AT THE POINT
Degree confluence 19°S 141°E, Google Earth
Location: This confluence point is on the property called Woondolah. Getting to the site was along 48 kms of road from the station homestead on station tacks and observations were taken 5200m from the point. The nearest populated place is Normanton in the Carpentaria Shire, about 144km to the north. Whilst the actual confluence point was not reached, observations over an extensive area close to the point lead us to believe that the photos taken and description given would be typical of the actual confluence point.
The Landscape: The Flinders and Saxby Rivers which flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria are the main drainage catchments for the point and the landscape is a flat plain. The elevation is 47m above sea level. The soil is a heavy cracking grey clay with an underlying geology of Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years) siltstone. The vegetation of the point is grassland and pasture with scattered Prickly Acacias and Mimosa bushes. Fauna seen in the area included flocks of Brolgas, Bustards and Jabiru (Black-necked Stork). The land is mainly used by beef cattle grazing and supporting infrastructure such as dams were located near the point.
Large flock of Brolgas near point (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Typical dam for cattle near point (Mary Nowill, 2010)
GPS at point
Point information and photos: T Hillier, N. O' Connor, B Urquhart and J & M Nowill 13/6/2010
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The landscape of the square is dominated by the floodplains of the Cloncurry, Flinders, Saxby and Norman Rivers that each flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. They each exhibit complex braided streams with the Cloncurry River having the most complex. The country slopes from south to north with the greatest elevation being around 110m ASL in the south-west corner near the Wills Developmental Road. The lowest elevations are around 30m ASL where the major rivers leave the square in the north.
Across the square much of the geology is sandstone and siltstone of Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years) with more recent sand, gravels and other alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years). The oldest rocks are sandstone and siltstone of the Normanton Formation which are of Albian origin (around 100 million years).
Vegetation across the square is very similar to that at the point with the exception of the drainage channels where riparian forest of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Coolabah (E. coolibah) and Paperbarks (Melaleuca spp) dominate. When visited the area had a prolific bird life.
Land use is cattle grazing supported by infrastructure similar to that close to the point.
Turkey nest dam on Woondolah (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Woondolah homestead (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Brolga and cattle on Woondolah (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Straw-necked Ibis at dam (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Norman River at Iffley Crossing (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Sunset at One Tree dam (Mary Nowill, 2010)
The Climate: The area is classified as having a grassland climate with a winter drought. The closest representative weather station is at Donors Hill, which is 60 km to the north-west of the degree confluence, and has an elevation of 50 m. The station has been recording data since 1889.
No data is available for the temperature extremes at Donors Hill Station. Rainfall is variable, with a highest recorded total of 1494.1 mm in 1974 and a lowest total of 238.5 mm in 1986.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 34 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence, five of which passed within 50 km (two unnamed TCs in 1911, and 1950; TC Ted in 1976, TC Paul in 1980, and TC Larry in 2006). These cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall which will produce extensive flooding. Most properties can be isolated for several weeks during the wet season except by light aircraft.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
Because of the point's tropical location, Donors Hill receives a substantial annual average rainfall. However, most of this falls within the summer months, and July to September usually have less than 5 days each with any rain. The area experiences on average between 40 and 50 thunder days a year. The more severe thunderstorms can produce intense rainfall and localised flash flooding, destructive winds (including tornadoes) and lightning strikes that can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to sustain spread.
Extreme heat is also likely to be danger. 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, a ML 3.0 event on 11 May 1995 located close to the Flinders River 24 km south of the confluence point.
The Indigenous Story: Most of the land within the square is the traditional country of the Ngawan people.To the west of the Flinders River the land is Mayi-Thakurti country.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The earliest European explorers to cross this country were probably Burke and Wills on their ill-fated attempt to cross the Continent from south to north in 1860. Several of the parties sent to search for Burke and Wills, including John McKinley and William Landsborough also crossed this area. They reported good grazing country and pastoralists began taking up runs in the area in the 1880s.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was less than 50. The reason for the large increase in population at the 2001 census is not clear but may have been influenced by census boundary changes or temporary works projects such as road building or mineral exploration.
Under 5 years
65 years and over
Most of the square falls within Carpentaria Shire with a section of Cloncurry Shire in the south-west corner; McKinlay Shire in the south-east corner and Croydon Shire in the north-east corner. There are no national parks in the square.
There are 1072km of public roads within the square including the Wills Developmental Road and the Iffley Road. Most roads are natural surface and easily closed in wet weather. Most station properties have their own airstrips and extensive networks of station roads.
Site Summary: NONE
On Woondolah Station
By station roads to within 5.2 km of the point
Normanton 144km north
Flat open plain
Flinders River to the Gulf of Carpentaria
Geology & soils
Grey cracking clay on siltstone of Cainozoic age
Grassland with a winter drought
Population in degree square
77 at the 2006 census
1072 km of public roads, station roads and airstrips
None in the squar
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.