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60. Beaumaris Cliffs 2 (Yacht Squadron) - Fossil Site

This information has been developed from one or more of these publications:

  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance in the Westernport Bay Catchment (1984) by Neville Rosengren.
  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance in the Western Region of Melbourne (1986) by Neville Rosengren
  • Sites of Geological and Geomorphological Significance on the Coast of Port Phillip Bay (1988) by Neville Rosengren.
  • Sites of Environmental Significance in the Flood Plain of the Upper Yarra Valley Region (1983) by Neville Rosengren, Douglas Frood and Kim Lowe (as part of a study of Sites of Environmental Significance by the University of Melbourne for the then Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Authority).
Geological heritage sites, including sites of geomorphological interest and volcanic heritage sites, are under regular revision by the Geological Society of Australia, especially in the assessment of significance and values. Reference should be made to the most recent reports. See the Earth Science Heritage (external link) section of the Geological Society of Australia website for details of geological heritage reports, and a bibliography.

Location:282932. Coastal cliffs and foreshore extending northeast from the Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron.

Access:

Beach Road opposite Cromer Road. Access is difficult and discouraged by poor parking facilities and ambiguous signposting related to entry to the Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron.

Ownership:

Crown land, City of Mordialloc.

Geology/Geomorphology:

This description is similar to that of
site 59. The coast is a steep to vertical and undercut cliff of Black Rock Sandstone. There is only a narrow shore platform and the numerous large blocks of fallen sandstone at the cliff base make traversing this section difficult and restricted to low tides. This long sequence of steep cliffs lies parallel to the axis of the Beaumaris Monocline, a major tectonic structure aligned northeast-southwest with a downthrow to the southeast. This structure determines the coastal orientation between Table Rock Point and Charman Road (Site 61). The Black Rock Sandstone is 15 m thick and outcrops in the cliffs, the platform, and as small reefs parallel to the coastline. At the base of the cliffs is a thin calcareous sandstone overlain by fine sandy marl and sandstone with calcareous concretions. Higher in the cliffs the beds are ferruginised, with hard ironstone in the upper sections. The lower beds are richly fossiliferous and have long been known as the best and most diverse fossil locality in the Melbourne area. This locality has yielded a greater number and more diverse assemblage of fossils than any other comparable locality in Australia. The best known fossils are from the ‘Lovenia” beds about 3 m above high water mark where the large numbers of very well preserved specimens of the echinoid Lovenia forbesi are found. Numerous fossils derived from the cliff beds have also been recovered from blocks fallen on the shore.

At the base of the Black Rock Sandstone, and outcropping only in places along the shore platform, is a thin gravelly bed that includes concretionary nodules of phosphate and iron. Detached nodules may be found around the cliff base. This nodule bed has yielded an array of vertebrate fossils including sharks’ teeth and the bones of whales, penguins and birds, as well as invertebrate species. Vertebrate fossils are commonest in the nodule bed but occur both above and below it. Terrestrial fossils, including giant kangaroo, wallaby and wombat bones have also been removed from rock fragments collected at the base of these cliffs at Beaumaris. As none of these have been found in situ, they are presumed to have fallen from non-marine beds of the Red Bluff Sands higher in the cliffs.

Significance:

International. The site is part of the type locality for the Cheltenhamian Stage, a stratigraphical subdivision of the Late Miocene. It is therefore a reference site for comparison for all other rock sequences of this age in Australia. The site also has yielded one of the most diverse assemblies of marine fossil mammals recorded in Australia. There have been numerous scientific collections from, and papers written about this site. It is therefore of the highest significance and should be managed in future as a scientific reserve.

Management:

Class 1. The site should be managed as a geological reference site and highest priority given to maintaining exposure of the fossil beds both in the cliff and in the near shore area. No coastal protection works or extensions to boating or other facilities that would cover or preclude access to the geological exposures should be permitted. Of particular concern is the recent reclamation of foreshore to allow extension of private parking facilities for the Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron members. This extension conceals important outcrop and provides a barrier to access by collectors. In addition, degradation of the edges of the reclamation area by wave erosion is causing rubble to be dispersed and to spread over adjacent areas of the intertidal zone (including the highly significant nodule bed). This edge should be removed or at least stabilized to prevent this. No further extension of this facility should be permitted.


Access through or around the BMYS should be guaranteed, cliff paths should be maintained and attention given to safe parking facilities. A detailed management and movement plan and collection control policy is needed. This should be prepared in consultation with palaeontological specialists (eg - from the National Museum of Victoria).

References:

Halls, T.S. & Pritchard, G.G. (1897). Note on a tooth of Palorchestes from Beaumaris.
Proc. R. Soc. Vict., 10, 57-59.
Cudmore, F. A. (1926). Phosphatic nodules in the Geelong district. Vic. Nat., 43, 78-82.
Chapman, T.S. & Cudmore, F.A. (1924). New or little known fossils in the National Museum. Proc. R. Soc. Vict., 36, 107-162.
Singleton, F.A. (1941). The Tertiary geology of Australia. Proc. R. Soc. Vict., 53, 1-125.
Gill, E.D. (1957). The stratigraphical occurrence and palaeoecology of some Australian Tertiary Marsupials. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vict., 21, 135-203.
Woodburne, M.O. (1969). A lower manidible of Zumogaturus gilli from the Sandringham Sands, Beaumaris, Victoria, Australia. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vict., 29, 29-39.
Wilkinson, H.E. (1969). Description of an upper Miocene albatross from Beaumaris, Victoria, Australia, and a review of fossil Diomedeidae. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vict., 29, 41-51.
Simpson, G.G. (1970). Miocene Penguins from Victoria, Australia and Chubut, Argentina. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vict., 31, 17-23
Pritchard, G.B. (1975). Notes on the freshwater limestones of the Geelong District. Geelong Nat., 4(3), 37-40.
King, P.R., Cochrane, R.M. & Cooney, A.M. (1987). Significant geological features along the coast in the City of Sandringham. Unpub. rep. geol. Surv. Vict., 1987/35.

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