AT THE POINT
Location: The point lies about 968 m south of the Adavale-Charleville Road within the boundary of Mariala National Park, around 40km east of Adavale. It is within Bulloo River catchment in Quilpie Shire. The point is at an elevation of about 320 m ASL.
The Landscape: The site is located within woodland dominated by Mulga (Acacia aneura), Yapunyah (Eucalyptus ocrophloia), Poplar Box (Eucalyptus populnea) and various wattles. Soils are red and sandy derived from Cretaceous age (141 to 68 million years) sandstones.
Mariala National Park has a wide range of birds, including the pink (Major Mitchell) cockatoo, as well as the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby and koalas.
Point information and photos: Brian and Heather McGrath, 2008. Stuart Watt, and the late George Haddock, (2008).
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: Elevations range from around 400m in the north-east to around 200m in the south-west and along the Bulloo River. The Bulloo is the major drainage feature within the degree square.
Blackwater Creek and the Bulloo River into which it flows is the significant drainage stream in the degree square and runs north to south in the western portion of the degree square. It is not a continual running stream; it debouches into the Bulloo Lakes south-west of Thargomindah. The Bulloo River rises in the Grey Range, part of which is now the Idalia National Park opened in 1990. The Paroo River rises in Lake Dartmouth (also known as Lake Ambathala) in the eastern section of the degree square, and flows intermittently to the south.
A major natural feature of this area is the Great Artesian Basin. The degree square lies in the Warrego West Management Area of the Eromanga Section of the 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.
Mariala National Park lies within this degree square. It features scarps, ranges and deeply weathered plains. Mulga vegetation predominates in the Park.
Climate: The point has a climate that is hot and persistently dry. Adavale Post Office is the nearest climate station.
Adavale Post Office (045000) 1889 - 1985 (elevation 229 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded at Adavale was 46.0°C in (January 1973) while the lowest temperature was -4.3°C in (July 1970). Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 975.2 mm was recorded in 1950 and the lowest total of 99.6 mm in 1985. These and other climate statistics for Adavale can be found at on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_045000_All.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: In spite of its distance inland the area does come under the influence of tropical cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology records seven cyclones that have passed within 200 km of the point in the 101 years since 1906-7. TC Agnes in March 1956 has the closest track to the point at around 75 km. Category 1 TC Agnes passed over the area after crossing the coast at Townsville. It produced moderate levels of flooding in the Bulloo system. 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 confluence point 1906-2006 (BoM web site)
The largest floods in the area were those of 1963, 1989 and 1990, each of which produced extensive inundation across wide areas that lasted for several weeks.
The area experiences on average between 20 and 25 thunder days each years. Severe thunderstorms can produce localised flash floods, destructive winds and lightning can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel.
Bushfires can pose a very significant threat to property and agricultural land as well as fire-sensitive native vegetation. 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.
The area can experience extreme heat throughout some of the year, with Adavale having an average of 95 days annually with maximum temperatures equal to or over 35°C and 17 days over 40°C. The hottest months are December to February. 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. Frosts are also possible. Adavale averages 16 days a year with temperatures below 2°C and four days with temperatures below zero.
Drought is certainly the natural hazard that has the greatest economic and environmental impact.
The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia records two small earthquakes within the degree square on 22 May 1993. Both were at the same location about 50 km east-south-east of the confluence point. The larger event was ML 1.2 and the smaller being ML 0.3. No damage was recorded.
The Indigenous Story: The area is the traditional land of the Dharawala people.
European Exploration and Settlement: Sheep graziers pushed into the area in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The Adavale township was proclaimed in December 1872, and shanty dwellers from Roma and Charleville were there by 1878. Mr Britcher and his wife opened the first hotel, the Imperial. Mr. Gibson ran the saddlery & cordial shop, Fitz-Walter the butcher shop, the Shield sisters a dressmaking shop. They were followed by the National Bank. In 1889 a Manchester doctor called Malcolm Webb stayed for 30 years, dying there, respected by all.
There is a story that its original town name was Ada's Veil Crossing, (of Bulloo River) named after an incident when a Mr. Steven's wife Ada lost her veil at the crossing travelling to Tintinchilla.
The Ambathala property-run was owned by F. J. Williams & E. Champernowne from Devon whence some of names, eg Lake Dartmouth after the river Dart. The dreadful drought late 1880s reduced their cattle numbers from 8 000 to 1 800 which they sold for 5 pounds in Sydney before the Williams family returned to England. The property was then taken up by Rutherford of Cobb & Co running 20 000 sheep with the Paynter family as managers. When the lease came up in the 1960s, the 200 000 acres were cut up for additional area. When the Tullys lived there a cricket pitch was put in the bullock paddock and the Dartmouth shield for cricket was hotly contested with Adavale, Cooladdi and Langlo Crossing.
In the 1920s the larger properties were being throw open for selection such as Kenilworth (Wakes Lagoon, Patricia Park) north of Adavale, Tintinchilla west (Milo), and Comogin south (Colac).
Cobb & Co ran a service to Adavale twice weekly from 1891, leaving Charleville at 7am on Sundays and Thursdays. The driver was Andy Atkins. In 1936, W. Brooks took over the MS 200 mail run from Cooladdi to Ambathala, 200 miles once a week. This was extended in 1954 to twice a week and continued until 1974. The mail contractor had to contend with 110 gates from Bronte to Wellclose. In 1974, Postal Service 1091 contract - Langlo Crossing to Wellclose - went to W. & C.W. Brooks from Charleville.
Adavale was a prosperous town in the early 1900s servicing the rush to opal fields in the area. Government decisions such as to extend the railway from Charleville to Quilpie rather than to Adavale, caused some businesses to move to Quilpie. The experience of several major floods, led to the construction of the Blackwater Creek Floodway being constructed by a group of Polish migrants between 1949 and 1951. Floods, however, eventually saw major decline in the town, especially that of 1963, which led to many of the town's buildings being moved to the less flood-prone Quilpie.
Early properties were established for sheep grazing, but sheep have been generally displaced by cattle.
Cattle are been mustered by trapping on water with fencing and motorbike or helicopter has resulted in stations being run by one family with others employed for short/contract periods. The small towns do not have the shearing or station-hand families with their goats and work-dogs for the last 20 years.
The Shearers strike in 1956 saw many station managers shearing each other's sheep.
The degree square probably had a population of less than 30 at the 2011 census. This population has been in steady decline for many years due to persistent drought and the decline in grazing industries.
The only town in the degree square is Adavale. It lies towards the western limit of the square. It is now a very small settlement, featuring Post Office, Police Station, store with bar, a few houses and a Flying Doctors Clinic. The Post Office has a telephone box up on a small platform with stumps & steps to keep it out of floodwaters. There are also long wooden flood boats to ferry supplies across the creek when in flood. Locals have to camp up in the hills when the flood comes to town. The water supply for Adavale is from a bore.
Apart from the first few kilometres from Charleville, roads in the degree square are gravel. From Adavale, roads head north to Blackall, south to Quilpie and east to Charleville. There are a few other secondary roads serving rural properties.
Cattle and sheep grazing is the main industry for this degree square. Goat breeding and grazing has been introduced in recent years. Kangaroo harvesting (spot-light shooting) is controlled by a permit system with chill rooms feeding into Charleville abattoir. The need for more efficient agricultural production with consequent consolidation of rural property ownership has resulted in a great diminution in rural employment, with consequent loss of population in the square. Drought and competition for and from overseas markets are the main factors influencing the financial well-being of the area.
Mulga and Yapunyah trees are used to flavour honey production.
The nearest airport is at Quilpie, the headquarters of the Quilpie Shire that covers most of the square. The eastern edge of the square lies within Murweh Shire. Mariala National Park is the only national park in the square.
Eastern entrance to Mariala National Park
Compilers: Brian and Heather McGrath 2008 and Stuart Watt (2008), with additional material from Ken Granger, 2009.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.
Alexander, Rhondda. A Field Guide to Plants of the Channel Country, Western Queensland. The Channel Country Landcare Group.
Alick, Terrance and Rosemary. Atlas of Queensland and Northern Territory Pastoral Stations etc, 5th edition.
Courtney, Debbie and Wendy Colgan (comps). Back to Cooladdi, June10 & 11, 1995, Souvenir Booklet.
Henry, D. R. et al. Pasture Plants of Southern Inland Queensland. Queensland: Department of Primary Industries, 1995.
Speedy, Char. The Bulloo River Story. 2003.
Tindale, Norman B. Aboriginal Tribes of Australia. 1974.