AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on Helen Vale Station close to Mexico Creek some 950m west from the unnamed road that runs parallel to the creek. The nearest settlement is Jericho on the Capricorn Highway about 46km to the north-north-east. It is located just inside Barcaldine Regional Council. The point was accurately located on the ground.
The Landscape: The point is on the western fall of the Great Dividing Range on country with low relief. It lies at 450m ASL in the headwaters of the Barcoo River which drains to Cooper Creek and the Lake Eyre Basin. The soils at the point are red-brown clay loams which are derived from the Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years) sand plain. Vegetation is heavy mulga scrub with scattered eucalypts including Poplar Box and Silver-leafed Ironbark and occasional Cyprus Pine.
Land use around the point is mainly cattle grazing.
Collectors: John and Mary Nowill, 25/8/11
Photos and information: John and Mary Nowill in August 2011 with additional information from Ken Granger.
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The dominant feature within the degree square is the Great Dividing Range which reaches around 650m ASL within the square. The range divides the drainage of the square between the west-flowing tributaries of the Barcoo River (part of the Cooper Creek - Lake Eyre Basin catchment) and the east-flowing Burdekin River catchment. The lowest elevations in the square are around 250m along the western side. Topography along the western fall of the Range appears to be rather dissected with the streams well embedded.
The oldest geology within the square is the Middle Triassic (245 to 228 million years) sandstone that forms the backbone of the Great Dividing Range. The great majority of the area has much younger Cainozoic age geology with sand plains being the most extensive.
Vegetation across the square ranges from grassland and pasture to eucalypt woodland and dense mulga scrub. Riparian woodlands of River Red Gum and Coolibah are found along most streams. Land use is mostly cattle grazing.
The Climate: The area is classified as having a subtropical climate with a dry winter. The Bureau of Meteorology climate station at the Barcaldine Post Office to the west provides representative statistics. The variability of the rainfall and temperatures may be seen in the table.
Barcaldine Post Office (036007) 1886-2011 (elevation 267 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Barcaldine was 45.1oC in November 2006 while the lowest temperature was -1.6oC in June 1976 and July 1974. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1333.6mm was recorded in 2010 and the lowest total of 146.0mm in 1946.
Extremes of Nature: The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows 12 active or former cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence point since 1906. Of these, one passed within 50 km of the point: an unnamed cyclone in January 1911. All of these storms brought heavy rain falls that produced flooding in both local and regional catchments.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of point 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The area receives between 15 and 20 thunder days on average each year. The more severe thunderstorms can produce destructive winds, intense rainfall that may cause localised flash flooding, and lightning strikes may spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel for it to spread.
Drought and heatwave remain the most frequent and severe natural hazards. Barcaldine averages 86 days a year (49 years of records) with temperatures of 35oC or more and 9 days a year with temperatures of 40oC or greater. Heatwaves kill more people in Australia than all other natural hazards combined. The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no event epicentres within the degree square.
The Indigenous Story: Much of the land within the degree square is the traditional country of the Iningai people.
European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to pass through this area were part of the expedition led by Thomas Mitchell in 1846. Settlers, mainly sheep graziers, followed by the 1850s. Construction of the Rockhampton to Longreach railway reached the Jordan Creek (named for local pioneer Harry Jordan) by 1885 and the settlement of Jericho was established.
MORE INFORMATIONAND PHOTOS WELCOME
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 368. The general decline in population over the decade is probably due to the down-turn in the pastoral industries because of the prolonged drought.
There about 1920km of public roads within the square including a length of the Capricorn Highway from Rockhampton to Longreach. There are many hundreds of kilometres of station tracks. The railway line that runs close to the Capricorn Highway is no longer in regular use. The branch line from Jericho to Blackall is also closed. The former railway station in Jericho is now a tourist information centre.
The only settlement of any size is Jericho on the Capricorn Highway. The name is said was coined by an early settler who was amused by its location on the Jordan River. The town has made a play on its biblical name by establishing a tourist attraction of a sculpture in the main street - the Crystal Trumpeters. Jericho has basic services of accommodation, food and fuel.
Jericho (Google Earth image 2004)
The square is divided roughly in half between the Barcaldine Regional Council in the north and the Blackall Tambo Regional Council in the south. There are no national parks within the square.
Compilers: Ken Granger 2011
References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.
Queensland Museum, 2003: Discovery guide to outback Queensland, Queensland Museum, Brisbane.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle