AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point located on the property of Maiden Springs Station, at the southern end of the Gregory Range, west of the Great Diving Range in north Queensland. The nearest populated settlement to the confluence point is Hughenden, approximately 96 km SSE, and access is via the Kennedy Developmental Road that runs N-S 30 km east of the point, and then dirt tracks. A point 600 m north of the confluence was visited in March 2009 by 4WD, with the last part of the journey undertaken on a motorcycle along the tracks. The point lies within Flinders Shire.
The Landscape: The area around the point is an undulating basalt and sandstone plateau on the Gregory Range, with an elevation of approximately 600 m. The point sits on sandstone of Middle Jurassic age (184 to159 million years) with basalt and granite of Mesoproterozoic age (1600 to 1000 million years0 immediately to its west. The confluence point is surrounded by open forest, comprised of flora such as bloodwood, gums, wattle, and spear grass. The Stawell River flows to the south, and joins the Flinders River NW of Richmond, which eventually makes its way into the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Point information and photos: Cody Herrod and Billy Paine, 2009
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The land within the square slopes from north to south. The greatest elevation is 1043 m ASL on the Gregory Range within the Blackbraes National Park. The lowest elevations are around 250 m ASL in the south-west corner. The geology of the area is complex with several areas of basalt flows of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years) flowing over older sandstone (Middle Jurassic) and ancient basalt (Mesoproterozoic). The landscape is dissected with steep scarps and wide flat uplands. To the north and west the land is regolith and sand of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years). The square is drained by the Stawell and Dutton Rivers that eventually flow to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The more elevated country carries eucalypt woodlands while the lowlands are mostly savannah and grassland.
Climate: The climate of the area is classified as hot grassland with a winter drought. The closest representative weather station to the confluence is at the Hughenden Post Office, which is approximately 95 km to the south of the degree confluence, and has an elevation of 324 m. The station has been collecting data since 1884.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Hughenden was 44.0oC in December 1996 while the lowest temperature was -2.0oC in July 1984. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1085.1 was recorded in 1891 and the lowest total of 150.0 mm in 1926.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 16 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Of these, three tracked within 50 km of the point: an unnamed cyclone in April 1940; an unnamed cyclone in February 1956; TC Althea in December 1971. These cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
On average the area experiences around 30 to 40 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms bring with them potentially destructive winds, intense rainfall and lightning strike. The intense rainfall can lead to flash flooding and the lightning can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to sustain spread.
Bushfires can cover very large areas in this region in the dry winter and autumn months. Such fires may be deliberately lit to manage vegetation and to promote pasture growth or they may be wildfires.
Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Hughenden show that on average the area experiences 101 days a year with temperatures over 35oC and nine days with temperatures of 40oC or more. 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 no earthquake epicentres within the degree square recorded in the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia.
The Indigenous Story: The land within the square is the traditional country of two main groups - the Mbara in the north and the Yirandali in the south.
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European Exploration and Settlement: The first European explorer through the area was probably Augustus Gregory in 1855-6.
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The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was less than 50.
The steady decline in the population over the past two decades was probably due to the decline in the cattle industry as a result of a lengthy drought.
The majority of the square lies within Flinders Shire, along the northern border is Etheridge Shire and along the western edge is Richmond Shire. Two national parks are within the square: Blackbraes National Park on the summit of the Gregory Range and Porcupine Gorge National Park along the Porcupine Creek in the south-east corner.
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Compilers: Cody Herrod and Billy Paine with additional information by Jo Grant and Ken Granger, 2009
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
No references given.