19°S 146°E Running River – Queensland by Degrees

THE POINT 

Confluence point location 19°S 146°E (Google Earth image)

Looking north

Looking east

Looking south

Looking west

Location: This confluence point is yet to be visited but the surrounds have. It is located about 1600 m south-east of the Ewan Paluma Road and 740 m north-west of the Running River. The point lies within the Charters Towers Regional Council area and the nearest settlement is Paluma, about 20 km to the east.

The Landscape: The terrain around the point appears to be steep-sided gullies of a creek that flows to the deeply entrenched Running River. Running River is a tributary of the Burdekin River. The underlying geology is tonalite of Ordovician age (490 to 434 million years). The vegetation is an open mid-height eucalypt forest. The landscape is rocky and undulating, with large granite boulders and gravel making up the stream beds.

Point information and photos: Ken Granger, Kallum Jones and Phil Nguyen

WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: The country in this degree square straddles the Seaview and Paluma Ranges and can be divided into four broad landscape regions - the off-shore continental islands, the coastal plain, the ranges and the Burdekin River catchment.

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Orpheus (Goolbodi) Island and Pelorus (Yanooa) Island lie at the eastern edge of the square. Orpheus Island is a narrow and long continental island and has a maximum elevation of around 100 m ASL. Pelorus Island by contrast is roughly circular and has an elevation of 250 m ASL. Both islands are composed of granite of Late Carboniferous age (325 to 298 million years). They are steep sided and have many exposed granite tors across their surfaces. Vegetation on the islands is dry woodlands of Moreton Bay Ash (Corymbia tessellaris) and wattles. Rainforest grows in gullies and sheltered bays, featuring figs and Macaranga. Grasslands also occur in small irregular bands across the islands.

The coastal plain extends the full length of the square and varies in width from less than 5 km in the south to more than 40 km in the north. Elevations range from sea level to less than 100 m ASL. The plain is composed of riverine alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years) deposited by the many streams that flow from the coastal ranges such as the Herbert River, Cattle Creek and Crystal Creek. Much of the native vegetation has been removed to make way for agriculture - mainly sugar cane and pasture.

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Coastal plain from McClelland's Lookout at Paluma (KG, 2008)

A steep coastal escarpment forms the eastern edge of the Seaview and Paluma Ranges that run the length of the square. Elevations range up to a little over 1000 m ASL. The ranges are mostly composed of granite of Carboniferous age (354 to 298 million years). Most of the streams that flow directly to the coast are deeply entrenched until they reach the coastal plain and have many waterfalls. Wallaman Falls on Stony Creek, with a drop of 305m, is the tallest single drop waterfall in Australia. Jourama Falls on Waterview Creek is a popular walking and camping area and the much smaller falls on Little Crystal Creek near where the Paluma road crosses the creek is a popular swimming spot. Vegetation ranges from tropical rainforest on the coast-facing slopes to dry eucalypt forests on the western slopes. The headwaters of Crystal Creek have been dammed to provide water supply for the Townsville area. Kallum and Phil found that the streamnear their location held water in holed areas and the beds seemed impermeable. Shaded areas slows the evaporation.

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Wallaman Falls (KG, 2008)

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Wallaman Falls plunge pool (KG, 2008)

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Little Crystal Creek falls in the dry (KG, 2008)

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Hoop Pine above Little Crystal Creek

Much of the forest on the coastal side has many species of palms and rattans as well as tall trees such as Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii). Towards the west, the rainforest gives way to drier open woodland. Stands of Poplar Gum (Eucalyptus platyphylla), bloodwoods (Corymbia spp) and Moreton Bay Ash dominate the canopy with an under storey of Cocky Apple (Planchonia careya) trees and tall grasses.

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Palms and rattan on Paluma Range (KG, 2008)

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 Wait-a-while rattan (KG, 2008)

Fauna in the rainforest includes a rich bird life. Species represented include Victoria's Riflebird, Chowchilla, Macleay's Honeyeater, Noisy Pita and Spotted Catbird. Mammals include Agile Wallaby, Mahogany Glider and Sugar Glider. The Saw-shelled turtle is found in many of the creeks. This turtle is unusual in that it can absorb oxygen from the water through special membranes on its tail, thus giving rise to the popular suggestion that it breathes through its backside! In the dryer woodland birds such as laughing kookaburras, forest kingfishers and a variety of honeyeaters are often seen.

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Saw-shell turtle (KG, 2008)

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Chowchilla (KG, 2008)

The more undulating landscapes of the Burnett catchment are predominantly composed of granite, the oldest of which is Late Silurian age (425 to 410 million years). The granite is interspersed with mudstone also of Late Silurian age, volcanic rocks of early Carboniferous age (325 to 298 million years) and gneiss of Neoproterozoic age (1000 to 545 million years). This area does have steep and rugged areas but overall its elevation ranges from 550 m to 250 m ASL. Vegetation is predominantly open eucalypt forest.
Kallum and Phil discovered that in the area they were, the vegetation seemed to be dry tropical savannah but holds large Eucalypts. So altitude may affect the vegetation (592m (+/- 8m). Kallum and Phil also  witnessed two large grey Kangaroos and three Rock Wallabies, various lizards and birds species (2014).

Climate: The climate within the square ranges from tropical rainforest to subtropical with a distinctly dry winter. The Bureau of Meteorology climate station at Ingham provides representative statistics for the coastal rainforest zone. There are no climate stations in the area to provide statistics for the mountains or the interior.

Ingham Composite (032078) 1968 to 2009peration (elevation 12 m ASL)

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

32.3

31.6

30.8

29.0

27.1

25.2

24.9

26.1

28.3

30.4

31.8

32.5

29.2

Mean min
(ºC)

22.9

23.2

22.2

20.2

17.8

14.7

13.6

14.3

16.0

18.4

20.7

22.0

18.8

Mean rain
(mm)

388.4

477.6

362.4

203.5

112.0

46.3

35.5

39.7

39.6

46.9

117.6

195.8

2 070.5

The highest temperature ever recorded at Ingham was 43.4°C in December 1995 while the lowest temperature was 2.2°C in July 1968. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 3423.0 mm was recorded in 1981 and the lowest total of 1105.0 mm in1992. The climate of the ranges is cooler and wetter. Mean annual rainfall at Paluma, for example, is 2558.0 mm. The interior, however, is significantly dryer.

Extremes of Nature: The area is very much subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 57 cyclones tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Eight of those cyclones passed within 50 km of the confluence point during that period including: an unnamed cyclone in January 1910; an unnamed cyclone of April 1940; an unnamed cyclone in February 1941; an unnamed cyclone in February 1947; an unnamed cyclone of march 1950; TC Althea in December 1971; TC Justin in March 1997; TC Tessi in April 2000.

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

Several cyclones have had a significant impact on the area prior to 1906. In March 1890, for example, a cyclone that crossed the coast at Cardwell brought strong winds that destroyed the Church of England church. Amongst the more severe impacts since 1906 was the cyclone of 1940 which a police house, a church and 2 hotels were unroofed and badly damaged. The Italian Club laws lifted and carried 90 m down the street. Nearly every building in the town was damaged. Tanks all over town were moved hundreds of metres. In March 1997 TC Justin brought torrential rain and strong winds over a wide area. A lady was killed in a landslide on the Paluma Range and the whole population of Paluma village were evacuated by helicopter until the road could be re-opened.

Since records commenced in early 1900s, major floods have occurred regularly in the Herbert River. Major floods usually occur in the wet season from January to March, but smaller floods have occurred in April and December. There have been at least 26 major floods at Ingham since 1900. In February 1927, for example, a cyclone which crossed the coast near Cairns caused widespread flooding. Flood waters in the Herbert caused the loss of 2500 head of cattle and 1500 horses as well as destroying roads and railway infrastructure.

The flood of record in the Herbert River was caused by TC Elaine in March 1967. Falls of up to 1321 mm in 4 days were recorded in the Barron and Herbert districts. The Bureau of Meteorology's river height observer at Glen Eagle station was forced to evacuate his homestead shortly before it was washed away in a flood which reached the level of 6.85 metres above the previous record in 1927. The bridge at Long Pocket, linking Abergowrie and Ingham, was washed away after being almost 15metres under water, and the population of Abergowrie was isolated for weeks. Ingham itself was almost completely submerged in the flood waters which were 17 kilometres wide at the peak. Road and rail traffic was brought to a standstill for more than a week.

The area averages around 20 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds and intense rainfall. Flash floods and landslides can be caused by that heavy rainfall.

During the winter dry season thunder storms may spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to promote spread. For many years fires on the coastal plain were caused by the pre-harvest firing of the sugar cane that was not properly controlled. Today bushfires are often started deliberately by arsonists - be they bored children or criminals. Within the degree square bushfires are likely to be most severe in the eucalypt forests and woodlands of the interior rather than on the coastal plain or in the rainforest on the ranges.

Extreme heat is also a serious issue in the square. The climate records for Ingham show that on average (over 37 years of records) the area experiences 16 days a year with temperatures over 35°C though temperatures over 40°C are uncommon. 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.

There are 11 earthquake epicentres within the degree square recorded since 1900 in the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia. Six of these are shown as having a magnitude of ML 3.5, all of them to the west of the range. The closest epicentre to a settlement was the ML 2.2 event of 27 June 1901 that was located 7 km north-east of Ingham along the Lucinda road. No damage was reported from any of these events.

The Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square was the traditional country of two groups. Along the coast and on the islands the Nyawaygi were the owners, while the inland areas of the Burdekin catchment were home to the Gugu-Badhun people.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

European Exploration and Settlement: The First European navigator known to have sailed along the coast of this square was James Cook in HMS Endeavour in 1770. He named several features including Halifax Bay. Further surveys of the coast in this area were undertaken by Charles Jeffreys in HMS Kangaroo in 1815 and Philip Parker King in HMS Mermaid in 1819.

Land exploration did not enter this area until 1853 when graziers who had established properties in the Valley of Lagoons in the upper Burdekin catchment were looking for a route to the coast at Cardwell. It was these explorers that located the Herbert River. Henry Stone was the first settler in the Herbert valley. He established Herbert Vale in 1865 and was soon followed by other graziers. It was not until the early 1870s, however, that settlement took off with the development of the sugar industry.

The first sugar mill was established at Gairloch in 1872 and was followed by mills at Bemerside and Macknade. The town of Ingham (originally named Sligo) was established to service the sugar and pastoral industries. The Herbert River was the main transport route until a road was built to the coast in 1873.

Prospectors began pushing into the coastal ranges in the 1870s, with tin being found around Paluma (known as Cloudy Creek) in 1875. Mining peaked in 1905 but soon declined as tin prices fell and transport costs rose.

The growth of the sugar industry increased into the early 1880s then the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) established several plantations and the Victoria Mill in 1883. The growing and harvesting of sugar cane was a very labour intensive operation. Initially labour was brought in from the Pacific Islands (so-called Kanakas), China and Malaya, however, the introduction of the White Australia Policy in the early 1890s saw recruitment from European countries such as Italy, Spain, Finland and Yugoslavia commence.

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Herbert River Farmers League building Ingham (KG, 2008)

The first group of Italian migrants arrived in Townsville in 1891 and, after having settled in the Ingham district, most sent home for family and friends. The pattern of Italian immigration was now established and, to this day, more than half the population of Ingham is of Italian descent. By 1892 Ingham had a population of 200.

Silting of the Herbert River was limiting the use of the river as a transport route so a new port was established on the coast at Lucinda. The district flourished with other agricultural endeavours including tobacco, grapes, dairying, beef cattle and horses.

Timber getting in the rainforests of the Mt Spec Range around Paluma became a major industry in the 1920s with Red Cedar and other cabinet timbers especially sought. That industry continued until 1988 when the area was declared as part of the Wet Tropics World heritage Area.

The years of the Great Depression saw a number of public works projects initiated including the building of the Paluma Road by the Main Roads Department. The stone bridge over Little Crystal Creek was part of that construction effort.

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Little Crystal Creek bridge (KG, 2008)

During WW II a radar station was established near Paluma (at McClelland's Lookout) by US forces. This station detected the Japanese air raids against Townsville in July 1942 and provided the garrison there with warning of the raid. The station was taken over by the RAAF in 1943. Paluma was also used as a medical rehabilitation centre until the end of the war.

Today: 

The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 12,819. This population has declined over the previous ten years, possibly due to the downturn in the sugar industries and damage to banana crops during several cyclones.

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

14,526

13,928

13,163

12,819

Total males

7429

7078

6657

6578

Total females

7097

6850

6506

6241

Under 5 years

990

856

694

689

65 years and over

2258

2500

2600

2804

Indigenous

503

564

629

672

 The population of Ingham was 3528 at the 2011 census. Other settlement populations were: Forest Beach 1232; Lucinda 450; and Halifax 430. The remainder are spread across smaller villages and the rural areas with the majority being on the coastal plain.

Ingham is the main service centre for the Herbert River valley and coastal plain. It has a good range of commercial and public services. Its Italian heritage is very evident from the names on local businesses to the Sicilian Monument in the main street and the elaborate tombs in the local cemetery. Sugar is the major industry. One of the interesting features at Ingham is the Tyto Wetland, an area of former cane land that has been returned to its natural form with lagoons, islands and open areas to form a bird sanctuary and breeding site for the endangered Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris).

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Ingham (Google Earth image)

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Ingham Sicilian clock (KG, 2008)

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Ingham cemetery Italian section (KG, 2008)

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Sugar cane and mill near Ingham (KG, 2008)

 stck

Victoria sugar mill (KG, 2008)

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Tyto Wetland at Ingham (KG, 2008)

tyto2

Tyto Wetland interpretive centre (KG, 2008)

Halifax and Lucinda towards the coast also rely on cattle grazing and sugar. The Lucinda sugar terminal and its long jetty enables the export of raw sugar from the local area in ships of up to 40,000 tonnes.

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Halifax street (KG, 2008)

cattle

Cattle grazing near Halifax (KG, 2008)

 

Lucinda bulk sugar facility (KG, 2008)

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Lucinda sugar loader jetty (KG, 2008)

Most of the degree square lies within the Charters Towers regional Council area with the coastal area around Ingham being in Hinchinbrook Shire and the coastal strip south from Mutarnee in Townsville City. There are four national parks in the square: Girringun National Park, Halifax Bay Wetlands National Park, Orpheus Island National Park and Paluma Range National Park. The High Range Military Training Area also occupies a significant area of the square on the western side of the Paluma Range.


Site Summary:

Location

Within 1600 m of the Ewan Paluma Road west of Paluma

Access

Not yet visited

Nearest town

Paluma is 20 km east. Nearest road, Ewan-Paluma Rd, 1 km from location

Terrain

Steep sided gully of creek flowing to Running River

Catchment

Running River which flows to the Burdekin River

Geology & soils

Tonalite of Ordovician age

Vegetation

Open mid-height eucalypt forest

Land use

Cattle grazing

Climate

Subtropical with a distinctly dry winter

Population in degree square

12,819 at the 2011 census

Infrastructure

Bruce Highway and mail line railway along the coast; well established road network
throughout; bulk sugar port at Lucinda; Paluma water supply dam; sugar mills

National Parks

Girringun National Park, Halifax Bay Wetlands National Park, Orpheus Island
National Park and Paluma Range National Park

Tourism is an important industry within the square. Paluma, for example, has several points of interest and is a favourite spot for the bird watching community. Balgal Beach and Lucinda are popular with 'Grey Nomad' visitors from the more temperate regions during the winter. The resort on Orpheus Island is also a popular holiday destination.

Compilers: Kallum Jones, Phil Nguyen (2014) and Ken Granger, 2009
Edited by:  Hayley Freemantle
References: Various web sites including EPA, tourism, local government and Bureau of Meteorology.