22°S 148°E Moranbah – Queensland by Degrees

AT THE POINT

Degree confluence 22°S 148°E, Google Earth

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Looking west

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Looking south

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Looking north

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Looking east

Location: The intersection is located about 3.5 km west of the town centre of Moranbah within the Isaac Region council area. It is approached through the sports precinct, past the racecourse then by following a power line heading due west across the rail line. The site was located about 40 metres north of the power line.

The Landscape: The site is located at about 200m above sea level on low colluvial slopes to the north of Grosvenor Creek in timbered land that has been largely unaffected by the development of the rapidly expanding town and industrial infrastructure of Moranbah. The construction of the electrified rail line from Moranbah to the Blair Athol coal mine some years ago could be a barrier to the development of this site for some time in the future. Colluvium from the dissection of the Oligocene - Miocene land surface (34 to 5 million years) forms the parent material of the deep, texture contrast soil in the vicinity of this intersection. An exposure of the soil profile in the railway cutting 350 metres to the east shows the typical brown loamy sand surface horizon changing abruptly to a reddish-brown clay.

The vegetation community at the site is almost riverine in appearance with a dominance of Morton Bay Ash (Corymbia tessellaris) with some Gum-Topped Bloodwood (Corymbia dichromophloia). A sub-story is sparse and the ground species is dominantly Black Speargrass (Heteropogon contortus) with invasions of the exotic Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris). No native fauna were observed during the inspection of the site. A vertebrate survey of a long (25km) narrow 93 sq km area south of Moranbah was carried out in 1979. It was reported that the area was profoundly modified by agricultural practices by clearing and provision of water. This has favoured certain species such as Singing Bushlark, Australian Bustard, Ducks, House Mouse, and the Grey and Red Kangaroos. The change would have adversely affected the habitat for some reptiles, small birds, Echidna and Dasyurids (carnivorous marsupials). No rare species were found during the survey

The land at the intersection site although used for agriculture in the past showed little evidence of this at the present time. There was no evidence of recent grazing or cattle in the area.

The Climate: The area has a typical sub-tropical and sub-humid climate that has wet and hot, dry and cool seasons with a high degree of variability. The climate is greatly influenced by the trade wind belt. Annual rainfall at Moranbah has a mean of about 600 mm and is received mostly between November and April. About a quarter of this is received in the remaining months. The nearest climate station is at the Moranbah Water Treatment Plant.

Moranbah Water treatment Plant (site 034038) 1972-2008

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

34.0

33.3

32.4

29.6

26.6

23.6

23.7

25.4

29.2

32.4

33.1

33.9

29.8

Mean min
(ºC)

21.9

21.8

20.3

17.7

14.6

11.2

9.8

11.0

14.0

17.7

19.5

21.1

16.7

Mean rain
(mm)

100.2

94.3

48.7

37.5

37.8

23.5

16.9

23.7

8.1

37.8

68.9

99.2

596.4

Within the Degree Square

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The Country: The Isaac River and its tributaries drain the eastern half of the square. The Isaac is one of the major northern tributaries of the Fitzroy River. The western side of the square is drained by numerous creeks that feed the Suttor River which forms part of the Burdekin catchment. Elevations range from around 600m above sea level in the Carborough Range in the north and 500m in the Peak Range in the south, to around 150m along the Isaac River floodplain in the east. Landscapes vary from steep hilly country in the mountain ranges to low undulating ground in the floodplains.

Geology varies across the square from the Tertiary volcanics of the Peak and Denham Ranges in the south to Cainozoic sand plains and alluvium across the central area and Triassic sediments of the Carborough Range.

The Indigenous Story: In an Archaeological Report, dated January 1979, of a mining lease to within 6km to the south of Moranbah, Major I.W. Hill reported that the area was occupied by the Barna tribal group. The inspection showed that several camp-sites were located and these showed many artefacts which were recorded. Most of these were quite common tools such as knife blades, core and side scrapers and flakes. He also reported that he did not find any incised trees or stone arrangements.The western half of the degree square is Yambina country.

European Exploration and Settlement: The first European visitor to the area was Ludwig Leichhardt. In 1845 he passed to the west of the Peak Range and named them to honour members of his exploration party.Some nine years later Charles and William Archer from Rockhampton visited the area and recognized the grazing potential of the land. They laid claim to large areas in 1857.

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Early in the 1860's some gold was found near Hoods Lagoon and the find sparked a rush of prospectors to the area and Clermont was born. In 1865 the area had a population of over 3500 people. Although with a decline in mining the town survived due to the grazing and farming industries and the finding of coal at nearby Blair Athol.To the east of the Peak Range on the road out to the coast at Mackay development was slow and land was taken up for low intensity grazing. In the late 1960's the Bowen Basin was being prospected for coal. Reports of coal in some creeks even back to Leichhardt's exploration were being investigated. Economic deposits were being mined at Moura and later at Blackwater. Utah Development Company found workable good quality metallurgical coal at Goonyella about 40 km north of the Peak Downs Highway but in isolated country. The development that was needed to allow this coal to be mined in this remote area required the provision of a complete set of infrastructure, sealed roads, rail and port facilities, electricity, water supply and housing and facilities for a workforce. The town of Moranbah was established as a dormitory for mining and their families.

Today:

The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 10,044. Of the total 8629 people live in Moranbah itself. The significant increase since 2006 may be linked to the expansion of the coal mining industry located within the square.

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

7810

6621

7431

10,044

Total males

4571

3764

4109

5663

Total females

3239

2857

3322

4381

Under 5 years

693

584

738

1050

65 years and over

111

179

75

164

Indigenous

163

129

135

270


sqr

In the late 1960’s the Bowen basin was being prospected for coal. Reports of coal in some creeks even back to Leichhardt’s exploration were being investigated. Economic deposits were being mined at Moura and later at Blackwater.  Utah Development Company found workable good quality metallurgical coal at Goonyella about 40 km north of the Peak Downs Highway but in isolated country. The development that was needed to allow this coal to be mined in this remote area required the provision of a complete set of infrastructure, sealed roads, rail and port facilities, electricity, water supply and housing and facilities for a workforce. The town of Moranbah was established as a dormitory for mining.

Initially Moranbah housed the workforce for Goonyella mine and was soon expanded to accommodate the workers for another mine at Peak Downs, some 35km south of the town. The town had a population of 7130 at the 2006 census - 96% of the total for the whole square.

Since 2006 there has been a marked increase in the population of the area due to an upsurge in construction activity associated with the development of further coal mines and other industrial facilities such as an ammonium nitrate plant. According to the Isaac Region Council the current population of Moranbah is in excess of 10,500, an increase of over 80% in less than two years. They anticipate the population to reach 13,000. Most of this growth is made up of transient construction workers. Other towns in the Bowen Basin such as Dysart are experiencing similar growth.

If considering the upper Isaac River catchment as being that land that drains to Fitzroy Development Road the population of 150 people in the mid 1960’s has grown to 22 000 in just over 40 years as other mines south of Norwich Park required the establishment of Middlemount town lower in the catchments. The main product from the catchment is black coal, which is transported by an electrified rail system to the seaboard. Domestic and industrial water is brought in from Lake Dalrymple on the Burdekin River in the north, and from the Mackenzie River, augmented from Lake Maraboon, in the south.

The degree square is an area that has undergone massive change in recent years. The social life is different to the norm in Australia due to employment conditions requiring the majority of the workforce to adopt 12-hour working days on a roster that rotates through day and night shifts. During off days many people spent time at coastal towns such as Rockhampton and Mackay. Because of this the economy is affected over a wide regional area.

The main infrastructure in the square supports the coal industry. It includes the electrified rail network linking the Goonyella, Gregory and Blair Athol mines to the export facilities at Hay Point. Water supply was initially provided from Eungella Dam supplemented in 1992 by the Burton Gorge Dam and in 2008 by a pipeline from Lake Dalrymple on the Burdekin River. The main road link is the Peak Downs Highway.

There is a small section of the Peak Range National Park in the south of the degree square.

Summary:

Location

3.5km west of Moranbah

Nearest town

Moranbah

Access

Overland from the town

Terrain

Low lying with an elevation of around 200m above sea level

Geology & soils

Colluvium of late Tertiary origin

Vegetation

Native grasses

Land use

Former cattle grazing - now vacant land

Climate

Semi-tropical with a moderately dry winter

Population in degree square

7431 in 2006

  

Compiler: Ray Kelly 2008.

Images: Taken by Ray Kelly

Edited by:  Hayley Freemantle

Source Documents:

Barry D. H., 1979: A Preliminary Vertebrate Study. Report by Biological Field Surveys, Daisy Hill, for Utah Development Company.

Kelly R.E., 1981: Hydrogeochemistry of the Upper Isaac River. Thesis for M.Sci, Griffith University, Brisbane

Hill I. W., 1979: An Archaeological Report on Peak Downs Highway Area. Consultant report for Utah Development Company.