AT THE POINT
This intersection is located on 'Merion', a property on the north-east side of the Fitzroy Development Road about 3 km north of the Mackenzie River Bridge in the Isaac Region Council area. The Development Road connects the Capricorn Highway at Dingo to the Peak Downs Highway near Mt Flora in the north. The Mackenzie River, a tributary of the Fitzroy River, is about 75 km north of Dingo.
The Landscape: The site is located at about 100m above sea level on gently sloping land below remnants of the old Tertiary land surface. These features are evident by nearby mesas and tablelands on the property and in the district to the north-west. Geologic erosion of the old land surface has provided the alluvium of the plains along the Mackenzie River.
Aerial imagery shows soil variation along the lines of the underlying strata of sandstone, siltstone, claystone and shale. Generally the soils alternate between cracking clays and brown texture contrast soils. The underlying geology is the Blackwater Group of Permian age (298 to 251 million years) sediments.
Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) pasture is now established to replace the original Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) open-forest. Remnants of the old vegetation are recognized in occasional Yellow wood (Terminalia oblongata) and False Sandalwood (Eremophila mitchellii) still surviving in district pastures. Invasions of Harrisia cactus (Eriocereus martinii) were noticeable along the road verges. At the time spent on site no native fauna were observed.The well managed Buffel Grass pasture were reflected in the condition of the cattle noticed at the nearby dam.
Within the Degree Square
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The highest temperature recorded was 46.2°C in December 1919, and the lowest was -5.6°C in July 1899. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 1 407.2 mm in 1956, and the least was 205.6 mm in 1919. These and other climate statistics for Emerald can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_038000_All.shtml, or newer statistics since the Post Office site closed can be found from the Emerald Airport site, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_035264_All.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: Given the area's tropical location, it is very much subject to the impact of cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 31 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, 6 of which passed within 50 km (all unnamed TCs, in 1908, 1917, 1940, 1946, 1949, and 1959). These cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and intense rainfall. Cyclone information for this area and all of Australia can be found at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website, http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/cyclones.cgi.
Extreme heat is also a potential danger. Records show that Emerald experiences 62 days annually with temperatures over 35°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.
The Indigenous Story: The Gabalbara tribal group occupied the area to the north of the Mackenzie River and the Gangulu group to the south.
European Exploration and Settlement: In 1961 it was identified that Queensland had a resource of land that could be developed into improved pastures and even for cropping. The Payne Report for the Land Settlement Advisory Commission in 1959 concluded that there was a resource of about 60,000 sq km of Brigalow scrub that could be developed.
While some southern Brigalow areas had been converted to pasture in the 1950's, it was in the Fitzroy Basin (Brigalow) Land Development Scheme that saw major change in the central and northern shires. Landholders when allotted their blocks of Brigalow land were required, under the terms of the lease to clear and develop a specified portion of land within a time frame. Initially the land was used for improved pasture but more recently it is used for cropping.
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 2675, with 1907 of that total living in Middlemount.
Complier: Ray Kelly 2008. Photos Ray Kelly.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References to come