Patawalonga Creek in winter, viewed from West Beach Road, looking south towards the remnant stand of Swamp Paperbarks
(aka ‘Coastal Paperbarks’ or ‘Kangaroo Honey-myrtles’, Melaleuca halmaturorum).
The Swamp Paperbarks in the centre of the small swamp area. This is the largest stand of these trees remaining in the metropolitan area, and provides an excellent insight as to the type of habitat which used to occur behind the sandhills in the western suburbs of Adelaide.
Coastal paperbarks (Melaleuca halmaturorum) reflected in the waters of Patawalonga Creek after late winter rain. During the summer months the creek bed dries up except for the larger waterholes, to reveal all manner of human debris.
The flood regime of this area has changed greatly since European settlement.
Graceful paperbarks overhang the Patawalonga Creek, with samphires in the
foreground. Prior to 1937 the River Torrens did not flow directly into Gulf St. Vincent - its waters entered the myriad of creeks and lagoons of the ‘Reedbeds’, and the floodwater overflows made their way out to sea via the Patawalonga Creek to the south, or via the Port River to the north.
The paperbark stand and Patawalonga Creek viewed from the south, with reeds in the foreground. Native Wallaby grasses also grow in this location. This type of habitat originally existed along the edges of the creeks and lagoons in saline and semi-saline areas between the Patawalonga and the Port River.
A close-up of the papery bark of Melaleuca halmaturorum.
These are nectar producing plants and provide important habitat not only to native birds, but to a variety of other organisms.
The growth habit of this species is described as such:
(field of view approx 10mm)
"Shrub to 4 m in height, light papery bark and tiny dark green leaves. White flowers in summer resemble small bottle-brush."
"They are shade tolerant, have a moderate growth rate and are common in saline, water-logged sites near the coast."