Working on Eyre Peninsula the Friends of Coffin Bay volunteer in this lovely park and welcome new members interested in assisting in the maintenance of this park.
Friends of Coffin Bay Parks was officially formed on the 19th October 1990 so in October this year, 2015, we celebrate 25 years of volunteer contribution to the rehabilitation of the natural environment and to the amenity enjoyed by the many visitors.
Prior to the disruption caused by European settlement the area had been occupied for aeons by Aboriginal tribes, particularly members of the Nauo, a mainly fishing tribe, who occupied the Coffin Bay area and south-western Eyre Peninsula.1 Even today, archaeological evidence of their occupation can still be seen. Following European settlement of South Australia farmers came with thousands of stock: sheep, cattle and horses. The attempts at pastoral land use were not very successful and by 1966 the idea, which had originated some years earlier, was raised again to set aside Coffin Bay Peninsula as a National Park. Sir John Cleland in his report in 1967 made reference to the serious damage to the vegetation caused by rabbits and wild horses, this type of country…should be controlled in the public interest.1 However, it was not until 1982 that the area was dedicated as a National Park, the formal ceremony being held in 1983 at Templetonia Lookout, Dr Don Hopgood officiating.
In 2014 portions of the marine environment adjacent to the Coffin Bay Parks were afforded increased protection through Sanctuary status within the Thorny Passage Marine Park.
Since 1990 the Friends group has contributed hours of work towards the revegetation of the degraded areas in the park. The results of early attempts were disheartening but in recent years encouraging signs of success are evident: the seed collecting, tube stock nurturing and planting and direct seeding are all paying dividends. Other work undertaken by the group has been equally important: regular feral control through fox baiting has seen an increase in goanna sightings; early work on amenities such as walking trails and facilities at camp sites has been significant. A number of the early workers are now deceased but they provided leadership and dedicated enthusiasm to the rehabilitation work: they have left a great legacy.
There is something for every natural history enthusiast in the Coffin Bay National Park. The scenic amenity is unique: windswept sand ridges, some bare, others covered with low scrub; cliff top ocean views and intertidal rock platforms. There is a great variety of plant communities: open heath, sand dune heath, coastal heath, she-oak grassy woodland, low shrub land in damp areas consisting of salt-tolerant chenopods and samphires. Western Grey Kangaroo and families of emu are common and recently it is usual to sight goannas crossing the road. The smaller animals are numerous, particularly reptiles. Bird life abounds, both terrestrial and sea birds, including many summer migrants. A variety of marine habitats is accessible from the park: the outer coast consists of ocean beaches and a series of rocky headlands alternating with more or less protected bays; the inner coast is sheltered with shallow, semi-enclosed bays, long quiet beaches, extensive sandflats and beds of seagrass. These coasts are recognized as hot spots of marine biodiversity.