Pre- European Vegetation Communities


Pre- European Vegetation Communities of the Campbelltown Council Area

Based on work produced by Mr Kieran Brewer of South Australian Indigenous Flora, October 2009. Maps produced by Campbelltown City Council; content provided by Mr Brewer.


This is a guide to the distribution of pre-European settlement vegetation communities in the Campbelltown District.

A vegetation community is made up of dominant and co-dominant canopy species over a variety of understory plants that cover a larger area to form a community or association. Because of variations that can and do occur the species listed for each community should be seen as a guide only for revegetation purposes and further understanding of the microclimate for each site should be undertaken.

Due to the effects of development most vegetation communities in the Campbelltown Council area are significantly reduced in size and are generally highly modified in their structure. For this reason information has been drawn from beyond the Campbelltown area to help illustrate an accurate picture of what these communities originally looked like to further assist any future attempts to recreate the original vegetation communities of Campbelltown.

Unfortunately several of the best examples of some vegetation communities that remained in the Campbelltown area have been lost or significantly degraded in the past twenty years and several plant species have been lost forever from this area.

When accessing the distribution of vegetation communities in the Campbelltown Council area several factors were taken into account. The occurrence of remnant vegetation, the occurrence of specific soil types and geology, information that has been gained from earlier collections now housed at the state herbarium, historical records, early aerial photographs and the author's personal knowledge collated over thirty five years whilst living in the Campbelltown area.

The map below shows the approximate location of original pre-European vegetation communities in the Campbelltown Council area.

Pre-European Veg Map.jpg Veg Map Legend.jpg

Map Disclaimer

Descriptions of each vegetation community can be found below.

Eucalyptus porosa W oodland

In red brown loams and loam clays with an alkaline influence. image001.jpg

The occurrence of this community in the Campbelltown Council area proper is restricted to the occurrence of one tree in McBeath Street, Hectorville.

The owner of the property who has protected the tree suggests that the tree was planted approximately eighty years ago by a previous owner. It is believed however that the tree is likely to be between 200 - 250 years old based on measurements of thirty year old specimens planted in the area and comparisons with other old examples in adjoining areas of Morialta Conservation Park. In addition, examples of the planting of this species and similar species of eucalyptus eighty years ago are virtually non-existent.

The distribution map includes an area extending south of the known occurrence which contains similar soil types but is still only an estimate. Early aerial photographs of this area from 1949 clearly show Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon with Acacia paradoxa east of St Bernards Road with a change to red clay loams in the Hectorville area which are often dominated by Eucalyptus porosa.

A protection order should be placed on this one remaining example should the current owner relinquish the property to a non sympathetic owner.

In the eastern part of Campbelltown, in Black Hill Conservation Park Eucalyptus porosa woodland occurs on the lower slopes of hills in shallow red clay- loams. Whilst this has been included in the distribution map it is not under Council management.

Eucalyptus porosa woodland species list:

Acacia pycnantha, Acacia paradoxa, Olearia ramulosa, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata, Eutaxia microphylla, Scaevola albida, Goodenia albiflora, Goodenia pinnatifida, Atriplex semibaccata, Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura, Lomandra micrantha, Arthropodium strictum, Chrysocephalum semipapposum, Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia.

Callitris gracilis Woodland

In shallow sandy soils over washed gravels and weathered quartzite stones.


An extremely restricted distribution in the Athelstone area reduced to several small patches on road sides and reserves and in Black Hill Conservation Park.

This community would have been restricted originally although Callitris gracilis no doubt had a greater distribution occurring as an understory component with a number of other communities ie Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon and Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis woodlands.

Trees were removed in the early years of settlement for housing initially and then as fence posts as the wood is termite and rot resistant.

The best remaining examples in Tatiara Reserve, Athelstone and in the Athelstone Wildflower Garden of Black Hill Conservation Park give an idea of what the structure was like. Callitris gracilis only formed a community on its own when soils were very sandy and poor preventing eucalyptus species from occurring and dominating.

Callitris gracilis woodland species list:

Allocasuarina verticillata, Acacia pycnantha, Acacia paradoxa,Calytrix tetragona, Pultenaea acerosa var. acerosa, Acacia myrtifolia, Leptospermum myrsinoides, Astroloma humifusum, Astroloma conostephioides, Arthropodium strictum, Hibbertia sericea, Cryptandra tomentosa.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon Woodland

On grey-black cracking clays.


Despite a large distribution prior to settlement this community is now restricted to mostly groups of trees in a couple of locations.

The last best example occurred in Greenbank Reserve, Athelstone, but was lost to unsympathetic weed spraying work approximately fifteen years ago in the early 1990's.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon woodland on grey-black cracking clays, Greenbank Reserve, Athelstone

Most of the area containing this community was cleared for agricultural purposes in the 1840's and 50's. There are still some small pieces in the Hope Valley Reservoir Reserve north of Campbelltown which were protected from clearance and grazing in the early years of settlement and this has given some idea of the structure and composition of this community.

Interestingly enough this community lacked a range of mid understory shrubs and consisted of trees and very small shrubs, grasses, orchids and forbes. One theory for this suggests that plants needed to be large enough to grow through the metre thick top soil to survive root damage when the soil dried and cracked or be small and capable of moving with the drying and cracking soils.


Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon Woodland on grey-black cracking clays species list:

Callitris gracilis, Bursaria spinosa, Acacia pycnantha, Acacia acinacea, Olearia ramulosa, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata, Themeda triandra, Hardenbergia violacea, Austrostipa elegantissima, Haloragis aspera, Pimelea glauca, Enchylaena tomentosa, Microtis unifolia complex, Austrodanthonia linkii var. fulva, Cullen parvum, Dianella revoluta var. revoluta,Linum marginale.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon Woodland

On red brown earths, clay - loams.

Once extensively distributed on the plains and lower hills of the Campbelltown area but now restricted to single trees or stands of trees with little or no remaining understory.

Best remaining examples occur in Ellerslie Reserve, Rostrevor and Demeter/Roy Reserve, Athelstone. Red and black clay which dominate the plains of Campbelltown differ in their age, black clay being younger, more recently deposited clays. Older red clays, whilst still capable of cracking tend not to crack so radically and hence have a slightly different range of species growing on them. Both clay types have a very high soil PH of 8.7 up to 9.7.

Other relatively intact examples occur in Hope Valley Reservoir Reserve to the north of Campbelltown on Lyons Road.











Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon woodland, on red brown earth's species list:

Allocasuarina verticillata, Callitris gracilis, Acacia pycnantha, Acacia retinodes, Olearia ramulosa,Lepidosperma viscidum, Acacia acinacea, Enchylaena tomentosa, Atriplex semibaccata, Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura, Scaevola albida, Arthropodium strictum, Bulbine bulbosa, Einadia nutans, Maireana enchylaenoides, Microtis unifolia complex.

Eucalyptus odorata Eucalyptus leptophylla Mallee Low Woodland

On quartzite gravels and shallow sandy loams over mudstone with ironstone intrusions. image013.jpg

This community was never extensively distributed in the Campbelltown area being restricted to small areas of unusual geology in the eastern part of Athelstone. Larger areas of this community occur in adjoining Black Hill Conservation Park.

Eucalyptus odorata occurs more commonly as a community in the mid north and Flinders districts of South Australia and is rare in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. It occurs in two forms as a small tree and less commonly as a multi trunked mallee. The later form more often occurs with Eucalyptus leptophylla (formerly E. foecunda) although this community should be considered threatened and extremely restricted in distribution in South Australia and is probably even rarer in Victoria. E. leptophylla occurs at a frequency of less than 10%, the species has a rare rating in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges botanical district.

The distribution map shows the likely distribution of this community prior to European settlement based on geological evidence and currant distribution. There are several minor occurrences of Eucalyptus odorata at the other sites in Athelstone but I do not consider these sites to be representative of a community but rather isolated occurrences of the species.

Eucalyptus odorata Eucalyptus leptophylla Mallee Low Woodland,Species list:

Acacia paradoxa, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata, Myoporum viscosum, Acacia acinacea, Philotheca angustifolia ssp. angustifolia (formally Eriostemon angustifolia ssp. angustifolia ), Olearia pannosa ssp. pannosa, Olearia ramulosa, Goodenia amplexans, Dianella revoluta var. revoluta, Arthropodium strictum, Bulbine semibarbata, Trachymene pilosa, Lagenifera huegelii , Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis Woodland

On intermittent or seasonal streams and flood-plains in fertile alluvial loams and black cracking clays.

image015.jpgThis vegetation community occurs on a number of floodplains, along creeks including Third, Fourth and Fifth Creeks and adjoins the River Torrens. Other examples occur along minor creeks in Rostrevor and Athelstone. Highest quality examples remaining in the Campbelltown area are on Fifth Creek at Wadmore Park. There are no intact examples of this vegetation community in the vicinity of Adelaide. Remaining examples are highly modified by clearing and grazing in early years of settlement and then significantly impacted by increased winter water discharges and decreased summer flows. These sites have also been highly degraded by weeds as a result of disturbance, moisture levels and soil fertility.

This community has the greatest area represented in Campbelltown largely due to linear reserves being created around the flood zones of creeks and many old specimens, being hollowed, deemed not suitable for timber milling. Trees are also long lived, possibly exceeding five hundred years of age and no doubt many specimens in the Campbelltown area particularly on Fourth Creek are examples of pre-European settlement trees.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis woodland on intermittent or seasonal streams, species list:

Allocasuarina verticillata, Callitris gracilis, Acacia pycnantha, Acacia myrtifolia, Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spatulata, Olearia ramulosa, Phragmites australis, Juncus usitatus, Cyperus vaginatus, Carex tereticaulis, Isolepis nodosa, Baumea juncea, Rubus parvifolius, Lythrum hyssopifolia, Pterostylis pedunculata, Microtis unifolia complex, Geranium retrorsum.

Eucalyptus fasciculosa Low Woodland

In shallow coarse sands over weathered quartzite rocks. image017.jpg

Confined to a small area of suitable geology in the suburb of Athelstone, this community has never extended far on to the Adelaide plain which generally has alkaline clay and clay loams. Both Black Hill Conservation Park and Morialta conservation Park have large areas of conserved Eucalyptus fasciculosa woodland.

Eucalyptus fasciculosa also occurs with a range of other species either as a co-dominant with Eucalyptus baxteri in higher parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges or locally as an understory small tree with Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon.

In Athelstone the best remaining example of Eucalyptus fasciculosa woodland occurs in Wadmore Park in the south western corner. A substantial area of this community was removed with the creation of the adjoining housing development between Wadmore Park and Black Hill Conservation Park.

Eucalyptus fasciculosa Low woodland species list:

Acacia paradoxa, Calytrix tetragona, Hibbertia sericea, Dianella revoluta, Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura, Leptospermum myrsinoides, Santalum acuminatum, Pultenaea acerosa var. acicularis, Hakea rostrata, Hakea carinata, Burchardia umbellata, Ptilotuserubescens, Astroloma humifusum, Trachymene cyanopetala, Pimelea humilis, Levenhookia dubia, Grevillea lavandulacea, Plantago sp, Astroloma conostephioides, Neurachne alopecuroidea,Gonocarpus elatus,Cheilanthes sieberi ssp. sieberi, Arthropodium strictum, Goodenia geniculata, Tricoryne elatior, Eutaxia microphylla.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis Woodland

Along watercourses in permanent or near permanent moisture in fertile alluvial loams. image019.jpg

This community occurs along the immediate edge of the River Torrens and at a spring on Third Creek. This community has been distinguished from Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis on intermittent creeks and flood plains because the understory components vary considerably and that a number of these understory components from this community cannot be established in the drier Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis woodlands.

This community is, surprisingly, reasonably intact in some sites considering the impact of increased runoffs from residential water discharge and the quality of that water. Riparian vegetation has evolved to periodical flooding and this is a resilient understory. This community would have previously included a number of native aquatic plant species ie Potamogeton tepperi, P. crispus and Myriophyllum sp. which have largely disappeared from the area.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis woodland on permanent or near permanent watercourses, species list:

Acacia provincialis (formally A. retinodes swamp form), Leptospermum lanigerum, Melaleuca brevifolia, Callistemon sieberi, Typha domingensis, Phragmites australis, Cyperus vaginatus, Juncus pauciflorus, Carex tereticaulis, Calystegia sepium, Lythrum hyssopifolia.

Calytrix tetragona Low Heath

In light brown consolidated sandy loams. image021.jpg

This community is the smallest distributed of all communities in Campbelltown and its authenticity has been reconsidered on many occasions.

It occurs in Wadmore Park and is an area that for reasons unknown Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon has not established. There are additional sites in Wadmore Park that are very similar and have no Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon and these may be the result of modification and hence have not been included as Calytrix tetragona low heath.

In addition to structural difference Calytrix tetragona also has an orchid species, Prasophyllum odoratum, which has not been recorded elsewhere in Campbelltown.

A change in fire regimes could be a threat to this community which has seen many older Calytrix tetragona plants die particularly in the dry years of 2007 and 2008 and regeneration would probably be aided by a fire.

Calytrix tetragona low heath, Wadmore Park, Athelstone

Calytrix tetragona Low Heath species list:

Astroloma conostephioides, Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia, Hibbertia sericea, Neurachne alopecuroidea , Burchardia umbellata, Drosera peltata, Arthropodium strictum, Lepidosperma viscidum, Gonocarpus elatus, Thelymitra pauciflora, Thelymitra rubra, Wahlenbergia gracilenta, Poranthera microphylla, Chamaescilla corymbosa, Prasophyllum odoratum, Microtis unifolia complex and Orthoceras strictum.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon Woodland

In light brown consolidated sandy loams. image023.jpg

This community is the most intact, best conserved vegetation community in Campbelltown. The best examples occur in Wadmore Park with lesser examples in Sheperdson Avenue and Fox Avenue Reserves, Athelstone.

Because of the relatively poor soils that this community occurs on it was not extensively cleared and was more highly impacted in the 1960's when parts of Athelstone were developed for housing.

In Wadmore Park this community occurs with a range of understory components.

Large areas of this community occurred in Tea Tree Gully where much has been lost to housing development.

This community contains the two most highly threatened understory plant species in the Campbelltown area, Prasophyllum pallidum, nationally vulnerable and Prasophyllum pruinosum, which is state vulnerable but flagged to be elevated to a national listing because of its rarity and restricted distribution.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon Woodland on light brown consolidated sandy loams, species list:

Allocasuarina verticillata, Acacia pycnantha, Hakea rugosa, Acacia paradoxa, Calytrix tetragona, Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata, Dianella revoluta, Oleariaramulosa, Allocasuarina muelleriana ssp. muelleriana, Chrysocephalum apiculatum, Tricoryne elatior, Arthropodium strictum, Burchardia umbellata, Neurachne alopecuroidea, Gonocarpus elatus, Astroloma conostephioides, Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia, Juncus subsecundus, Thelymitra nuda, Thelymitra pauciflora, Lomandra multiflora ssp. dura, Caladenia tentaculata.


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