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 between 40 and 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.
Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Kowanyama show that on average (over 41 years of records) the area experiences 85 days a year with temperatures over 35°C. Such extreme temperatures can cause heat stroke and death if appropriate measures are not taken such as avoiding strenuous physical effort, keeping as cool as possible and drinking lots of water. Heat waves kill more people in Australia than all other natural hazards combined.
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 80 km to the south-east, a ML 3.1 event on 13 June 1996. No damage was reported from this earthquake.
The Indigenous Story: The area contains the traditional country of several Aboriginal groups. The northern coast and around Pormpuraaw is Thaayorre country; to their south is the small area of Yir Yoront country; around Kowanyama is Koko-bera country; inland and north of the Coleman River is Bakanh country and to their south is Kunjen country.
The Aborigines of the area have had a mission presence since 1917 when the Mitchell River Mission (now Kowanyama) was established by the Anglican Church. This was followed in 1938 by the establishment of the Edward River Mission (now Pormpuraaw), also by the Anglican Church. Many of the people who had been dispersed throughout the area gradually moved to the mission settlements.
Both missions were handed over to Government aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Affairs until 1986 when they assumed local government responsibilities. Both areas became Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) lands in 1987 and their names were changed to their traditional names.
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to sight the area were the Dutch with Jan Carstensz in 1623, followed by Abel Tasman in 1644 and Jean Asschens in 1756. Matthew Flinders in HMS Investigator surveyed the whole coastline of the Gulf in 1802.
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.
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The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 1693, which was a steady growth over the past two decades. The great majority of the population is indigenous people.