AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is located 15 km south-west of the village of Condamine and is immediately adjacent to a gravel road which provides access to a property known as "Emu Park". This property is currently operating a facility known as the Lilly Vale Feed Lot. The point is located in the Dalby Regional Council area and was accurately located by GPS.
The Landscape: The point is in an area of low relief with a gradual fall to the Condamine River 1.6 km to the south. The soils are primarily red and grey clay based. The underlying geology is channel and flood plain alluvium of Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years).
Fauna in the area included grey kangaroos, wallaroos while many parrots, magpies, crows and kookaburras were seen. The area around the point has been cleared for crops and, at the time of the visit, was sown to wheat.
Point information and photos: Keith Hall, 22 September 2008
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The country within the degree square has an elevation range of around 150 m. The greatest elevation is around 400 m ASL on the crest of the Great Dividing Range on the northern edge of the square. The lowest elevation is around 250 m ASL where the Condamine River leaves the square. The land falls gradually from both north and south towards the Condamine River, which is the major watercourse in the area. While flowing at the time of the visit (September) the river bed can dry out in this area. Dogwood Creek and Undulla Creek are the two largest tributaries of the Condamine within the degree square.
Topography is mainly low undulations, with flat country on the major drainage flood plains. The underlying geology is predominantly sandstone and siltstone with ages ranging from Middle Jurassic age (176 to 161 million years) in the Kumbarilla beds around Miles and on the eastern side of the square; to Cretaceous age (146 to 100 million years) such as the Wallumbilla Formation in the north-west and Griman Creek Formation in the south-west; and Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years) sand plain in the south. The flood plains are Quaternary age alluvium.
Most of the area has been cleared for agriculture except in the Condamine riparian zone and on the few low hills in the area. The riparian forest is dominated by River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) while the remnant forests and woodland are dominated by Cyprus Pine (Callitris columellaris) She Oaks (Casuarina spp) and various wattles. The cleared areas are planted to a wide variety of grain crops.
Wildlife is similar to that at the confluence point. Feral pigs and goats are also encountered across the square.
Climate: The climate is classified as being sub-tropical with a distinctly dry winter. The closest weather station is at the Miles Post Office, which is approximately 42km north-north-east of the confluence, and has an elevation of 302 m.
The highest temperature recorded was 42.7°C in January 1994, and the lowest was -6.1°C in July 1963. The greatest rainfall recorded in a year was 1 178.5 mm in 1956, and the lowest was 246.4 mm in 1919. These and other climate statistics for Miles can be found at: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_042023_All.shtml.
Extremes of Nature: The area is subject to the impact of cyclones. In the 101 years from 1906-7 to 2006-7 there were 14 cyclones that passed to within 200 km of the confluence point. Of these, only one cyclone (TC Wanda of January 1975) passed within 50 km. Each cyclone brings potentially destructive winds and torrential rains. 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 floods occur regularly in the Condamine River, on average every 2 years. There have been 20 major floods recorded at Condamine since 1927. The worst flooding occurred in 1942, 1950, 1956, 1975, 1976, 1983 (twice), 1988 and 1996. Of these the 1942 flood is the flood of record, measuring 14.25 m on the Condamine gauge. Any flood over 10.7 m on that gauge will put water into the town and threaten houses. Major floods generally only occur in the first half of the year although records indicate that they may also occur in late spring.
The area experiences, on average, around 20 thunder days each year. Severe thunderstorms can bring destructive winds, intense rainfall that can produce flash flooding and lightning. Some thunderstorms may trigger tornadoes with extremely destructive winds across a narrow band. 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. 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 Miles having an average of 31 days annually with maximum temperatures equal to or over 35°C and 2 days with over 40°C. The hottest months are December to February, all of which experience on average over 20 days with temperatures equal to or over 30°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 contains one earthquake epicentre within the degree square. This was a ML 2.2 magnitude event on 11 May 2001 located 16 km north of Miles. Such a small quake was probably not even felt in the area. No damage was reported from this event.
The Indigenous Story: The language group in this square spreading east to the Dalby and Great Dividing Range are the Barrungam. Their activities centred along the Condamine and its tributaries. It is believed that this group were first met by the explorer Allan Cunningham in 1827.
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European Exploration and Settlement: The first Europeans to sight the country in this square were with the botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham in 1827. Cunningham named the Darling Downs and the Condamine River during that expedition.
Miles was originally named Dogwood Crossing and was established on a track blazed by the explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt his 1844 expedition He blazed trees with the initial 'L' to mark his track; one such tree is located near Miles on a creek now named L-Tree Creek. Settlement of the district followed and by the 1860s graziers were well established across the area.
The Condamine Bell, or Bullfrog Bell, was a bell originally made out of sheet metal from a cross-cut saw or pit saw, with a tapered mouth rather than the normal bell shape which flares outward. It was used by early pioneers to enable them to locate their stock with the sound of the bell carrying for four kilometres or more. The most successful and popular bell was first made in Condamine by Mr Samuel Williams Jones, a blacksmith, in approximately 1868.
The construction of the railway to link Brisbane with Roma and beyond reached Miles by 1878 and Dulacca by 1879.
Much of the district became infested with prickly pear in the 1890s and Dulacca became the centre for experiments at controlling this pest.
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The total population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 6055. The reversal of the decline in population between 2001 and 2006 caused by the drought is probably a result of the great increase in gas exploration.
Of the total, 1169 were living in Miles and 852 lived in Tara. The remainder were spread across villages such as Meandarra and Condamine as well as the rural properties.
Miles is the service centre for the agricultural and forestry industries in the square. It has a shopping centre, hospital, commercial, educational and professional facilities. Sporting amenities include an Olympic swimming pool. It is also a transport node located as it is at the junction of the Warrego and Leichhardt Highways. It is also a rail head. An important tourist facility in Miles is the Historical Village which has more than 20 buildings, including a hospital, cafe, bank, post office and bakery that date from the turn of the 20th century.
Miles (Google Earth image)
There are several areas of Cyprus Pine forest in the square that are being commercially harvested. There are also numerous feed lots for fattening cattle. The flood plain of the Condamine River supports grain growing.
Most of the land within the square falls within the Dalby Regional Council area while a sliver of the Maranoa Regional Council is along the western border of the square. There is only one national park within the square - the small Erringibba National Park located 15 km west of Meandara.
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Compilers: Keith Hall with additional material from Ken Granger, 2009.
Edited by: Hayley Freemantle
References: various web sites including EPA, local governments, tourist industry and Bureau of Meteorology.