Wilson's Promontory

©Wikimedia Commons/ Kauos
Wilson's Promontory Biosphere Reserve, Australia

Wilson’s Promontory Biosphere Reserve is situated along the coast of the Bass Strait in Southeast Australia. Sheltered coves accompanied by steep granite cliffs and headlands, as well as swamps and intertidal mudflats, characterize the topography of the reserve. The granitic promontory connects to a thin Isthmus that crosses the Bass Strait from northeastern Tasmania to the mainland. The rugged landscape and other geological features of the promontory were created by erosion.


Designation Date: 1981
Administrative Authorities: Parks Victoria.
Surface area: 58,714 ha
Core area(s): 58,714 ha (terrestrial: 50,400 ha; marine: 8,314 ha)

Latitude: 38°59’2.4”S
Longitude: 146°21’50.4”E
Centre point: 38°51'5.2"S - 146°22'48"E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ John Manger
Wilson's Promontory Biosphere Reserve, Australia

Eleven main habitats can be found on the reserve, including mangroves, heathlands, dunes, rainforests and woodlands. Around 99% of the land is covered by native vegetation, with 296 species of fauna, 40 of which are threatened or rare. Almost half of all Victorian species belong to the avifauna of the reserve, with 50% of known Victorian freshwater species also located in its habitats. Examples of main species include the Long-nosed Potoroo, Swamp Antechinus and New Holland Mouse. Examples of endangered species living in Wilson’s Promontory include Botaurus poiciloptilus (Australasian Bittern), Dermochelys coriacea (Leathery Turtle) and Galaxias cleaver (Australian Mudfish). In addition, over 740 native vascular plant species grow in the reserve, more than 100 of which are threatened or infrequent. The southernmost stands of white mangroves in the world and warm temperate rainforests of Blackwood and Lilly Pilly have been recorded in the area. Moreover, the hybridization of Mountain Ash, Shining Peppermint, Messmate, and Brown and Yellow Stringybarks produces astonishing differences of form and growth of these forests. Flora species that are rare in Victoria or all of Australia, and found in the reserve, include Apium insulare (Island Celery), Eucalyptus kitsoniana (Bog Gum) and Exocarpos syrticola (Coast Ballart).


Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ Steve Bennett
Wilson's Promontory Biosphere Reserve, Australia

Thirty-four staff members live permanently in the reserve, and 2,500 seasonal visitors stay in Wilson’s Promontory for up to four weeks a year. The local communities – mostly famers and their families – live in the nearest major towns of Yanakie, Foster and Fish Creek. Local Aboriginals acknowledge the reserve as a highly spiritual place that has been occupied by their ancestors for over 6,500 years. Common sites of Aboriginals who used to live in the coastal areas of the reserve include artefact scatters and shell middens. Relics from the early 1800s, such as gold mining sites, post offices, whaling station remains and shipwrecks also provide evidence of a long history of recreational and commercial activities of non-Aboriginals. Nowadays, apiculture, fishery and tourism are the main economic activities practised within the biosphere reserve. Around 400,000 national and 15,000 foreign tourists visit Wilson’s Promontory annually, in order to undertake a variety of activities, including hiking, fishing, power boating, camping and swimming.


> Back to Biosphere Reserves in Australia

                                                                                           Last update:  January 2015

Back to top