Mclaughlins Beach is about a half hour drive from Port Albert. Along the way we pass numerous farms, which just survive on this flat, sandy soil, exposed to the salt air and punishing winds. Only some of the dams were full, and those closer to the Beach had less water. At Mclaughlins footbridge the wind became a gale, with the poor Silver gulls Larus novaehollandiae being blown off their feet or were forced to side step to stay upright. We too were in a similar situation as we crossed the exposed footbridge towards the sandy spit.
It’s amazing the plant life that can exist in this area. The Coastal Tea-tree Leptospermum laevigatum and Coastal Wattle Acacia sophorae provide a wonderful barrier from the punishing winds.
Below is a list of the flora found on the sandy slopes towards the beach. No attempt was made to walk along the foreshore to identify hardier plants due to the unstable nature of the steps and of course the extreme winds along Ninety Mile Beach.
Saltbush Einadia nutans
Austral sea grass
Common Reed Phragmites australis
Sea Berry Saltbush Rhagodia candolleana
Sea celery. This is edible, with the early settlers pickling it to accompany meat. Several of us tasted this pleasant tasting plant but you would have to pick a lot for cooking.
Prickly Spear-grass Austrostipa stipoides
Austral Hounds-tongue Cynoglossum australe
Small-leaved Clematis Clematis microphylla
Coastal beard heath Leucopogon parviflorus
Drooping casurina Allocasurina verticillata
Silver Banksia Banksia marginata
Geranium Geranium potentilloides
Hazel Pomaderris Pomaderris aspera
An exciting find was the heart spider orchid? which is rare for this area according to Terri and Susan. The find made them very excited and numerous photos were taken of course.
Birds Very few birds were seen. Hidden but singing was the Silvereye Zosterops lateralis , a Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa gave us a little display, and the Superb Fairy- wren and mate Malurus cyaneus greeted us back at carpark at the jetty upon our return.
Terri Allen remarked that its quite true what Mary Ellis says “If you face the weather, it will back off!” (Well, it nearly did)