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Nature, culture and history
Mount Elliot consists of two rugged mountain groups, one dominated by Mount Elliot and the other by Saddle Mountain (once known as Little Elliot). These granite masses rise abruptly from the coastal plain to a ridge more than 1000 m high, with the peak of Mount Elliot rising to 1210 m and that of Sharp Elliot reaching 1183 m. Viewed from a distance, the peaks or mountain groups present a vista of bare rock faces and steep ridges dominated by eucalypt forests.
The western side of Mount Elliot is dry and the creeks are short and intermittent. There is eucalypt woodland, with low vine forest and hoop pines along the creek lines. The eastern and south-eastern slopes are steep and exposed to the prevailing wind. Numerous creeks have eroded parallel valleys separated by a series of sharp ridges. Many of the creeks fall as a series of small waterfalls, surrounded for much of their course by rainforest. Alligator Creek valley is the most accessible area on Mount Elliot and this is where camping and park facilities have been established.
Creeks from the southern mountain slopes meander across wetlands and saltpans and finally through mangroves. This area is comparatively dry, with rain falling during a short wet season. Evaporation during the long dry season results in high salinity, which even mangroves cannot tolerate, so their distribution is restricted.
Rainforest is generally confined to an area above 600 m, but extends down through the creek lines where semi-evergreen vine thickets separate it from the lowland forest. Eucalypt forest is dominated by bloodwood, poplar gum, Moreton Bay ash and ironbark. The understorey vegetation, which varies with the slope of the land and soil type, ranges from grasses, grass trees and cycads, to palms near the creek lines and in other damp areas. Riverine vegetation of casuarinas and callistemons lines many of the creeks. The kapok tree is found in rocky areas near the creek. Its conspicuous yellow waxy flowers bloom from August to October after the tree has shed its leaves.
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