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Friendly Beaches

121 ha
190km NE of Hobart
Traditional Owners:
Tasmanian Aboriginal people

In your rush to get down to the glittering ocean waters of Tasmania’s Friendly Beaches Reserve, you’d be forgiven for overlooking what lies further back behind the sand dunes.

But a more leisurely exploration of this reserve, which is a natural extension of its famous neighbour, Freycinet National Park, would turn up coastal heath overlooking a large saltwater lagoon, and beyond that Black Gum and Silver Peppermint Forests.

The coastal heath here is one of the most diverse plant communities found in Tasmania.

Black Swans against a back drop of coastal forest at Friendly Beaches Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

The heath can burst into flower at any time of the year, producing a profusion of nectar that draws honeyeaters, such as the Eastern Spinebill and New Holland Honeyeater from far and wide. The coastal heathlands on this stretch of coast are among the largest remaining in Tasmania.

Farther inland lies Black Gum forest, which loves the wet drainage lines snaking out from Saltwater Lagoon. Since European settlement more than 90% of these forests have been destroyed, and Black Gum forest is now endangered in Tasmania.

All this is protected thanks to our generous supporters.

A Bennetts Wallaby amongst coastal wattle at Friendly Beaches. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

What Friendly Beaches Reserve protects

Animals: Spotted-tail Quoll (nationally vulnerable), Scarlet Robin, White-bellied Sea-eagle (vulnerable in Tasmania).

Plants: Sand Grasstree (nationally vulnerable), Southern Grasstree, Warty Paperbark (rare), Tasmanian Blue Gum, Juniper Wattle (rare), Slender Honey Myrtle.

Vegetation communities: Black gum forest (nationally critically endangered), Silver Peppermint forest and woodland (vulnerable), coastal heathland, Black Peppermint coastal forest and woodland.

Life on the edge

Lurking behind the natural beauty of Friendly Beaches Reserve lie two threats that call for constant vigilance.

The first is the ever-present danger of the mould Phytophthora cinnamomi, also known as root rot fungus, which attacks root systems and cuts off a plant’s ability to take in nutrients and survive.

Our ecologist Matt Appleby describes this disease as a destructive wave moving through the vegetation.

If Phytophthora hit these heathlands, the invasion front would show green, healthy banksia leaves turning rusty orange, and behind them would lie a field of banksias drained of colour and life, as well as other susceptible species such as grasstrees and hakeas.

Tasmanian Devils. Photo Steve Parish.
Tasmanian Devils. Photo Steve Parish.

The other threat is also a disease, and menaces the Tasmanian Devils that wander in and out of this reserve as they hunt for food.

Devil Facial Tumour Disease is a terrible cancer that first surfaced in 1996 among Tasmania’s north-east devil population, and since then devil numbers have declined by more than 80% in all but the far north-west of Tasmania. Ongoing research into this terrible disease is critical to the future survival of the Tassie Devil.