Mt. William National Park has an amazing diversity of animals. It is an important sanctuary for the Forester (or eastern grey) kangaroo (now restricted to several properties in the Midlands and north-east of the State), wombats, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons are also common. They are usually best seen in the early morning or around sunset.
Another common animal is the echidna. It can often be found during the day, particularly in the summer months, foraging for ants. Brush-tailed possums and Tasmanian devils are common in the Park, but being nocturnal are not readily seen during the day.
Bird life is rich and varied, with nearly 100 species occurring here. The extensive coastal heaths favour various species of honey-eater including the tawny-crowned and crescent honey-eater. Other heathland species include the superb blue wren, flame, dusk and scarlet robin, firetail finch, striated pardalote and the introduced kookaburra. Occasional flocks of yellow-tailed black cockatoos can be seen or heard flying overhead or feeding in trees and bushes. Their raucous, rasping cry is hard to miss.
Being a coastal park, Mt. William is an excellent area for observing sea birds. Gulls, terns, gannets, and albatrosses can be seen, as well as both the pied and sooty oystercatcher. Although not common, both the white-bellied sea eagle and the wedge-tailed eagle can sometimes be spotted soaring overhead. Mt William is also the first and last stop off point for some migratory birds such as mutton birds, silver-eyes and swamp harriers.
Mt William area has a rich diversity of vegetation. Coastal heathlands and woodlands, which dominate the park, contain hundreds of different plant species, many of which flower colourfully in spring and summer. Heath is frequently found on poorer soils, such as those here, which result from weathered granite and wind blown sand. The coastal heathland plants are generally low-growing, shaped by wind and salt spray. Most of the plants in the park require periodic fire for regeneration and survival.
The large population of marsupials has also combined with previous farming practices to maintain large areas of open "lawn". Their constant grazing keeps trees and shrubs from getting established.
Xanthorrhoea, with its grass-like skirt and tall flower spike, is very common throughout the park. The coastal sand dunes are home for succulent creeping plants and specialised grasses. Scattered behind the dunes are a number of temporary marshes and paperbark swamps. These areas dry up over summer and fill with water again during the wetter months. Species of trees that are common in the park include black peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina) and black gum (E. ovata) . Smaller common trees are banksias, she-oaks and bull-oaks. Some rare plants, such as Zieria veronicea (a small coastal shrub) and Villarsia exaltata (commonly known as Erect marsh flower), are also found in the park. Current research is helping to gain knowledge about such plants and their requirements.
boulders are a feature
(Photo by Grant Dixon)
Like so much of the east coast, Mt William's geology is dominated by granite. This rock originated around 380 million years ago when there was a period of plate collision and mountain building called the Taberraberan Orogeny. The resulting volcanic heat "baked" materials that were then still several km below the earth's surface, slowly transforming them into the large-grained rock now revealed at the surface.
Apart from being visible at the coast, granite also has a major influence on the type of landforms which have developed in the area. Because it has a high quartz content, granite breaks down into a very pure sand. This makes beautiful white beaches but often impoverished soils. Other notable features include the beach ridges or parallel dunes behind Boulder Point. These were formed around 130 000 years ago during a warmer period when the sea level was higher. The dunes are up to 32m above current sea level.