Meelup - place of the moon rising 

Meelup Regional Park an important Class A reserve vested in the City of Busselton and managed by delegated authority by community volunteers known as the Meelup Regional Park Management Committee. The park is approximately 577 hectares and extends 11.5 kilometres along the coastline from Dunsborough to Bunker Bay. The park’s coastline faces north east, which is rare in Western Australia, therefore it is sheltered from prevailing salt bearing south westerly winds, and so, in many places, tall trees and dense vegetation grows down to the water’s edge.

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Photograph courtesy of Christian Fletcher Photography

The Wardandi people (‘forest people by the sea’) are the Aboriginal custodians of the area, and named Meelup ‘place of the moon rising’ because the full moon appears to rise out the sea on a few days of the year. The park offers excellent recreation facilities among pristine coastal bushland and has a stunning visual landscape, due to its protected coastline and the stark contrast between the rustic granite outcrops and turquoise ocean. The park is a special place for visitors, providing a unique connection to the ruggedness, beauty and inspiration of nature.

Meelup Regional Park lies within the Busselton-Augusta ‘biodiversity hotspot’, the only one in Australia that is recognised internationally. A biodiversity hotspot is an area rich in plant and animal species, particularly high in endemism and under pressure from a variety of threats. The park’s size and relatively pristine condition of much of the vegetation means that it has both local and international conservation significance.

In 1801 a scientific expedition under the command of Captain Nicolas Baudin and Capitaine de fregate (commander) Hamelin visited Geographe Bay in the corvettes Geographe and Naturaliste. After making landfall at Cape Leeuwin on 27th May 1801, the ships travelled up the coast and into Geographe Bay to study the natural resources in the area. Many places along the coastline are named in honour of that journey.

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VEGETATION MONITORING USING MULTI-SPECTRAL IMAGERY
Meelup's vegetation experiences a number of ongoing pressures, including Phytophhora dieback, reduced rainfall, weed invasion, fire, insect attack and visitor-related impacts. Vegetation decline is primarily an environmental concern but also impacts on the amenity and visual character of the park, which is a major drawcard for visitors. The DPaW GIS branch were engaged by the City of Busselton to investigate changes in vegetation condition in Meelup over a 27-year period, using multi-spectral imagery. Whilst not exactly bedtime reading, the fascinating report is worth a perusal. Outcomes and recommendations of the report will help inform future management of the park, particularly in regards to hazard reduction burn regimes, with an additional emphasis on how predicted reduced rainfall is likely to exacerbate vegetation's capacity to regenerate. You can access the full report here.

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