Location: This confluence point is located on private property 25kms west of Aramac, and 20 kms south of the main Aramac to Muttaburra Road. The photos were taken from the southern property boundary, as access to the point could not be gained at that time. The point is within the old Aramac Shire boundary, which is now part of the Barcaldine Regional Council.
The Landscape: The country is featureless, with an elevation of about 200m ASL. The confluence itself is near the junction of Aramac and Willoughby creeks with many channels in evidence. The channels are bordered by stands of Gidgee, Boree and some Coolibah, with prickly Acacia and Wilga also in evidence. Typical Mitchell Grass Downs country predominates, but borders on the Desert Uplands some 50 km to the east. The soils of the Mitchell Grass Downs are typified by heavy clay 'Black Soil', which is boggy after rain and has a tendency to crack in dry weather. Fauna observed in the area includes kangaroo, emu and bustard; hawks and galahs were also in evidence.
Point information and photos: Brian Mealey, 2008
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The eastern part of the degree square borders on the Aramac range, a low watershed with elevations of around 300m which separates the black soil of the Downs from the sandy soils of the desert Uplands. The country on the western side of the square is marked by the Thomson River and its many tributaries which includes the westward-flowing Aramac Creek. The area is mostly open grazing land of native grasses, with few trees except along the waterways. Land use has historically been predominately sheep and wool producing. While some sheep are still in evidence most of the industry is now concentrated on cattle production. A woody weed called Prickly Acacia (Acacia nilotica) 6 has infested much of the region. It was introduced originally to provide shade and fodder. Grazing pressure over the years has exacerbated the spread of this noxious weed.
The Climate: The area has a climate which may be described as dry. The Barcaldine Post Office climate station, some 67 km to the south, is representative of the area.
Barcaldine Post Office (site no.036007) 1886-2008 ( elevation 267m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Barcaldine was 45.1°C in November 2006 while the lowest temperature -1.6° in June 1976 and July 1974. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest annual total of 1191.5 mm was recorded in 1950 and the lowest total of 146.0 mm in 1946.
Extremes of Nature: The Bureau of Meteorology's cyclone database records 14 events that passed within 200 km of the confluence point. Of these, three formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria including TC Otto (March 1977). The remainder formed in the Coral Sea. They included TC Agnes (March 1956), TC Althea (December 1971), TC David (January 1976) and TC Winifred (February 1986). Apart from strong winds, these systems brought intense rainfall over wide areas that produced extensive flooding. The area averages between 10 and 15 thunder days each year. The more severe thunderstorms will bring destructive winds over limited areas as well as intense rainfall that can cause localised flash flooding. Lightning strikes can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel available. A major thunderstorm storm caused extensive damage to Ilfracombe in 1936.
Cyclones tracked, BOM
Records of large floods in the Thomson River system extend back to the later 1800s. Major floods at Longreach have occurred in 1893, 1906, 1949, 1955, 1963, 1974, 1990 and 2000. The highest flood in recent decades was that of February/March 2000 which reached a peak of 5.62 m on the Longreach gauge. That flood spread over a wide area and isolated many properties for an extended period.
The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no record of an event epicentre within the degree square. The closest epicentre to the confluence point is a ML 2.8 event located about 205 km to the north-east. No damage is recorded from this event.
The two natural hazards with the greatest potential to do harm in the area are drought and heatwave.
The Indigenous Story: The present boundaries of the Aramac district, coincided with the territory of five different Aboriginal tribes. The Iningai inhabited most of the area with its sub groups such as the Dalleburra, and its subgroup Yanbiburra, which occupied the area between Aramac Creek and the Thomson River to the west.1 Tribal boundaries were defined by natural features such as rivers or mountain ranges, and other tribes were not encouraged to trespass. The people seemed to live well by Aboriginal standards, as in good seasons there was an abundance of game including kangaroos, emus, bustards and other birds. Fish, yabbies and turtles were hunted in the rivers and waterholes. The seeds from Mitchell Grass, Coolibah and Acacia were gathered and ground into flour.2
European Exploration and Settlement: Many early explorers crossed the region. Mitchell (1846), for example, was impressed by the 'almost boundless plains &ldots;. The finest region I have seen in Australia'.3 Other explorers followed such as Gregory (1858) who was searching for Leichhardt; Landsborough and Buchanan (1860) who were looking for new grazing land.4 Walker (1861) also passed through the area during his search for Burke and Wills. The enthusiastic reports of the suitability of the land soon brought settlers seeking pastoral leases, and settlement began as early as 1860 with the establishment of Bowen Downs and Stainburn Downs in 1863.5
Aramac, originally named Marathon, was settled in 1869 but was not surveyed and gazetted until 1875 when its name was also changed. It became the seat for the first local government in the Central West - the Aramac Divisional Board was responsible for the area extending as far as Longreach, Barcaldine and Ilfracombe. Muttaburra became a teamster's camp in the 1860s and was proclaimed as a township in 1878. Ilfracombe was originally called 'Wellshot' after the station on which it was established. It was given its present name in 1886.
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 299, most of them living in Aramac. The apparent dramatic drop in population may simply be the result of changes to census collection boundaries.
View from the roadside.
The towns of Aramac, Muttaburra (both in Barcaldine Regional Council) and Ilfracombe (in Longreach Regional Council) are situated in the area.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
References still to come
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Information: Ken Granger