AT THE POINT
Location: This confluence point is on private property, approximately 4.3 km north-north-east of Allora, and lies about midway between the New England Highway and Wagland Road, about 400 m north of Jonel Park Road. It is in the Southern Downs Regional Council area and the 'Licking Holes' Landcare Project Area within the Condamine River catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin. The point was accurately located using differential GPS. The nearest settlement is Allora.
Col Grant: Observations carried out 430m east of and in sight of the degree confluence. This was a site on cultivated farmland, west of the Great Dividing Range, in catchment of the Condamine River.
The Landscape: The site is in low undulating Darling Downs country with an elevation of 497 m ASL. It exhibits mature erosional landforms within the catchment of Dalrymple Creek in the Murray-Darling Basin with low slopes, deep soils and, close-by, low basalt-topped hills.
The site sites on the western edge of the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene age (34 to 20 million years) basalt of the Main Range volcanic province. The Main Range volcanics are composed of numerous, nearly-horizontal lava flows. These basalt lavas had a low viscosity and tended to flow over large distances. Most of this basalt has since been eroded leaving the gently sloping landscape seen today. These horizontal flows sit on top of Jurassic age (200 to 146 million years) .
sandstones and shales, including plant fossils, coal and petrified wood. About 23 million years ago a thick layer of Main Range basalt, resulting from volcanic activity to the east of the area, was deposited over the top. Streambeds now have marsupial megafauna fossils including Diprotodon and Megalania. Soils are deep, dark grey clay loams derived from basalt. They are among the most productive agricultural soils in the nation.
The land has been extensively cropped for about 140 years, so no original vegetation remains at the site. As a result, much of the native fauna has been modified. Some native species do still inhabit this area. There are grey kangaroos, wallabies, common wombats and short beaked echidnas and the occasional koala. All these species are experiencing pressure on their habitat due to man's land use. Also there are flying foxes, several species of frogs, and birds such as the Wedge-tailed Eagle and the Brown Quail.
The site falls within classic black soil Darling Downs agricultural land which carries crops of sorghum and pasture. The cropping cycle provides a changing landscape from new planting to harvest-ready crop.
Point information and photo's: 2008-9 Senior Geography class, Warwick State High School, Society for Growing Australian Plants (Warwick Branch), Allora and District Historical Society, Stuart Watt, Col Grant 2008 (Author's email: email@example.com) and Ken Granger 2009.
IN THE DEGREE SQUARE
The Country: The topography within the degree square can be divided into three main landscape forms: the undulating lowlands of the north-east and east of the square; the mountains of the Main Range; and the undulating downlands of the western two-thirds of the square. Drainage is divided between the east-flowing streams of the Bremer-Brisbane River catchment and the west-flowing streams of the Condamine River catchment that form a significant part of the larger Murray-Darling Basin.
Col Grant: Toowoomba Escarpment
Looking NE across the Great Dividing Range and steep, forested country. To the east, short streams flows to the east coast. West of this area streams belong to the Darling River System.
Toowoomba, Col Grant 2008
The lowland area has elevations ranging from around 50 m ASL in the lower reaches of Lockyer Creek to 200 m ASL over much of the area. The topography is undulating with many of the streams being well entrenched. Much of the area in the north-east around Helidon and Gatton is based on sandstone of the Marburg Subgroup. This is of Early to Mid Jurassic age (around 176 million years). Helidon Sandstone is a highly regarded construction stone and had been used extensively in buildings such as the University of Queensland. Along the eastern edge of the square the main geological unit is the Walloon Coal Measures of Middle Jurassic age. These are composed of claystone and coal layers. This area is dotted with remnants of more recent volcanic material including patches of the Main Range volcanics and intruded dolerite of Cainozoic age (less than 66 million years). These remnants form steep-sided hills, most often of conical shape.
The great majority of this lowland area is given over to intensive cropping, especially of vegetables, and grazing with the only areas of remnant vegetation being on the steeper basalt and dolerite hills. That vegetation is similar to that described for the Mt Allora and Mt Tabletop areas.
The terrain of the Main Range is dominated by the steep-sided east-facing escarpment that runs from north to south and attains a maximum elevation of 1370 m ASL at the summit of Mt Superbus close to the NSW border and Queensland's third highest mountain. These steep escarpments have been produced by the rapid erosion of the basalt of the Main Range volcanics over the past 20 million years by the fast-flowing eastern rivers. This is a very broken and rugged landscape with waterfalls (such as the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney) and precipitous cliff lines.
Differences in the mountains' topography, altitude, aspect and soil characteristics lead to a diversity of plant communities, ranging from subtropical and cool temperate rainforest to wet and dry sclerophyll forest, montane heath and rock pavement vegetation. At the higher altitudes montane heath is found especially on the more exposed mountain peaks. Because soils on these peaks are shallow and have low fertility, the canopy is rarely more than two metres tall. The giant Spear Lily (Doryanthes palmeri) is one of the more interesting plants found in this vegetation.
Cool subtropical rainforest is found in moist sheltered areas on rich basaltic soils. These forests are characterized by strangler figs, palms, tree ferns, epiphytes, buttress roots and vines. Such forests usually have two to three canopy layers, a shrub layer and a forest floor covered with ferns. Canopy trees include Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) and the dangerous Giant Stinging Tree (Dendronicide excels) together with Piccabeen Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) and Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea glauca) in the lower levels. Dry sclerophyll forests, dominated by eucalypts such as Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and Blackbutt (E. pilularis), occur in patches. The understorey consists of Sheoaks (Casuarina spp.), wattles, grass trees and tussock grasses.
Most of the Main Range landscape is now conserved in a national park which forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area. It is largely wilderness, consequently it contains a very diverse fauna including many rare or endangered species. These include a species of land snail; the beautiful Richmond Birdwing butterfly; endangered and rare birds, including the Eastern Bristlebird, Alberts Lyrebird, Black-breasted Button Quail and several species of Fig Parrot; reptiles such as the beautiful Cunningham's Skink; amphibians such as the Fleay's Barred Frog; and mammals such as the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Spotted-tail Quoll and the Hastings River Mouse.
REPRESENTATIVE PHOTOS NEEDED
The downlands of the Eastern darling Downs that make up the remainder of the square present an undulating and rounded hilly landscape with most streams well entrenched. Elevations range from around 500 m ASL along the foothills of the Main Range to around 350 m ASL along the Condamine River in the west of the square. The oldest geology in this landscape are the Texas Beds of greywacke and other sedimentary rocks of Early Carboniferous age (around 359 to 340 million years) in the south-west corner and extending as far north as Leyburn. There are areas of Triassic age (251 to 200 million years) granite along the NSW border in the south - an extension of the Stanthorpe granites. Mineralisation in this granite includes cassiterite, gold, silver, copper and molybdenite. Most of the eastern side of this landscape is composed of the Main Range basalts; the western side, by contrast is mostly Quaternary age (less than 1.6 million years) alluvium of the Condamine catchment.
Most of the native vegetation on this landscape type has been removed for agriculture. The remnant vegetation is mostly an open eucalypt woodland typical of that around Mt Allora and Mt Tabletop within a few kilometres of the confluence point. This type is dominated by Mountain Coolibah (Eucalyptus orgadophila), Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) and Pink Bloodwood (E. intermedia) with Pretty Wattle (Acacia decora), Scrub Wilga (Geijera salicifolia) and Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea glauca) in the understorey. This is typical of the remnant forests on the Darling Downs. For a detailed species list of these remnants of the native vegetation click on the link.
Land use across this landscape is mostly cropping including sorghum, sunflower, corn, barley, pasture and field crops such as asparagus. There are several feed lots and other intensive grazing ventures such as piggeries on the Downs.
REPRESENTATIVE PHTOS NEEDED
The Climate: The degree square covers a range of climatic regimes from the lowland areas typified by Gatton to the highlands of Toowoomba and Warwick. The following tables give the average temperature and rainfall statistics.
Gatton University of Queensland (site 040082) 1897-2008 (elevation 94 m ASL)
The highest temperature ever recorded in Gatton was 44.5°C in January 1994 while the lowest temperature was -5.6°C in July 1972. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total of 1241.4mm was recorded in 1950 and the lowest total of 354.5mm in 1993.
Warwick Post Office (site 041111) 1863-1985 (elevation 453 m ASL)
On the Darling Downs, Warwick shows a great degree of variability on both temperature and rainfall. The highest temperature ever recorded in Warwick was 41.1°C in January 1994 while the lowest temperature was -6.6°C in June 1971. Rainfalls also vary greatly. The highest total in one day of 156mm was recorded in 1893 with many months recording no rain at all, particularly during 1881, 1902 and 1957.
Extremes of Nature: The area is very much subject to the impact of tropical cyclones. The cyclone database maintained by the Bureau of Meteorology shows that 21 cyclones tracked within 200 km of the confluence point between 1906-7 and 2006-7. Only one of these tracked to within 100 km of the point - an unnamed cyclone in February 1928. Some of these storms have had a significant impact within the square. Of these an unnamed cyclone that crossed the coast near Brisbane in February 1954 as a Category 3 storm was the most intense. TC Beatrice was a category 2 storm when it crossed the area on 21 January 1959 and TC Wanda (January 1974) was responsible for extensive flooding in the area (including the major flooding in Brisbane). Early 1976 was a wet period with 74.2mm recorded during January, but then decayed TC Alan deluged the area with 220.8mm over 10 and 11 February, resulting in the largest flood recorded in the Warwick area, with the Condamine River 9.1m above its normal level.
Cyclone tracks that passed within 200 km of the confluence point 1906-2006 (BoM web site)
The area is also subject to frequent severe thunderstorms which can bring destructive winds, hail and intense rainfall. The area averages around 30 to 40 thunder days each year. Bushfires can also pose a serious threat, especially along the Toowoomba escarpment and in the forested areas along the Great Dividing Range.
Droughts probably have the greatest economic impact while heatwaves are the most deadly. On average, at least 3 days a year have temperatures in excess of 35°C on the Darling Downs and on the lowlands Gatton has averaged 18 days over 35°C and 1.5 days over 40°C over 37 years of records. More people in Australia die in heatwaves than from any other natural hazard impact.
According to the National Earthquake Database maintained by Geoscience Australia there have been 12 earthquake epicentres recorded within the degree square. Four of these were over ML 3.0, the largest being a ML4.0 on 14 August 1988 centred about 3 km east of Gatton and a ML 3.9 on 24 November 1977 centred about 7 km south of Allora. No damage was recorded for either event.
The Indigenous Story: The tribe which lived in this area were called the Githible People. Allora means waterhole, and is named after the Licking holes. This tribe were hunters and used fire to burn off the pastures to attract grazing animals. The name Goomburra means 'burning off'. There are still several families from this tribe in the Warwick district today. Some can still speak their language.
Sam Bonner is a descendent and was happy to tell his tribe's story. Sam said that when the white settlers came to the Allora area, many of them treated the indigenous people well. The aboriginal people were valued from their skills with the axe. Their expertise was used to build yards, fences, barns and troughs. They were great craftsmen. Aboriginal people were also employed to work the fields and harvest the crops. Sam can remember hand stripping corn crops with his grandfather up until the 1950's. The changing land-use forced a lot of these people from this area as time went on. Sam did not know of any specific accounts of conflict in the Licking Holes area.
European Exploration and Settlement: In 1827, explorer and botanist, Allan Cunningham began exploration of the northern area of New South Wales. On June 5, the party arrived at a river they named the Condamine, they then ventured further naming Canning Downs, Darling Downs, Freestone Creek and Glengallan Valley. Thirteen years later, squatter Patrick Leslie followed the Condamine to Toolburra and then upstream to Glengallan Creek. Leslie and his convict companion Peter Murphy explored the country north of this area and rode across the area later known as Allora. The expedition was intended as a scouting venture to gauge the quality of land for pasture, cropping and places of interest for leasehold.
Although the country was considered good, it paled in comparison to Canning Downs and was left untilled.
Despite much surrounding agricultural activity on Goomburra and Glengallan stations, the bordering area, Allora, owned by Leslie was unused until 1859, when the first land areas blocks were surveyed and sold. By 1862 the township was rapidly expanding, boasting the services of Doctor Ramsdale, numerous blacksmiths and a tent-housed school. When a rail line was proposed between Toowoomba and Warwick Allora was intended to be the 'hub' of the Darling Downs. This was not to be, however, and the line eventuated between Clifton and Warwick. In August of 1912, a branch was opened connecting Goomburra and Allora, thus simplifying the transport of grain from Goomburra. The township was connected to electric power in January 1933, and in 1994 amalgamated with the Warwick Shire Council.
One of Warwick's claims to fame is as the birth place of legendary shearer Jacky Howe who shore 321 sheep using hand sheers in a single day on 10 October 1892. Warwick also has a special, if bizarre, place in Australian history. An event officially known as the Warwick Incident occurred on the 29 November 1917, which eventually lead to the formation of the Australian Commonwealth Police. As then Prime Minister William Morris Hughes was addressing a crowd at the Warwick railway station, a man in the crowd threw an egg which dislodged the Prime Minister's hat. Hughes ordered his arrest but the Queensland State Police allegedly refused to carry out the order, so the redoubtable 'Little Digger' ordered the creation of the Commonwealth body.
MORE INFORMATION WELCOME
Today: The population of the degree square at the 2011 national Census was 173,809. There has been a steady growth in population over the past decade.
Toowoomba is the largest settlement in the square with a 2011 population of 92,474. The next largest town is Warwick with 11,215. Other centres include Gatton (6178), Pittsworth (2702), Laidley (3249), Clifton (1183), Allora (887) and Killarney (770).
Toowoomba is the key centre of the Darling Downs and has the greatest variety and level of commercial and public services including health and education. University of Southern Queensland's head campus is located in Toowoomba as are several boarding schools that have provided primary and secondary education for generations of rural families. The town is roughly circular in shape reflecting the topography of the site - a swampy basin that was settled in 1849. Growth is constrained on the east by the steep escarpment.
For the most part the city is set out on a grid pattern, though this has been disrupted by terrain and infrastructure such as the railway. The town has a small airport, though scheduled services operate through the military airfield at Oakey, some 27 km to the north-west.
Toowoomba (Google Earth image)
MORE INFORMATION AND PHOTOS WELCOME
Warwick is the second town of the Darling Downs. It is established in a wide curve of the Condamine River with growth extending to the north of the river. It provides a wide range of commercial and public services such as hospital and schools. The streets are laid out on a grid pattern oriented north-east/south-west.
Col Grant: Warwick
This city is service centre to an area that is well known for the raising of high quality cattle, horses and sheep. As the main settlement of the Southern Downs, Warwick the Rose City, offers retail, commercial and tourist functions to residents and visitors. The city is an important road transport node.
Warwick, Col Grant 2008
Click HERE for a Photo Essay by Audrey Johnston.
Gatton (Google Earth image)
Compilers: 2008-9 Senior Geography class, Warwick State High School, Society for Growing Australian Plants (Warwick Branch), Allora and District Historical Society, Stuart Watt, Col Grant 2008 and Ken Granger 2009.
Edited By: Hayley Freemantle