AT THE POINT
Location: The site is located on Yanna Station, a cattle property owned by RM & MB Quinlan, whose permission to access the Point is gratefully acknowledged. The portion of Yanna Station on which the Point is located was formerly part of Murweh Station. The point is approximately 600 m south of an unnamed road 3km west of the Mitchell Highway just inside Paroo Shire. The closest settlement is Wyandra about 30km to the south.
The Landscape: The country around the point is low in relief and is around 250m above sea level. It is in the floodplain of the Warrego River and about 4.5km east of the river itself. These riparian flats are covered by open woodlands comprising large gidgee trees (Acacia cambagei) and an understorey primarily of false sandalwood (Eremophila mitchelli). In good seasons, of which the start of 2008 is one, there are native grasses and herbage and the introduced pasture grass, buffel, as ground cover.
The site is on sandy soil with gravels silt and clay typical of the Quaternary (less than 1.6 million years) alluvium of the floodplain.The area around the Point and along the Warrego River generally supports a large variety of birds. Various parrots abound, from the ubiquitous budgerigar to the Pink (Major Mitchell) Cockatoo which has this vicinity as its northern limit in Queensland. Honeyeaters, birds of prey, finches, a number of waterfowl species including the black swan may be seen in this area. The writer identified over 90 different birds at a property in the Degree Square in the 1990s. Kangaroos and wallabies are plentiful along the river flats; less so away further from the river. Their distribution is very largely season dependent. Feral goats are also plentiful throughout this area. Reptiles include snakes and lizards, especially the shingleback, are also common.
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The land within the degree square slopes gently from north to south with elevations of around 350m in the north ranging down to 200m in the south. The topography within the square falls into two main zones - the riparian zone along the Warrego River which is typified by that around the confluence point; and the sand plain country that makes up the rest of the area.
The Warrego River is the main drainage feature and flows to the Murray-Darling system. It has a braided stream with areas of seasonal wetland that can extend up to 30km from the main stream. From the air the course of the river is well defined by the forests of River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis) and coolabah (E. coolabah).The sand plain country is of Cainozoic (up to 65 million years) origin with sand being dominant. Soils are grey to red and are easily wind-eroded when devoid of ground cover.Mulga (Acacia aneura) is the predominant tree species, part of a belt of this tree which extends not too much further north than this degree square, and west to the Indian Ocean. It is particularly prized by graziers in drought times as a stock feed and regenerates quite quickly when "pulled".
Climate: The site has a persistently dry grassland climate. Drought is common. There are no climate stations within the degree square, however, the statistics from the Charleville Post Office (70km north) are representative of the climate zone.
Cunnamulla Post Office (site 044022) 1889-1953
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of some cyclones. The database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 5 cyclones have tracked within 200 km of the confluence since 1906, one of which passed within 50 km (TC Audrey in January 1967). These cyclones bring with them potentially destructive winds and 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 within 200 km of the confluence, 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)
The Indigenous Story: The early European explorers found many indigenous persons living in the area. They were Bidjara people, and the main family groups were of the Kunja tribe. They lived by hunting and fishing and gathering "bush tucker". The Warrego and its riparian lands would have been a plentiful source of food for the original occupants of this area. The Aborigines were fairly numerous in the area until the early 1900s when pressure from settlers and the diseases and drugs (including opium) they introduced devastated the indigenous lifestyle and numbers. Today, 400 to 500 people of indigenous heritage are resident in each of the Charleville and Cunnamulla districts.
European Exploration and Settlement: In 1845 Major Sir Thomas Mitchell was the first recorded European to see the Warrego River, but he was more in the area of its headwaters, above Charleville. He named also the Nive River, a tributary of the Warrego, north of Charleville. Mitchell had mistaken the Barcoo River for the Victoria River of the WA Kimberley region, and in 1847, Edmund B Kennedy, who had accompanied Mitchell, returned to the area. He debunked Mitchell's assertion about the Barcoo which he (Kennedy) named. He discovered the Thomson River and in 1847, from 28 October to 19 November, he travelled down the Warrego River through this area. A.C. Gregory searched north of Charleville in 1858 for traces of Leichhardt's lost expedition.
In 1862 William Landsborough while also searching for lost explorers - but this time for Burke and Wills - travelled down the Warrego catchment as far as the Darling River. It was Landsborough's exploration that triggered settlement of the large sheep 'runs' (properties) in the area though a few settlers had arrived prior to that. Landsborough found a settler Williams at Coongoola just south of the Degree Square on his 1862 trip.
The railway to Charleville was opened on 1 March 1888, and in June 1897 the rail from there to Cunnamulla was completed. The village of Wyandra at the half way point between the two larger towns remained a railway town for many years.
The population of the degree square at the 2011 national census was probably less than 50, though the apparent decline in population may be a result in changes to census collection boundaries.
The main infrastructure elements within the area are the Mitchell Highway and the railway that link Cunnamulla in the south to Charleville in the north. Both routes parallel the Warrego River. The Charleville-Cunnamulla rail is used now only for freight; in 2007 there were 96 train arrivals at Cunnamulla railway station. Grazing of cattle is by far the main industry within this Degree Square. Sheep grazing formerly predominated, but lack of financial returns for wool since the 1960s has resulted in a major decline in sheep numbers in the area.
Harvesting of kangaroos by professional shooters is also practised throughout the area, with the product again being processed in Charleville. Mustering of feral goats has recently become a valuable by-product industry with the establishment of the goat processing abattoir in Charleville. The area has suffered from drought for the past decade and Social Issues resulting in financial hardship for many property owners. Many rural workers have had to seek alternative or supplementary employment, and the full-time employment of station workers has declined from past eras, leading to less and less population within the degree square.The imposition of 'tree clearing' regulations in the name of environmental responsibility has added a further constraint on the operations of properties within the degree square.
There are no National Parks or conservation areas within the degree square.
Compilers: Brian and Heather McGrath 2008. Photos by Brian and Heather McGrath.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
Murweh Shire 100 years of local government 1880-1980. Compiled by Cr. M Lord, 1982.
100 years 1847-1947 Charleville. Souvenir Booklet, November 1947.
Atlas of Queensland and Northern Territory pastoral stations etc, Terrance and Rosemary Alick: 5th edition.
Discovery guide to outback Queensland, Queensland Museum, 2003
A guide to the plants of inland Australia, Philip Moore, 2005