15°S 143°E Strathaven – Queensland by Degrees
Location: This confluence point is located on Strathhaven Station; 11 km south of the homestead then 6.3 km by quad bike cross-country to the point. The point was accurately located by GPS. The point is within Cook Shire and the closest town is Pormpuraaw 150 km (direct line) to the west and Musgrave Roadhouse 60 km to the north-east.
The Landscape: The country around the site a relatively flat undulating plain with low ridges and shallow gullies. The soil is a grey clay loam derived from very ancient quartzite of Mesoproterozoic age (1600 to 1000 million years). The point lies within the catchment of O'Lane Creek, a tributary of Crosby Creek which drains to the Alice River and the Gulf. Vegetation around the site is medium height open savannah dominated by Stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta), Bloodwoods (including Corymbia intermedia), Moreton Bay Ash (C. tessellaris) and Ironbarks (probably E. crebra). Ground cover is course grasses such as Speargrass (Heteropogon contortus). In some of the creeks there are waterholes flanked by Melaleucas and with many waterlilies. Fauna noted around the point included macropods (Northern Nailtail Wallaby and Agile Wallaby being the main types), feral pigs and cattle. The area also has numerous termite mounds, with so-called 'magnetic' termite mounds (Amitermes laurensis) in the areas where the water table is high all year. Some of these mounds are very large. Land use around the point 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 terrain throughout the degree square is mostly undulating hills of generally low relief. The greatest elevation is around 300 m ASL in the north-east comer and the lowest elevation is less than 50 m ASL in the south-west corner along the Alice River floodplain. The geology of the area is complex, especially in the eastern half of the square. The west is largely sandstone of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years) interrupted by alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 2 million years) along the larger drainage channels. The eastern side of the square is an extremely complex mixture of very ancient mudstone, schist, slate and quartzite of Mesoproterozoic age - some of the oldest rocks in the State. These formations are in bands that trend north-south and are separated by younger geology including granite of Late Silurian age (425 to 410 million years) and alluvium of Quaternary age in the drainage lines.
Vegetation across the area is a Stringybark (E. tetrodonta) dominated savannah similar to that at the confluence point. Along many of the streams there 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.
The Climate: The climate of the area is classified as tropical savannah with a very dry winter. The climate statistics for Musgrave Roadhouse just to the west of the square are representative.
Musgrave (site 028007) 1887-2008 (elevation 79 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Musgrave was 41.8°C in December 1992 while the lowest temperature was 2.4°C in July 1996. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 2031.1 mm was recorded in 1913 and the lowest total of 400.5 mm in 1902.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 55 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: TC Madge in February/March 1973; TC Freda in February/March 1981; TC Dominic in April 1982; TC Rebecca in February 1985; TC Tanya in March 1985; and TC Ivor in March 1990.
These storms bring potentially destructive winds, and intense rainfall. Flooding in all steams is a certainty.
The area averages between 30 and 40 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can also bring destructive winds and intense rainfall. 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 Musgrave show that on average (over 15 recent years of records) the area experiences 71 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 is one earthquake epicentre within the degree square recorded in the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia. It was a ML 4.0 event on 10 March 1972 and was located directly under the confluence point. No damage was reported from this earthquake.
The Indigenous Story: The country within the degree square is the traditional land of two Aboriginal groups, in the north is Bakanh land and in the south is Kunjen land.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: Judging by the names of the properties across the area, such as Strathhaven, Strathgordon, and Glen Garland, the early settlers came from a Scottish heritage.
DETAILS OF EARLY SETTLEMENT WELCOME
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was zero, continuing the trend of decline that has been evident over the past two decades, probably because of the downturn in the cattle industry.
The dominant land use across the area is cattle grazing on stations such as Strathhaven.
The great majority of the area lies within Cook Shire. There is a small area around the junction of Crosby and Eight Mile Creeks that is in Carpentaria Shire. There are no national parks in the square.
Compilers: Ken Granger
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Sources: various web sites including EPA, tourist operators, local governments, mining industry and Bureau of Meteorology.