14°S 142°E Sinclair Creek – Queensland by Degrees

14°S 142°E Sinclair Creek – Queensland by Degrees

AT THE POINT

 

Degree confluence point 14° 142° (Google Earth)

Looking north

Lookong east

Looking east

Looking south

Looking west

Location: This confluence point is about 32 km in a straight line south-west of Kendall River Station homestead. The point was reached by travelling 24 km cross-country on quad bikes from the Kendall River station tracks some 32 km (by track) from the homestead. The point was accurately located by GPS.

The Landscape: The terrain around the point is a low (46 m ASL) flat plain. The soil is a grey/reddish sandy clay which is derived from the underlying sandstone geology of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years). It lies within the catchment of Sinclair Creek, a tributary of the Kendall River. Vegetation is a low open eucalypt-dominated savannah with a ground cover of course grasses. Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta) bloodwoods (Corymbia spp.) and Cooktown Ironwood (Erythrophleum chlorostachys) are the largest of the trees. Fauna noted in the area included cattle, feral pigs, dingoes and macropods (Northern Nailtail Wallaby and Agile Wallaby being the main types). Reptiles seen in the area include Black-headed Python, though the very dangerous Taipan, King Brown Snake and Eastern Brown Snake are also found in the area. Bird life includes many raptors such as the Brown Falcon and Black Kite as well as a prolific number of water birds such as ducks, Jabiru, Royal Spoonbill and Ibis. Termite mounds are also a common feature in the landscape. Land use around the site is cattle grazing.

Agile Wallaby (John and Mary Nowill)

Black-headed Python (John and Mary Nowill)

Point information and photos: Tony Hillier, Kev Teys, Bruce Urquhart, Dale Farnell and John and Mary Nowill, 2008.

WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: The country across the degree square is generally low lying and flat. The greatest elevation is around 200 m ASL on the western edge of the square, but the majority of the area is less than 50 m ASL in elevation. Along the coast is a succession of dunes and swampy swales with the geology of Quaternary origin (less than 2 million years). As the land gains elevation the country becomes generally flat but with many shallow streams dissecting the land in a dendritic pattern. This area also has many scattered lagoons and waterholes. The underlying geology is mainly sandstone of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years). Further east the streams disappear as the geology changes to the much harder lateritic duricrust of similar age. Towards the eastern edge of the square the mudstone is of the Early Cretaceous age (around 120 million years).

The major drainage channels of the Archer, Kendall and Holroyd Rivers have relatively wide flood plains and small deltas. The geology of those flood plains is sands and gravels of Quaternary age.

The dominant vegetation across the square is the same low open eucalypt-dominated savannah that is found at the confluence point. Along the watercourses, however are open stands of paperbarks and dense riparian rainforest. The season swamps and lagoons have Melaleucas, Freshwater Mangrove (Barringtonia acutangula) and eye-catching displays of waterlilies.

Fauna is largely similar to that at of the confluence point, however, along the coast and in the coastal lagoons estuarine, crocodiles are common. Fresh water crocodiles are found in most of the rivers.

Dendritic streams and waterholes of Sinclair Creek (Natmap Landsat Image)

The Climate: The climate of the area is classified as tropical savannah. It has a markedly dry winter. The climate station at Weipa to the north provides representative statistics.

Weipa Aero (site 027045) 1972-2008 (elevation 18 m ASL)

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

32.0

31.2

31.8

32.3

31.9

31.1

30.9

31.8

34.3

35.6

35.6

33.8

32.7

Mean min
(ºC)

24.2

24.1

23.8

22.7

21.2

19.9

18.6

18.6

19.5

21.8

23.5

24.2

21.8

Mean rain
(mm)

451.4

608.4

420.4

88.7

21.8

4.5

1.2

6.8

1.7

16.8

103.0

280.5

2005.1

              

The highest temperature ever recorded in Weipa was 39.2°C in November 2004 while the lowest temperature was 10.2°C in June 2007. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 2719.4 mm was recorded in 1996 and the lowest total of 1359.0 mm in 1993.

Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 57 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Of these, six tracked within 50 km of the point. They included: an unnamed cyclone in January 1949; TC Bronwyn in January 1972; TC Rosa in March 1979; TC Ivor in March 1992; TC Nina in December 1992; and TC Les in February 1998.

Cyclone tracks within 200km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology website)

These storms bring potentially destructive winds, intense rainfall and high seas. Some have caused inundation and erosion to the low-lying coastal areas. Flooding in all steams is a certainty.

The area averages around 50 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can also bring destructive winds and produce high seas. They can come up very quickly posing a serious threat to people travelling through the area in small boats. During the winter dry season thunder storms may spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to promote spread.

There are no earthquake epicentres within the degree square recorded in the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia. The closest epicentre recorded is about 155 km to the south-east, a ML 4.0 event on 10 March 1972. No damage was reported from this earthquake.

The Indigenous Story: The area contains the traditional lands of the Wik people.

In 1996 the Wik people brought an action in the High Court against the State of Queensland arguing that native title could coexist with current pastoral leases. In its 4 to 3 majority decision the Court held that native title rights could exist side-by-side with the rights of pastoralists on cattle and sheep stations. It also held that when pastoralists and Aboriginal rights were in conflict, the pastoralists' rights would prevail, giving pastoralists certainty to continue with grazing and related activities.

Pastoralists did not lose any rights as a result of this case. Graziers could continue to run their cattle or sheep and undertake all the activities related to doing this, such as building fences, dams and other structures. The court explained that pastoralists had an exclusive right to pasture, but not exclusive rights to possession of the land.

The coexistence of native title provides the means whereby thousands of Aboriginal people, previously the backbone of the grazing industry, who were locked off cattle and sheep stations in the late 1960s and early 1970s, may gain some rights to their traditional lands.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Euopean Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to sight the area were the Dutch with Willem Janszoon in the Duyfken in 1606. He sailed down the west coast of the Cape as far as Cape Keerweer (Cap Kar War, literally 'Turn Around') naming several features such as Uliege Baya (Albatross Bay). He reported the land to be dry and inhospitable. Other Dutch navigators to sail along the coast of the Gulf included Jan Carstensz in 1623, Abel Tasman in 1644 and Jean Asschens in 1756.

Matthew Flinders in HMS Investigator surveyed the whole coastline of the Gulf in 1802 and named several features including Cape Keerweer (Anglicised from the Dutch).

The first Europeans in the area on land were probably the Jardine brothers in late 1864 on their extraordinary cattle drive from Rockhampton to Somerset near the tip of Cape York. They passed through the eastern side of the square and made note of the area's potential for cattle grazing.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Today:

The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 6.

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

3

33

5

6

Total males

3

22

3

3

Total females

0

11

2

3

Under 5 years

0

0

0

0

65 years and over

0

0

0

0

Indigenous

0

23

0

3

The reason for the apparent sharp increase in population in 2001 is not clear but may relate to the use of seasonal outstations on Aurukun land.

Kendall River homestead (J & M Nowill)

The road to Kendall Station (J & M Nowill)

The reason for the apparent sharp increase in population in 2001 is not clear but may relate to the use of seasonal outstations on Aurukun land.

Land use across the area is cattle grazing, though mineral exploration for bauxite and kaolin has also been undertaken. The area is divided between Cook Shire (in the east), Aurukun Shire along the coast and Pormpuraaw Shire on the coast in the south.

Site Summary:

Location

32 km from Kendall River homestead

Access

Station tracks then cross country by quad bike

Terrain

Flat plain with shallow drainage lines

Catchment

Sinclair Creek, Kendall River, Gulf of Carpentaria

Geology & soils

Grey-red sandy clay from sandstone

Vegetation

Low open eucalypt savannah

Land use

Cattle grazing

Climate

Tropical savannah with very dry winter

Population in degree square

Around 5 at the 2006 census

Infrastructure

Station roads and airstrips

National Parks

Mungkan Kandju NP

  

Compilers: Ken Granger, 2009

Edited by: Hayley Freemantle

Sources: various web sites including EPA, tourist operators, local governments, mining industry and Bureau of Meteorology.