Tucker in the dunes

Dune plants don’t just provide a buffer for our beaches capturing windblown sand to build dunes. Long before European settlers saw value in the beach landscape (for many good and bad reasons); local Indigenous people used to forage the native dune plants for their special properties.

Coastal banksia (Banksia integrifolia) is a common tree found along the foreshore and is known for its striking bottlebrush type yellow flowers. Filled with nectar for native birdlife and insects, Aboriginal people also ate the nectar, dipped the blossoms in water for a nutritious drink and used the seed cones as hairbrushes.

Coastal wattle (Acacia sophorae) is a rambling, dense shrub also found along the foreshore of Gold Coast’s beaches. The flowers are bright yellow in colour and seed pods twist to release the seeds, which Aboriginal people used to eat when roasted.

Cypress pine (Callistris columellaris), also known as the beach Christmas tree is a tall pine tree found on sandy soils. Aborigines used the strong, straight timber to make spears and resin from the tree was used to join spear heads to the shaft.

Fan flower (Scaevola calendulacea) is a sprawling herb with delicate, purple, fan-shaped flowers. The leaves are succulent and help form an important dune stabiliser. Aborigines used to forage on the purplish, succulent fruit that is edible and mildly sweet and salty.

Although very toxic, the poisonous seeds of Gidee gidee (Abrus precatorius) were used by Aboriginals to decorate implements and necklaces. You can see the vigorous, slender twining plant growing under the canopy along Federation Walk Coastal Reserve.

And one of the most common dune plants on the Gold Coast, coastal pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens) gets its ‘infamous’ name from its delicious salty/sweet pink fruit that looks like a pig’s face. Not everyone enjoys the taste of coastal pigface though, so it’s best to leave the fruit for the native fauna to forage.

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  • For more information about the unique dunes of the Gold Coast or our beaches in general, contact Griffith Centre for Coastal Management – gccm@griffith.edu.au.
  • Information sourced from Coastal Plant Pocket Guide: The Gold Coast region and Building Dunes for the Community and the Coast: How to care for coastal dunes.

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