18°S 146°E Lower Tully – Queensland by Degrees

AT THE POINT

Degree Confluence 18°S 146°E and surrounding countryside (Google Earth image)

 north  EAST
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jabiru

Black-necked stork (Jabiru) and White-necked Heron near the point (KG, 2008)


Location: This confluence point is located in the middle of a sugar cane farm some 400 m south of Tully Hull Road and the Lower Tully State School. It is within about 300 m of the Tully River. It lies within the Cassowary Coast Regional Council area. The closest settlement of significance is Tully Heads, 6.3 km to the east. The village of Rockingham lies about 1.5 km to the south-south-west but is on the other side of the Tully River.

The Landscape: The point lies on the floodplain of the Tully River. The soil is a deep brown clay loam derived from the Quaternary age (less than 1.8 million years) alluvial sands, gravels and clays that underlie the site. The natural vegetation has been replaced by the cultivation of sugar cane. Several species of birds were noted in the area including Black-necked Stork (Jabiru), White-necked Heron, Black Kite, various egrets and the feral Common Myna.

Point information and photos: Ken Granger, 2008

IN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: This degree square contains a very diverse range of landscapes; from inner reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, the shallow-water sea grass beds of the Hinchinbrook Channel, to offshore continental islands, coastal beaches, river floodplains and the high and rugged mountains of the Great Dividing Range.

SQUARE

The inner reefs of the Great Barrier Reef come as close as 25 km from the mainland in this section. The reefs within the square include those that form the Geranium Passage. These atolls and sand cays include Beaver Reef (one of the closest to the coast), Eddy Reef (at the southern entrance to Geranium Passage) and Ellison Reef (at the northern entrance to the Passage). All of these reefs fall within the Great Barrier Marine Park.

The Hinchinbrook Channel that separates Hinchinbrook Island from the mainland, is bordered by mangroves and its shallow waters have extensive beds of sea grass which supports a significant population of dugong and turtles. The threat to these populations caused by increasing boat traffic and coastal development along the mainland side of the Channel is a cause of concern for local people who arekeen to preserve them.

Immediately off-shore from the mainland is a series of continental islands, the peaks of hills that have remained above sea level following the sea rise at the end of the last period of glaciations between 10 000 and 6 000 years ago. Hinchinbrook Island is the largest of these. At almost 40 000 hectares and 14 kilometres from end to end it is the second largest island in Queensland (after Mornington Island). The southern, and highest, part of the island is made up of intruded granite and rhyolite of Late Carboniferous to Early Permian age (325 to 270 million years). The terrain is very rugged with deeply eroded gullies and exposed granite tors scattered across the landscape. This area is dominated by the 1142 m ASL peak of Mt Bowen. The northern part of the island is of volcanic origin with lava flows, also of Late Carboniferous to Early Permian age. The largest of these flows forms a steep narrow ridge which forms the north-west arm of the island. The highest peaks along this ridge are Mt Pitt (721 m) and Barra Castle Hill (582 m). Around the coastline, especially inland of Missionary Bay and along the Hinchinbrook Channel, are estuarine and alluvial deposits of sand and mud of Quaternary age (less than 1.8 million years).

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Hinchinbrook Island (Google Earth image)

The mangroves which line Missionary Bay and Hinchinbrook Channel form one of the largest mangrove areas in Australia and include 31 species of mangrove. Some small but significant areas of broad-leaved tea tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodland occur on the north coast. Vegetation types such as this have assumed conservation importance as similar types on the mainland face increased rates of clearing. According to the EPA, this is true of most of Hinchinbrook Island's plant communities, particularly lowland types, which may well be restricted to Hinchinbrook Island in years to come. A survey of all the tropical lowlands from Ingham to Cooktown indicated that Hinchinbrook Island National Park and Hinchinbrook Channel are of outstanding importance because of the diversity of rare communities.

While areas of rainforest occur at low and high altitudes, most of the mountainous part of the island is covered with open forests and low heaths on shallow soil. About 14 species of rare and threatened plants have been recorded on the island, although it is highly likely that others exist that are yet to be described.

The topography from mangroves to mountaintop provides a wide range of habitats. Significant species recorded include the Pied Imperial-pigeon, Beach Stone-curlew, estuarine crocodile, dugong green turtle and Australian snubfin dolphin.

Hinchinbrook Island and the Hinchinbrook Channel from Lucinda (KG, 2000)

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Beach Stone-curlew (KG, 2008) Dugong on sea grass bed (KG, 2005)

Moving north from Hinchinbrook is Goold Island, which is composed largely of Late Carboniferous age granite. It has a peak of 408 m ASL. To the east of Goold Island are the Brook Islands, an atoll of four small granite islands. Further north again are the Family Islands, a group of seven small islands including the resort island of Bedarra. These islands are also made up of Late Carboniferous granite.

family

Family Islands from Dunk Island (KG, 2008)

To the north of the Family group is Dunk (Coonanglebah) Island, which has an area of 970 ha and is located only 4 km off the coast at South Mission Beach. The eastern half of Dunk Island is the same Late Carboniferous granite that makes up most of the continental islands within this square. The western half of the island, however, is of much more ancient origin, being gneiss of Neoproterozoic age (1 000 to 545 million years). The two geological formations are separated by a valley that runs from south-east to north-west across the island. Mt Kootaloo, at 271 m ASL, the highest point on the island, is in the north-western corner of the island. In both areas the terrain is steep and clad in a mid-height and dense rainforest. For the most part the coastline of Dunk Island is rocky, however, a sand spit and beach mark the coast along the western end. Brammo Bay, near the island's resort, is representative of this coastline.

Dunk Island from the mainland (KG, 2008) Brammo Bay at the western end of Dunk Island (KG)

Dunk Island (Google Earth Image)

Dunk Island rainforest (KG, 2008)

Over 100 species of birds have been recorded on Dunk Island. They vary from large mound-builders such as the Orange-footed Scrubfowl which incubate their eggs in mounds of rotting vegetation - to the tiny Yellow-bellied Sunbird which feasts on the nectar of flowers. They include large majestic birds such as the Osprey and secretive birdssuch as the Noisy Pita and Emerald Dove. The island is also home to several rare or vulnerable seabird species. Just off-shore from Dunk Island is Purtaboi (Mound) Island. This island is a refuge forthousands of seabirds throughout the year, including several threatened species. During the summer months, the island becomes a grave; as seabirds such as Terns and Noddies breed.

Many species of reptiles are also found on Dunk Island, including the venomous (but not lethal) Swamp Snake as well as harmless pythons and tree snakes. The island has few native mammals apart from several species of bats and flying foxes.

Yellow-bellied Sunbird female (KG, 2008) Swamp Snake in forest litter (KG, 2008)

The coastline of the mainland is made up of a series of sandy beaches, such as Mission and Wongaling; separated by rocky headlands, such as Hull Head, Clump Point and Double Point; or mangrove-lined estuaries of the larger rivers such as the Hull, Tully and South Johnstone. Small open bays such as Bingle Bay are sheltered under some of these points, however, the only well-sheltered bay in this section of coast is at Mourilyan Harbour where a deep harbour, protected by hills to the south and east provide good protection. Development along some of the more exposed beaches, such as at Flying Fish Point, has been protected by rock walls.

South Mission Beach (KG, 2008) Rock wall protection at Flying Fish Point (KG, 2008)
Bingle Bay and Clump Point (KG, 2008) Mourilyan Harbour (KG, 2008)

Vegetation along the coast includes dense mangrove forests and littoral forests. Common species behind the beaches include Beach Calophyllum (Calophyllum inophyllum), Beach Almond (Terminalia catappa), Beach Sheoak (Casuarina equisetifolia) and Cottonwood (Hibiscua tiliaceus). In some areas various palms including several species of Pandanus, as well as exotic Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera), have become established along the low frontal dunes. On the coastal plain behind the beaches the remnant vegetation is typically lowland rainforest, much of which is now conserved within the national parks that make up the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. Within this area there are patches of more open eucalypt forest and dense patches dominated by Fan Palms (Licuala ramsayi). This is a very rich area with over 1000 species of trees represented in the forest canopy. They include more readily identifiable species such as the Grey Paperbark (Melaleuca dealbata), Blue Quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis) and Spurwood (Dysoxylum petigrewianum).

Beach Calophyllum (KG, 2008) Licuala Fan Palm grove (KG, 2008)
Estuarine mangrove forest Hull River (KG, 2008) Hull River estuary (KG, 2008)

These forests are home to a wide range of fauna, perhaps the best known being the Cassowary and the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. The migratory Metallic Starling is also a common sight along the coast from July to April, when they build their communal 'apartment blocks' of nests in coastal trees. Less well known are many small mammals including the endangered Mahogany Glider and the Striped Possum. Large colourful butterflies such as the Ulysses Swallowtail and Cairns Birdwing are also common.

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Cassowary at Etty Bay (KG, 2008) Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (KG, 2008)
Metallic Starling (KG, 2008) Metallic Starling colony nests (KG, 2008)

The floodplains of the Herbert, Tully and South Johnstone Rivers are broad, flat and low-lying and flanked by steep sided ridges. For the most part they have been developed for intensive cultivation of sugar cane and bananas. The soils and geology at the confluence point are representative of this landscape type.

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Intensive cultivation on the South Johnstone floodplain near Innisfail (Google Earth image)

The mountains of the Great Dividing Range and the ranges that lead from it such as the Cardwell and Gorge ranges are rugged and, for the most part, covered with dense rainforest. The greatest elevation within the square is the summit of Mt Fisher at 1 379 m ASL, however, elevations over 1 000 m ASL are fairly common in these mountains. In the north-west corner, the geology is part of the Atherton Basalt zone of Pleistocene age (less than 1.8 million years); further south, and including the Cardwell Range, the geology is granite of Late Carboniferous age (325 to 298 million years). The Gorge Range is a mixture of granite and volcanics of Late Carboniferous to Early Permian age (325 to 270 million years). Most of the streams flowing from the mountains are deeply entrenched and may have waterfalls and rapids. The South Johnstone and Tully Gorges are representative of this landscape.

South Johnstone Gorge basalt cliffs (KG, 2008) Tully Gorge rapids (KG, 2008)

The rainforests of the mountains are also part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area and have an incredibly diverse range of plant species. The largest of these tend to be the Strangler Fig (Ficus watkinsiana) which can have a canopy diameter of more than 20 m. Significant species include Blackbean (Castanospermum australe), Kauri Pine (Agathus robusta), Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) and Bumpy Satinash (Syzygium cormiflorum). Much of the rainforest, especially that on slopes facing the east, was damaged by the extreme winds experienced during TC Larry in March 2006.

Damaged rainforest from above (KG, 2008) Damaged rainforest from ground level (KG, 2008)
Bumpy Satinash (KG, 2008) Kauri Pine (KG, 2008)

The rainforests have a very rich bird fauna and include species such as the illusive Victoria Riflebird with its distinctive loud rasping call; numerous species of honeyeater, including the endemic Macleay's Honeyeater; various pigeons, including the Brown Cuckoo-dove and the Emerald Pigeon; Cassowary and raptors such as the Wedge-tailed Eagle. Most mammals in the area are small and include the striped possum, musky rat-kangaroo and yellow-footed antechinus.

Brown Cuckoo-dove (KG, 2008) Macleay's Honeyeater (KG, 2008)

Apart from the very intensive cultivation along the lowland floodplains and dairying around Millaa Millaa, the most extensive land use in the square is conservation. There are 31 national parks or conservation areas within the square covering more than 21 million hectares.

Climate: The climate across the square is predominantly tropical rainforest that is permanently wet, however, the temperature regime varies considerably between the coastal locations and the high country. Cardwell provides representative statistics for the coastal zone (30 km to the south of the degree confluence, with an elevation of 5 m), and Koombooloomba Dam for the high country.

Cardwell:

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

31.5

31.2

30.7

29.2

27.1

25.3

24.9

25.9

27.6

29.3

30.6

31.5

28.7

Mean min
(ºC)

22.9

22.9

21.9

20.1

17.6

14.9

13.6

14.2

16.2

18.9

21.0

22.2

18.9

Mean rain
(mm)

440.1

468.6

397.6

210.5

95.1

47.3

31.4

29.8

38.2

52.9

115.3

193.5

2 128.7

The highest temperature recorded was 42.6°C in December 1995, and the lowest was 2.8°C in July 1963. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 4 087.7 mm in 1950, and the least was 900.4 mm in 1915. These and other climate statistics for Cardwell can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_032004.shtml.

Koombooloomba Dam has an elevation of 760 m.

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

27.9

27.0

25.9

23.5

21.5

20.0

19.5

20.8

23.5

25.5

27.9

28.4

24.3

Mean min
(ºC)

19.1

19.3

18.5

17.1

15.1

11.5

11.1

11.7

13.3

15.5

17.3

18.5

15.7

Mean rain
(mm)

333.4

455.9

478.7

351.4

253.2

150.5

120.6

98.8

83.9

86.7

112.5

179.5

2 701.2

The highest temperature that has been recorded was 39.8°C in December 1990, and the lowest was -1.2°C in July 1984. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 4 129.5 mm in 1979, and the least was 1 731.8 mm in 1992. These and other climate statistics for Koombooloomba Dam can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_031083.shtml.

Tully's 7.9 m tall 'Golden Gumboot' rainfall record (KG, 2008)

Extremes of Nature: The most distinctive characteristic of the weather of the area is the large amount of rain that falls each year, particularly during the summer and autumn months. On average, Cardwell experiences 178 days annually with rainfall, 40 days of which receive 10 mm of rain or more. Like other places in the tropics, Cardwell is also consistenly warm, with 150 days a year that reach a temperature of 30°C or warmer. However, maximum temperatures very rarely reach 35°C.

Given the confluence's tropical location, it has been subject to numerous cyclones since 1906. Nine tropical cyclones have passed within 50 km of the degree confluence during this time, and a further 53 have passed within 200 km. 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.

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Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the confluence point 1906-2006 (BoM web site)

Several cyclones had a serious impact on the area before 1906-7. One in March 1890 crossed the coast near Cardwell. At South Barnard Island, to the north, two men were drowned when their boat was swept away after losing its jib. The house on the island was blown down and the wife of one of the men was stranded for 2 days with her 4 children. Two Aboriginal beche de mere fishermen were drowned. At Cardwell the winds started 7pm Sunday 23rd and were at their worst until 7am Monday 24th. Only 4 houses were left standing, the rest were wholly blown down, unroofed or destroyed. Two government boathouses were destroyed, the jetty was wrecked, the schoolhouse was blown down and the courthouse almost blown away.

Undoubtedly the three most damaging cyclones to have had an impact on the square since European settlement were the unnamed cyclone of March 1918, known as the 'Bingle Bay cyclone', TC Winifred in 1986 and TC Larry in March 2006. The 1918 cyclone and TC Larry were classed as high Category 4 systems when they crossed the coast within 100 kilometres of the point, while TC Winifred was a high Category 3 storm. Each caused extensive damage and loss of life across a wide area.

E.J. Banfield, the famous 'beachcomber' of Dunk Island, described the 1918 event, which destroyed his home on the island, in the following words:

"We have passed through a terrible experience... Kitchen gone, spare room flattened out completely, house proper minus a good deal of its roof; all our belongings saturated; every other building crazy with palsy and generally broken-backed; boat shed vanished, only indication of the site being the broken winch; [his boat] a battered skeleton fifty yards from where she reposed at sundown on Sunday safely on her trolly....The Isle is badly soiled. "

- Letter from Banfield to a friend in Townsville quoted in Noonan (1983), A different drummer

At the Mourilyan Sugar Mill the barometer reached a low of 926 hPa, one of the lowest ever recorded pressures on the Australian east coast. The town of Innisfail, then a town of about 3500 residents, was destroyed with only 12 houses left standing. At least 37 people died in and around Innisfail.

The beach at the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement, located at present-day South Mission Beach, was covered by 3.6 m water for hundreds of metres inland, the debris reached a height of 7 m in the trees. All buildings and structures at the Settlement were destroyed by the storm tide and wind. Superintendant of the Settlement, John Kenny, and his daughter were both killed by flying debris. Ironically, John Kenny had survived the impact of TC Mahina, Australia's worst cyclone disaster, at Bathurst Bay, in 1899. Kenny's pregnant wife was also injured and was evacuated to Townsville.

Temporary shelters were rigged up for those Aborigines that had survived and not deserted the Settlement. They only had tinned food from the store and roasted green bananas to live off. Several salvageable bags of flour and a case of jam and other things were found in the tops of Casuarina trees. Victims were buried in mass graves along the beach. Estimates vary, with official reports concluding that 12 died, but it is more likely that at least 50, and possibly as many as 100, Aborigines died at the Hull River Settlement.

TC Winifred formed in the Coral Sea off Cooktown and crossed the coast just south of Innisfail. The worst affected areas were between Babinda and Tully. Central pressures of 958 hPa were observed at both Cowley Beach and South Johnstone. Some extreme wind effects where observed to the north in the westerly winds. A house severely damaged on a 70 m ridge north of Innisfail was calculated (by James Cook University engineers) to have been hit a 145 knot gust. At Innisfail, 190 houses were damaged ranging from extensive to minor. At Mourilyan, 20 houses were unroofed, every other house was damaged and 12 vessels were sunk in the harbour. At South Johnstone, 30 houses were unroofed and a further 50 were damaged. At El Arish one house was destroyed, 15 were unroofed and most of the others were damaged. At Silkwood 25 houses were severely damaged and 25 were partly damaged. At Kurrimine Beach 25 houses were severely damaged and 51 partly damaged. In the hinterland at Millaa Millaa 12 houses were damaged and between 150 and 300 farm buildings were damaged.

A near record flood occurred in the Herbert River and a major flood occurred in the Tully River. The total cost of damage reached $130 million (in 1986 dollars), of which $87 million was agricultural damage. There was a 1.6 m storm surge on the gauge at Clump Point. There were 3 deaths, two from wind effects and one drowning. Damage to the coastal rainforest around Mission Beach caused significant losses to the Cassowary population because their food sources had been destroyed. For several years after Winifred it was not uncommon to see wild Cassowaries coming into urban areas looking for food.

In the months following the impact of TC Winifred Fire Authorities declared a state of Fire Emergency in the affected areas because of the massive amount of vegetation that had been brought down. The mass of drying vegetation arranged in deep layers posed a major threat of severe bushfires that could have destroyed large areas of rainforest. This is probably the only occasion in which such a declaration has been imposed in the Wet Tropics.

The most recent severely destructive cyclone was TC Larry in 2006. Larry formed as a tropical low in the Coral Sea on the evening of 14 March 2006 and was named as a cyclone by the morning of 18 March. It increased in intensity until the evening of 19 March when it was classified as a Category 5 storm. It then picked up forward speed and lost some intensity, being downgraded to a Category 4 storm by the time it crossed the coast at 7 am on 20 March. A central pressure of 959.3 hPa was recorded at South Johnstone automatic weather station - lower pressures were unofficially recorded closer to the coast.

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TC Larry track (BoM graphic)

Larry was the first severe tropical cyclone to cross near a populated section of the east coast of Queensland since TC Rona in 1999, and the effects of the winds on buildings were devastating. Townships affected by the northern and southern portions of the eye wall of the cyclone received the most damage, particularly Innisfail and Silkwood, however all townships in the region were severely affected by the cyclone. Electricity transmission to the areas within the square was severely disrupted.

Rainfall associated with Larry resulted in flooding in the Tully and other rivers in the square. Road and rail access was disrupted for several days due to flooding and, at times, prevented road access to the Babinda-Innisfail area from both the north and south. Fortunately, the river rises in the Johnstone River at Innisfail remained below minor flood level. The heaviest rainfall in the Tully River catchment was over 500 mm recorded at Euramo, near Tully, in the 72 hours to 9am 22 March. River levels rose slowly in both the Tully and Murray Rivers and major flood levels overtopped the Bruce Highway from 21 to 24 March.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology report on the event, Larry produced a significant storm surge. The largest recorded surge was 2.30 m at Clump Point. Cardwell and Mourilyan recorded storm surges of 1.76 m and 1.34 m respectively. Unfortunately no gauges were located at the site of the maximum onshore winds, so the highest storm surge associated with Larry was not sampled. However, the highest inundation recorded was a very substantial 4.9 m above the expected tide at Bingil Bay, and 4.2 m at Etty Bay.

As with TC Winifred, damage to local crops and rainforests were extensive. Virtually the entire banana crop around Tully, which supplied around 80% of the Australian market, was destroyed. Native rainforests and forest plantations across the region were damaged. Again the Cassowary population's food sources were destroyed and feeding stations were established by QPWS rangers away from urban areas to keep them going until the forest sources recovered.

Wind damage by TC Larry in Innisfail (BoM image) Destruction of banana crops by TC Larry (BoM image)

The experiences of children during the impact of TC Larry were collected and published by a group called Mothers Helping Others Inc. Following is an example from a 12 year old boy from Martyville near Innisfail:

"When the cyclone struck it was like the big bad wolf in the three little pig's story. It huffed and it puffed and it blew everything down, this included houses, trees, and power poles. I found the first half was pretty scary. What I vividly remember is that when my family was sitting in a little group down in the laundry under a mattress I was wondering if our roof was going to come off. We could hear objects hitting our roof but with so much noise we were not able to identify what was occurring.

At some time around 5:30 am Mum was on the phone and she yelled out that the roller door to our garage had given way to the cyclonic winds. It was flapping onto our car just like a piece of paper in the wind. Soon after this it was sucked out and flung into the garden bed, about 10 metres away. Dad was glad it wasn't pushed inwards as a lot more damage would've happened to our cars parked in there.

During the eye of the cyclone, when it was quieter, the four of us went outside to survey the damage to our property. We nailed up damaged doors and windows and picked up bits of tin. While we were out we saw that two of the houses in Martyville had already lost roofs, when we saw that a cloud of sorrow fell over us as we knew that one of the houses belonged to an elderly couple and we also started to worry that it might happen to our house as well.

After about twenty minutes it was time to go back in as the wind was starting to increase again. The big bad wolf had turned around and was coming back for a second blow."

Given the high rainfall across the area and the occasional impact of cyclones, it is not surprising that major floods have impacted on the area. Severe flooding of the Johnstone River in the north of the square is often associated with tropical cyclones. The two highest floods at Innisfail in recent years occurred in February 1986 (TC Winifred) and February 1999 (TC Rona). The flood records for Innisfail indicate that the highest recorded flood occurred in 1913 and that it was about 1.7 metres higher than the 1999 flood. Historical evidence indicates that the floods in 1893 and 1894 were even higher.

Floods in the Tully and the adjacent Murray River inundate cane lands and the larger floods isolate farm houses. An important impact of Tully River floods is the cutting of the Bruce Highway at Euramo. There have been five major floods in the Tully River since 1967. Such floods will cut roads and put flood waters through homes and businesses.

The intense rainfall that accompanies tropical cyclones can cause flash floods and landslides, especially in the steeper country. Roads such as the Palmerston Highway are especially vulnerable to closure from batter failures and debris flows of boulders down the creek lines.

The area averages between 20 and 30 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds and intense rainfall. During the winter dry season thunder storms may spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to promote spread. In past years bushfires along the lower escarpment were often caused by trash fires in the sugar cane spreading into the surrounding grassland and scrub. Today bushfires are often started deliberately by arsonists - be they bored children or criminals.

There are 11 earthquake epicentres within the degree square recorded since 1900 in the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia. They range from a small ML 1.2 event in the Tully floodplain about 20 km west of the confluence point that would not have been felt by people close to the epicentre, to a ML 4.0 event on 6 May 1974 with an epicentre only 4 km north-west of Innisfail. This quake would certainly have been felt but no damage was reported. Nine of the 11 quakes recorded in the database had a magnitude of ML 3 or above - sufficiently strong to do minor damage to weak structures that were close to the epicentres.

The Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square is the traditional country of two main Aboriginal groups. In the northern two thirds the Djirbalngan people were the traditional owners; to the south of Tully and on Hinchinbrook Island, the Wargamaygan (or Girringun) people were in control. These major groups were further divided, for example, in the southern part of the square there are four 'salt water' peoples, the Djiru in the north around Mission Beach; the Gulnay around South Mission Beach; the Girramay around Cardwell; and the Bandjin on Hinchinbrook Island.

The early encounters between Europeans and Aboriginals in this area were often violent. Edmund Kennedy and his party in 1848 were harassed. As white settlers moved into the Cardwell area in 1864 they appropriated traditional land and hunting grounds and induced some Aborigines into becoming labourers - often paying them in rum. Chinese banana growers along the Tully River supplied Aborigines with opium in exchange for labour.

Survivors of various shipwrecks along the coast, such as the Maria in 1872 near the mouth of the Johnstone River, were often harassed by the local Aborigines. Such events often led to punitive expeditions being mounted by Native Police. When European cedar cutters and Chinese gold seekers spread into the area, the Aborigines fought them and inflicted serious casualties. Again the Europeans sent in the Native Police. Superior firepower broke up the indigenous communities and dispersed or integrated the remaining original landowners.

In an effort to protect the Aborigines the Queensland government enacted the Protection of Aborigines and the Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act in 1897. To 'protect' the local Aborigines, the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement was established by the government in 1914. Even though it was always a government centre, the Settlement became known locally as 'The Mission' - hence the modern name of the area.

Initially only Aboriginals from the local area were relocated to the Settlement and by 1915 the population had grown to about 400. In 1916 a further 82 Aboriginals were brought to the Settlement from as far away as Torres Strait and Chillagoe for 'disciplinary reasons for their relief and protection'. An outbreak of malaria ravaged the location in 1917 and some 200 died. By March 1918 when the cyclone destroyed the Settlement there were about 300 people living there. With the destruction of the Hull River Settlement the authorities decided to relocate the people to Great Palm Island off Townsville. The surviving materials from Hull River were taken to Palm Island to establish the Reserve there and for many years people from the Tully and Cardwell areas were relocated to Palm Island.

A monument in the form of a traditional shelter is now located at South Mission Beach close to the site of the Hull River Settlement. It houses many stories of local people and their experience of the Settlement and the cyclone.

Hull River Settlement monument (KG, 2008) Rainbow serpent in the Hull River monument (KG)

In December 2005, Girringun traditional owners signed the first ever Traditional Use Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA) in Australia for the management of traditional hunting of protected species such as turtles and dugong in the greater Hinchinbrook Island area. This agreement was subsequently accredited by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to navigate the waters in this area were with James Cook in HMS Endeavour in 1770. Cook named features including Dunk Island and Rockingham Bay. The next navigator was Philip Parker King in HMS Mermaid in 1819. He named Mt Hinchinbrook, Goold Island and the Family Islands.

The first Europeans on land made up the party under Edmund Kennedy who landed at Rockingham Bay at the commencement of his ill-fated expedition to Cape York. Of the thirteen men that left Rockingham Bay in May 1848 only three survived, including the Aboriginal 'Jacky Jacky'.

Kennedy memorial South Mission Beach (KG) Plaque on Kennedy monument (KG, 2008)

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