Prevailing westerly and south westerly winds have led

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Prevailing westerly and south-westerly winds have led to the formation of a series of sand dunes that form a rim around the Island. There are two major dune systems: New Dunes and Old Dunes (Jennings 1957; Richley 1984). Originating in the Holocene (the last 10,000 years of the Earth’s history), parabolic dunes of the New Dunes system surround the Island, forming a continuous belt that is up to 4 km wide along the west coast. The New Dunes of the north-east coast are quartz sand, and the most widespread New Dunes of the west coast are calcareous and have been attributed to the Yellow Rock Land System. The Old Dunes can reach a height of 80 m in places and occur sporadically around the Island, extending further inland than the New Dunes. Rock such as quartzite and slate, and glacial and volcanic rocks occur between Grassy and Naracoopa (see Dixon 1994; Donaghey 2003). The Island has several geological sites of National and State Significance. Nationally significant sites include Egg Lagoon, Boggy Creek tufa terraces, Iron Monarch Cave and the City of Melbourne Bay foreshore. Sites of State Significance include Wickham granite, the oldest granite in Tasmania (730 million years old), Seal Rocks calcareous solution tubes, the ‘Calcified Forest’ (Donaghey 2003), Cowper Point Dunes and the Lavinia Peatland Complex (Corbett & Corbett 2010). King Island Biodiversity Management Plan 9
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Climate The Island experiences a mild maritime climate, with an average winter minimum of 9 o C and an average summer maximum of 20 o C. Average annual rainfall in Currie on the west coast is 850 mm, most of which falls between April and October (Bureau of Meteorology 2008). Frosts are infrequent and the prevailing south-westerly winds (‘Roaring Forties’) can reach over 100 km/h (Donaghey 2003). Pre-European vegetation French zoologist Francis Péron visited King Island in 1802 describing the vegetation in the area they explored as ‘strong and vigorous’: ‘… in various places the trees and shrubs are so close to the surface of the ground and their debris is so plentiful everywhere, that it is almost impossible to penetrate into the middle of the forests; but, in general, the plants which make up these forests do not show the gigantic proportions that we admired in those of Van Diemen’s Land; yet they belong to the same species as these last ........ The fern-families, the mosses and the fungi have a great number of species as beautiful as they are vigorous’ (in Finzel 2004, p. 17). A visit by the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria to the Island in November 1887, commented that they: ‘…had considerable difficulty traversing the Island, owing to the fact that it’s northern half was covered with dense scrub and its southern part with impenetrable forest’ (Campbell 1888). 2.2 European settlement There is still debate over who originally ‘discovered’ King Island, however it was first named by Mr John Black who arrived on the Harbinger in 1801 (Alexander 1921). The Island was not settled permanently until nearly a century later in 1888, when it was sectioned off for farming (Donaghey 2003).
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