AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on the working property, Lana Downs, after which the degree square is named. The site is in western Queensland, approximately 42 km north of Winton. While the confluence itself is unmarked, a GPS was used to find the exact location. The journey to the point was mostly made under the direction of property owner, Sam Foxwell, on dirt tracks, excepting the last 800 m, which was across country by 4WD. The site was visited in the early afternoon by a party of RGSQ members travelling from Brisbane in June, 2009. The point lies within Winton Shire.
The Landscape: Elevation at the degree confluence is 203 m, and the view shows flat terrain with shallow micro-relief in the numerous drainage gullies. The surface at the point is comprised completely of browning grass, although scattered trees (height to 4-5 m) are visible along the line of Cooindah Creek. Cattle, kangaroos and birds were all seen at, or nearby the point.
The geology of the area is primarily Winton Formation sandstone of Albian age (around 100 million years). This landscape is typical of much of the surrounding country.
Image of Landscape during dust storm
Drainage occurs along the gullies of Cooindah Creek, which is visible just to the north and east of the confluence. The course of Cooindah Creek flows to the south-west, to join Wokingham Creek and eventually the Diamantina River, which is part of the Lake Eyre Basin. Numerous bores and dams are also found in the nearby countryside.
GPS reading for point
Point information and photos: Paul Feeney, Mary Comer, Mary Nowill & Jo Grant
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The country across the square is very similar to that at the confluence point. Elevations range from around 250 m ASL in the north-east corner to 150 m ASL along the Western river channels. All drainage channels are braided and within shallow banks. Geology across the square is predominantly sandstone of Albian age (100 million years) with alluvial sediments of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years) in the drainage channels. Vegetation across the square is grassland with riparian strands of River Red Gum and Coolibah along the larger drainage lines.
The area has an abundant wild life including kangaroos, goannas and snakes. The most commonly seen, however, are the many birds. Flocks of cockatiels and budgerigars can contain hundreds of individuals while brolgas, Halls babblers, spotted bower birds and various raptors are also frequently sighted.
Land use across the square is predominantly cattle grazing.
Cattle at trough and tank on Lana Downs
The Climate: The climate of the area is classified as being persistently dry grassland. The Bureau of Meteorology climate station at Winton Post Office provides representative statistics.
Winton Post office (037051) 1884-2010 (elevation 182 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Winton was 46.8oC in December 2006 while the lowest temperature was -1.7oC in June 1971 and July 1968. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1171.1 mm was recorded in2000 and the lowest total of 52.6 mm in 2002.
Extremes of Nature: Despite the area's inland location, it is still subject to the impact of some cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that nine cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, four of which passed within 50 km (an unnamed TC in 1951, TC Althea in 1971, TC Winifred in 1986, and TC Aivu in 1989). Even distant cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall.
Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the confluence point 1906-2006 (BoM web site)
The area experiences an average of between 20 and 25 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds, intense rainfall that can produce flash flooding and occasional hail. Lightning strikes can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel for it to spread.
Floods in the Western/Diamantina system are reasonably frequent though typically they tend to do little serious damage other than to fencing and roads. They can spread across wide areas but usually have little velocity or depth - they tend to do more good than harm by replenishing soil moisture that is depleted by frequent droughts. A major flood in 1876 at Winton led to the original town site being abandoned and moved to higher ground and another major flood in 1922 caused major damage to the town.
Drought and heatwave are the two most severe natural hazards. Winton experiences 138 days with temperatures over 35oC and 31 days over 40oC. Heatwaves kill more people in Australia than all other natural hazards combined.
The earthquake database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains details of no events within the degree square.
The Indigenous Story: Most of the land within the degree square is the traditional country of the Guwa people.
There was considerable conflict between the Aboriginals and the early European settlers, most because of cattle spearing and stealing. A force of close to 30 Aboriginal troopers was stationed at Winton in the early 1870s and major clashes with the local people occasionally resulted in numerous deaths.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: It is thought that Ludwig Leichhardt passed through the area on his attempt to cross the continent in 1848. Augustus Gregory followed 10 years later searching for Leichhardt. Explorers John McKinlay, William Landsborough and Frederick Walker also passed through the area in 1861-62, looking for Burke and Wills.
European settlers took up land around Winton from 1866 and the first properties were Elderslie, Vindex, Bladensburg and Oondooroo but the settlers were forced out by severe drought. When the drought broke in the early 1870s a new wave of settlers took up runs such as Dagworth. The town of Winton grew around the original store operated by Robert Allen and by 1879-80 the town had been surveyed. The town was officially gazetted on 5 July 1879.
Stations in the Winton district became the focus for strife during the second shearer's strike of 1894. Several sheering sheds were torched by striking shearers and a gun battle broke out between police and striking shearers at Dagworth Station. One shearer, by the name of Haffmeister, later died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds at the Combo Waterhole near Kynuna Station. His death is said by some to have been the inspiration for Banjo Patterson's poem Waltzing Matilda, written at Dagworth Station in 1895 and first performed as a song in the North Gregory Hotel in Winton that year.
During the strike Winton was placed under martial law so some 500 shearers camped at a spot south of the town. The site is now marked by a monument.
Shearers strike camp site monument (KG, 2005)
Winton was linked to the Great Northern railway at Hughenden in 1899, reflecting the importance of the town to the region's pastoral industry. But the major flood of 1922, completion of the rail link from Rockhampton to Longreach in 1928 and several destructive fires greatly reduced the significance of Winton.
Another claim to fame for Winton is its association with the founding of QANTAS - the first (and only) meeting of the board of directors was held there on 10 February 1921.
The total population of the degree square at the 20011national Census was 954, virtually all of which lived in Winton.
Modern-day Winton remains a focus for the surrounding pastoral industries, though cattle have largely replaced the sheep that dominated in earlier times. The town has a good range of commercial outlets and public services. The town has become an important tourist destination, especially during the winter when ‘grey nomads' use the town as a base to explore ‘Waltzing Matilda' country and the various dinosaur sites such as Lark Quarry (in the square to the south). In 2005, for example, Winton hosted the opening of the Queensland Music festival with a dawn recital at the ‘musical fence'.
The Long Waterhole on the outskirts of the town is a popular picnic and camping spot.
Winton (Google Earth image)
The square contains about 1800 km of public roads including a section of the Landsborough Highway and the Kennedy Developmental Road. The rail link to Hughenden is also operational. There is an all weather airstrip at Winton. The town's water supply is provided by the Long Waterhole.
A small section of the Blandensburg National Park is in the south of the square. Ost of the square is within Winton Shire, with small sections of Richmond Shire in the north-west corner and Richmond Shire in the north-east corner.
Compiler: Ken Granger, 2010
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.