23°S 146°E Strasburg – Queensland by Degrees

THE POINT

Degree confluence 23°S 146°E, Google Earth

n

Looking north

e

Looking east

s

Looking south

w

Looking west

Location: This confluence point is located on Strasburg Station about 1.3 km north of the Strasburg - Aramac Road. It was reached by vehicle and some walking. The point was located by GPS and the location of a National Mapping survey mark. Strasburg Station is a property which now forms part of Boongoondoo Station, and is not normally inhabited. It is roughly North of Jericho and East of Aramac. Jericho is about 60 km and Aramac about 80 km away. The point lies within Barcaldine Regional Council.

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Strasburg Surveyor peg

The Landscape: The point is around 350 m ASL and lies on the western side of the Great Dividing Range on reasonably flat terrain. The vegetation around the point is a mid-height woodland dominated by Ironbark and Bloodwoods. Poplar Box (Eucalyptus populnea) is also common. The shrub layers is mainly low growing Acacia spp. in profusion. Ground cover is mainly native grasses such as Mitchell Grass (Astrebla spp.) and Wiregrass (Aristida spp.). The soil throughout the area is mainly red and sandy - typical of the sand plain of Cainozoic age (less than 65 million years). The point is at the headwaters of the Alice River which flows to the Barcoo River and Cooper Creek. Fauna noted in the vicinity of the point included Red kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and large numbers of Emu. Corellas, Galahs and various raptors are also common. The land use is cattle grazing.

Point information and photos: Brian Mealey, 2008

WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: The area within the degree square is best described as sand plain with very few features, and few stream channels on the western side. The area is mostly forested, with patches of open plain mainly to the north and on the western side. The Great Dividing Range runs through the square and attains a maximum elevation of around 500 m ASL. The terrain across the square is comprised of low hills and ridges. The great majority of the square is covered by sand plain of Cainozoic age, however the higher areas of the Great Dividing range are composed of sandstone, mostly of Late Triassic age (230 to 141 million years). There are several gorges in the sandstone escarpments of the Aramac Range such as Mailman's Gorge and Horsetailer's Gorge.

loc

All of the streams in the square including the Alice River are perennially dry, except after the annual summer rains. The streams on the western side of the Great Dividing Range flow to Cooper Creek and those on the east of the Range flow to the Burdekin River.

Vegetation across the square is very similar to that encountered at the confluence point though on the higher parts of the Great Dividing Range, with shallow and rocky soils, carry species of wattle, and eucalypts. Spinifex forms the ground cover in some areas. Fauna is similar to that seen at the confluence point.

Cattle grazing on the natural vegetation is the main land use, with Santa Gertrudis and Droughtmaster being the main breeds. The region is serviced by many tanks and bores. Given the unreliable rainfall artesian gores are the main reliable water source.

gorg

Horsetailer's Gorge (B, Mealey, 2008)

Gray Rock (B. Mealey, 2008)

emu

Emu with chicks (B. Mealey, 2008)

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Horsetailer's Gorge (B. Mealey, 2008)

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Rock wallaby in Horsetailer's Gorge (B. Mealey, 2008)

 

The Climate: The area has a climate which is classified as hot and persistently dry grassland. The Barcaldine Post Office climate station, some 67 km to the south, is representative of the area.

Barcaldine Post Office (site 036007) 1886-2008 ( elevation 267m ASL)

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max
(ºC)

35.6

34.5

33.2

30.0

26.0

22.8

22.6

24.8

28.6

32.2

34.5

35.8

30.0

Mean min
(ºC)

23.1

22.7

20.8

16.7

12.3

9.0

7.9

9.4

13.3

17.4

20.3

22.2

16.3

Mean rain
(mm)

84.4

77.1

59.6

36.8

31.0

24.4

23.1

16.0

15.1

29.1

38.0

62.5

497.1

The highest temperature ever recorded in Barcaldine was 45.1°C in November 2006 while the lowest temperature -1.6 °C 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. Only one, unnamed cyclone in December 1916, passed within 50 km of the point.

cyc

Cyclone tracks within 200 km of the confluence point (BoM web site)

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.

There is a long history of flood in all streams in the area though no specific data are available for the Alice River and other streams within the degree square. Flood rise is likely to be rapid and the duration of flooding is likely to be relatively short for most streams given that the area sits at the headwaters of most streams.

Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Wollogorang show that on average (over 47 years of records) the area experiences 88 days a year with temperatures over 35°C and 9 days a year with temperatures over 40°C. 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.

Drought is likely to be the most persistent chronic hazard experienced within the area. Dust storms can also be a problem from time-to-time.

The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no record of an event epicentre within 100 km of the confluence point. The closest epicentre to the confluence point is a ML 2.8 event located about 150 km to the north-east. No damage is recorded from this event.

The Indigenous Story: The region was home to five different Aboriginal Tribes, the Jagalingu tribe occupied the south-eastern part of the area, which is roughly in the area of Strasburg. Natural features such as rivers and mountain ranges tended to mark the boundaries. The Iningai country covered the area more to the west. Subgroups of the Jagalingu, such as JusTilbaburra and Terraburra may have lived in the area from the head of Alice River to Aramac Creek to the west.

The indigenous people appeared to have lived quite well in the good seasons, but would have had to move around as the water holes dried up. However, it is reasonable to assume from early reports that life for the Aboriginal population was by no means precarious. The most significant collection of Aboriginal art in the central West of the State is in Gracevale cave, about 20 km north-east of Gray Rock. The art of the Iningai people is predominantly rock carvings and ochre stencils.

While early explorers reported friendly and helpful relations with the local people initially, inevitably, trouble flared between the two groups, as was happening in other places. Landsborough and Walker in 1860, for example, had to defend themselves from attack. The most notorious conflict was the alleged massacre at Gracevale Cave in the early 1870s where Europeans from Aramac Station pursued a group of Aborigines who had speared a stockman to death. It is not known how many people died in this conflict. Eventually the settlers prevailed and by the 1880s it was evident that the Aborigines were beginning to suffer from introduced diseases, such as measles and influenza, and their numbers declined dramatically.

European Exploration and Settlement: European explorers traversed the area extensively, beginning with Thomas Mitchell in 1846, Edmund Kennedy in 1847 and Augustus Gregory in 1858 passed through the area while searching for Leichhardt. Buchanan and Landsborough 1860 were searching for new grazing lands, and commented favourably on the district. So much so, that Landsborough applied for a claim to what became known as Bowen Downs, a forerunner to the sheep industry in the region. Landsborough visited the area in 1862 while searching for Burke and Wills, and again spoke in glowing terms of the district.

For more than a century travellers passing through the area left a record of their passing by carving their names into the soft sandstone surface of Gray Rock. In the 1870s Gray Rock was the site of a shanty hotel where Cobb and Co. coaches called for the night en route from Clermont to Aramac. Wagon teams also used the route to cart wool back to the rail head at Clermont. Some of the gorges in the vicinity of Gray Rock were also used as temporary spelling areas for horses. Mailman's Gorge is an area of 200 ha bounded by steep sandstone cliffs. The narrow entrance to the gorge could be closed by slip rails. Horsetailer's Gorge, about 1.2 km from Gray Rock is a similar natural pound.

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Inscription on Gray Rock (B. Mealey, 2008)

cenc

Cobb and Co road Aramac Range (B. Mealey, 2008)

 

bor1

Gray Rock sign (B. Mealey, 2008)

brd2

Horsetailer's Gorge sign (B. Mealey, 2008)

Today: 

The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was notionally less than 50.

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

134

177

130

<50

Total males

74

95

71

0

Total females

60

82

59

0

Under 5 years

9

21

7

0

65 years and over

15

9

4

0

Indigenous

0

3

0

0

The area is almost completely within Barcaldine regional Council. A small section in the north-east corner falls in Isaac regional Council. Cudmore National Park is the only national park in the area. Infrastructure is confined to the road network, most of which is unsealed, and small dirt landing grounds on the various stations. Land use across the square is predominantly cattle grazing.

Site Summary:

Location

On Strasburg Station 1.7 km north of the Strasburg-
Aramac Road

Access

By vehicle and foot

Nearest town

Aramac

Terrain

Low undulating sand plain

Catchment

Alice River and Cooper Creek

Geology & soils

Sand plain and sandstone outcrops

Vegetation

Eucalypt dominated mid-height woodland

Land use

Cattle grazing

Climate

Hot and persistently dry grassland

Population in degree square

130 at the 2006 census

Infrastructure

Unsealed roads and landing grounds

National Parks

Cudmore NP

Compilers: Brian Mealey, 2008 with additional information from Ken Granger, 2009.

Edited by:  Hayley Freemantle

Sources: Various web sites including local government, tourist operators EPA and the Bureau of Meteorology

Queensland Museum, 2003: Discovery guide to outback Queensland, Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

Ann Smith, 1994: This El Dorado of Australia, a centennial history of the Aramac Shire, Aramac Sire Council.