AT THE POINT
Location: The point is located at sea in Bustard Bay about 20 km north-north-east of the Town of 1770.The site was not visited.
The Landscape: At sea.
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The degree square can be divided into three distinct landscapes: the offshore reefs and cays; the coastal areas; and the hinterland. The reefs and cays of the Bunker Group mark the southern-most extent of the Great Barrier Reef. They are separated from the mainland by the Curtis Channel. Lady Musgrave Island is typical of the reef communities. It is a classic atoll with a broad reef bench surrounding an inner lagoon and a small sand cay island at its western end. The vegetation on the cays is low salt tolerant shrubs and low trees such as Coastal She-oak (Casuarina equisetifolia) and Cottontree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) and Pandanus (Pandanus tectorius) and a ground cover of plants such as Beach Spinifex (Spinifex sericeus) and Beach Morning Glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Fauna is mainly confined to sea birds such as terns and boobies.
The coastal area is marked by a broad beach, dunes, swale and back-swamp landscape, broken in a few places such as Bustard Head and Round Hill (Town of 1770) by headlands of Triassic (250 to 205 million years) volcanics and granites on which the sands transported from the south are anchored. Vegetation along the coastal strip is very similar to that on the cays, however further inland the back-swamps carry a vegetation of sedges, rushes and herbs, often with a fringe of mangrove species, backed by forests of Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Further inland the deeper soils support eucalypt-dominated woodlands and low forests with an understory of grasses and shrubs or wallum heaths dominated by Banksias such as Dwarf Banksia (Banksia oblongifolia) and Wallum Banksia (B. aemula). Several species of turtle lay their eggs on the beaches of the area. The coastline also has a wide range of birds ranging from emus to tiny honeyeaters.
The hinterland area is marked by rolling hill terrain and intervening valleys. The hills reach 350 to 400 m in elevation. The geology is composed mainly of Triassic volcanic (towards the coast) or Permian-Triassic intrusions of granite (around Miriam Vale). Much of the native eucalypt-dominated forests and woodlands have been cleared for agriculture. Those that remain are largely within the National Parks and Conservation areas within the square.
The Climate: The area has a moist subtropical climate with a relatively dry winter. The nearest climate station with data on the Bureau of Meteorology web site is Bustard Head Light which has been operating since 1885.
Bustard Head Light (site 039018) 1885 to 2008
The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones and east coast lows.
Cyclone tracks within 200 km of the confluence, 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
Extremes of Nature: The area has been subject to the impact of numerous destructive cyclones. At least eight cyclones have tracked through the degree square, the first of which was a Category 2 storm of 8 February 1915. The most destructive cyclone to pass through the degree square was Category 3 TC Fran which crossed the coast (at Category 2 level) at Town of 1770 on 15 March 1992. An unnamed Category 3 storm on 2 March 1949 passed close to the area and caused considerable damage and loss of life in the area from Fraser Island to Yeppoon and Rockhampton.The area is also exposed to east coast lows (so-called 'winter cyclones') and severe thunder storms.The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia records 19 epicentres within the degree square. The largest seismic episode was the magnitude 6.0 event of 6 June 1918 and six major aftershocks of magnitude 5 to 5.7 located at 23.5OS 152.5OE (the north-east corner of the square) near the Swains Reefs. This was the largest seismic event ever recorded in Queensland. Because of its distance from settlement it caused only minor damage in both Gladstone and Bundaberg.
The Indigenous Story: The coastal area is the territory of the Gureng Gureng people.
European Exploration and Settlement: Captain Cook made a landing at Bustard Point to replenish his water and for crew to hunt for wildlife while his scientific party undertook some collecting. This brief 'settlement' later gave rise to the change of name for the location to 'Town of 1770'.
The degree square is largely rural. The main settlements are Miriam Vale (population around 423), Agnes Waters (666) and Town of 1770 (76). Agnes Waters has seen the greatest growth over the past decade, mainly as a ‘sea change’ development. The rural population, however, has declined since 2006.
There are parts of five National Parks (Bulburin, Capricornia Cays, Deepwater, Eurimbula and Mount Colosseum) and four conservation areas (Broadwater, Bustard Head, Eurimbula and Joseph Banks) located within the degree square. The offshore reefs also fall within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.Land use in the degree square is dominated by cattle grazing.
Compiler: Ken Granger 2008
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle