AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on Minnie Downs Station and was accessed from Langlo Road by station tracks and on foot for the past 190 m. The point was accurately located using GPS. The point is within the Blackall Tambo Regional Council area, with the nearest settlement being Tambo which is 29 km to the north-east.
The Landscape: The local country is predominantly natural downlands of Mitchell and Flinders Grasses but at the point, stony ridges intersperse the grassed lenses. The area around the point comprises red stony plains, interspersed with softer soil lenses. There were isolated trees and Prickly Mimosa. The country is gently undulating. The underlying geology is sandstone of Middle Cretaceous age (100 million years). Elevation at the point is 416 m ASL. The land around the point drains generally southwards via a series of local creeks such as Elizabeth Creek to the Langlo River which joins the Ward River and then the Warrego River near Charleville, eventually reaching the Murray-Darling system.
Many red kangaroos forming a line of hopping animals were noted near the point. West of Taylors Dam near the point there were Fairywrens, Magpies, Willy-wagtails, Emus and four eaglehawks in a many trunked gum tree. Insects present were yellow butterflies and green locusts. Swamp wallabies with white-tipped tail were seen in the creeks. Old four-sided wooden-rail feral pig traps were also noted. Cattle grazing is the principal land use.
Point information and photos: Brian McGrath, Heather McGrath, Brian Mealey and Margaret Mealey, 2008. The assistance of the managers of Minnie Downs, Jamie & Peta Bauer, is appreciated.
WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: For the most part the topography across the square is similar to that illustrated at the confluence point. There are several hilly ridges of low elevation which form the watersheds between the Warrego (including the Langlo & Ward) and Barcoo catchments. Maximum elevation within the square is around 550 m ASL in the north-east and the lowest elevation is around 250 m ASL where the Barcoo River leaves the square in the north-west. The geology of the region is almost entirely sandstone with areas of limestone, mudstone and siltstone. Geological age ranges from Late Jurassic age (161 to 146 million years) in the area immediately north-east of Tambo, to Early Cretaceous age (146 to 100 million years) across most of the area.
Several rivers drain the degree square. The Langlo River runs generally north-south in the south-western portion of the square and is largely paralleled by the Ward River in the south-eastern portion. The Langlo joins the Ward well south of the square, near Charleville and is part of the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Barcoo River rises near Tambo and flows firstly north to north-west as far as Blackall before turning west, then south-west to join the Thomson near Windorah. Creeks contributing to the Barcoo occupy most of the northern portion of the degree square. In the south-west corner of the degree square is found a number of creeks which join the Nive River, a tributary of the Warrego. This drainage flows to the Lake Eyre Basin.
A major natural feature of this area is the Great Artesian Basin. The Barcoo catchment is part of the Cooper Creek drainage basin, while the balance of the degree square lies in the Warrego management area of the Great Artesian Basin. It is tapped to provide water for stock on grazing properties, but equally importantly, provides water for travelling stock along the stock routes which traverse the area.
Much of the area has been cleared of native vegetation for pasture. The remnant vegetation ranges from tall open shrubland in the south to low open woodland in the south-west and north-east. The woodland is mostly composed of Brigalow, Gidgee, Bottle tree, Box, Sandlewood and Wilga. The occasional Weeping Pittosporum (Pittosporum phylliraeoides) is also evident. This form changes dramatically to open downs which extend across northern Queensland. The downs country of Mitchell, Flinders, Bluegrass and Panicum is dotted with Prickly Mimosa (Acacia farnesiana), Limebush, Black wattle and Bauhinia trees. The prickly bush is introduced and has spread alarmingly in the last 15 years.
Near the Minnie Downs homestead and dam, Feathertop Rhodes grass (Chloris virgata), Red Flinders (Isheilema sp), Katoora ray grass were doing well, also trees Dead Finish (Acacia tetragonophylla) and Boree (Acacia tephrina). Along the drainage channels of the various rivers and creeks are riparian forests which contain River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), Coolibah (E. coolabah), Moreton Bay Ash (Corymbia tessellaris) and Bauhinia (Lysiphyllum gilvum).
In some wattles near the point several nests of Bag-shelter moth caterpillars were seen. These caterpillars have hairy bodies that can cause painful stings if they come in contact with skin. The silken bags shelter the caterpillars during the day then they travel out to feed during the night in a long procession.
Silken nests of the Bag-shelter moth caterpillar (Brian McGrath, 2008)
Bird species seen included Peaceful doves, Crested pigeon, Redwing parrots, Magpies, Pale-headed rosellas, Kookaburra, Jacky winter, Australian hobby, Apostlebirds, Galahs and Yellow-throated miner birds. Red kangaroos were also plentiful.
Cattle noted on most stations in the square were Braham/Droughtmaster and crossed with Charolais for better premium margins in the beef market.
Cattle on Minnie Downs Station (Brian McGrath, 2008)
The Climate: The climate across the square is classified as hot and persistently dry grassland. The Bureau of meteorology climate station at Tambo Post Office provides representative statistics.
Tambo Post Office (035069) 1877 to 2009 (elevation 395 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded at Tambo Post Office was 44.2°C in January 1973 while the lowest temperature was -5.6°C in July 1979 and August 1995. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1358.6 mm was recorded in 1890 and the lowest total of 206.5 mm in 1915.
Extremes of Nature: Since 1906 a total of seven cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence point. Of these two came within 50 km of the point. They were an unnamed cyclone in February 1956 and TC Althea in December 1971. All cyclones can bring destructive winds and intense rainfall that can lead to extensive flooding.
Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the point since 1906 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
Flooding in the water courses in the degree square are common and can be dangerous in terms of their rapid rise and strong flow velocities.
The area can experience extreme heat throughout some of the year, with Tambo having an average, over 52 years of records, of 63 days annually with maximum temperatures equal to or over 35°C and 4 days with over 40°C. The hottest months are December to February, all of which experience on average over 10 days with temperatures equal to or 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.
By contrast, Tambo also averages 34 days with temperatures of 2°C or less a year and 17 days at 0°C or less.
The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no earthquake epicentres within the degree square.
The Indigenous Story: The land within the degree square is the traditional country of the Dharawala people. They lived by hunting and fishing and gathering "bush tucker". The Langlo River lands would have provided a plentiful source of food for the original occupants of this area.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: In 1846 Major Sir Thomas Mitchell was the first European to see the country around Tambo. On his fourth major expedition he established a major campsite, the second depot of that expedition, on the Maranoa River some 40km north of Mitchell. Major Mitchell arrived there with an advance party on 18 May 1846, and the main party under Edmund Kennedy arrived on 1 June 1846. Leaving Kennedy in charge of the camp, Mitchell travelled firstly northwards reaching the Belyando River, then turned southwest and named the Victoria River in the mistaken idea that it ran to the north. Later Kennedy found the Victoria River was the Barcoo River, which rises near Tambo.
Ludwig Leichardt passed through the area in 1848 on his final expedition. Trees on the Barcoo River with the 'L' blaze typical of that employed by Leichardt were found by Augustus Gregory during his search for Leichardt in 1858.
Mitchell's reports of the country led Frederick Walker, the owner of Planet Downs station southeast of Rolleston, to explore the region south of Tambo in May 1861 while searching for the lost Leichhardt. He selected the Landsdowne run for his principals. He returned to the area in September of that same year looking for the lost Burke & Wills. His journeys are commemorated in a plaque in Tambo
Walker was followed shortly after, in July 1861, by J.T.Allan who came into the area from Rockhampton and took up the Mt Enniskillen run, which extended eventually as far as the area of Minnie Downs. He ran Mt Enniskillen until 1909, and his pioneering is also recorded on a plaque in Tambo.
Early properties were established for sheep grazing, but sheep have been largely displaced by cattle since the 1950s. On Minnie Downs, relics of the sheep era, when the property operated as a sheep stud, can be seen not only in the photographs adorning the walls of the homestead, but also in the ram shearing shed still standing near the homestead and the large shearing shed and quarters complex situated on the property 4.5km west of the confluence point.
Minnie Downs shearing shed (Brian McGrath, 2008)
Tambo, originally called Carrangarra, was gazetted in June 1863 and the post services were established in1866. A hospital was established in 1873 and telegraph services opened in 1874. The post office was built in 1876, the first post office built in the Central West of the State. The court house was built in 1888.
A memorial in Tambo reinforces the truth that isolated it may be, but it was still open to events from overseas. A column memorial and plaque relates the tale of Reginald Barry, manager of Tambo Station, who died there in 1919 from Spanish flu, brought back to Australia by returning WW I servicemen.
Tambo 1876 Post Office (KG, 2005)
The status of Tambo in the 1920s is reflected in the fact that it was one of the stops on the inaugural mail flight operated by QANTAS in November 1922. In 1927 a QANTAS plane crashed at Tambo killing three people.
The complex land clearing legislation and the chopping and changing by the Government to the whim of the "green" lobby, poses great management difficulties for graziers in the southern portion of this Degree Square, as well as many other areas of this State.
Barry memorial in Tambo (Brian McGrath, 2008)
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 981. The large increase in population may in part be due to changes in census boundaries. Tambo township had a population of 353 in 2011.
The only town within the Degree Square is Tambo, a well-kept, tidy, western Queensland town, in fact the oldest town in Central Queensland, dating from 1863. It has 2 hotels and a number of small businesses serving the surrounding rural population and the number of tourists who pass through the town each winter on the Landsborough Highway on their journey to & from the north of the country. The Landsborough Highway is marketed as the Matilda Highway for tourist purposes.
Tambo (Google Earth image)
Tambo is served by a daily bus service to Brisbane and to Mt Isa & Darwin and has a small country aerodrome situated some 6km north of the town, opposite Jabina with some pulled country. Tambo's elevation (392m) and open downs aspect make for very cold nights and mornings in winter. Just south of Tambo is the highest point on Queensland's main road system, at an elevation of 476 m.
The increase in tourism in recent years has provided a boost for rural towns such as Tambo, and the individual Tambo Teddies made by a group of local women are a popular souvenir of the town. The Tambo Sheep Show in April and the Polocrosse Carnival in May are weekends where the locals get together.
There is a recently developed elementary camping area on the Barcoo River at Stubby Bend on the eastern outskirts of the town, and a developed walking track - Coolibah Walk - along the Barcoo linking to the site of the QANTAS plane crash in 1927. These spots are on the road out of Tambo to the east and to Alpha, as is the golf club, rubbish dump and cemetery. This road passes through red country of Brigalow, Box, Limebush and Sandlewood.
The Landsborough Highway, aka Matilda Highway, is sealed and runs through Tambo and the degree square. The Langlo Road and the Ward River Road are secondary, mainly gravel roads serving rural properties to the south of Tambo, while the Dawson development road, again gravel, performs a similar function to the north of Tambo, eventually reaching Springsure. The Wilderness Trail turning east past Tambo Station travels to Mt Playfair and onto Salvator Rosa National Park on the Nogoa River. There are other minor gravel roads serving rural properties.
Most of the square lies within the Blackall Tambo Regional Council area and a small area in the south-east corner is in Murweh Shire. There are no national parks within the degree square.
Compilers: Brian McGrath with additional information from Ken Granger, 2009
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.
Terrance and Rosemary Alick: Atlas of Queensland and Northern Territory Pastoral Stations etc, 5th edition.
Rhondda Alexander, the Channel Country Landcare Group: A Field Guide to Plants of the Channel Country, Western Queensland.
DR Henry, TJ Hall, DJ Jordan, JA Milson, CM Schefe, RG Silcock 1995: Pasture Plants of Southern Inland Queensland. Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
Queensland Museum, 2003: Discovery guide to outback Queensland, Queensland Museum, Brisbane.