, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 177-192

The monsoon forests of the Admirality Gulf, Western Australia

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Recent investigation has revealed the occurrence of patches of ‘monsoon forest’ (Semi-evergreen and Deciduous Vine Thickets sensu Webb 1959) in the north Kimberley District of Western Australia. Rainfall is much higher in this area than was previously assumed and reaches 1500 mm annually. As in southern Queensland these forests occur only on basic igneous rocks. A description is given of the general vegetation of the Mitchell Plateau and of the monsoon forests found there, based on study of seven sites, three of them ‘high-level’ on the scarps of the bauxite plateau, three ‘low-level’ on the lower basalt country and one riverain. Eleven species not previously listed in published records for Western Australia were found. All were known from the Northern Territory and represent an extension of the known range of species comprised in the Indo-Malaysian element of the Australian flora.

The writer is indebted to Mr. P. Wilson of the Western Australian Herbarium for much trouble taken in identifying the specimens collected on the Mitchell Plateau, to Messrs, C. Dunlop of the Darwin Herbarium and D. McGillivray of the National Herbarium, Sydney, for additional advice, to Mr. M. I. H. Brooker for the identification of eucalypts and to Mr. J. R. Maconochie for cycads, to Dr. L. J. Webb for advice, to the Amax Exploration Co. Ltd. for help and facilities at the Mitchell Plateau Camp and especially to their caretaker Mr. M. Marshall and his staff, and to the managers of Doongan and Mitchell River Stations (Messrs. A. Dawe and D. Powers) for assistance along the way without which the Mitchell Flateau could not have been reached. The expedition was materially assisted by Dr. Jack Sunderman and financially supported by the Interim Council for the Australian Biological Resources Study.