AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located within the Coominglah State Forest about 9 km west of the small settlement of Mulgildie and 19 km south-west of Monto and lies within the North Burnett Regional Council area. It was accessed by road to within 600 m of the point by Goomaram Range Road, a forestry road. The point was not reached on the ground.
The Landscape: The location is in rough, deeply eroded and sparsely timbered sandstone ridges and gullies at an elevation of 344 m ASL. The sandstones are of Early Jurassic age (around 180 million years) and the soil is very thin and infertile. It lies within the catchment of the Nogo River, which joins the Burnett River about 32 km south of the point.
Vegetation around the point is a mid-height eucalypt forest with sparse underbrush and tangled vines. Land use at the point is forestry with an emphasis on conservation rather than logging.
Point information and photos: Audrey Johnston and June Smith with assistance from T. & B. Burnham, 2009
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: There are two main landscape regions within the degree square; the floodplains of the Nogo and Burnett Rivers and the hills and mountains of the Dawes Range. The floodplains are broad and generally low-lying with elevations ranging from 100 m ASL where the Burnett River leaves the square in the south to 250 m ASL to the north of Monto. The hills and mountains vary from very steep and broken country, like that around the confluence point, to rounded and undulating country. Elevations range from 916 m ASL on the northern edge of the square on the edge of the Dawes National Park to around 300 m in the foothills. Much of the higher country has an elevation of around 500 m ASL.
These landscapes are dictated by their underlying geology. Generally, in the eastern half of the square, including the Burnett River floodplain, the geology is predominantly sediments such as sandstone, mudstone and siltstone with origins ranging from Devonian age (416 to 359 million years) such as the sediments in the Nour Nour National Park in the south-east of the square, to Carboniferous age (359 to 299 million years) sandstone and siltstone in long formations along the eastern side of the square. These include the mudstone and sandstone of the Wandilla Formation, the remnants of a Carboniferous-age reef that extends from south of Mundubbera to north of Yeppoon. The most recent rocks in the east, apart from Quaternary age (less than 1.8 million years) alluvium in the floodplains, are mostly of Jurassic age, like those at the confluence point.
Much of the western side of the square is composed of granite or basalt of Permian and Triassic age (299 to 200 million years). In the south-west corner, in the Chess Creek catchment, there is a large area of Quaternary age colluvium. There are also patches of volcanic material, mostly of Cainozoic age (generally between 66 and 29 million years), scattered across the square.
Cania Gorge, to the north-west of Monto, is representative of the sedimentary country. It is an ancient place, carved out of sandstone by slow water action. About 200 million years ago the area was part of a low plain where sand eroded from distant mountains was deposited by major streams. This sand settled to form a thick blanket over older rocks with other sediments deposited on top in subsequent lakes & swamps. Over millennia all the sediments were compressed into strata of rock, one of which, known as Precipice Sandstone, was cracked & tilted about 50 million years ago. Rainwater run-off seeped along a fault line, gradually forming Cania Gorge. The gorge has sandstone cliffs up to 70 or 80 m high with red, orange, yellow, cream & white ochres in tilted layers with some limestone. There are also a number of geologically very recent (4 000 year-old) volcanic spatter cones in the area.
Images form Cania Gorge
Vegetation within the Cania Gorge National Park is representative of much of the square. Two main types of vegetation occur. In the Gorge itself a dry rainforest fringes the cliff bases & the gullies where humidity is higher and sunlight is lower. Trees of this rainforest include Strangler Figs (Ficus watkinsiana), Lacewood (Dissiliaria baloghioides), Spotted Gum (Corymbia citriodora subsp. variagata), Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) and Leopard Ash (Flindersia collina). Piccabeen Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), elkhorns and other epiphytes, mosses and palms are also a feature where shade is constant. From above, this forest has a dense and rich green canopy.
Above the cliffs are found the dry open eucalypt forest and woodlands that are typical of the Brigalow Belt. These forms typically have a grey-green canopy with an understorey of grass trees and native grasses. Brigalow Belt vegetation has more than 320 plant species and contains Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) forest communities, eucalypt woodlands, Cypress Pine forests (Callitris spp), semi-deciduous vine thickets and grasslands. Belah (Casuarina cristata) and Wilga (Geigera parviflora) are prominent species in the Brigalow forest while Bottle Tree (Brachychiton australis) is a common species in the semi-deciduous vine thickets.
The mammal population includes Herbert's Rock Wallabies, Black-striped Wallabies, Yellow-bellied Gliders, Sheath-tailed & Bent-wing Bats, Brush-tailed Possums and Bandicoots. Platypus are found in the creeks & gorges. Reptiles include Bar-sided & Rainbow Skinks, Spotted Velvet Geckos, Common Tree Snakes, Red-bellied Black Snakes and Spotted Pythons. More than 150m species have been identified including - Lewin's Honeyeater, Kookaburras, Rainbow Lorikeets, King Parrots, Eastern Yellow Robins and Superb Fairy-wren.
The Queensland Lungfish (Neoceratodus fosterii) occurs naturally in the Burnett River but fossils have been found in many other parts of the world. The fish has gills and one lung used when the oxygen supply in the water is low. The fish can grow to 1.5 m in length and weigh up to 40 kg. In 1914 Dr Thomas Bancroft, a local medical doctor and naturalist, studied the fish and its habitat and was able to breed them in captivity. A full protection order was placed on the lungfish in the same year.
North of Monto, and completed in 1983, Cania Dam crosses Three Moon Creek. It has a capacity of 88,500 megalitres from a catchment area of 280 sq kms and has a shore line of 48kms. Below the dam wall are 5 weirs crossing Three Moon Creek and are re-charge points for the aquifer. The water is released into the aquifer and withdrawn for irrigation. The 5 weirs downstream of the the Dam, regulate the flow of water. Currently (April, 2009) the dam was 6% full. The Childs family occupied the (now submerged) land from 1876 to 1976. Boating & waterskiiing are popular.
3 Moon Creek
Gold was discovered at 3 Moon Creek where quite a township (now disappeared) grew up. There's a story about the creek's name. Either a swaggie, an aboriginal stockman, a Chinese station hand or a Chinese shepherd was rinsing his billy in the creek. He saw one moon reflected in the billy and one in the creek with the third in the sky hence the name 3 Moon Creek.
West of Abercorn, Wuruma Dam crosses the Nogo River in an area of conglomerate and granite, sparse timber, open grassland and grazing country. With a capacity of 157,000 acre feet and a shore line of 68 miles the dam was completed in 1968. Currently (April, 2009) it was 3% full.Breeding populations of Australian bass, golden & silver perch, eel-tailed catfish, eels & spangled perch have been established. Barramundi are caught in the lake, its waters used for boating & skiing, too.
Kirar Weir was built outside Eidsvold in 2005, its water used for town supply & recreation.
The Climate: The climate is classified as being sub-tropical with a winter dry season. The Bureau of Meteorology web site has records for the Monto Township weather station that are representative of the square.
Monto Township (039104) 1930 to 2009 (elevation 239 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Monto was 43.2°C in February 1969 while the lowest temperature was -4.5°C in July 1982. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1309.5 mm was recorded in 1956 and the lowest total of 306.5 mm in 1932. These and other climate statistics for Monto can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_039104_All.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 28 cyclones tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Six cyclones passed within 50 km of the confluence point during that period: an unnamed cyclone in June 1925; an unnamed cyclone in March 1953; an unnamed cyclone in March 1955; TC Emily in March 1972; TC Beth in February 1976; and TC Cliff in February 1981. Each event brought destructive winds, heavy rainfall and flooding. In steeper areas landslides are also likely to occur in episodes of 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.
Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the point since 1906 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
Major flooding in the Burnett River is relatively infrequent. However, under favourable meteorological conditions such as a tropical low pressure system, heavy rainfalls can occur throughout the catchment which can result in significant river rises and floods.
The area experiences between 20 and 25 thunder days per year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds, intense rainfall that can produce flash flooding and lightning. Landslides on steeper country or along road cuttings can also be experienced in such episodes, while debris flows involving large boulders can also occur in some creeks. Storms in the dry winter period can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel to promote spread.
Bushfires can pose a very significant threat to property and agricultural land as well as fire-sensitive native vegetation such as the rainforests in the gorges. In the late autumn and early summer bushfires can be especially dangerous given that fuels such as grass and forest litter is well cured and strong dry westerly to north-westerly winds are common.
Extreme heat is also a serious issue. The climate records for Monto show that on average (over 36 years of records) the area experiences 20 days a year with temperatures over 35°C and 1 day a year with temperatures over 40°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 National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia shows 86 earthquake epicentres in the degree square. Of these, 52 had magnitudes of less than ML 2.0 and would probably not have been felt even by people close to their epicentres. A further 21 had magnitudes of between ML 2.0 and 3.0. These may have been felt by people close to the event. Only four events had magnitudes of more than ML 4.0, the strongest of which was ML 4.5. This event happened on 25 March 1964 and was located about 28 km east of Eidsvold on the western edge of Nour Nour National Park. A ML 4.0 earthquake on 15 June 1897 was located only 4 km south-west of Monto. No damage was reported from any of these events.
The Indigenous Story: There is evidence of Aboriginal occupation within the degree square for as much as 30 000 years. The land of the square is the traditional country of four major groups: in the north east were the Ganulu; in the north-west were the Wadjigu; in the south-east were the Wuli-wuli and in the south-west were the Yiman. These people were essentially nomadic, following the seasonal availability of food. Fire was used as form of land management and for hunting.
Aboriginal people have lived in Cania Gorge for at least 19000 years, at the height of the last Ice Age. Nine Aboriginal art sites have been recorded, with free-hand paintings including hand prints & images of animals & their tracks. These sights are not open to the public. Grinding Groove Cave shows grooves created where Aboriginal people used sandstone to sharpen the edges of hatchet stones, generally made of hard rock such as rhyolite. Because water is needed in the abrasive process the grooves are generally found near creeks or under the drip line. The walls of the Cave cut through hearths, the layers of white ash often containing teeth, burnt bone &, sometimes, pieces of stone tools. An exploratory pit descends 4.5 m to reach bedrock & reveals evidence of Aboriginal occupation of 10 500 years.
With the white man's arrival in the Upper Burnett came change, change that caused major disturbance among the Aborigines. Tensions developed because white men were 'using' black women but wouldn't allow the same privileges to the blacks; territorial Aboriginal lands (including sacred sites) had been taken over; native food supplies were dwindling and water supplies were being fouled. Adolphus Trevethan settled Rawbelle Station in 1850. Unfortunately, the chosen site was at the meeting place of 3 tribes. Aborigines had been spearing or stealing stock and violence often erupted. In March, 1852, although he tried to make peace between the tribes and the white men, Trevethan was speared to death - probably a woman was involved in the dispute. Davy, found guilty, was hanged although it has been claimed that Paddy was the guilty one. Several other cases of attacks on whites by blacks or on blacks by whites occurred. By mid 1853 the Native Police seem to have brought peace although violence occasionally continued to erupt.
Today, 40% of the population of Eidsvold are of Aboriginal descent. In Monto there are only 2 or 3 Aboriginal families.
European Exploration and Settlement: The Scots, Thomas and Charles Archer, were the first European settlers in the area. In 1847 they established Eidsvold Station, named for their former home of Eidsvoll in Norway. They brought sheep from their original holdings on the Daring Downs following the Great Dividing Range. Legend has it that they came to an almost impassable river and one of the brothers is said to have remarked 'That's too rugged, we no go there' giving the name, the Nogo River, to a major tributary of the Burnett River. The original Archer Homestead, a slab & shingle hut, has been preserved beside the Eidsvold Station homestead, about 10kms outside the township that now carries that name. Perhaps in keeping with their Scottish heritage, the Archers held Queensland's first game of golf at Eidsvold Station about 1860.
The Archers were followed three years later by Adolphus Trevethan who was granted the land for Rawbelle Station in 1850. Several other runs were established along the upper Burnett River in the 1850s, including Clonmel, Cania, Yarrol and Cannindah and Knockbreak Stations as well as Mulgildie out-station.
To bring law & order to isolated selections of the North Burnett (then part of the colony of New South Wales) a native police force, known as the 'Police of the Northern Frontier', was formed at Traylan, about 10 km north of Eidsvold under Superintendant Walker in 1851. It consisted of barracks, commandant's house, sergeant's hut, armoury and kitchen. Officers conducted a weekly mail service to Gayndah, carrying not only Government correspondence but papers and mail for settlers. Sickness among the troopers caused its closure in 1856.
The Wild Scotsman, James McPherson, Queensland's only notable bushranger, who was probably the inspiration for Rolfe Boldrewood's novel, Robbery under Arms, operated in the area in the late 1850s. He stole a horse and a saddle to the value of unpaid wages from Rawbelle Station and a feature known as Wild Scotsman's Knob, about 5kms from Old Rawbelle Station, was supposed to have been his lookout to see approaching mail coaches or policemen. McPherson was captured near Forbes (NSW) in 1865 he was sentenced to a total of 50 years gaol but, released in 1874, he died in 1895.
Gold was discovered on Eidsvold Station in 1866 and the mining became a major industry from the 1870s. Copper, gold, silver and lead were mined at various locations, though most ventures, such as the Shamrock Mine (near the present-day Cania Dam) and Monal were short lived. The Glassford Creek copper lode was discovered in 1893. The mineralisation contained gold, silver & copper, but only the copper was financially successful. In the years 1899 and 1900 a total of 724 tonnes of copper were recovered making the mine very profitable. Two chimneys, one of them 18m tall, a crumbling brick copper smelter and the ruins of the Glassford township remain today. Coal was discovered at Selene in 1927 and was mined until 1966.
Logging and milling of the native forests were established in the early 1900s. The Hunting family set up the first sawmill near Kalpowar State Forest in 1908. In 1934, hoop pine plantations were established around Kalpowar.
Cotton-growing began in the area in 1924 and continued until the middle of World War II. Closer settlement in the North Burnett began in 1924 when some of the larger stations were resumed and subdivided for soldier settlers. Monto was established to service those settlers with the first buildings in the town being constructed in 1926. The railway arrived in Monto in 1928 but was not officially opened until 1931. Cattle has progressively replaced sheep as the main focus of the grazing industry. In 1938, for example, auctioneer Martin Snelling sold more than 7,000 head in a single day setting the Australian auction record.
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 3813. Of this population, 1120 lived in Monto 461 in Eidsvold. The remainder were spread across the rural areas. and
Monto is the business centre of the region and has a good range of commercial and public services. Apart from servicing the local rural industries, Monto is also a hub for a growing tourist industry with features such as Cania Gorge being a major attraction.
Eidsvold provides services to the southern areas of the square. The proposed the construction of the R M Williams Bush Learning Centre in the town will be a major asset to the community when completed. Future growth of the town has been guaranteed in 2005 by the construction of the Kirar Weir to provide a reliable water supply.
Agriculture continues to dominate the economy of the square. Crops include wheat, barley, maize and sorghum, together with fodder crops such as peas, lucerne hay and Leucaenia glauca. There are citrus orchards as well as stone fruit, mangoes, grapes and avocados; filed crops include melons, vegetables, potatoes, peanuts, olives and asparagus.
Agriculture and farming in the area
Limited irrigation water is provided to the northern area from the Cania Dam (built in 1893) on Three Moon Creek. The southern area has water from the Wuruma Reservoir on the Nogo River (built in 1968). Both reservoirs are stocked with sport fish including barramundi, yellow belly, silver perch, bass and saratoga. The lakes are also popular for recreational activities such as water skiing - when they have a good level of water available.
Livestock grazing is largely focused on beef cattle, with the main breeds involved being Brahman, Brangus, Aberdeen Angus, Charbrays, Charolais and Santa Gertrudi There are also eight dairies and three piggeries in the district.
Forestry is also an ongoing industry in the Kalpowar area with the milling of eucalypts and plantation-grown Hoop Pine the main types exploited. Much of the Hoop Pine is used to make paddle-pop sticks and chopsticks; automatic machinery produces millions of sticks a day.
The railway line from Maryborough reached Monto in 1928. The line was closed in 2008 but is being maintained as a possible by-pass between Maryborough & Gladstone if the main line is closed. It will transport freight if the mines in the area are re-opened.
Most of the country within the degree square is located within the North Burnett Regional Council area. Along the western side is part of the Banana Shire, while in the north-east corner are sections of the Gladstone Regional and Bundaberg Regional Council areas.
There are eight national parks and conservation parks within the degree square. They are Baywulla Creek Conservation Park, Bulburin National Park, Cania Gorge National Park, Dawes National Park, Gurgeena Conservation Park, Kroombit Tops National Park, Nour Nour National Park and Tolderodden Conservation Park. They contain a total of 250 000 ha. The Coominglah and Kalpowar State Forests are also located within the degree square.
A Photo Essay can be viewed by clicking here.
Compilers: Audrey Johnston with additional material from Ken Granger 2009.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
The field work for this square was greatly assisted by Cr Paul Lobegeier, other Council officers and the people of the North Burnett Region Monto office: http://www.northburnett.qld.gov.au. Without their support, information and hospitality much of this information could not have been obtained.
References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.
W. Ross Johnston, A New Province, the Closer Settlement of Monto.