AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is on the property called Welfern. The site was reached on foot 2.6km from the Bagstowe - Kidston Road to the west of the point. The nearest populated place is Einasleigh which is 55km to the north. The abandoned Kidston mine is 22km to the north-east. The point lies within Etheridge Shire.
The Landscape: The Edmonds Creek which flows to the Oak River and then to the Copperfield River are the main drainage catchments areas for the point. The landscape around the point is high stony ridges with the escarpment of Butlers Knob (844m ASL) immediately to the east. The elevation at the point is 731m ASL. The soils are shallow and derived from the underlying granodiorite and tonalite of Silurian origin (444 to 426 million years) which outcrops the area. Small Eucalypts, Acacias, Spear Grass, Bloodwood and Ironbark trees are scattered along the ridges. A few Wallaroos were seen and termite mounds up to 500mm in height were also seen around this point. The main land use is cattle grazing.
Point information and photos: T Hiller, N O' Connor and J & M Nowill 24/5/2010
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: This square is dominated by the rugged country of the Newcastle and Gilbert Ranges which form an outlier to the west of the Great Dividing Range. This high country divides the drainage systems with the Gilbert, Percy and Robertson Rivers to the west and the Copperfield and Einasleigh Rivers to the east. These streams eventually join to the north of the square to form the Gilbert River that flows to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Most of the country in the ranges is over 700m ASL with the maximum elevation of 1046m ASL being located near the north-west border of the Blackbraes Resources Reserve in the south. The lowest elevation is around 350m ASL in the north-west corner of the square. The geology of the square is quite complex with a large proportion consisting of ancient gneiss, mudstone and schist of Palaeoproterozoic age (2500 to 1600 million years). Through this ancient foundation are found intrusions of more recent granodiorite and granite material ranging in age from Silurian (444 to 416 million years) to Late Carboniferous (around 318 million years). There are also recent flows of basalt such as those cut through by the Copperfield Gorge at Einasleigh. Exploitation of mineral deposits including copper and gold across the area has been under way since at least the late 1860s.
The vegetation across the square is also varied with areas of mid-height open forest of Bloodwoods and Ironbarks; riparian forests along the drainage lines; Paperbarks in areas or poor drainage; and grassland and pasture. Occasional Black Orchids are found in Bloodwoods through the area. Fauna includes a wide range of birds including the Australian Bustard, various finches, parrots and raptors. Mammals include Wallaroos and many smaller creatures. Beef cattle, however, are the more obvious animals in the landscape.
The Climate: The climate of the area is classified ranges across sub-tropical with a distinctly dry winter and grassland with a winter drought. The closest representative weather station is at the Georgetown Post Office, which is approximately 92 km to the north-west 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 2 045.7 mm in 1974, and the least was 308.4 mm in 1926.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 35 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, four of which passed within 50 km (two unnamed TCs in 1911, and 1942; TC Paul in 1980, and TC Winifred in 1986). These and even more distant cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall. Heavy rainfall in this area can produce dangerous flash flooding in the higher country and wider area inundation on the broader floodplains.
The area experiences on average between 20 and 30 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 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 National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no earthquake epicentres within the square.
The Indigenous Story: The land within the square is the traditional country of the Yanga people in the west and the Agwamin people in the east.
There is some evidence of conflict between Aboriginals and gold fossickers, especially in the Gilberton area.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to pass through or close to this square were with Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844-5. They were followed by Augustus Gregory in 1855-6 and the Jardine brothers (Frank and Alexander) on their epic cattle drive from Bowen to the tip of Cape York in 1864-5. They were followed by fossickers searching for gold, copper and other mineral wealth. The Einasleigh copper field was found by Richard Daintree in 1866 but it was not exploited until 1900 because it was too remote. The town of Einasleigh was laid out in 1900 though the Central Hotel had been trading there before 1900.
Daintree also found alluvial gold along the Gilbert River and the subsequent rush led to the establishment of Gilberton. It became the administrative centre for the Etheridge region with a hospital, court house and over a dozen hotels. The town survived until 1873 when the Palmer rush and the conflict with Aboriginals led to an exodus and abandonment of the locality.
The Forsayth gold field was discovered in 1871 and in spite of several booms and busts by the mid 1890s it was a flourishing town with five hotels, a school and court house. Because of the mineral wealth in the area a railway was constructed by the Chillagoe Company to take ore to the smelters established there. The line reached Forsayth in 1907.
The Oaks gold rush of 1907 was the last of Queensland's major alluvial gold rush. Within 12 months Kidston had a population of 1700, but within two years the alluvial gold had been worked out and the population declined to around 100. Hard rock mining continued and the State Government established a battery at Kidston in 1920. The battery finally closed in 1949.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 305.
The decline in population between 2001 and 2006 was probably due to the decline in mining operations across the area.
The entire square is located within Etheridge Shire. There are no national parks in the areaBlackbraes Resources Reserve is located in the south of the square.
There are 1446km of public road in the square a small length of which are sealed. There is an additional large network of private roads on station properties and some mining areas. The Einasleigh to Forsyth railway line which carries to Savannahlander tourist motor rail that runs from Cairns is also still in service. Both Forsayth and Einasleigh have airstrips suitable for Royal Flying Doctor operations and many station properties have their own airstrips.
Forsayth (Google Earth image)
Einasleigh (Google Earth image)
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.