Marino Conservation Park is a small park situated within the southern suburbs of metropolitan Adelaide. The Mt Lofty ranges form the eastern backdrop of Adelaide, but in the south, they curve towards the coast at Marino Rocks. Here, on the last high point before the sea, is the Marino Lighthouse.
Marino Conservation Park covers about 30 hectares just north of the Lighthouse. It was proclaimed as a conservation park in 1989, but has always been Crown Land. Since European settlement, most of it has only been used as grazing land, though a deep gully was used as a garbage tip by Marion Council, and has since been covered by landfill.
From the crest near the lighthouse, there are magnificent views over the city, and along Adelaide’s metropolitan beaches.
Marino Conservation Park lies to the south west of the Adelaide metropolitan area. It occupies 30 hectares on the crests of two ridges running parallel to the coast, and the gullies between them. It is bounded on the west by the Adelaide – Noarlunga railway; on the north by Bundarra Road; on the east by Park View Terrace; and on the south by a pastoral property. A high point is on the southern boundary, where the Lighthouse has been erected on land that has been excised from the Park. This area is under the control of the Federal Department of Communications and Transport.
Three gullies drain the western slopes towards the sea, and two drain to the north. The deepest of these, closest to the eastern boundary, has been filled with domestic rubbish and is now covered with landfill.
The Management Plan for the Marino Conservation Park states that Darlington Loam predominates over most of the site. However, on the steep hillsides where coastal heath is best developed, soils are extremely thin, overlaying limestone, and with many rocks exposed.
Temperature (at Adelaide Airport)
Mean maximum temperature: Winter 14.9 degrees K; summer 27.9 degrees K
Mean minimum temperature: Winter 2.1 degrees K; summer 9.4 degrees K
‘Prevailing summer winds in the region are from south to southeast, usually swinging to southwest in the afternoons. During winter months, winds range from the northwest to southwest, with gales associated with the passage of cold fronts from the southwest.’ (Management Plan). Winds are thus almost always from a westerly direction, directly off the ocean.
The slopes covered with coastal heath are fully exposed to sunlight. There are no shadowed gullies or caves.
Local knowledge indicates that rainfall in the Park may be slightly higher than that recorded for nearby coastal suburbs.
Shallow soil and gentle to steep slopes mean that all areas carrying coastal heath are extremely well drained.
Adaption of indigenous plants
Ecological conditions are generally difficult for plant growth. Soils are shallow, soil water not in abundance, and constant salt-laden winds sweep off the sea. Absence of shade means that temperatures are often extreme. Plant species which succeed in these conditions are adapted to cope with these conditions.