29°S 152°E Granite Belt – Queensland by Degrees

AT THE POINT

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Looking north and south (Marie Hayes)

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Looking NNE and ESE Col Grant 2008

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Looking SSW and west Col Grant 2008

Location: This site is actually in NSW at the confluence of the Tenterfield and Washpool Creeks, about 4 km north of Tenterfield. The degree square that surrounds it takes in the Queensland Granite Belt area including the towns of Stanthorpe to Wallangarra which are in the Southern Downs Regional Council area. The site was accessed by Geyers Road and the point was located precisely using GPS. It is located on the property known as 'Washfield' and is in Tenterfield Shire (NSW). It is in the upper reaches of theClarence River catchment.

The Landscape: The topography around the site is low and undulating with several large granite tors on the surface. The native vegetation of eucalypt woodland or low forest has greatly modified with large areas of grassland and pasture. The dominant land use is grazing. Fauna noted in the area include possums, rabbits, eastern grey kangaroos, echidnas and platypus. Birds noted include various parrots, black cockatoos, wood ducks and Pacific black ducks.

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Col Grant 2008

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Col Grant 2008

Point information: Marie Hayes. Additional photo's and information is provided by Col Grant (2008). Col's email is: cgrant@vnc.qld.edu.au

IN THE DEGREE SQUARE

The Country: The land contained within the degree square is dominated by the granite country of the McPherson Range that marks the boundary between the Murray-Darling drainage basin and the coastal rivers (the Clarence being the main system). The largest stream in the square is Pike Creek, a tributary of the Dumaresq River. Elevations range from around 1250 m along the crest of the McPherson Range to around 400 m on the western side.

The McPherson Range is made up of Triassic age (251-205 million years) granites of the New England Batholith. Massive granite outcrops and balancing boulders are a significant feature of this area which is well represented by the landscapes found in Girraween National Park (See write up at end). To the west of the gnranite country are the much older Devonian-Carboniferous age (410 to 298 million years) sediments of the Texas beds. These sediments have been deeply eroded in places such as Sundown National Park producing very rugged landscapes. (See write up at end).

The Climate: The area has a temperate subtropical climate with a relatively dry winter. Stanthorpe climate station provides a representative example of the area's climate statistics.

Stanthorpe Leslie Parade (site 041095) 1938-2008)

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Mean max (ºC)

27.4

26.4

24.9

22.1

18.4

15.5

14.8

16.3

19.5

22.6

25.1

27.1

21.7

Mean min (ºC)

15.6

15.5

13.7

9.5

5.4

2.6

0.9

2.0

5.1

9.0

11.8

14.2

8.8

Mean rain (mm)

97.0

86.2

65.5

42.5

46.1

47.2

49.3

42.5

51.8

69.5

74.8

93.4

765.9

The Granite Belt is the coldest district in Queensland. Frosts are common during winter. The record minimum temperature at Stanthorpe was -10.6 experienced in June 1961. Eight months of the year have recorded temperatures of zero or lower. The low temperatures are influenced most by the altitude of the area. Occasional snow falls have also been experienced.

Extremes of Nature: Tropical cyclones only rarely pass over the area. The BoM catalogue of cyclones only shows three events that have passed through or come close to the degree square. They are an unnamed Category 1 cyclone in February 1954, ex-TC Barbara in February 1967 and ex-TC Emily in April 1972.

Cyclone tracks within 200 km of the confluence, 1906 to 2006 (Bureau of Meteorology web site)

Severe thunderstorms are far more common and damaging hail has been experienced on many occasions. All streams in the area are subject to flood during episodes of heavy or prolonged rain. Bushfires are common during the late winter and early spring. In 1993, for example, serious fires which caused significant property losses were experienced in both September and November.Only one earthquake epicentre is shown within the degree square in the national database maintained by Geoscience Australia. That was a ML 3.6 event on 10 August 1880 located a few kilometres north-west of Wallangarra. No damage is recorded.

The Indigenous Story: The area falls mainly within northern extent of the traditional lands of the Ngarabal people. They may have used the area for hunting during the summer months and migrated to warmer areas during the winter.Conflict between people of this language group and European settlers occurred south of Tenterfield (NSW) in October 1844. What became known as the Bluff Rock Massacre was sparked by the murder of a shepherd on Bolivia Station. That death was answered by the 'dispersal' of the group responsible including the deaths of many people either by gunfire or being thrown from the heights of the bluff.

European Exploration and Settlement: The first European to pass through the area was Allan Cunningham in 1827.Tin was mined for a short period.The area was opened up to soldier settlers following WW I, hence the names of many of the little villages such as Amiens, Passchendale, Pozieres and Bullecourt - all key battles in which Australian soldiers were engaged in France between 1916 and 1918.

Agriculture and horticulture, especially the growing of fruit (especially apples, pears and various stone fruit) and wine growing became established by Italian immigrants in the 1930s.

Today: The degree square contains the regional service centre of Stanthorpe which had a population of 4432 at the 2011 census. Other settlements include the border town of Wallangarra (510 people). The rest of the population is disbursed across the rural areas or located in small hamlets or villages such as Applethorpe and Ballandean. 

The population of the area has been growing steadily. This area has become a significant ‘tree change’ development area with many retirees moving to the cooler climate.

MEASURE

1996

2001

2006

2011

Total population

9353

9625

9892

10,569

Total males

4704

4827

4887

5207

Total females

4649

4798

5005

5362

Under 5 years

587

643

606

670

65 years and over

1350

1491

1776

2165

Indigenous

97

124

204

246

Col Grant:

The degree square 29°S 152°E is on a relatively high plateau, with the Qld portion known as the Granite Belt. At its most spectacular, the intrusive igneous rock has been weathered and eroded to produce magnificent domes of considerable size. A concentration of domes occurs at Girraween National Park Qld and Bald Rock National Park NSW. Other parts of the granite plateau grow grapes and stone fruits.

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South Pyramid, Col Grant 2008

Stanthorpe

Stanthorpe is the largest town in the degree square on this side of the Qld border. It is the centre of an area increasing well known for its wine production and associated tourism and festivals. Tenterfield, slightly smaller than Stanthorpe, is the largest town of the NSW portion of the degree square. It is known as the site of the Tenterfield Oration, in which Henry Parkes put forward the key ideas that led to the federation of the Australian colonies.

Wine growing, the growing of fruit (especially apples, pears and stone fruit) and tourism are the major industries in the area.

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Stanthorpe, Col Grant 2008

Audrey Johnston

SUNDOWN NATIONAL PARK

About 80kms south west of Stanthorpe and on the Queensland/ New South Wales border, Sundown National Park is rugged wilderness area of 16,000 ha. High traprock, a hard, dense rock formed from ancient marine sediments, modified by heat and pressure and with minor faulting, folding and weathering, has resulted in the layered rocks which form steep-sided gorges cut by the Severn River, sharp ridges and peaks of 1,000m or more. Jibbinbar Mt, in the northwest and Red Rock Gorge are intrusions of granite into the traprock. Two, almost parallel, dykes run through the area. Rats Castle can be traced through the park and under the road near the southern entrance to the park. The many creeks, rapids and waterfalls flow west or south west.

Flora and vegetation:- Wild flowers; ground, granite and tree orchids; dry vine scrub in sheltered gorges; figs; stinging trees, kurrajongs, red ash and pittosporums. In the dried south the uncommon Ooline (Cadellia Pentastylis), with bright green leaves and tile-patterned bark, has rainforest origins dating back to the Pleistocene Era (1.6mill to 10,000 years ago). Narrow-leafed, Caley's, and silver-leafed ironbarks; brown, grey, white and yellow box; cypress; stringybark; river red gums; river oaks (casuarinas); bottlebrush (callistemon); ti-trees; woolybutt; 'dead finish'; wilga; native willow; wattles; hop and peach bush; dry rainforest.From north to south the vegetation changes due to different climate, elevation & soil type. Yellow & brown box , stringybark & Tenterfield woollybutt grow on the higher northern slopes.

Fauna:- More than 150 species of birds have been identified and recorded - including currawongs; spotted bowerbirds; spiny-cheeked, yellow-faced, striped and fuscous honey eaters; red-winged and turquoise parrots; superb lyrebirds; golden whistlers; diamond firetails; peregrine falcons, hawks and the water-birds- ducks, herons, cormorants and azure kingfishers. Animals include eastern grey kangaroos; red-necked, swamp and the rare brush-tailed wallabies; wallaroos; platypus; feral foxes and feral goats; marsupial mice, gliders & possums.

European Background:- Sundown was once part of Mingoola, Nundubbermere and Ballanden stations. In the late 1800's these holdings were sub-divided into smaller lease-hold blocks, cleared for grazing and fine wool production but the ventures were not economical. From the 1870's mineral deposits were exploited - mainly tin, copper and arsenic. More than 70 men were employed but the mines were never highly successful. Old surface diggings and the remains of mining activities can be seen from the 4WD road. In the north east & the middle of the park the mine sites and treatment plant areas are contaminated.

BALD ROCK

Bald Rock (in NSW) is 1277m above sea-level with the summit of the rock 260m above the landscape of rocky outcrops. The Rock is 750m long and 500m wide. The longest exposed granite rock in the Southern hemisphere, it is second only to Ayer's Rock in size. West, South, Middle and Little Bald Rocks are in Queensland.

GIRRAWEEN NATIONAL PARK

"Large, detached masses of granite of every shape towering above each other and, in many instances, standing in almost tottering positions, constituted a barrier before us." So wrote Alan Cunningham on 26th June, 1828.

East of the New England Highway & 33kms south of Stanthorpe, Girraween National Park is 11,700ha in area. Its name means 'place of flowers'. Many millions of years of erosion removed soil exposing the New England Batholith, creating distinctive split, rounded and the fantastic shapes of the rock outcrops and swamps and plant communities of the granite country.

Geology:- Geologists tell us that the landscape as we know it today began to form 225 million years ago when much of Eastern Australia was covered by vast freshwater lakes. A large intrusion of molten rock cut through the surrounding volcanic & sedimentary rock. Major features in the Park are Mt Norman (1267m above sea-level), Castle Rock (1121m), the Sphinx, Turtle Rock, Granite Arch, the Eye of the Needle, and Junction and Bald Rock Creeks. Dr Robert's Waterhole was named after Dr Roberts who was instrumental in influencing the Government to set aside the area for a National Park and, nearby, the Underground Creek.

Vegetation:- The granite habitat produces floral & faunal communities rare in Queensland. 750 or more plants have been identified - bottle brush, ti-tree, she oaks, stringybark, blackbutt, cypress pine, golden wattle, eucalypts, shrubs, sedges, rushes, sundews, grass trees and wild flowers, & at least 59 different species of orchids - especially in September and October. During Spring insects & spiders feast on nectar.

Animals:- red-necked, swamp and brush-tailed wallabies, grey kangaroos, possums, wombats; sugar, greater brushtailed & feather-tail gliders, spotted tailed quolls, Cunningham's, water and copper tailed skinks, knobby dragons, water beetles and water spiders.

Birds:- glossy black cockatoos, parrots, tree creepers, fly catchers, brown, yellow-tailed and Lewin's honeyeaters, robins, thornbills, fairy, blue & varigated wrens, kookaburras, magpies, currawongs, noisy friarbirds, eastern spoonbill, cuckoos, magpies, diamond firetail, mistletoe bird and red wattle birds; and the rare turquoise parrot.

The Texas Branch

One of the main reasons the railway line extension from Texas was planned was to serve the Silver Spur mine. Output of silver, lead & copper after 1907 was carted by road to the railway at Omanama (east of Inglewood).  
Surveying of the proposed extension began in 1911 with final parliamentary approval granted in 1914.  The outbreak of World War 1 prevented work with construction not commencing until 1929, the line to Texas opening in November, 1930.  Unfortunately this was much too late for the Silver Spur smelter which closed in 1919.
Regular goods train services to & from Texas were replaced by Queensland rail's road truck service in October, 1985 &, from 1990, all trains were removed from the regular time table.  The Texas branch line was officially closed on 1st January, 1994.
The Texas station facilities comprised a siding & goods shed, a station building, a crane, a loading bank, a coal stage, a triangle to turn trains & a station master's house.
Many industries were served - wheat bulk heads, stockyards for cattle, sheep & pigs, a rabbit-freezing works ( the Riverside Freezing Co) & a butter factory. At one stage tobacco leaf was transported, too.

Click HERE for a Photo Essay (still under construction).

Site Summary:

Location

In NSW about 4 km north of Tenterfield

Nearest town

Tenterfield in NSW and Wallangarra in Queensland

Access

By road

Terrain

Low undulating granite country

Catchment

Clarence River (NSW)

Geology & soils

Massive granites of Triassic origin. Shallow sandy soils.

Vegetation

Mixture of pasture and remnant eucalypt woodland.

Land use

Grazing

Climate

Temperate sub-tropical

Infrastructure

Main rail link from NSW to Queensland and the New England Highway

National parks

Girraween, Bald Rock and Sundown NPs.

Population in degree square

Almost 10,000 (in Queensland section only)

MORE INFORMATION WELCOME

Edited by Hayley Freemantle

Compiler: Marie Hayes with additional material by Col Grant, Ken Granger and background information by Audrey Johnston.