Western Sandplains (Environmental Region 8.2)
This region consists of 20 environmental association. It occupies the entire western half of the province and comprises a vast area of sandplains and dunes, with tall mallee shrublands and low open woodlands of mulga (Acacia aneura) and various eucalypts, mainly over hummock grass (Triodia spp.) or short-lived tufted grasses such as blackheads (Enneapogon spp.) and kerosene grass (Aristida contorta). The dunes vary in height between 10 and 20 m and in the frequency from 1 to 4 per km. Numerous granitic inselbergs, sparsely vegetated with low shrubs (native fuchsia (Eremophila spp.) and birdseye (Cassia spp.)), rare low trees such as mulga, and tufted grasses, rise prominently above the plain or form low rocky outcrops. Salinas with crusty red duplex soils carrying some samphire are locally prominent and mainly occupy former drainage lines. In the east where drift sands overlie the silcrete plain which further to the east becomes region 8.3, mulga woodlands with an understory of kerosene grass (Aristida contorta or A. browniana on deeper sands), or kerosene grass and blackheads (Enneapogon spp.) on shallower sands, are dominant. Foreground to middleground panoramas on dunefields constitute a limited scenic resource, providing perspective, detailed and sometimes enclosed views. The climate is warm to hot in summer and cool to cold in winter, with extremely low and unreliable rainfall and very high evaporation throughout the year. Mean annual rainfall varies from 1500 mm in the south to 200 mm in the north of the region bordering the Musgrave Ranges. Temperatures show considerable diurnal and seasonal variation. Mean monthly evaporation reaches 500 mm in summer and falls to 110 mm in winter at Maralinga in the south. Mean annual evaporation increases from 3000 mm in the south to 4000 mm in the north-east.