25°S 148°E Carnarvon Gorge – Queensland by Degrees

AT THE POINT

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Degree confluence 25°S 148°E, Google Earth

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 Location: This confluence point is located within the Carnarvon National Park at least 7.5 km from the nearest road. It lies within very broken sandstone country at an elevation of approximately 770 m ASL. It lies within Maranoa Regional Council and the nearest town is Rolleston, about 86 km to the north-east.

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Valley views

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Valley views

The Landscape: The area around the point is marked by towering sandstone cliffs up to 75 m in height. It sits at the head of the Maranoa River which drains to Murray-Darling Basin. The sandstone at the point is of Early Jurassic age (200 to 176 million years).

The Central Queensland Sandstone Belt covers an area of approx 82,000square km with 25 separate mountain ranges radiating from the Great Dividing Range.  Towering, multi-coloured sandstone cliffs, caves, clear running streams & a variety of soil & vegetation types exist side by side.  The coarse-grained sandstones are very crumbly & have weathered to exotic crags, spires, overhangs & caves.
West of Carnarvon Gorge a series of basalt-capped tablelands form the headwaters of many major eastern rivers.
Porous sandstone captures water that enters the Great Artesian Basin with springs flowing where sections of exposed aquifer have eroded & formed peat bogs during 1000 years or more.
The Land Commissioner at Roma suggested, in 1931, that some of Carnarvon be declared a National Park.  On 28th April, 1932 some 28,500hec was set aside for this purpose.  The park consists of 4 sections - Carnarvon Gorge & Mt Moffatt, accessible from Injune or Mitchell & Ka Ka Mundi & Salvator Rosa accessed from Springsure or Tambo.  The most easily accessed, & most popular, is the Gorge section with its 32km long creek.

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Sandstone formations along the gorge

Point information and photos: Ken Granger, Mary Comer and Google Earth. Additional information by Audrey Johnston

WITHIN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: The landscape of the square is dominated by the Carnarvon Range which forms part of the Great Dividing Range. Elevations along the Carnarvon Range are up to 1232 m ASL at Consuelo Peak; there are several other peaks with elevations over 1100 m ASL across the Range. The lowest elevations are around 200 m ASL along Yellowbelly Creek and Consuelo Creek.

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The Arch

The square is predominantly sandstone country. Ages range from Early Permian (299 to 270 million years) and Middle Triassic (245 to 228 million years) to the north-east of the Range and Early Jurassic (200 to 176 million years) to the south of the Range. The geology of the Carnarvon Range itself is complex. The basement is Early Jurassic sandstone that is overlain by basalt flows of Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years). This cap of harder basalt gives rise to the spectacular erosional escarpments of the Carnarvon National Park.

Drainage to the south of the Range is to the Maranoa and Warrego Rivers which form part of the Murray-Darling catchment. To the north of the Range the flow is to Comet River which is part of the Fitzroy River catchment.

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The Three Chimneys

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Walking trail to the Three Chimneys

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Carnarvon Creek

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Walking the gorge

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VEGETATION

This varies with elevation, soil type, aspect & availability of water.  
The Sandstone Belt lies within a natural geographical region known as the Southern Brigalow Belt as brigalow communities once covered much of this country.
Plant communities of the arid inlands (acacias, mulga & brigalow) mix with plant communities of more humid regions (dominated by eucalypts).  In remnants of dry rainforest & natural grasslands an enormous range of plant species thrive.  Open woodlands include cypress pines, bottle trees & kurrajong while in more sheltered gullies Macrozamia (cycads), grass trees & cabbage palms form an understorey with ferns, mosses & lichens.  In Carnarvon Gorge alone more than 20 rare & threatened plant species exist, including the very rare angiopteris evecta or king fern with 4m fronds.
In contrast eucalypt woodland & open forest covers much of the Salvator Rosa section of the Park with river red-gum, poplar box & rough-barked apple.  Open forests of silver-leaved ironbark on deeper alluvial soils change to open woodlands of white cypress, smooth-barked apple & bloodwoods on sandy ridges.  
Shallow soils on ridge tops support gum-topped ironbark with black cypress pines on exposed rock outcrops.  Wild flowers are prolific in many sections in Spring.

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The Moss Gardens

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Cycads

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Palms along the walking trail

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Walking the gorge

FAUNA
57 types of mammals include the pretty-face, whiptail & brush-tailed wallabies, red & grey-necked kangaroos, yellow-bellied gliders, brush-tailed possums, bandicoots, native cats & quolls can be found in the area.  Shy platypus can be seen in shallow creeks.
There is a diversity of insects. 172 species of birds include honeyeaters, finches, currawongs, crows, parrots, herons, wrens, spinebills, robins, flycatchers, mistletoe birds, treecreepers & emus. There are 69 reptiles - keelback, common tree, carpet & tiger snakes, pythons,  lace monitors (goannas) & skinks.

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Wallaby drinking hole

The Climate: The climate of the area is classified as sub-tropical with a distinctly dry winter. The Bureau of Meteorology climate station at Rolleston provides representative statistics. It should be noted that temperatures on the elevated country of the Carnarvon Range will be somewhat lower and rainfall higher than at Rolleston.

Rolleston (035059) 1889 to 2010 (elevation 214 m ASL)

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

YEAR

Mean max (0C)

34.9

33.8

32.9

29.7

26.1

23.0

22.9

24.8

28.5

31.7

33.0

34.3

29.6

Mean min (0C)

21.1

20.8

18.3

14.7

10.7

7.1

5.6

6.8

10.6

14.9

17.7

19.8

14.0

Mean rain (mm)

93.7

92.0

60.3

41.2

35.5

36.2

28.9

23.2

26.7

45.9

63.8

88.4

636.4

The highest temperature ever recorded in Rolleston was 44.5oC in January 1994 while the lowest temperature was -3.0oC in July 1995 and August 1994. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1275.9 mm was recorded in 1950 and the lowest total of 194.0 mm in 1902.

Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 12 cyclones passed within 200 km of the point in the 101 years between 1906-7 and 2006-7. No cyclone approached to within 50 km of the point. Even distant cyclones can bring destructive winds and intense rainfall that can produce wide-spread flooding.

 

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Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the confluence point 1906-2006 (BoM web site)

Serious riverine flooding is limited in this area given that most streams are well entrenched. Those floods that do occur will, however, have very rapid rises and will have dangerous velocities.

The area experiences around 20 to 25 thunder days each year. Such storms can bring intense rainfall leading to flash flooding. They can also bring strong winds, hail and lightning strikes. Lightning can start bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to sustain a fire.

Bushfires in the rural areas can be difficult to control but are unlikely to do significant damage. Stock and fencing losses are likely.

The area can experience extreme heat throughout some of the year, with Rolleston having an average of 57 days annually with maximum temperatures equal to or over 35°C and 4 days with temperatures of 40oC. 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 Emerald also has an average of 14 days a year with temperatures of 2oC or less and 4 days of zero or less.

The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains no earthquake epicentres within the degree square.

The Indigenous Story: Most of the land within this square is the traditional country of the Gungabula, Nguri and Bidjara peoples. There are numerous Aboriginal art sites within the area including ochre stencils, rock engravings and freehand paintings include some of the finest Aboriginal rock imagery in Australia. Once a favourite with nomadic tribes the region is rich in human history, aboriginal rock art providing evidence of indigenous connections stretching back at least 19,000 years, while stockyards, fences & paved roads are reminders of non-indigenous history.

Aboriginal rock art is highly significant, depicting their way of life & the mythical Dreamtime.  
A reminder of a rich social & ritual life, it is more than just decorative, with stenciled, painted & engraved art being a form of communication among the people & is most often found at sites where important & sacred rituals were performed, providing a spiritual connection to the land.  The major style is stencil art with a minority of hand paintings & a ‘nett' pattern. The colours include red, ochre, yellow, black &, occasionally, blue.  The "Art Gallery" has paintings that have been carbon-dated at over 4,000 years.  
Sacred caves have been used by the aborigines for burying their dead have been found in the cliffs near the "Art Gallery".  In 1938 a well-preserved skeleton, wrapped in bark & tied with human hair-string, was found in Cathedral Cave.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

European Exploration and Settlement:  In 1844 Ludwig Leichhardt passed some 100 km to the east of the National Park & called the region ‘ruined Castle Valley'. Major Thomas Mitchell & his party camped at Major Mitchell Springs on 4th July, 1846 at the site they called Pyramids Camp, returning on 5th September to rest after exploring the rugged country to the north & north-east.  He gave the name Salvator Rosa to this section of the National Park.
In 1847 the Mt Abundance cattle station was established & has been running cattle & sheep ever since.  By 1863 European settlers had taken up grazing runs at Consuelo & Upper Carnarvon Tablelands, often struggling to make a living.  At the turn of the C19th/C20th the range area became a hideout for the cattle duffers, the Kenniff Brothers.

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Today:

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

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

528

515

181

<50

Total males

285

284

106

?

Total females

243

231

75

?

Under 5 years

36

28

7

?

65 years and over

69

63

15

?

Indigenous

0

6

3

?

The apparent decline in population is probably due to changes to census boundaries rather than an actual decline in population.

There are 905 km of public roads in the square. Some properties also have small airstrips.

The various sections of the Carnarvon National Park total 5,662,000 ha. The square is more or less evenly divided between Maranoa Regional Council in the south and Central Highlands Regional Council in the north. A small section of Murweh Shire is in the west.

Site Summary:

Location

Inside the Carnarvon National Park

Access

 

Nearest settlement

Rolleston is 87 km to the north-east

Terrain

Very broken sandstone escarpments

Catchment

Maranoa River part of the Murray-Darling system

Geology & soils

Sandstone of Early Jurassic age

Vegetation

 

Land use

Conservation

Climate

Sub tropical with a dry winter

Population in degree square

181 at the 2006 census

Infrastructure

905 km of public roads

National Parks

Carnarvon National Park

Edited by: Hayley Freemantle

Compilers: Ken Granger, 2010

References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.

National Parks brochures & tourist literature.