AT THE POINT
Location: This point is located on private property about 300 m south-east of Ellerays Road 5 km east-south-east of the village of Gin Gin. It falls within a cane field close to a cane tramway and a major irrigation channel. The location of the photos may not be from the precise site as it was not based on an accurate GPS reading. The site was reached by road from Gin Gin, then by foot.
It lies within the Burnett River catchment and the Bundaberg Regional Council area.
The Landscape: The site is on low undulating country close to the border between Permian metavolcanics (lavas and basalts - 298 to 251 million years) and Tertiary sandstones and mudstones (less than 65 million years old). The soil at the site is a fairly heavy grey cracking clay.
The native vegetation of eucalypt woodland or low forest has long been removed and replaced by the irrigated cultivation of sugar cane. The only fauna noted in the area were birds, especially small raptors such as brown falcons and Australian kestrels.
Point information and photos: by Ken Granger , July 2008
Within the Degree Square
The Country: The land contained within the degree square is divided roughly evenly between the low-lying coastal area formed by the floodplains of the Burnett and Kolan Rivers and numerous coastal creeks and the high country of the Burnett Range. The highest point is Mt Molangal at 769 m in Bulburin National Park in the north east corner of the square. The coastline of Wide Bay is marked by wide sandy beaches interrupted in several places, such as at Elliott Heads, by Quaternary (less than 5 million years old) basalt flows. The frontal dunes carry a vegetation of Coastal She-oak (Casuarina equistefolia), while the estuaries of the Burnett and Kolan Rivers and Baffle Creek carry a range of mangrove species. Much of the native vegetation of the lowlands have been removed to give way to intensive agriculture, especially the growing of sugar cane, a variety of field crops (including tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchinis, sweet potatoes and flowers) and tree crops (avocado, mango and macadamia nuts).
Inland of the coastal plain the area becomes hilly with low to moderate relief, increasing in ruggedness and elevation towards the north-west. Sugar cane growing and field cropping extends into the lower areas around Childers and Gin Gin. The remnant vegetation is mainly eucalypt-dominated forests and woodlands. An interesting geological feature is displayed near Gin Gin. This is a series of 35 potholes (billed as 'mystery craters') in sandstone that has veins of ochre running through it. There has been no clear explanation of how this formation evolved.
The Climate: The area has a moist subtropical climate with a relatively dry winter. The nearest climate stations with data on the Bureau of Meteorology web site are Bundaberg airport (38 km east-north-east and Childers post office (39 km south-east).
Bundaberg Aero (site 039128) 1942-2008
Childers Post Office (site 039025) 1894-2003
There is a great degree of variability on both temperature and rainfall. The highest temperature on record in Bundaberg was 37.7°C in February 2002 and the lowest temperature was 0.8°C in July 1963.
Annual rainfall has ranged from a high of 1892.5 mm in 1971 to a low of 482.8 mm in 2001. Childers has demonstrated a similar range of variability. That centre's highest temperature on record was 28.6°C in February 1969; its lowest was 3.0°C in July 1965; its highest rainfall was 1915.3 mm in 1898 and its lowest annual rainfall was 447.6 mm in 1902.
Cyclone tracked (BOM)
Extremes of Nature: The area is exposed to the impact of tropical cyclones and the destructive winds, intense rainfall and storm tide that they bring. At least 21 cyclones have had an impact on Bundaberg with at least five actually tracking through the degree square. The earliest destructive event on record was an unnamed cyclone that hit on 28 December 1873 destroying at least 13 houses and causing extensive damage to crops.
On 11 February 1947 an unnamed Category 2 cyclone crossed the coast at Broadsound with very heavy rain causing extensive flooding. Several lives were lost. On 27 February 1950 an unnamed Category 2 cyclone recurved through the area before having a severe impact on Hervey Bay. On 24 January 1951 another unnamed Category 1 cyclone passed through the area doing little damage. Category 2 TC Beth crossed the coast at Bundaberg and caused extensive damage between Bundaberg and Maryborough - 200 houses were unroofed and flash flooding closed some roads for up to 18 hours. On 16 March 1992 Category 3 TC Fran crossed the coast at Town of 1770 and did extensive damage with 40 houses unroofed in Bundaberg; one house at Bargara was blown off its stumps. Considerable damage was done to crops in the area and to yachts in the Burnett Heads marina.
The Bureau of Meteorology's database of thunderstorms contains records of numerous severe thunderstorms and tornados having an impact in the area. On 9 February 1956 a 'whirlwind' (a tornado?) did much structural damage and injured three people in the Bundaberg-Hervey Bay area. On 4 August 1958 a 'tornadic-type storm with hail' flattened a one kilometre-wide strip of land at Allowray (7 km south of Bundaberg). Numerous reports of hail damage to crops and flash flooding from intense rainfall in the area are also recorded.
Major floods in the Burnett and Kolan Rivers have also caused widespread damage. Major floods have been recorded at Bundaberg in 1875, 1890, 1893 (twice in 2 weeks), 1928, 1942, and 1954. The 1890 flood is the record with a gauge height recorded of 9.04. - a flood with a gauge height of 7.0m is regarded as major and will put flood water through houses and roads.
According to the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia the epicentres of 39 earthquakes fall within the degree square. Of these 22 were recorded with a magnitude of less than 3.0, that is, generally detectable by instruments only. The two largest, however, were felt over a wide area. The first was a magnitude 5.6 event on 28 August 1883. The second was a magnitude 5.5 event on 12 April 1934. Both of these significant earthquakes have very similar epicentres 67 km south-west of the confluence point. No damage was reported to have resulted from this event.
The Indigenous Story: The area is at the junction of the traditional lands of the Gubbi Gubbi and Waka Waka in the south, and the Gureng Gureng in the north.
European Exploration and Settlement:
The sugar industry was established in the late 1800s and relied initially on South Sea Islander labour to do the heavy work such as clearing the land, and harvesting the cane. The 'recruitment' of these 'Kanakas' was not always very scrupulous and at times amounted to kidnapping (euphemistically called 'blackbirding'). There are still remnants of the rock walls built from basalt boulders cleared from the cane fields by Kanaka labour to be seen around Bundaberg.
Undoubtedly Bundaberg's most famous son is the pioneering aviator H.J.L. (Bert) Hinkler. There are numerous monuments to Hinkler and landmarks named after him in and around Bundaberg. Hinkler started his career in aviation by building his own man-carrying gliders which he flew from the sand dunes at Mon Repos in 1912. His most famous flight was the record breaking solo flight from England to Australia in 1928. That flight, planned using nothing more sophisticated than a Times Atlas, took 15 ½ days!
Hinkler received many awards in recognition of this flight including the RGSQ's J.P. Thomson Medal. The house that Hinkler built in England in 1925 was dismantled in 1983 and re-erected in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens as a monument and repository for Hinkler memorabilia. A replica his Thomson Medal was presented by the RGSQ to the Hinkler House Museum at its opening in 1984. A major aviation museum built next to the Hinkler house will house replicas of each of his aircraft when it opens in November 2008.
The degree square contains the major regional city of Bundaberg (population around 42,500), the coastal settlements from Burnett Heads to Elliott Head (combined population of around 11,000) and smaller hinterland towns including Childers (around 1400), Gin Gin (around 900) and Mt Perry (around 200).
The population of the area has been growing steadily, especially in the coastal centres from Bargara to Elliott Heads. This area has become a major ‘sea change’ development area. This is reflected in the increasing proportion of the population aged 65 years and over. This is offset by the increase in infants, especially within Bundaberg itself.
Sugar is the dominant industry in the area. The sugar growing area is irrigated from Lake Monduran formed by the Fred Haig Dam on the Kolan River with waters flowing through a complex system of channels and pipe networks.
There are three sugar mills in the area - Millaquin, Bingera (might close in 2009) and Isis. Each mill is served by an extensive network of cane tramways; where there are no tramways the cane is transported to the mills by road. Extensive and sophisticated use is made of spatial technologies including digital mapping, GIS and GPS to manage the scheduling and control of cane movements to mills during the 'crush'. Bundaberg Sugar Ltd has a 'Refinery and Packaging Plant' at Millaquin Mill which operates all year round. There are sugar storage sheds at Millaquin Mill and when required, sugar is brought back from the Bulk Sugar Terminal at the Port, Burnett Heads, to the Refinery at Millaquin. Not all of the sugar that is processed in Bundaberg gets shipped. Supplies of bulk white sugar also goes out directly in huge tankers on a daily basis to companies like Coca Cola Bottlers.
The molasses by-product of the sugar processing is used in producing the area's most famous export - Bundaberg Rum. The distillery is located next to the Millaquin Mill on the outskirts of Bundaberg. Apart from the significant infrastructure supporting the sugar industry the degree square has 7700 km of public roads including 300 km of highway including the Bruce and Isis Highways. The main northern rail line also passes through the area.
The area has 17 National Parks or Conservation Areas with a total area of 778,000 ha. They include the Bingera, Bulburin, Burrum Coast, Good Night Scrub, Littabella, Warro and Wongi National Parks.
Compiler: Ken Granger
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Reference to come