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Central Freshwater Biogeographic Province

Central Freshwater Biogeographic Province – Hydrology

Wet season (Jan-Apr) Average temperature (22°) Temperature varies along a north south gradient Evaporation exceeds rainfall Width of riparian zone (42m) Small, medium trees Grasses Low relief ratio Phosphorus limiting Percentage of water which is base flow (9%) Annual spate duration (1 month) Annual no-flow duration (4 months) Granite Sandstone Medium macroinvertebrate richness Low turbidity Large woody debris cover (17%) Submerged and emergent macrophyte growth forms dominant Concave bank shape category Convex bank shape category Dominant bank slope (10°-80°) Fauna

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Modelled pre-development data from 52 gauges within the Central FBP were used for these analyses. Key features of typical hydrographs over multiple temporal scales were used to characterise the following aspects.


Gauging stations used in calculation of the Central FBP hydrological features
133005A 119005A 119006A 120001A
120002C 120005B 120006B 120008B
120013A 120014A 120106B 120107B
120110A 120111A 120120A 120121A
120205A 120206A 120207A 120209A
120215A 120301B 120302B 120303A
120304A 120305A 120306A 120307A
120309A 125001A 125002B 125003A
125004A 125005A 125007A 130003B
130005A 130103A 130105A 130106A
130204A 130206A 130302A 130303A
130306B 130317B 130322A 130324A
130401A 130504A 130506A 119003A

Base flow and flood flow

On average approximately 9% of flow (by volume) is base flow and conversely 91% of flow is related directly to flood flow from rainfall events. Over 30% of flow was base flow at one site in the Pioneer catchment, while flood flow contributed 97% of total flow volume at one site in the Burdekin catchment.

Information about hydrology

Information about methods

Mean SE Maximum Minimum
Base Flow Index 0.087 0.006 0.31 0.030
Flood Flow Index 0.91 0.006 0.97 0.69

Magnitude of spates

Magnitude of spates averaged 0.4 to 0.6 ML km2 day-1, but much larger and smaller average values occur within the FBP at particular sites. There is an average of 3 to 4 spates per year, with approximately two occurring during the wet season and one during the dry season.  The average duration of spates is approximately 11 to 12 days.

Information about magnitude of spates

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Mean SE Maximum Minimum
Magnitude of Spates
Spate run-off (Ml km2 day-1) 0.52 0.12 4.18 0.015
Frequency and Duration of Spates
Mean number of spates per year 3.5 0.2 9.4 1.9
Mean duration of spates (days) 11.4 0.4 19.5 4.0
Mean number of wet season spates per year 2.2 0.1 5.2 1.5
Mean number of dry season spates per year 1.3 0.1 4.2 0.4

No flow spells


Flow can generally be considered to be intermittent in the Central FBP. Each of the 52 modelled sites experienced periods without flow. However, some sites in the Burdekin and Pioneer catchments had natural flow regimes that were nearly perennial, with very few no flow periods in the record. Sites in the FBP on average had 3 - 4 no flow spells per year lasting on average 29 days each. The average longest recorded spell was over 8 months, but this was as high as almost 2 years at one site in the Burdekin catchment and as low as only 22 days at one site in the Pioneer catchment. Sites in the FBP had no flow on average approximately 30% of the time, but this varied from only 0.3% of the time at a site in the Pioneer catchment to nearly 90% of the time at a site in the Burdekin catchment.

Periods of flow between no flow spells typically lasted approximately 10 months, both the longest (32 years) and shortest (3 months) periods with continual flow occurred in the Burdekin catchment.  When averaged across the gauges the longest period of continual flow was 6.25 years for the entire FBP.

Persistent waterholes are the most evident form of drought refugia in the Central FBP. Another possible source of refuge in the FBP is migration into sub-surface water in the form of shallow alluvial aquifers. There is evidence of such migration occurring in this FBP, a study found 50 invertebrate taxa in hyporheic and parafluvial shallow alluvial aquifers. Many of these were thought to be individuals of surface species that had moved into the aquifer[1].

Information about no flow spells

Information about methods

Flow Predictability Index Mean SE Maximum Minimum
Frequency of no flow spells (spells per year) 3.5 0.4 11.6 0.0
Proportion of time with no flow (%) 31.1 3.9 88.7 0.3
Longest no flow spell (days) 243.5 26.7 656.0 22.0
Mean duration of no flow spells (days) 28.5 2.4 66.1 3.5
Mean period between no flow spells (days) 294.0 67.3 2379.5 3.6
Longest period between no flow spells (days) 2255.4 357.9 11410.0 85.0

Rise and fall of the hydrograph

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Table: Rise and Fall of the Hydrograph per day relative to mean daily flow

Mean SE Maximum Minimum
Mean rate of rise 1.76 0.25 8.80 0.25
Greatest rate of rise 144.84 19.97 711.70 3.14
Mean rate of fall 0.79 0.11 3.40 0.12
Greatest rate of fall 82.49 12.40 393.78 3.20

Wet and dry seasons

The proportion of annual flow is not evenly distributed between months. The months January to April have a greater proportion of annual flow than if flow were evenly distributed, and the months May to December a smaller proportion. Based on this the wet season for the Central FBP is January to April and the dry season May to December. Compare this with the other FBPs.

Information about hydrology

Information about methods


Dotted line shows the mean/median rainfall


  1. ^ Hancock, PJ (2004), Groundwater dependent aquatic biota survey of the Pioneer Valley, Queensland. Aquatic Ecosystem Health Technical Report, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Last updated: 22 March 2013

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Central Freshwater Biogeographic Province – Hydrology, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 April 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science