AT THE POINT
Degree confluence 18°S 142° E (Google Earth image)
Location: This confluence point is on the property called Oakland Park Station. Getting to the site was along Gulf Developmental Road then 3 km of station tracks and finally 850m on foot. The nearest populated place is Croydon in the Croydon Shire, about 35 km to the south-east.
The Landscape: The point lies within the catchment of the Norman River and the landscape is a dry swamp, with scattered savannah woodland. The elevation at the point is 85m ASL. The soil is a grey clay derived from an underlying geology of Pliocene sandstone (5 million years) of the Claraville Beds. The vegetation around the point is a mixture of Eucalypts and Melaleucas with a dense ground cover of course grass. Fauna noted in the area included feral pigs, goannas, macropods and beef cattle.
Point information and photos: B Urquhart (Point Photos), N O Connor, T Hillier, G Keates and J & M Nowill (Croydon Photos) 6/6/2010
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The terrain across the square slopes from east to west with the Norman and Gilbert Rivers being the main drainage catchments. Both drain to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Elevations range from around 250m ASL in the Gregory Range along the eastern edge of the square; ranging down to around 50m ASL in the west of the square along Belmore Creek. The north-eastern end of the Gregory Range is comprised of Mesoproterozoic volcanics (1600 to 1000 million years) which includes igneous formations of rhyolite, rhodacite and granites of the Croydon Volcanic Group. The great majority of the square, however, is composed of much more recent material including the Pliocene sandstone of the Claraville Beds, sand plains of Cainozoic origin (less than 66 million years) and Quaternary alluvium (less than 1.6 million years) especially in the various drainage channels.
Vegetation across the square is predominantly savannah with course grasses and an low open tree cover of Eucalypts such as Bloodwoods and Cabbage Gums (Corymbia spp) and Melaleuca species such as M. argenta (Silver Paperbark) and M. nervosa (Yellow-barked Paperbark). Termite mounds are also a common feature across the square.
Long-fruited Bloodwood (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Silver Paperbark (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Yellow-barked Paperbark (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Typical savannah termite mound (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Fauna across the square includes an abundant bird life including such species as Brolga and various raptors, ducks, parrots and finches. Reptiles include goannas, various dragons, geckos and skinks and fresh-water crocodiles. Mammals include a small range of macropods such as the Northern Nailtail Wallaby, Agile Wallaby and Wallaroo.
Land use across the square is dominated by cattle grazing.
The Climate: The square has a climate that is classified as hot grassland with a winter drought. The closest representative weather station to the confluence is at Croydon, which is 35 km to the south-east of the degree confluence, and has an elevation of 116 m. The station has been recording data since 1889.
The highest temperature recorded at Croydon 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.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 41 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, seven of which passed within 50 km (an unnamed cyclone in March 1911; an unnamed cyclone in February 1927; an unnamed cyclone in January 1948; an unnamed cyclone in January 1951; an unnamed cyclone in January 1956; TC Dora in February 1964, and TC Barry in January 1996). These storms bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall than can produce extensive flooding.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The area experiences between 40 and 50 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can bring intense rainfall that can produce flash floods, destructive winds and lightning strikes that can spark bushfires. Fires lit for land management purposes may also get out of control and threaten station buildings and infrastructure.
Like most places in the Australian tropics, extreme heat is also a danger. Records show that Croydon experiences 143 days annually with temperatures 35°C or warmer, twelve days of which can reach 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 a record of one earthquake within the degree square since 1900. That was an event of unknown magnitude located about 18 km north of Croydon on 10 November 1995. No damage was reported.
The Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square is the traditional country of three main groups. In the north and along the Gilbert River; is Kukatji country; south of Belmore Creek is Walangama country; and the Gregory Range section is Takalak country.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The first European explorer to traverse the area occupied by the square was Augustus Gregory in 1855. The first pastoralists to take up land in the area were William Browne and James and Walter Aldridge who together established Croydon Downs station on Belmore Creek in the 1880s. In 1885 these pastoralists found 20 lines of payable gold reef and when the find was reported a rush to the area began. The Croydon goldfield was declared in 1886 and the township was surveyed in the same year. By then the area had a population of 6000 and by the mid-1890s the area, including Croydon and the settlements of Golden Gate, Tabletop, Jubilee and others made up the third largest population in north Queensland after Townsville and Charters Towers. The Croydon Divisional Board was established in 1887 and proclaimed Croydon Shire Council in 1903.
The railway line to Normanton was opened in 1891 to link the field to a port. Other services such as a hospital were established in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Several buildings from that period remain. They include the Shire Hall, built in 1892, the Club Hotel built in 1890 (the last of 15 hotels that once traded in the town), police station (1886) and court house (1887). The Chinese community was active on the Croydon field from the late 1880s and the Chinese Temple built in 1903.
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was less than 200 most of whom were living in Croydon itself. In the 2011 census the settlement of Croydon does not appear as an individual SA1 and the SA1 that covers the area is spread across four degree squares.
Under 5 years
65 years and over
Croydon has a limited range of commercial and public services and is a service centre for the surrounding pastoral district and for tourists passing along the Savannah Way tourist route during the winter months. Croydon has a sealed all weather airport. Its water supply is drawn from the Lake Belmore, about 4 km north of the town.
Land use across the square is predominantly cattle grazing.
Croydon main street (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Croydon park and telecom tower (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Croydon Council sculpture (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Stock and stations sculpture (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Croydon (Google Earth image)
Within the square there are 870 km of public roads including the Gulf Developmental Road which is sealed. Most other roads are natural surface as are the many private roads and tracks on the pastoral properties. The railway from Croydon to Normanton used by the Gulflander tourist railmotor is also in the square. There are numerous abandoned mine sites surrounding Croydon.
The square falls mostly within the Croydon Shire with a small section of Etheridge Shire on the eastern side, a small part of Carpentaria Shire on the north side and a very small slice of Tablelands Regional Council in the north-east corner. There are no national parks within the square.
On Oaklands Park Station
Gulf Developmental Road then station tracks with last 850m on foot
Croydon is 35km south-east
Flat dry swamp
Norman River and the Gulf of Carpentaria
Geology & soils
Grey clay from Pliocene sandstone
Eucalypt and melaleuca savannah
Hot grassland with summer drought
Population in degree square
211 at the 2006 census
Lake Belmore, 870km of public roads, Croydon airport
None in the square
Compiled by: Jo Grant and Ken Granger, 2010
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References: various web sites including local governments, QPWS and Bureau of Meteorology.
EPA 2001: Heritage trails of the tropical north, Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.
Philip Moore, 2005: A guide to plants of inland Australia, New Holland.