The Hamel Wetlands is a temporary lake, meaning that it is only wet for part of the year. The wetlands plants and animals are well adapted to the cycle of flooding and drying and after the rain, the wetlands come alive with birdlife, native fish, frogs and even crustaceans.
The wetland trail is 550m long and made of limestone. There are many great sights along the trail like five plaques telling you about the different plants and animals in the area. There are a few rules to take into mind when coming to the wetlands such as being quiet, not littering, not taking anything (photos should be your only souvenir), be careful where you step, no stepping on plants or animals, don’t feed the animals, follow the blue markers and no riding motorbikes on the trail please follow these to keep this beautiful place beautiful! Hamel wetlands have a picnic hut where you can sit in the shade and eat a picnic lunch while you watch the birds, listen to the many frogs and look at all of the pretty trees and flowers.
The wetlands are home to many different species of frogs such as the Quacking Frog, Motorbike Frog, Slender Tree Frog, Clicking Froglet, Lea’s Froglet, Moaning Frog and the Banjo Frog. Frog researchers have been trying hard to conserve these precious creatures by observing their behaviour and what they feed on.
The Aboriginal people value the wetlands because of its sources of food, water, medicine and its wildlife. Some ways they used the plants for food was soaking the yellow Marri blossoms in water and it then turns into a sweet drink, they ate a sugary substance that oozed from the trunk and also ate insect larvae that lived under the bark. The red gum that bleeds from the Marri tree and the seeds were eaten as cures for diarrhoea. The trees also provided shelter from the weather and sun.
White Ibis and straw neck ibis are the two main birds that live in the wetlands. They build their nests close together in big groups, they also make them on small bushes and use sticks and straw. There are many other species of birds too, such as WA’s Black Swan, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Musk Duck, Australasian Grebe, Hoary-headed Grebe, Black Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Black-shouldered Kite and many others that are listed below.
There are many species of plants at the wetlands, some are very rare so it is worth taking a look at them. Some of the plants like the Melaleuca rhaphiophylla tree is a popular nesting place for birds, Coots and dusky moorhens use the hollow branches near the base; It has many horizontal forks which would be perfect for a nest of a darter, cormorant or an ibis. In spring many beautiful wildflowers grow attracting hundreds of insects that get eaten by the brown honeyeaters that have bugs as the main part of their diet.
Grass trees are very common along the wetlands trail, they are also easily spotted with their bright green colour and their tall flowering spears. The Grass tree is a home to many small insects and small lizards that sun-bake on the spears and when threatened they simply drop off into the pointy leaves below. The tall spears don’t just attract lizards, they also attract honey eater birds and honey eating insects. When the Grass tree dies, native flies put their larvae inside and fungi also grows. After a while all that is left of the plant is its black hollow stem where snakes and lizards then make their home.