of vegetation types.

lesueur_np_signs.jpgDrummond's recreational area has a number of trails to suit all visitors. Disabled and long vehicle parking bays link to a path network interspersed with interpretive panels. A 200-metre disabled accessible path leads to Wilson Lookout that provides unimpeded views of Mt Lesueur and back to the Indian Ocean. The more adventurous can take the four-kilometre trail to the top of Mt Lesueur or choose to take the easier trail around the Gairdner Ridge.

A picnic area with toilets, interpretation and easy parking is provided further along Lesueur Drive for those visitors who want to make the best of a day in this magnificent park.