AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on the flood plain of the Palmer River. The point has not yet been visited. It falls within Cook Shire.
The Landscape: Low-lying flood plain which is seasonally swampy. The geology at the point is alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years). Elevation at the point is around 50 m ASL.
Point information and photos: Ken Granger and Google Earth, 2009.
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The land within the degree square slopes from east to west. The greatest elevations along the eastern border are around 200 m ASL and the lowest elevations in the north-east are less than 50 m ASL. The square is drained by Mitchell River and its tributaries including the Alice and Palmer Rivers. Much of the square is sandstone or sand of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years). Along the eastern side much older rocks including schist of Late Silurian age (425 to 410 million years) and gneiss of Mesoproterozoic age (1 600 to 1 000 million years). Vegetation is mostly low open woodland. The dominant land use is cattle grazing.
Climate: The climate is classified as being a tropical savannah. The closest weather station is at Palmerville, which is 115 km east of the confluence, and has an elevation of 204 m.
The highest temperature recorded was 42.7°C in November 1971, and the lowest was 1.7°C in both June and July 1899. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 2 098.6 mm in 1913, and the lowest was 448.3 mm in 1966. These and other climate statistics for Palmerville can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_028004_All.shtml
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 58 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Of these, four tracked within 50 km of the point. They include: an unnamed cyclone of February 1936, an unnamed cyclone of March 1940, an unnamed cyclone of December 1959, and TC Gwen of February 1978. Cyclone information for this area and all of Australia can be found at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website, http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/cyclones.cgi.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
On average the area experiences between 30 and 40 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms bring with them potentially destructive winds, intense rainfall and lightning strike. The intense rainfall can lead to flash flooding and the lightning can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to sustain spread.
Bushfires can cover very large areas on Cape York in the dry winter and autumn months. Such fires may be deliberately lit to manage vegetation and to promote pasture growth or they may be wildfires.
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 Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square is the traditional country of two Aboriginal groups: the Kunjen group in the north and west and the Kokomini group between the palmer and Mitchell Rivers.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to pass through the area were with William Hann's expedition in 1872. Hann was a grazier and explorer and been given charge of a well-organized official party to explore the interior of the Cape York Peninsula. The country was difficult and Hann was often irked by assistants whose bushcraft was less competent than his. Dense scrub prevented him from reaching his goal on the Endeavour River but the party located some fair pastoral country and discovered and named the Tate, Daintree and Palmer Rivers. On the latter he reported traces of gold which led to James Mulligan's prospecting party and a dramatic gold rush. The new fields soon provided Hann with a market for his cattle and he prospered.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
Today: The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was zero.
The decline over the past decade is undoubtedly due to the decline in the pastoral industry.
Cattle grazing remains the main land use across the square. There are several public roads, including the Burke Developmental Road, and private station roads and a few station airstrips through the area.
The square falls within three local government areas: Cook Shire in the north, Tablelands regional Council in the south and Carpentaria Shire in the west. A section of Staaten River National Park is also located in the south of the square.
Compiler: Ken Granger, 2009
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References: Various web sites including EPA, tourist operators, local governments, mining industry and Bureau of Meteorology.