AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located on 'Berina', a private property to the west of the Burnett Highway near the locality of Tansey. The point was reached by vehicle on public roads then on private property. The last 800 m to the point was done on foot. The point was accurately located by GPS with the assistance of the property owner Mr Chris Reilly, whose assistance is greatly appreciated. The point lies within the Gympie regional Council area and the nearest settlement is Goomeri, 22 km to the south-east.
The Landscape: The area around the point comprises fairly heavily timbered hills, with their lower slopes cleared for farming and featuring contour banks for erosion protection, sloping down to very fertile black soil flats along creek lines. The geology around the point is conglomerate of Early Triassic age (251 to 241 million years).
Native vegetation in the vicinity of the point includes grey gum. ironbark, silver wattle and soap tree woodlands. There are scattered thickets of lantana. The lower slopes feature good natural cattle fattening grasses, while lucerne is farmed on the black soil creek flats. Fauna observed arond the point included flocks of straw-necked ibis, masked lapwings, magpies, magpie larks (peewees), quail, cattle egrets, blue-faced honeyeaters, rainbow lorikeets, noisy friarbirds, various ducks, yellow butterflies, tangerine butterflies and grey kangaroos. The principal land use in the vicinity of the point is cattle grazing, with lucerne and other stockfeed crops being produced on the creek flats.
Point information and photos: Brian and Heather McGrath, 2008
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The degree square is characterised by hills, creeks and depositional plains. The area with the most elevation is situated in the north of the degree square in the 10 000 ha Mt Walsh National Park, where the Coast Range rises to 730 m ASL at the summit of The Bluff Mountain. The lowest elevations are along the north-eastern border and are less than 50 m ASL. The geology of the degree square is quite complex however great majority of the geology in the square is of Triassic age (251 to 205 million years). Rock types include basalt and other volcanic material as well as sedimentary rocks including sandstone and mudstone. The oldest rocks in the square are of Devonian age (410 to354 million years) and range from mudstone and schist to granite and serpentinite. These older rocks are scattered across the square.
The Coast Range marks the divide between the Mary and Burnett River catchments. The Coast Range runs roughly north-south through the degree square. The Mt Walsh National Park at the northern end of the Range features the spectacular granite Bluff Mountain, eucalypt and vine forests, some rain forest and rocky creek gullies. The Thomas and Charles Archer Lookout, just west of Gayndah town centre on the Duke and Duchess Mountain provides 360º views over the town and surrounding countryside.
Typical grazing country within the square (Brian McGrath, 2008)
Climate: The climate of the area is classified as being sub tropical with a distinctly dry winter. The climate station at Gayndah Post Office provides representative statistics, and has been recording data since 1870. Elevation is 106 m.
The highest temperature ever recorded at Gayndah was 44.8°C in December 1893 while the lowest temperature was -6.0°C in July 1896. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1 469.0 mm was recorded in 1893 and the lowest total of 338.2 in 1957. These and other climate statistics for Gayndah can be found on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website at, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_039039_All.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The national cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 32 cyclones have passed within 200 km of the confluence point in the 101 years between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Of these seven passed within 50 km of the point. They were: an unnamed cyclone in June 1925; an unnamed cyclone in March 1951; an unnamed cyclone in April 1955; TC Annie in December 1962; TC Dora in February 1971; TC Althea in December 1971; and TC Wanda in January 1974. Even distant cyclones can bring with them destructive winds and very heavy rain. 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)
Several cyclones have had a major impact on this degree square, mostly through the flooding of rivers and streams as a result of the intense rainfall that they bring. The cyclone of February 1893 which produced the major floods in the Brisbane River also caused significant flooding in the Burnett and Mary River systems. The record of floods at Gayndah go back to 1864 and since then there have been at least 15 floods of moderate of greater impact. The three greatest floods were in 1890 (16.64 m on the local gauge), 1893 (16.46 m) and 1942 (19.66 m). Given the closeness of their catchments, similar floods have also been experienced in the Mary River.
The area experiences around 20 to 25 thunder days a year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds, intense rainfall and lightning strike over a limited area. The intense rainfall can trigger flash flooding and lightning strike can spark bushfires if there is sufficient fuel for fire to spread.
Bushfires are a potential hazard during the late winter and early autumn. In most of the agricultural areas fires can be readily controlled because the fuels tend to be grass and pasture. In the forests and scrublands, by contrast, fires can be very severe and spread very quickly under windy conditions.
The area can experience extreme heat throughout some of the year, with Gayndah having an average of 29 days annually with maximum temperatures equal to or over 35°C and two days with 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.
By contrast, Gayndah also averages 15 days with temperatures of 2ºC or less a year and six days at 0ºC or less.
Persistent drought is undoubtedly the most pervasive and economically damaging of all extreme climatic events.
This is one of the most seismically active areas in Queensland. The National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia contains 59 earthquake epicentres within the degree square. Sixteen of these events had magnitudes of ML 3.0 or greater with the largest event being a very significant ML 5.6 event of 28 August 1883 that was located 14 km north-east of Gayndah. A second quake of ML 5 occurred at the same location on the same day and a ML 5.5 event on 12 April 1935 also was centred at the same location. The 1883 quakes caused damage in Gayndah and were felt as far away as Brisbane and Rockhampton. The 1935 quake was felt across a wide area of south-east Queensland and minor damage was reported from several places around Gayndah.
The Indigenous Story: Most of the land in the degree square is the traditional country of the Waka Waka people.
Prior to the coming of white settlement in the early 19th century, the fertile lands of the South Burnett and the upper Mary River catchments would have provided a good basis for life for these aboriginal tribes. The coming of Europeans caused complete disruption of the Aborigines'' previous lifestyles. The aboriginal response was mixed. On the one hand, there would have been resistance to the usurping of the traditional hunting grounds, but on the other hand there would have been an attraction for the goods which accompanied the white man's coming in the way of tobacco, alcohol, steel knives, axes and so on.
Concerned about the Aboriginal situation, and it seems convinced that there was no future for the Aboriginal peoples, at the behest of the State Government, in 1895 Archibald Meston produced a report on a Scheme for the Improvement and Preservation of Aborigines. This led to the passage in 1897 of the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of Opium Act, as a consequence of which in 1901 the remaining people of the Waka Waka nation were placed on a 2800 ha reserve excised from Barambah Station on the banks of Barambah Creek and run by the Salvation Army. Originally only local Aboriginals were settled at Barambah, however eventually people from at least 100 different groups were 'settled' there, many of them as punishment for refusing to work for European settlers in their home areas. The settlement of Cherbourg is the modern day result of that reserve. Cherbourg was made a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) settlement in August 1986 and a local government area in 2004.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
European Exploration and Settlement: It seems probable that the first Europeans in this area were convicts escaped from the Moreton Bay settlement. For example, one local history states John Fahey was another convict who escaped and also one of the first white men to roam through the Burnett region. He escaped on March 6, 840. It indicates that he was recaptured, escaped again on November 11, 1841, was recaptured and escaped finally on April 24, 1842.
Queensland had been opened up for free settlement in 1839. The Darling Downs was being settled by 1840. Tarameo station was established by 1842 in the Nanango district and also C.R. Haly had established Taabinga station. Simon Scott, the owner of Tarameo and two others sought for sheep country further north in that same year.
In November 1842, Henry Stuart Russell searched for sheep country with two companions, William Orton and an Aborigine named Jemmy and reached the Burnett watershed. He thought a stream he discovered was the headwaters of the River Boyne, discovered earlier by John Oxley and which enters the sea at Gladstone, but in 1847 surveyor James Charles Burnett traced the river which bears his name to where it flows into Hervey Bay at Bundaberg. Interestingly, the name Boyne was retained for the tributary of the Burnett River discovered by Russell, so there are 2 streams named River Boyne in southern Queensland. Russell made his way into the Gayndah district early in 1843. He selected Burrandowan station 30 miles west of Kingaroy early in 1843.
In summary, the early European exploration of this degree square area was carried out by persons seeking grazing lands, rather than by "dedicated" explorers. Interestingly also, these graziers sought lands for sheep, nowadays almost completely replaced by cattle.
The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national census was 18,642.
There are several small urban centres across the square. Their populations at the 2011 census were as follows: Gayndah had 1642; Biggenden had 679; Kilkivan had 411; Goomeri had 497; Murgon had 2089; Cherbourg had 1226; Proston had 250; and Wondai had 1741.
Murgon is the main centre for the district and has a good range of commercial and public services including schools and hospital.
Murgon (Google Earth image)
The neighboring Aboriginal community of Cherbourg also has a range of commercial and public services. It also lies close to the Bjelke-Petersen Dam which creates Lake Barambah.
Cherbourg and the Bjelke-Petersen Dam (Google Earth image)
Gayndah is the main centre on the upper Burnett River. It also has a good range of commercial and public services. The town is served by an all weather airstrip.
Gayndah (Google Earth image)
Gayndah from the Archer lookout (Brian McGrath, 2008)
The degree square is closely settled and is consequently well served by public roads. The square has a total of 7 300 km of public roads including the Burnett, Wide Bay and Bunya Highways. The area also has two rail links. The Bjelke-Petersen Dam was constructed in the 1980s and provides irrigation water to the upper parts of the South Burnett.
The degree square is divided more-or-less evenly between three local governments: North Burnett Regional Council in the north; Fraser Coast Regional Council in the east; and South Burnett Regional Council in the south-west. The square contains 17 national parks and conservation parks including: Ban Ban National Park, Beninbi National Park, Boat Mountain Conservation Park, Cherbourg Conservation Park, Cherbourg National Park, Coalstoun Lakes National Park, Fairlies Knob National Park, Glenbar National Park, Grongah National Park, Jack Smith Scrub Conservation Park, Mount Walsh National Park, Mudlo National Park, Nangur National Park, Reinke Scrub Conservation Park, Wongi National Park, Woocoo National Park and Woroon national Park. Their combined area is around 623 000 ha.
Compilers: Brian and Heather McGrath, 2008 with additional material by Ken Granger 2009.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.
Blake, Thom. A History of the Cherbourg Settlement, a Dumping Ground. St Lucia, Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2001.
Goodchild, Cleo and Susan Tsicalas. Murgon in Focus - a Photographic Record of Murgon & District from 1900s to 1950s.
Matthews, Tony. Landscapes of Change: A History of the South Burnett, Vols 1-2, 1997.
Murphy, J.E. and E. W. Easton. Wilderness to Wealth 1850 - 1950 in the Shires of Nanango, Kingaroy, Wondai, Murgon. Kilkivan, and Portion of Rosalie,1950.
Stock, Jill. 2007: Next Stop Gayndah: 100 years of Gayndah Railway Stories, 2007.
Woodside, Ian: Juandah, Wandoan.