17°S 138°E Redbank Creek – Queensland by Degrees

THE POINT

17°S 138°E Confluence, Google Earth

Looking north

Looking south

Looking east

Looking west

Location: This confluence point is on the Queensland - Northern Territory border on Wentworth Station, 50 km due south of the Gulf of Carpentaria and 24 km north of Wollogorang Station homestead (just inside the NT). Access was by a station road - the point is 100 m off the road and was accurately located by GPS. The site is within Burke Shire. Doomadgee is the closest settlement.

The Landscape: The site is on a low plain about 40 m ASL. The soil is a grey clay loam on Quaternary age (less than 2 million years) colluvium, sands and gravels. The area is drained by Redbank Creek which flows to the Gulf. The vegetation is a low open savannah of Melaleucas and Bloodwoods with a groundcover of tussock grasses. Termite mounds are a feature of the landscape around the point. Fauna noted included Emus and macropods (probably Agile Wallaby). Land use in the area 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 country in the degree square ranges from coastal mud flats and back swamps through low alluvial plains with an elevation of less than 20 m to rocky outcrops of sandstone, conglomerate and rhyolite. The greatest elevations in the square are around 270 m ASL in the conglomerate hills south of Westmoreland and around 240 m in the sandstone country along the border south of Westmoreland Road. Both of these areas are of Proterozoic age (around 1700 million years). The small rocky area along the border to the north of Settlement Creek is a mixture of sandstone and rhyolite volcanics, also of Proterozoic age. The terrain in these rocky area is deeply fissured with many deep gullies and gorges.

Vegetation across the area ranges from mangroves and samphire along the coast to low open savannah similar to that at the confluence point over much of the area. This savannah tends to be lower and more open on the rocky country.

Ancient sandstone outcrops and savannah along the NT Border (John and Mary Nowill, 2008)

The Climate: The area has a climate that is classified as being tropical savannah. It has a pronounced dry winter. The climate station at Wollogorang (NT) provides representative statistics that can be applied across the area.

Wollogorang (site 014707) 1966-2008 (elevation 60 m ASL)
 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

35.0

34.4

34.5

33.8

31.5

29.0

29.3

31.0

34.3

36.7

37.6

36.8

33.7

Mean min
(ºC)

24.3

24.1

22.7

19.7

16.0

12.2

11.4

12.2

15.8

19.8

22.5

24.2

18.7

Mean rain
(mm)

210.1

249.4

165.7

38.0

7.1

3.3

1.4

0.7

3.7

23.1

66.5

164.4

961.0

The highest temperature ever recorded in Wollogorang was 46.2°C in December 1990 while the lowest temperature was 0.1°C in July 1993. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1789.9 mm was recorded in 2006 and the lowest total of 417.7 mm in 1992.

Extremes of Nature: The area is very much subject to the impact of cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows 56 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point since 1906. Eight cyclones have tracked within 50 km of the confluence point. They included: an unnamed cyclone in January 1935; an unnamed cyclone of February 1936; TC Audrey in January 1964; TC Paul in January 1980; TC Warren in March 1995; TC Abigale in March 2001; TC Bernie in January 2002; and TC Raymond in January 2005. Most of these storms originated in the Gulf of Carpentaria. They each produced destructive winds, heavy rain and high seas.

Perhaps the most difficult issue with cyclones that form in the Gulf is the generally short warning time available because they tend to form very close to the coast and islands.

The area experiences between 50 and 60 thunder days per year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds, intense rainfall that can produce flash flooding and lightning. Storms in the dry winter period can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to promote spread.

Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the point since 1906 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)

Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Wollogorang show that on average (over 26 years of records) the area experiences 140 days a year with temperatures over 35°C and 13 days a year with temperatures over 40°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.

The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no earthquake epicentres within the degree square.

The Indigenous Story: The area is the traditional home of the Ganggalida people. Doomadgee is the main settlement of these people today. These people resisted the encroachment of the early European settlers and a Queensland Mounted Native Police unit was established at Corinda on the Nicholson River (near present day Doomadgee) to patrol the area, including the Wollogorang area in the NT.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to enter the area on land were with Ludwig Leichardt's 1844-5 expedition from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. The first settlers were granted leases in the area in 1881. They were the Chisholm family from the Goulburn district in NSW who's property at the southern end of Lake George was named Wollogorang. The Chisholms moved cattle into the area in 1883.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Today: The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was less than 20, most of them at Hells Gate Roadhouse or on Westmoreland Station.

Cattle grazing remains the major land use and tourism, during the winter dry season, is an increasing industry. Hells Gate Roadhouse, established in the 1980s provides basic fuel and accommodation for travellers.The whole area lies within Burke Shire. Infrastructure is confined to the Savannah Way (the Doomadgee - Borroloola road) and various station roads. Small airstrips are located on most stations and outstations.

 

Hells Gate Roadhouse (John and Mary Nowill)

Site Summary

Location

On the Queensland NT border 24 km north of Wollogorang homestead

Access

By road and station track to within 100m

Nearest town

Doomadgee 140 km to the south-east

Terrain

Flat plain 40 m ASL

Catchment

Redbank Creek draining to the Gulf

Geology & soils

Quaternary alluvium

Vegetation

Low open savannah of melaleuca and eucalypt

Land use

Cattle grazing

Climate

Tropical savannah with a winter drought

Population in degree square

Less than 20

Infrastructure

Natural surface roads and airstrips

National Parks

None in degree square

Compiler: Ken Granger, 2009.


Edited by: Hayley Freemantle


Sources: Various web sites including local governments and Bureau of Meteorology.