7. Biological Studies of the Prom – and Fires

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The biological survey of 1905 had provided a wealth of information about the natural resources of the Promontory but the Committee of Management was well aware that there was ample scope for further investigation.

Accordingly, two botanists from the National Herbarium and Botanic Garden—J. W. Audas and H. P. R. St John—were commissioned to make a systematic study of the vegetation of the park and, in September 1908, the first of a series of expeditions was commenced.

Both men were regarded as competent naturalists and their reports contained much of general interest as well as their observations on the vegetation. The tally of 182 different species of plant recorded during the 1905 survey was increased by Audas and St. John to 364. All of the additions were located in the south and south-west sector, which was the portion they first examined.

Again no foxes, rabbits or lyrebirds were seen, although the two men were convinced that the lyrebird did in fact inhabit the gullies of Mount Latrobe.

The dingo, so abundant 40 or 50 years earlier, had apparently gone altogether—supplanted by the wild dog which they considered to be a much greater pest than the dingo was ever likely to have been. Although Sambar Deer were reputed to be on the Promontory they saw only the diminutive Hog Deer and this animal was believed to be there in only small numbers…

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