15°S 142°E Pormpuraaw – Queensland by Degrees

 

15°S 142°E Pormpuraaw – Queensland by Degrees

 Point Information

Degree confluence 15°S 142°E (Google Earth)

Looking north

Looking east

Looking south

Looking west

Location: This confluence point is located on the flood plain of the Coleman River about 40 km inland from its mouth in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The point was accessed by road 24 km from the Pormpuraaw to Kowanyama Road then 4 km by quad bike along a disused track and the final
800 m on foot. The point was accurately located by GPS. The point is within Pormpuraaw Shire and the closest town is Pormpuraaw.

The Landscape: The terrain at the point is the flat floodplain of the Coleman River and its major distributaries such as Malaman Creek.
The elevation at the point is 24 m ASL.
The soil is a cracking grey clay and the underlying geology is alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 2 million years).
Vegetation around the point is a mid height Melaleuca woodland.
There was no ground cover at the time of the visit but low grasses, sedges and herbs may be present for a period following seasonal flooding.
Very dense cane grass was noted in the nearby drainage channels. Fauna seen around the point included goanna, feral pigs,
cattle and a range of birds including Brush Turkey. Land use is cattle grazing.

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 land within the degree square is low lying flood plain with numerous streams and seasonal waterholes.
The majority of the area has an elevation of less than 50 m ASL.
The Old Koolatah Waterhole on the edge of the Mitchell Alice River National Park is a good example of the riverine environment
in the area. The greatest elevation is around 100 m ASL in the north-east corner. Along the eastern side of the area the geology
is mostly sandstone of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years), however the great majority of the area is sand, mud and other
alluvium of Quaternary age. The Coleman, Alice and Mitchell Rivers share a delta between Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama.
The coastline is marked by sandy beaches and mud flats backed by dunes and swamps in the swales.

Vegetation across the area ranges from a mid-height eucalypt dominated savannah in the east with Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta)
and bloodwoods (Corymbia spp.) the main trees. On the floodplain the savannah gives way to a low woodland of Melaleuca and eucalypts as found
around the confluence point. Along the coast are Casuarina spp. on the dunes and low sedges in the back swamps.
The drainage channels are lined with open stands of paperbarks and dense riparian rainforest.
The seasonal swamps and lagoons have Melaleucas, Freshwater Mangrove (Barringtonia acutangula)
and eye-catching displays of waterlilies. The spectacular Kennedy Palm (Corypha elata) is also found across the area.

Fauna across the area include cattle, feral pigs, dingoes and macropods (Northern Nailtail Wallaby and Agile Wallaby being the main types).
Reptiles include the very dangerous Taipan, King Brown Snake and Eastern Brown Snake as well as the harmless Black-headed Python.
Bird life includes many raptors such as the Brown Falcon and Black Kite as well as a prolific number of water birds such as Radjah Shellduck,
Brolga, Jabiru, Royal Spoonbill and Ibis. Termite mounds are also a common feature in the landscape. Land use around the site is cattle grazing.

Bore near the point (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Brahman bull near point (J&M Nowill, 2008)

 

Common delta of the Coleman, Alice and Mitchell Rivers (Natman Landsat Image)

Beach at Pormpuraaw (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Chapman River mouth (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Kennedy Palms at Pormpuraaw (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Old Koolatah Waterhole (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Radjah Shellducks (J&M Nowill, 2008)

Brolgas on the beach (J&M Nowill, 2008)

The Climate: The area has a climate that is classified as tropical savannah and has a very dry winter. Kowanyama Airport has representative statistics.

Kowanyama Airport (site 029038) 1912-2008 (elevation 10 m ASL)

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

33.1

32.3

32.8

32.9

32.1

30.7

30.6

32.1

34.5

36.2

36.2

34.8

33.2

Mean min
(ºC)

24.2

24.2

23.7

21.7

19.1

16.2

15.3

16.2

18.9

21.9

23.9

24.3

20.8

Mean rain
(mm)

339.6

367.8

234.3

54.2

11.4

4.4

2.5

2.5

2.6

15.7

55.6

171.6

1256.3

The highest temperature ever recorded in Kowanyama was 41.0°C in October 1994, November 1995 and December 2002, while the lowest temperature was 4.5°C in August 1990. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 2049.6 mm was recorded in 1956 and the lowest total of 565.2 mm in 1961.

Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 59 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Of these, 13 tracked within 50 km of the point. They were: unnamed cyclone in February 1931; unnamed cyclone in January 1932; unnamed cyclone in March 1939; unnamed cyclone in March 1945; TC Dora in February 1964; TC Bronwyn in January 1972; TC Madge in March 1973; TC Kim in December 1975; TC Peter in December 1978; TC Eddie in February 1981; TC Ivor in March 1990; TC Ethel in March 1996; and TC Les in February 1998.

TC Dora destroyed the Mitchell River Mission (now Kowanyama) and the State Government rebuilt the community.

MORE INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT WOULD BE WELCOME


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 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.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Today:

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.


MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

1465

1540

1616

1693

Total males

739

747

785

844

Total females

726

793

831

849

Under 5 years

141

148

175

182

65 years and over

73

80

69

67

Indigenous

1264

1312

1480

1537

Pormpuraaw had a population of 662 and Kowanyama had a population of 1031 at the 2011 census. Both settlements have a range of services including schools, medical services, churches and stores.

Land use across the area is dominated by cattle grazing.

The area falls under the administration of Pormpuraaw Shire, Kowanyama Shire, Cook Shire and Carpentaria Shire. The Mitchell Alice Rivers National Park is also in the area.


Pormpuraaw community centre (J & M Nowill)

Pormpuraaw beach cafe (J & M Nowill)

Pormpuraaw store (J & M Nowill)

Pormpuraaw church (J & M Nowill)

Kowanyama Store (J & M Nowill)

 

Site Summary:

Location

In floodplain of Coleman River 40 km inland from Pormpuraaw

Access

Combination of vehicle quad bike and walk

Nearest town

Pormpuraaw

Terrain

Flat flood plain

Catchment

Coleman River and Gulf of Carpentaria

Geology & soils

Grey cracking clay on Quaternary alluvium

Vegetation

Melaleuca woodland

Land use

Cattle grazing

Climate

Tropical savannah with very dry winter

Population in degree square

1616 at 2006 census

Infrastructure

Dirt roads, a few small airstrips

National Parks

Mitchell Alice Rivers NP

  

Compiler: Ken Granger, 2009

Edited by: Hayley Freemantle

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