AT THE POINT
Degree confluence 19°S 142°E, Google Earth
Location: This confluence point is on the property called Momba and falls just inside the boundary of Carpentaria Shire. The site was reached along 7km of fence lines by vehicle and then 1km by foot with the observations being taken 5960m from the point. The nearest populated place is Croydon some 92km to the north in Croydon Shire. 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 point lies on the low divide between the Norman and Clara Rivers which flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The landscape is a flat plain. The elevation is 108m ASL. The area has a reddish sandy soil derived from the underlying sandstone which is of Pliocene age (around 5 million years). The vegetation of the point is low scrub of paperbarks (mostly Yellow-barked Paperbark - Melaleuca nervosa), scattered Acacias, hopbush and spear grass understorey. A notable feature of the vegetation was the large number of small sundew insectivorous plants. Fauna in the form flocks of Straw-necked Ibis and feral pigs and deer (uncommon) were seen in the area. The land is used mainly by beef cattle grazing.
Sundew insectivorous plant (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Melaleuca nervosa in flower (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Hopbush (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Ant colony in web nest (Mary Nowill, 2010)
GPS at point
Point information and photos: J & M Nowill 15/6/2010
The Country: The land falls gently from the south-east to the north-west and contains the catchments of the Norman, Clara, Border and Yappar Rivers all of which flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. There are numerous seasonal ‘pothole' lagoons and ponds scattered across the plain. The highest land is in the south-east where elevations of up to 180m ASL are encountered. The lowest land is in the north-west where elevations of 35 to 40m ASL are found. Most of the area within the square has an underlying geology of sandstone, mostly of Pliocene origin. There is a small area of ancient Mesoproterozoic (1600 to 1000 million years) granite on the edge of the Gregory Range in the north-east corner of the square.
Clara River (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Across the square the vegetation is similar to that at the point of observation with low open savannah and shrubs of varying density depending on how recently the area had been burnt. The area also has a prolific bird life as well as plentiful reptiles such as goanna, and small mammals. Beef cattle are the most commonly seen animals.
The Climate: The climate of the area is classified as being grassland with a winter drought. The closest representative weather station is at Croydon, which is 92 km to the north-north-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 32 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, four of which passed within 50 km (an unnamed cyclone in 1918, TC Dora in 1964, TC Paul in 1980, and TC Larry in 2006). These and more distant cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall. Heavy rainfall typically leads to extensive flooding that can isolate properties for many weeks during the summer.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The area experiences on average between 30 and 40 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.
Like most places in the Australian tropics, extreme heat is also a danger. Records show that the Croydon Station 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 no records of earthquakes within the square sine 1900.
The Indigenous Story: The land within the square is mostly the traditional country of the Mayi-Kulan people. Small sections of Walangama and Takalak country also fall into the square.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: Probably the first European explorer to pass through or close to this area was Augustus Gregory in 1855. It is also likely that Frederick Walker, in his search for the missing Burke and Wills expedition in 1861 may also have passed through this square.
Pastoralists probably entered the area in the 1880s.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
Remains of cart wheels on Momba (Mary Nowill, 2010)
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was probably less than 50.
Land use across the square is dominated by cattle grazing. Most stations have well established infrastructure including dams, roads and airstrips.
Momba entry (Mary Nowill, 2010)
Momba homestead (Mary Nowill, 2010)
About half of the square falls within Croydon Shire with portions of Carpentaria Shire through the centre and McKinlay Shire in the south. There are no national parks within the square.
There are around 480km of public roads within the square. There are also numerous station roads and tracks as well as station airstrips.
Site Summary: NONE
On Momba Station
By station tracks and cross country to within 5.9km of the point
Croydon is 65km to the north
Flat open plain
Norman and Clara Rivers which flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria
Geology & soils
Red sandy soil on Pliocene sandstone
Low open savannah with paperbarks, low shrubs and spear grass
Grassland with a winter drought
Population in degree square
5 at the 2006 census
480km of public roads, numerous station roads and private 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.