Small town in the heart of Western Australia's wildflower area
Eneabba, which was not gazetted until 1961, is basically a sand mining service town surrounded by some of the most spectacular wildflower displays anywhere in Western Australia. The town itself is nothing more than modern housing, a small shopping centre and a service station. The wealth of the area is based on the sands which lie to the south of the town. Iluka Resources Ltd. estimate that there is 2.1 million tonnes of zircon and titanium to be extracted from the area.
Eneabba is located 287 km north from Perth via the Brand Highway.^ TOP
Origin of Name
The area around Eneabba was opened up to farming in the 1950s with a development called the Eneabba Project. The name was adopted for the town in 1961. Eneabba was probably the local Aboriginal name for some nearby springs and it is believed to mean "small water", from "ena" meaning water and "abba" meaning small or, alternatively, simply "ground spring".^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Looking at wildflowers
Eneabba is surrounded by no fewer than eight national heritage reserves which, in the spring months, offer some of the very best displays of wildflowers anywhere in Western Australia.
* Alexander Morrison National Park - Located 57 km south east of Eneabba, this national park is a combination of a sandplain and low lateritic breakaways. It is important because it has extensive stands of the low woodland and mallee which is typical of the area. Check out the Parks and Wildlife Service website (https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/alexander-morrison) which notes of the park: "The impoverished soils of the northern sandplains, severely depleted of trace elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus, have allowed this unique flora to evolve in these harsh conditions. Plants to look for include: Proteaceae family - numerous species of banksia, 20 species of dryandra, grevillea, smokebush and hakea. The Myrtaceae family - colourful verticordia (morrison, featherflower), honeymyrtle, eremaea, calitrix and calothamnus. Leschenaultia, kangaroo paws, pea and conostylis species are prolific. The proliferation of poison peas saved this area from clearing for stock pasture."
* Lesueur National Park - Located 63 km to the south of Eneabba (between Green Head and Jurien Bay), the Lesueur National Park covers 26,987 ha and extends from the huge white coastal sand dunes inland to Mount Lesueur. It is home to a wide variety of banksias and eucalypts. The Parks and Wildlife Service website (https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/downloads/parks/2006035_lesueur_np_brochure.pdf ) notes: "It is home to over 900 plant species – 10 per cent of Western Australia’s known flora – including acacias, hibbertias, leschenaultias, melaleucas, gastrolobiums. There are many different orchids such as pink enamel, purple enamel, cowslip, blue lady, white spider and donkey orchids. In spring several varieties of kangaroo paw are predominant. There are a variety of vegetation types in the park. The exceptionally diverse low heath, called Kwongan by Aborginal people, covers a large portion of the park. Creek lines and low areas have woodlands of wandoo, redgum and banksia.
"Landforms in the park vary from salt lakes and remnant coastal dunes in the north-west through to laterite ridges in the east. The flat-topped laterite mesas of Mount Lesueur and Mount Michaud are features of the park.
"Birds and reptiles are abundant in the park. Carnaby’s cockatoo is among the 122 species of native bird found in the park. There are 52 reptile species. The park is particularly rich is geckoes and legless lizards. As with plants and birds, many of the reptiles in the park found here are at the southern or northern limits of their range." Check out https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/lesueur for more information.
* Beekeepers Reserve - Located 20 km north of Eneabba and accessed by the Brand Highway and Beekeepers Road, this reserve offers impressive wildflower displays. It has been preserved for local beekeepers who, during the spring and summer, reap a rich harvest from the pollen and nectar of the local wildflowers. For more information check out http://www.carnamah.wa.gov.au/visitors/national-parks-reserves.
* Lake Indoon - Located 14 km south west of Eneabba, Lake Indoon is a low lying lake about 2 km long and 1 km wide which is a popular picnic spot. The lake covers 130 ha and there is a walk around the shoreline which is about 4.5 km long. There is camping available with toilets, rainwater tanks and barbecue facilities. It is surrounded by stands of paperbark, giant cycad, flooded gums, river gums and banksias. There are interesting murals on the toilet block and water tank. Check out http://www.carnamah.wa.gov.au/visitors/lake-indoon for more information.
* Lake Logue Nature Reserve - Located 16 km west of Eneabba, it reputedly has the finest wildflower displays in the area. There is a 35 km track around the lake which is suitable only for 4WD vehicles but which offers diverse land and flora types which characterise the nature reserve. Check out http://eneabba.net/Eneabba/Lake-Logue.html for photos of the lake.
* South Eneabba Nature Reserve - Located 5 km south of the town on both sides of the Brand Highway this is another wonderland of wildflowers in the spring months. There are good photos of the wildflowers at https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Eneabba-Nature-Reserve/1722697814636525.
* Stockyard Gully Reserve - Located 15 km southwest of Eneabba, is notable for its caves and caverns which can be accessed on 4WD tracks. The area is noted for its particularly fine stands of banksia in the spring months. Check out http://www.carnamah.wa.gov.au/visitors/national-parks-reserves for more information.
* Tathra National Park - Located 28 km east of the town on the edge of the wheatbelt, the Tathra National Park is defined by "open sandy country [which] is called the ‘kwongan'. The kwongan contains over 2600 species of plants, over 70% of the species in southern Western Australia. Many kwongan species have specialised adaptations to grow in the low nutrient soils of this region and have deep root systems to obtain sub-surface moisture and specialised feeder roots in the humus layer. Peas and sheoaks have root nodules that contain bacteria to fix nitrogen. Most species use fungi to aid nutrient uptake, either inside or surrounding the root sheath. Some plants are carnivorous - the droseras (sundews), or parasitic - quandong and nuytsia trees.
"Most plants have woody fruits to protect against fire, a food attractant to large cockatoos. The magnificent floral display in spring indicates that many plants rely on birds for pollination. A large quantity of large and vibrant coloured flowers are required to satisfy their nectar requirements." For more information check out https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/tathra.
Other Attractions in the Area
How to See WA Wildflowers - A Guide
When planning a trip there are a number of very simple rules.
(1) Start by downloading Your Holiday Guide to Western Australia’s Wildflowers at http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/things_to_do/forest_and_flowers/pages/wawildflowers.aspx#/. It is a comprehensive guide to the wildflowers. There are over 12,000 species and 60% of them are found nowhere else on the planet.
(2) There is a tendency to say "But I won't know what I'm looking at" but that is rubbish. There are a number of great books and the best, by far, is the answer to "Wildflowers for Dummies" titled Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia. It is privately published by Wajon Publishing Company, written by Eddie Wajon, and comes in three volumes – 1. Kalbarri and the Goldfields, 2. Perth and the Southwest and 3. Esperance and the Wheatbelt. They can all be purchased online from Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth. Check out https://www.aspectsofkingspark.com.au.
The publication's design masterstroke is that the flowers are listed according to their colours and all the pages are colour coded. Thus Mr and Mrs Wildflower Illiterate, when gazing at a Spiny Synaphea, only need to open at the "yellow flowers" section and flick through until they find the colour photo which matches the reality. The company can be contacted directly on (08) 9310 2936.
(3) No one should ever underestimate the power of local knowledge and assistance. The Western Australian wheatbelt, probably because of the declining prices for both wool and wheat and the increased levels of salinity, has decided that the spring wildflowers are a good for the local economy and worthy of patronage. When innocently asking where I might see a wreath flower (they are a flower which naturally forms itself in a circle like a wreath – particularly appealing to those with a morbid interest in death) at the local coffee shop in Morowa I was told that there were some in the area but the person who knew was at the information office.
At the information office I was advised, and this is verbatim, to "drive down the main street until you see the road that crosses over the railway line, drive across the line and past the Police Station and Fire Station (or is it the SES), turn right at the next road, continue up past the sheds for a couple of hundred yards [metres haven't arrived here yet] and you'll see some beside the road". Absorbing the instructions I headed off and three minutes later, having noticed a sign reading "Wreath Flowers" on a fence, I found the plant.
Morowa also publish a leaflet titled Morowa Wildflower Drives which, if you were thorough, could keep you in the area for a couple of days.
At the next town, Mingenew (which, for lovers of Australian Big Things now boasts the Big Wheat Stalk – known locally as "Big Ears") the information centre provides both a map and a list of locations with details like "20 km on the Pingelly road on the left hand side there are some excellent wreath flowers". And at Watheroo there's a wonderful local mud map with wryly enthusiastic comments like "Heaps of banksia, grevillea, snake bush etc along the road" and, getting quite technical "Rare and Endangered. E. Rhodantha (rose mallee) Only large patch in the world".
(4) There is a logical route which can be honed or expanded according to the amount of time you want to spend.
The best starting place, if you want to get a good foretaste of what you are about to experience in the wild, is to visit Kings Park & Botanic Garden in the heart of Perth. Apart from offering sensational views over the Swan River and the Perth CBD the gardens boast a 17 hectare area which has more than 1700 native species of wildflowers. This is, not surprisingly, rather pristine and not very wild but it does allow you to develop a working knowledge of devils pins, kangaroo paws, desert peas, everlastings, starflowers, grevilleas, firebush, a range of orchids and hundreds of other natives.
You really don't need to be a flora expert. All you need are your eyes and a sense of wonder because the Western Australian wildflowers in spring really are as remarkable and significant as a unique part of Australia as Uluru, the Great Ocean Road or Cradle Mountain.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the district was home to Aboriginal people from the Amangu language group.
* In 1839 the explorer George Grey and his expedition passed through the area and named the Arrowsmith River.
* In 1870 William Horsley Rowland took up a 3,000 acre lease at Eneabba Springs.
* The name Eneabba Spring was recorded by G.M.Nunn, a surveyor, in 1903.
* In the 1950s the Eneabba War Service Land Settlement Project established farms in the area for soldiers returning from World War II.
* The town was gazetted in 1961.
* Mineral sand mining started at Eneabba in 1977.
* Iluka Resources took over sand mining in the area in 1988.
* Iluka Resources closed the Eneabba mine in 2013 due to a collapse in demand for heavy mineral sands. The region still contains large reserves of titanium and zircon.^ TOP
There is no visitor information centre at Eneabba. The closest is Three Springs Visitor Centre, Railway Road, tel: (08) 9954 1590.^ TOP
There is no dedicated Eneabba website. The local shire - Shire of Carnamah - website has some useful information. Check out http://www.carnamah.wa.gov.au.^ TOP