Flinders Chase National Park recovering, rebuilding after bushfire destruction on Kangaroo Island

The Islander last month was fortunate to be granted access to Flinders Chase and was able to see the completed clean-up of the visitor centre building area resulting in a cleared pad.

There was also reconstruction work being done by expert stonemasons on the historic May's Homestead and Postman's Cottage. See all the photos in the gallery above.

While out at Remarkeable Rocks, park workers had removed what little remained of the old wooden boardwalk and put in rammed earth pathways right to the rocks.

There is also new signage at the rocks as well as elsewhere on the drive out.

Department for Environment and Water's Good Living blog recently posted an update on the recovery at Flinders Chase National Park.

The park is closed to the public until further notice. The Department says this is to give the fragile bushfire-affected environment time and space to regenerate, and allow for continued clean-up, re-built and re-imagine efforts.

The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and accommodation, Admirals Arch and Cape Borda Lightstation and heritage keeper's cottages all survived the bushfires.

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA is looking after these sites while the park is recovering.

The blog also included a video showing the extent of damage and regrowth happening already

Park recovery

Here is more from the blog about plant life bouncing back and the park's regeneration:

The 2019-20 bushfire event on Kangaroo Island was the largest in the island's recorded history. The bushfire burnt most of the western end of the island, including 96 per cent of Flinders Chase National Park (and the adjoining Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area).

But, it doesn't take long for the bush to bounce back. Many native plant species are adapted to survive, regenerate and thrive after fire.

Epicormic growth is a term used for the splashes of greenery emerging on woody trees following bushfires.

Fire triggers dormant buds to sprout again - this is the plant's reaction to stress. Normally these buds are supressed by hormones from active shoots higher up the plant, but because these higher up shoots have been burnt away, the hormones are not there to supress them anymore (yes, trees have hormones too).

Epicormic growth can be very fast. Following the recent rains, some plants are growing a few centimetres a day!

Native sedges, ghanias and other plants are also re-sprouting - some did so within only three weeks of the bushfires.

This re-growth is providing important food for species like wallabies and kangaroos, as well as lesser-known critters like insects, which are an important part of any ecosystem and food chain.

The park's bushland of yaccas, hakeas and mallees are also turning the landscape green again.

Yacca leaves grow very quickly after fires, even when the plant is not much more than a black stump.

The yacca flower spikes that form soon after fires can grow several centimetres a day to a height of over 6 metres within three to six months. This makes them one of the earliest and most important nectar and pollen providers for creatures like lorikeets, pygmy possums and a whole host of insects.

It won't be long until the bush is back.

Bushfires have played an integral part in shaping the ecology of the Australian landscape for millions of years. Warm springs, hot summers, dry vegetation, strong winds and low humidity all create the ideal conditions for fire, with lightning the primary trigger.

The last major bushfire in Flinders Chase National Park was in 2007, but there were others in 1970, 1968, 1958, 1954, 1953 and 1931 (when records began).

The December 2007 bushfire burnt more than 90,000 hectares, of which 75,000 hectares was park and reserve land.

Want to learn more about South Australia's bushfire recovery? Find out how the glossy-black cockatoos are going on KI or how the Adelaide Hills parks are bouncing back after the bushfires.

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