AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on the floodplain of the Staaten River about 17 km north of the road that parallels the Red River. The nearest settlement is Georgetown some 154 km to the south-south-west. The point lies within the Tablelands Regional Council area.
The Landscape: The point lies on flat land on sandstone of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years). The vegetation is probably an open mid-height eucalypt savannah with tussock grasses as the ground cover. Land us is probably cattle grazing. The point is at an altitude of around 100 m ASL. The area drains to the Staaten River which flows to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Point information and photos: Ken Granger and Google Earth, 2009
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The land slopes generally from south-east at around 200 m ASL to the north-west at around 50m ASL. The geology of the area is mostly sandstone and sand of Cainozoic age. The drainage channels are riverine alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years). The drainage of the area includes the Staaten and Red Rivers which flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Vegetation is eucalypt savannah with tussock grasses. Land use is probably cattle grazing.
The area is one of the least developed and most remote drainage networks in Australia. It attracts a vast number of birds during the wet season. The rivers and lagoons carry Saratoga and Barramundi and numerous estuarine crocodiles.
Climate: The climate of the area is classified as being tropical savannah. The closest weather station to the confluence is at Croydon, which is 155 km to the south-west of the degree confluence, and has an elevation of 116 m. The station has been recording data since 1889.
The highest temperature recorded was 43.9°C in November 1965, and the lowest was 2.6°C in July 1983. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 1 445.1 mm in 1974, and the least was 225.4 mm in 1952. These and other climate statistics for Croydon can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_029012.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows 47 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point since 1906. Three cyclones have tracked within 50 km of the confluence point. They were: TC Bronwyn in January 1972, TC Rebecca in February 1985 and TC Vernon in January 1986. They each produced destructive winds and heavy rain. 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 that passed within 200 km of the point since 1906 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The rains brought by cyclones can produce extensive flooding across most of the area. Flood depths and velocities are generally both low and little damage results. Roads will be cut for extended periods and properties can be isolated by road for several weeks at a time.
The area experiences between 40 and 50 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.
Bushfires in this part of Cape York can cover very large areas during the dry months of winter and spring. Many fires are lit to control vegetation and promote pasture growth.
Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Georgetown show that on average (over 99 years of records) the area experiences 110 days a year with temperatures over 35°C and 5 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 land in the degree square is mostly the traditional country of the Kunjen people.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to pass through the area were with Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844-5 on his expedition from the Darling Downs to Port Essington. They were followed by the Jardine brothers, Frank and Alexander, in 1864-5 on their epic cattle drive from Bowen to Somerset at the top of Cape York.
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Today: The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was zero.
The decline in population numbers over the past decade was probably due to the downturn in the cattle industry as the result of drought.
The great majority of the square falls within Tableland Regional Council area. There is a small sliver of Carpentaria Shire in the north-west corner. A large part of the Staaten River National Park is also located within the square.
Compiler: Ken Granger, 2009.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle