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1.1 Context statement for the Galilee subregion

Executive summary

Artesian Spring Wetland at  Doongmabulla Nature Refuge, QLD, 2013 Credit: Jeremy Drimer, University of Queensland

The context statement brings together what is known about the geography, geology, hydrology and ecology of the Galilee subregion, as at May 2014.

Geography

The Galilee subregion is part of the Lake Eyre Basin bioregion. The Galilee subregion is located entirely in Queensland and spans an area of about 248,000 square kilometres.

The subregion covers 13 local government areas, with none entirely included, and spans parts of nine planning regions and five natural resource management regions. In the 2011 census there were less than 20,000 residents in the subregion and Charleville was the largest town with a population of 3561 people. Primary production, mainly in the form of rangeland grazing, is the major economic activity of the subregion.

Indigenous heritage of the Galilee subregion is complex with at least 12 Indigenous tribal or language groups in four separate language regions – Eyre, Gulf, Northeast and Riverine. There are native title claims covering large portions of the subregion and a number of Indigenous Land Use Agreements in place.

Geology

There are three distinctive periods of geological history represented by rocks in the Galilee subregion. These correspond to the formation of the Galilee and Eromanga geological basins, which were followed by the deposition of Cenozoic sediments. Sediments belonging to the Galilee Basin were deposited from 323 to 238 million years ago. Eromanga Basin sediments were deposited from 175 to 95 million years ago. Sediments of Cenozoic age are the youngest (less than 65 million years) and are largely associated with present day river valleys and lakes.

These three distinctive geological periods encompass many important features of Australia’s geological history, including deposition of significant coal deposits in the Galilee Basin, and famous dinosaur fossil sites in the Eromanga Basin.

While black coal resources have been discovered in the Galilee Basin, there are currently no mines in production. As of December 2013 two coal mine development proposals had been approved and a further four were undergoing the development approval process along the eastern margin of the subregion where the coal bearing sediments occur at surface. The Galilee Basin also has potential for future development of coal seam gas resources. To date, most coal seam gas exploration has been undertaken in the central Galilee Basin.

Surface water and groundwater

The Galilee subregion straddles the Great Dividing Range and encompasses the headwaters of seven major river basins: the Thompson and Barcoo rivers of the Cooper Creek system, the Diamantina River, the Flinders River in the north-west, the Bulloo River in the south, and the Warrego River in the south-east. The subregion also extends across the Great Dividing Range to the east and north-east into the headwaters of the Fitzroy and Burdekin river basins. It also includes two nationally important wetlands, lakes Buchanan and Galilee.

The Galilee subregion includes aquifers that are a part of the Great Artesian Basin. Groundwater seeps into Great Artesian Basin aquifers around the highland areas, then slowly flows westwards out of the subregion. These large aquifers are utilised as a water supply across much the Galilee subregion. Some groundwater may also discharge to surface as springs or where hydrogeological conditions are favourable, discharge to major rivers.

The Great Artesian Water Resource Plan (2006) covers most of the Galilee subregion and is unique in that it only applies to artesian water and connected sub-artesian water of the Great Artesian Basin. It does not include management plans for surface water.

Ecology

The Galilee subregion has a high diversity of ecological communities and species due to its large area, climate gradient, large river basins and the topography of the landscape, which can influence water and soil redistribution in semi-arid areas. Pastoral grazing is by far the most frequent land use (greater than 95%) and conservation reserves occupy around 3%. Wetlands of national significance occupy 0.3% of the area of the Galilee subregion, and riverine floodplains that are also potentially water dependent occupy a further 15.5% of the area.

In the Galilee subregion, 38 species and seven ecological communities are listed nationally under Commonwealth legislation; a further 102 species are listed under Queensland legislation.

 

Last updated:
8 April 2016