AT THE POINT
Google Earth image of 18°S 143°E
Location: This confluence point is on the property called Kutchera. Getting to the site was along 1.7 kms on foot from Midhills Road and lies within the Etheridge Shire. The nearest populated place is Georgetown, some 65km to the south-east.
The Landscape: Gilbert and Einasleigh River are the main drainage catchments for the point and the landscape is a flat plain. The elevation at the point is 188m ASL. The soil is a grey clay loam with some laterite in the area. The underlying geology is Cainozoic origin (less than 66 million years) sandstone of the Wyaaba Beds. The vegetation at the point is savannah woodland, with Bloodwood, Stringbark, Acacias and spear grass. Fauna in the form cattle, termite mounds (up to 1 metre high) and macropods were noted in the area.
GPS at point
Point information and photos: P Feeney, G Keates and J & M Nowill 6/6/2010
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The country within the square slopes from the south-east where the maximum elevation is at Mt Turner which is 411m ASL and in the Gregory Range in the south where maximum elevations of around 380m ASL are found. The lowest elevations are around 100m ASL where the Einasleigh River exits the square in the north-west corner. The bulk of the area lies between 150 and 250m ASL. The major drainage features are the Einasleigh, Etheridge and Gilbert Rivers and their tributaries such as Jampot Creek which all flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Flows in the drainage system is very seasonal.
Gilbert River at the Savannah Way crossing
Jampot Creek (Mary Nowill, 2010)
In places the landscape is quite broken with area of ironstone-caped mesas and incised streams. Within the square are some of the most ancient geology in Queensland. In the area on the northern side of Einasleighy River and to the north of Mt Turner there is an area of Palaeoproterozoic (2500 to 1600 million years old) mudstones and schist of the Lane Creek Formation, and much of the Gregory Range in the south-west corner is of made up of ignimbrite and other volcanic material of Mesoproterozoic age (1600 to 1000 million years). The north-west quadrant of the square is of much more recent sand plains and other alluvial material of Cainozoic age or younger (less than 66 million years).
Vegetation across the square is mostly savannah composed of mid-height Eucalypts, wattles and various shrubs and a ground cover of seasonal grasses and forbs. In wetter areas Melaleuca and Pandanus species are also common.
Wattles in bloom (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Pandanus & wattle on Jampot Creek (Mary Nowill, 2010)
The Climate: The square has a climate that is classified as tropical savannah. The closest representative weather station is at the Georgetown Post Office, which is approximately 65 km to the south-east of the degree confluence, and has an elevation of 292 m. The station has been recording data since 1872.
The highest temperature recorded at Georgetown was 43.5°C in January 1994, and the lowest was -3.0°C in July 1974. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 2045.7 mm in 1974, and the least was 308.4 mm in 1926. These and other climate statistics for Georgetown can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_030018.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 36 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, four of which passed within 50 km (an unnamed TC in 1956, TC Judy in 1965, TC Fiona in 1971, and TC Brownyn in 1972). These and distant cyclones bring potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall with them. The rainfall that accompanies cyclones frequently gives rise to dangerous flooding in all drainage systems.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The area experiences between 30 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 the Georgetown Station experiences 110 days annually with temperatures 35°C or warmer, although very few of these 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 Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square is the traditional country of two main groups. In the Kurtjar country; and in the rest it is Takalak country.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to cross this area were the expedition led by Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844 (Leichhardt Creek is a tributary of the Einasleigh River). Several of the expeditions sent out to search for Burke and Wills also crossed through the area. They included the teams led by William Landsborough and that led by Frederick Walker, both in 1861-2.
Pastoral interests entered the area in the 1880s and many prospectors passed into the area on their way to the Croydon gold fields immediately to the west of this square.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was less than 50.
Under 5 years
65 years and over
The significant decline in the population in the period from 2001 to 2011 is probably accounted for by the severe drought that existed and the impact it had on employment in the cattle industry.
Cattle grazing remains the main land use across the square.
The bulk of the square falls within Etheridge Shire with a small section of Croydon Shire along the western side and Tablelands Regional Council north of the Einasleigh River. There are no national parks within the square.
There are around 930km of public roads within the square, the most important being the Gulf Developmental Road (the Savannah Way) which is sealed. Most other roads are natural surface and become impassable after rain. There are numerous private roads on the station properties and most also have their own airstrips.
Cobbold Gorge, 18° 43' 33"S 143° 27'38"E
Photos by Murray Johnston and commentary by Audrey Johnston
Located in the grazing property of Robinhood Station, lies Cobbold Gorge. It is between 50 to 60 km south of Forsayth. An oasis in the baking hot, dry Savannah country with sparse and stunted vegetation. The gorge is only 1 to 2 km long and 2 m wide. It is made of conglomerate sandstone and has cliffs 30m high. Its waters are home to freshwater crocodiles and crayfish.
About 1700 million years ago sand and mud sediment was deposited on what was then ocean floor, forming layers, of Hampstead Sandstone 10 km thick. Movement of the Earth's crust compressed the sediments, eventually causing fracturing of the sedimentary rock.
As the land lifted and the ocean floor was exposed, over time torrential wet seasons allowed water to torrent through the fractures creating deep gauges, permanent springs and seepage's.
Thousands of years ago more movement formed the lower reaches of the Cobbold Gorge. This covered an area of about 80 sq km. The waters from the Gorge flow into the Robinson River, which enters the Gulf via the Gilbert River.
More info can be seen at www.cobboldgorge.com.au.
On Kutchera Station close to Jampot Creek
By public road to within 1.7km then on foot
Georgetown which is 65 km south-west
Flat with incised drainage lines
Einasleigh River and the Gulf of Carpentaria
Geology & soils
Sandstone of Cainozoic age
Savannah of Eucalypts, wattles and grasses
Population in degree square
51 at the 2006 census
930km of public roads, private station tracks and airstrips
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.