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Great Sandy Strait catchment story

The catchment stories present a story using real maps that can be interrogated, zoomed in and moved to explore the area in more detail. They are used to take users through multiple maps, images and videos to provide engaging, in-depth information.

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is part of a series of catchment stories prepared for Queensland.

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Transcript

The mainland coastal catchments are a series of mostly low-lying coastal drainages, which extend from Pulgul Creek to Rainbow Beach. Geology is dominated by sedimentary rock and ferricrete, and there are large sand dune system in the south. The area is important to the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi people. Land use is mostly conservation and natural environments, forestry and grazing, together with residential and associated services and other minor land uses.

The catchment story for the Mainland coastal catchments is available here (see transcript below). Please note that this catchment story will open as a map journal in a new tab, and you can come back to this map series to view the other catchment stories in the other tabs.

Main image. Boonooroo shoreline with mixed sediments including boulders and gravel derived from the ferricrete duricrust, and sand and mud, Photo by Maria Zann.

Mainland coastal catchments – Map Journal Transcript

The mainland coastal catchments are dominated by forestry, and conservation and natural areas including national parks and Defence. The area is important to the First Nations peoples. The landscape is mostly undulating to flat and underlain by ferricrete and sedimentary rocks of the Maryborough Basin, with the older sedimentary rocks of the Duckinwillla Group to the south, and unconsolidated sediments near the coast. Tourism is important to the local economy, particularly around Hervey Bay, Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach.

Main image. Boonooroo shoreline with mixed sediments including boulders and gravel derived from the ferricrete duricrust, and sand and mud, Photo by Maria Zann.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. First Nations peoples
  3. Modified features—infrastructure, dams, weirs and bores
  4. Modified features—sediment
  5. Water quality
  6. Water flow
  7. Vegetation
  8. Vegetation clearing
  9. The subcatchments
  10. Pulgul Creek and Urangan subcatchments
  11. Booral to River Heads subcatchment
  12. The Dimonds subcatchment
  13. Maaroom and Little Tuan subcatchments
  14. Big Tuan Creek subcatchment
  15. Poona and Black Swan subcatchments
  16. Kauri Creek subcatchment
  17. Tin Can Bay coastal drainage subcatchment
  18. Rainbow Bay coastal drainage subcatchment

Introduction

  • Series of mostly low-lying coastal drainages with large sand dune system in the south, elevated landscapes in the south-west and extensive mangrove forests in the north-east.
  • Geology is dominated by sedimentary rocks of the Maryborough Basin including Elliott Formation, Burrum Coal Measures and deeply weathered sediments including ferricrete, and south of Tuan the older sedimentary rocks of the Duckinwilla Group.
  • Sedimentary rock is typically hard with fast runoff, particularly where sloped, such as older sedimentary geologies of the Duckinwilla Group, however to the north the underlying youngest sedimentary rocks are more deformed and deeply weathered, allowing for some local water infiltration.
  • Ferricrete is a duricrust material formed by fluctuating water levels within deeply weathered soils above sedimentary rock, resulting in iron precipitation as nodules that may become cemented together, allowing for some local water infiltration.
  • Coastal parts have large areas of porous geologies such as sand, mud, alluvium and colluvium, which provide for water infiltration where not developed (e.g. hardened by urban residential, roads and other infrastructure.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,000 to 1,401 millimetres in the north and 1,400 to 1,701 millimetres in the south, with higher rainfall in the upper elevations and isolated peaks in the Poona, Kauri and Tin Can Bay subcatchment.
  • Land use is mostly conservation and natural environments (national park, Defence) in the south, forestry in the central parts, and conservation and natural environments (national park) and grazing on native pastures in the north, with relatively small developed areas (residential and associated services) and other minor land uses.
  • The area is important to both the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi people, who shared the southern part of the catchment country in partnership.
  • The groundwater system associated with the Cooloola sand mass provides for permanent flow in a limited number of streams underlying the sand mass, both north to Tin Can Bay and south into the tributaries of the upper Noosa River.
  • Patterned fens are unique perched wetland systems that are found on K'gari and near Rainbow Beach; these fens are only found at limited locations on sand islands in southern Queensland and on the mainland
  • Natural barriers can provide for permanent waterholes and colour morphs of eastern rainbowfish, together with honey blue eyes, Oxleyan pygmy perch and other freshwater fauna and flora.
  • There are many road and track crossings, ranging from fords to causeways, culverts and bridges, which can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage.
  • Water is extracted from Teewah Creek (a tributary to the upper Noosa River, noting there is also a Teewah Creek in the Tin Can Bay subcatchment) for town supply to Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Cove, and these areas are mostly sewered.
  • Rainbow Beach town water is supplied by a bore network and the township is mostly sewered.
  • There is no town water or sewerage system from Tinnanbar to Maaroom, with water supplied by rain tanks and bores and use of septic tanks.
  • Most of the residential areas north of River Heads are on town water and sewered.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Great Sandy and Poona national parks, Great Sandy Conservation Park, state forests, several declared fish habitat areas (FHAs, Kauri Creek, Tin Can Inlet, Maaroom) and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area
  • There are extensive palustrine and estuarine wetlands, together with large areas of ‘contains wetlands’* and small riverine and lacustrine systems, some of which are listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA, Wide Bay Military Training Area C, Great Sandy Strait).
  • Very large area of mangrove and saltmarsh extend from the south of the Mary River down to Sheridan Flats, including saltpan which is important for shorebirds, with algal crust which can be a very productive energy source (e.g. crabs, molluscs).
  • Many creek mouths have extensive mangrove forests and seagrass meadows and highly productive mosaics of freshwater wetlands, mangroves, saltmarsh, saltpan and/or seagrass (e.g. Kauri, Poona, Maaroom and Kalah creeks).
  • High value species and habitats include ground orchids (southern rein orchid), evergreen vine thicket, Illidge's ant-blue butterflies, acid frogs, acid fish (honey blue eye and Oxleyan pygmy perch), water mice, shorebird roosts and feeding areas, major shark nursery (German Creek), dolphin, dugong and marine turtle feeding areas and marine turtle basking areas (Turtle Cove).
  • In some parts there are issues with pigs, foxes and weeds (groundsel), illegal dumping and litter, and erosion associated with boat wash and four wheel drives (e.g. Buttha and Poona creeks).
  • Tidal flow can be modified by boat harbours, dredged channels, numerous boat ramps, jetties, rock walls and other marine structures.
  • Sedimentation has buried historic oyster beds and traditional fish traps near Mangrove Point.

Main image. Crab Creek, Photo by Gary Cranitch ©Queensland Museum.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

First Nations peoples

The Great Sandy Strait mainland coastal catchments were important to the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi people.

There are special men's business and women's business places, places for food, places to travel across to K'gari, and special places for ceremonial purposes.

Modified features—infrastructure, dams, weirs and bores

Buildings and important infrastructure such as roads and tracks (including extensive forestry tracks) and creek crossings create barriers and impermeable surfaces that redirect water through single points or culverts. This can lead to channelling of water and increases the rate of flow and potential for erosion in some parts of the catchment. Modifications to channels, such as straightening and diversions, can also increase flow rates.

Roads and levees - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government

Low permeability surfaces - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government

Dams and weirs also modify natural water flow patterns by holding water that would otherwise flow straight into the stream network. There are rural water storages (farm dams) and weirs in parts of the catchment.

There are many bores*, particularly around Hervey Bay and Tin Can Bay. The bores extract water for mostly domestic purposes and can influence groundwater systems.

Infrastructure, such as roads and tracks, boat ramps, moorings, rock walls, dams and weirs, can affect fish passage through the catchment.** ^

Main image. Toolara State Forest, Photo by Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government.

*Includes registered water bores used for water supply only, provided by derived data set from DNRM&E that excludes monitoring bores. 

See links at the end of this map journal for further information on the following literature.

**Enhanced Management of Ramsar Site Wetlands within the Great Sandy Strait Catchments (Department of National Parks, Sports and Racing, 2016).

^Great Sandy Strait Biopassage Remediation Project – Final Report (Berghuis 2012).

Modified features—sediment

Increases in the volume and speed of runoff, and disturbed vegetation through activities such as forestry and grazing, can increase erosion in the landscape and the stream channels. This can result in sediment being carried downstream and reduced water quality.

Suspended sediment can reduce water quality in the Great Sandy Strait as it:

  • transports nitrogen and phosphorus (and other potential contaminants such as metals),
  • travels in flood plumes,
  • reduces light when in suspension, and
  • can smother benthic communities such as seagrasses, corals and other invertebrates (e.g. filter-feeding bivalves).

Furthermore, the impacts of suspended sediment contributes to the cumulative impacts of other stressors (e.g. freshwater flood plumes, elevated nutrients, impacts from storms) to increase the overall impact on organisms of the Strait.

Main image. Looking out to the Great Sandy Strait from Boonooroo, Photo by Maria Zann.

Water quality

Water quality is influenced by diffuse runoff and point source inputs. Runoff is from a variety of land uses, including rural, residential and forestry areas.

Diffuse runoff includes on-site sewage facilities (e.g. septic tanks) and stormwater discharges, particularly from low permeability surfaces common in urban areas. The concentration of potential contaminants in the stormwater discharge depends on the land use of the area.

Septic tank diagram, Provided by SEQ Catchments, Ipswich City Council and West Moreton Landcare, using IAN Library products.

Point source inputs include several sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the south and the Pulgul Creek STP in the north. The central townships use septic tanks.

Cattle, pigs and other animals can also directly influence water quality by disturbing the substrate and/or trampling vegetation.

Information regarding monitoring sites (stream gauging and groundwater monitoring*) and catchment load monitoring can be found in the reference section at the end of this map journal.

*Water Monitoring Information Portal (Queensland Government 2019) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.

Water flow

Water flows across the landscape into the waterways of the catchments (click for animation)*.

The remaining water either sinks into the ground where it supports a variety of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), including terrestrial GDEs, or is used for other purposes.

The smaller channels and gullies eventually flatten out to form larger waterways that flow through lower lying land. They pass through unconsolidated areas which store and release water, prolonging the time streams flow.

*Please note this application takes time to load.

Main image. Cameron Creek, Tin Can Inlet, Photo by Gary Cranitch ©Queensland Museum.

Vegetation

Lake Poona walking track, south of Rainbow Beach, Photo by Tourism and Events Queensland.

Water that falls as rain, or moves over the land as runoff, is slowed by vegetation, which then allows it to filter down into the soil and sub-soil. Slowing the flow of surface water helps to retain it longer on the land which in turn allows it to filter down through the soil to recharge groundwater aquifers.

Water moving slowly across the surface of the land also reduces the potential for erosion to occur and reduces the associated issues with water quality and sedimentation further downstream. Reducing the speed of runoff also plays a role in protecting banks and parts of the landscape prone to gully and rill erosion.

Vegetation impacts on water flow - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.

Historically, the area was dominated by eucalypt woodlands and forests, melaleuca woodlands and coastal communities including heath. Wet eucalypt forests and rainforests and scrubs grew in the south and coastal areas supported mangroves and saltmarshes.

These different vegetation types combine to make up the preclearing vegetation of the mainland catchments.*

The wetlands and creeks of the catchment provide habitat for many important aquatic species, including plants, fish and birds. These areas are also used for camping, fishing, crabbing and boating.

Wetland types - conceptual model provided by Queensland Government.

Main image. Mangroves, Crab Creek, Photo by Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government.

*Broad Vegetation Groups derived from Regional Ecosystems (REs), which are vegetation communities in a bioregion that are consistently associated with a particular combination of geology, landform and soil.

Vegetation clearing

Large parts of the mainland catchments have been cleared* for a range of land uses, particularly forestry and residential development. Small areas of regrowth** have occurred since initial clearing.

Explore the Swipe Map using either of the options below.***

  • Interactive Swipe App where you can zoom into cleared areas and use the swipe bar (ESRI version)
  • Interactive Swipe App where you can use the swipe bar. Use the white slide bar at the bottom of the map for a comparison (HTML version)

Vegetation clearing and associated activities change the shape of the landscape and can modify surface and groundwater flow patterns.

*The 2011 remnant vegetation mapping was undertaken at a map scale of 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 in part (including the Wet Tropics and Southeastern Queensland) and based on the Landsat imagery for 2011. It does not show all clearing, particularly relatively thin linear infrastructure.

**Smaller areas of regrowth are not shown in this mapping. This dataset was prepared to support certain category C additions to the Regulated Vegetation Management Map under the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. This dataset is described as: The 2013 areas of non-remnant native woody vegetation that have not been cleared between 1988 and 2014 that are homogenous for at least 0.5 hectare and occur in clumps of at least 2 hectares in coastal regions and 5 hectares elsewhere.

***Depending on your internet browser, you may experience issues with one or the other. Please note this application takes time to load.

The subcatchments

A 'catchment' is an area with a natural boundary (for example ridges, hills or mountains) where all surface water drains to a common channel to form rivers or creeks.*

The mainland coastal catchments consists of several distinct areas** which have similar characteristics:

  1. Pulgul Creek and Urangan subcatchments (Pulgul Creek and unnamed tributaries)
  2. Booral to River Heads subcatchment (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) (unnamed tributaries)
  3. The Dimonds subcatchment (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) (German, Dimond, Kalah and Webber creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  4. Maaroom and Little Tuan subcatchments (Maaroom and Little Tuan creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  5. Big Tuan subcatchment (Rocky, Scrubby and Big Tuan creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  6. Poona and Black Swan subcatchments (Tewan, Dinna, Poona, Black Swan and Buttha creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  7. Kauri Creek subcatchment (Mosquito and Kauri creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  8. Tin Can Bay coastal drainage subcatchment (Dinnies, Teebar, Griffin, Snapper, Teewah, Mullen, Dulong, Carland, Cooloola, Searys, Cameron and Carlo creeks and unnamed tributaries)
  9. Rainbow Bay coastal drainage subcatchment (unnamed tributaries)

Main image. Dinnies Creek, near Tin Can Inlet mouth, showing mangroves, saltmarsh, clay pan, seagrass meadows and sand flats and bars, Photo by Gary Cranitch ©Queensland Museum.

*Definition sourced from the City of Gold Coast website - see links at the end of this map journal.

**Nine separate 'Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks' subcatchments are scattered along the shoreline and have been grouped with the adjacent large subcatchment, other than the two relatively large subcatchments in the north (i. Booral to River Heads and ii. The Dimonds). Please note some labels are only visible when you zoom into that area (e.g. Tin Can Bay).

Pulgul Creek and Urangan subcatchments

  • The geology of the Pulgul Creek and Urangan (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) subcatchments are dominated by ferricrete and sedimentary rock (Burrum Coal Measures), together with miscellaneous unconsolidated sediments (mud).
  • Fast runoff from the Burrum Coal Measures where they are close to the surface, however where overlaid by deeply weathered sediments including ferricrete, provides for some local water infiltration.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,000 to 1,201 millimetres.
  • Land use is mostly residential and associated services, together with conservation and natural environments (other conserved area, other minimal use), waste treatment and disposal, manufacturing and industrial, and other minor land uses.
  • The area is of significant cultural value to First Nations peoples. Dayman Point was the location to gather for corroborees and a campsite.
  • The Urangan boat harbour is a major gateway to the Great Sandy Strait, Hervey Bay and K'gari for tourism, boating and fishing, both recreational and commercial, with tidal flow modified by the harbour and other marine structures.
  • Most of the subcatchment has reticulated water supply and is sewered.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Duggan Conservation Park, and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Palustrine and estuarine wetlands, together with large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, some of which are listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA, Great Sandy Strait).
  • High value species and habitats include shorebird roosts and feeding areas, dolphin, dugong and marine turtle feeding areas and marine turtle basking areas (north of Mangrove Point).

Main image. Urangan boat harbour, Hervey Bay, Photo by Tourism and Events Queensland.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Booral to River Heads subcatchment

  • The Booral to River Heads subcatchment (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) is low-lying with mixed geologies including ferricrete, sedimentary rock (Burrum Coal Measures), arenite-mudrock (Maryborough Formation), rudite, miscellaneous unconsolidated sediments (mud), alluvium and sand.
  • Fast runoff from the Burrum Coal Measures where they are close to the surface, however where overlaid by deeply weathered sediments and other porous geologies, provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,000 to 1,201 millimetres.
  • Land use is mostly residential and associated services, together with irrigated forestry, conservation and natural environments (other minimal use, other conserved area), grazing on native pastures, ports and water transport, waste treatment and disposal, mining/quarrying and other minor land uses.
  • The area is of cultural significance to First Nations peoples for extensive fish traps. It was one of the locations where Butchulla people departed to travel across to K'gari.
  • The River Heads barge landing area provides for four wheel drive access to K'gari, and the boat ramp provides for access to the Great Sandy Strait, Hervey Bay and K'gari.
  • Most of the subcatchment has reticulated water supply and is sewered.
  • High value species and habitats include littoral vine forests (North Head), Illidge's ant-blue butterflies, water mice, important shorebird roosting (including Turtle Cove, next to River Heads) and feeding areas, broad intertidal flats including seagrass meadows, dolphins, dugongs and concentrations of marine turtle basking in mangrove-lined creeks.
  • Large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, together with palustrine, estuarine and lacustrine wetlands, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Great Sandy Strait).
  • High value species include Illidge's ant-blue butterflies, water mice, important shorebird roosting (including Turtle Cove, next to River Heads) and feeding areas, broad intertidal flats including seagrass meadows, dolphins, dugongs and concentrations of marine turtle basking in mangrove-lined creeks.
  • Sediment is affecting historic oyster beds and traditional fish traps.

Main image. Oyster beds on Maryborough Formation sedimentary rock at River Heads, with mixed mangrove communities in the high intertidal (landward) and deadman's fingers macroalage (Condium fragile) in the low intertidal (seaward), Photo by Maria Zann.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

The Dimonds subcatchment

  • The Dimonds subcatchment (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) is low-lying with geology dominated by deeply weathered ferricrete and miscellaneous unconsolidated sediments (mud), alluvium and sand in the north, which provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,000 to 1,301 millimetres.
  • Land use is mostly forestry and conservation and natural environments (national park, other minimal use), together with grazing on native pastures, other farming (irrigated sugar cane, cropping, horticulture, piggeries), residential and associated services, transport and communication, mining/quarrying and other minor land uses.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples.
  • There is no town water or sewerage system at Maaroom (which straddles two subunits), with water supplied by rain tanks and bores and use of septic tanks.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Poona National Park, Great Sandy Conservation Park, state forests, Maaroom declared FHA and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Extensive palustrine and estuarine wetlands, together with large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Great Sandy Strait).
  • Highly productive mosaics of freshwater wetlands, mangroves, saltmarsh, saltpan and seagrass, and the mangroves south of the Mary River mouth are particularly extensive and important.
  • High value species include southern rein orchid, water mice, shorebirds, major shark nursery (German Creek), sea snakes, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.
  • High value habitats include littoral rainforest and coastal vine thickets of eastern Australia, coastal swamp oak (Casuarina glauca) forest of New South Wales and South East Queensland ecological community, subtropical and temperate coastal saltmarsh, mangroves and seagrasses.
  • Issues with pigs accessing mangroves to feed in lower Kalah and Webber creeks.

Main image. The Dimonds area, Photo by Mary Chang.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Maaroom and Little Tuan subcatchments

  • The geology of the Maaroom and Little Tuan subcatchments including Tuan and Boonooroo townships (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) is dominated by deeply weathered ferricrete and alluvium, together with miscellaneous unconsolidated material (mud) and sand, which provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,100 to 1,301 millimetres.
  • Land use is mostly forestry, together with conservation and natural environments (national park, other minimal use), residential and associated services, manufacturing and industrial, mining/quarrying, irrigated sugar cane and other minor land uses.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples, especially for its plentiful natural food resources. Maaroom and Boonooroo both meaning 'plenty' in the Butchulla language.
  • Extensive forestry tracks and other road crossings (previously timber, now converted to concrete culverts) which can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage.
  • There is no town water or sewerage system at Maaroom (which straddles two subunits), Tuan or Boonooroo, with water supplied by rain tanks and bores and use of septic tanks.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Poona National Park, state forests, Maaroom declared FHA and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Very wet subcatchments with localised groundwater systems and freshwater wetlands (palustrine and areas of ‘contains wetlands’*) adjacent to large estuarine wetlands, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Great Sandy Strait).
  • High value species and habitats include evergreen vine thicket (Ravens Hill), acid frogs, acid fish, water mice, many shorebird roosting sites and large feeding areas, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.
  • Oxleyan pygmy perch have been recorded in palustrine systems (swales), which support tannin-stained waterholes with low pH, and can also provide habitat for honey blue eyes and acid frogs.
  • Highly productive mosaics of freshwater wetlands, mangroves, saltmarsh, saltpan and seagrass at the creek mouths.
  • Issues with foxes in some parts.

Main image. Boats on Maaroom Creek, Photo by Maria Zann.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Big Tuan subcatchment

  • The geology of the Big Tuan subcatchment is dominated by deeply weathered ferricrete with sedimentary rock (Duckinwilla Group) along the main channels, which provide for some limited water infiltration.
  • Coastal areas are dominated by miscellaneous unconsolidated material (mud) and sand, which provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,100 to 1,601 millimetres, with slightly higher rainfall in the south-west.
  • Land use is mostly forestry, together with conservation and natural environments (national conservation, other minimal use) and relatively small areas of residential and associated services.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples.
  • Extensive forestry tracks and other road crossings, which can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage; previously included systems of long waterholes.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, state forests, and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Palustrine and estuarine wetlands, together with large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Great Sandy Strait).
  • High value species include shorebirds, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.

Main image. Toolara State Forest, Photo by Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Government.

Poona and Black Swan subcatchments

  • The geology of the Poona and Black Swan subcatchments including Poona township (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creeks) is dominated by sedimentary rock (Duckinwilla Group) with patches of deeply weathered ferricrete which provide for some local water infiltration.
  • Coastal areas are dominated by miscellaneous unconsolidated sediments (mud), together with sand, with provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,200 to 1,601, with slightly higher rainfall over the isolated peaks in the north-west (Big Angle).
  • Land use is mostly forestry, together with conservation and natural environments (national conservation, other minimal use) and relatively small areas of residential and associated services.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples.
  • Natural barriers can provide for permanent waterholes and colour morphs of eastern rainbowfish, together with other freshwater flora and fauna.
  • Extensive forestry tracks and other road crossings, which can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage.
  • No town water or sewerage system at Poona, with water supplied by rain tanks and bores and use of septic tanks.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Great Sandy Conservation Park, state forests, and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, palustrine and estuarine wetlands, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Great Sandy Strait).
  • Highly productive mosaics of mangroves, saltmarsh, saltpan and seagrass at the creek mouths.
  • High value species include acid frogs, acid fish, water mice, shorebirds, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.
  • Issues with pigs accessing mangrove forests to feed, through runs of natural vegetation between forestry plantations (Buttha and Poona creeks).
  • In some parts of the Poona subcatchment there are issues with groundsel, illegal dumping, camping, overnight fishing, coastal litter and shoreline debris, and erosion from boat wash and four wheel drives.

Main image. Intertidal seagrass meadows, Poona, Photo by Maria Zann.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Kauri Creek subcatchment

  • The geology of the Kauri Creek subcatchment including Tinnanbar township (Great Sandy Strait and coastal creek) is dominated by sedimentary rock (Duckinwilla Group, oldest rocks of the Maryborough Basin) with patches of deeply weathered duricrusted ferricrete, which provide for some local water infiltration, i.e. between the hard pans (aquitards).
  • Possibly there are groundwater flows through the Duckinwillas, small localised fractures; this subcatchment rarely dries out.
  • Coastal areas are dominated by miscellaneous unconsolidated sediments (mud), alluvium and low sand dunes, with provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,400 to 1,601 millimetres, with slightly higher rainfall in the elevated landscape of the west (and a head of water associated with this higher altitude).
  • Land use is mostly Defence, together with forestry, conservation and natural environments (national conservation, other minimal use), residential and associated services, manufacturing and industrial and other minor land uses.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples. Tinnanbar (originally Dhi'nang-dha) means 'footprint' in the Butchulla language, referring to where Yindinjie travelled in the creation story (see the Overview tab for the story).
  • Forestry tracks, Defence access tracks and other road crossings can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage.
  • Barriers to passage include natural barriers on some creeks, boat ramp, camp ground, and some perched culverts.
  • No town water or sewerage system at Tinnanbar, with water supplied by rain tanks and bores and use of septic tanks.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Great Sandy Conservation Park, state forests, Kauri Creek declared FHA, and the adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park (green zone in upper Kauri Creek) and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • Vegetation is very diverse; there has been limited survey effort to date due to difficult access however a high diversity of ground orchids has been recorded.
  • Large areas of ‘contains wetlands’*, palustrine and estuarine wetlands, together with smaller riverine systems, some of which are listed on the DIWA (Wide Bay Military Training Area C, Great Sandy Strait).
  • Highly productive mosaics of mangroves, saltmarsh, saltpan and seagrass at the creek mouth, with some of the largest seagrass meadows in the Great Sandy Strait.
  • High value species and habitat include acid frogs, acid fish, water mice, shorebird roosts and feeding areas, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.

Main image. Kauri Creek, Photo by Maria Zann.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Tin Can Bay coastal drainage subcatchment

  • The geology of the Tin Can Bay coastal drainage subcatchment is dominated by sedimentary rock (Duckinwilla Group) with large sand dune systems to the east (Cooloola sand mass).
  • The sedimentary rock allows for some local water infiltration, and the sand and other porous geologies provide for more extensive water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,400 to 1,701 millimetres, with higher rainfall in the higher elevations of the Cooloola sand mass.
  • Land use is mostly conservation and natural environments (national park, Defence), together with residential and associated services, manufacturing and industrial, mining/quarrying and other minor land uses.
  • Areas of boating infrastructure with some waters are heavily used by boats.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples.
  • The deeper regional aquifer below the Cooloola sand mass provides for permanent baseflow to Searys Creek.
  • Patterned fens are unique perched wetland systems that are dependent on local rainfall to maintain soil moisture.
  • Natural barriers can provide for permanent water and colour morphs of eastern rainbowfish, together with honey blue eyes.
  • There are road crossings on most waterways entering Tin Can Inlet, which can be associated with sediment scouring and barriers to fish passage.
  • Water is extracted from Teewah Creek (a tributary to the upper Noosa River) for town supply to Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Cove, and these areas are mostly sewered.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Great Sandy National Park, Kauri Creek and Tin Can Inlet declared FHAs and adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • There are extensive palustrine and estuarine wetlands, large areas of ‘contains wetlands’* and a perched lacustrine wetland (Lake Freshwater), some of which are listed on the DIWA (Wide Bay Military Training Area C, Great Sandy Strait).
  • High value species include ground orchids, acid fish, water mice, shorebirds, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles.

Main image. Searys Creek, Photo by Gary Cranitch ©Queensland Museum.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Rainbow Bay coastal drainage subcatchment

  • The geology of the Rainbow Bay coastal drainage subcatchment is dominated by large sand dune systems (Cooloola sand mass), which provide for water infiltration where not developed.
  • Average annual rainfall of 1,500 to 1,601 millimetres.
  • Land use is mostly conservation and natural environments (national park, other minimal use), together with residential and associated services.
  • The area is important to First Nations peoples.
  • Rainbow Beach town water is supplied by a bore network and the township is mostly sewered.
  • High values of the systems have been recognised through the presence of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site, Great Sandy National Park, and adjacent Great Sandy Marine Park and Hervey Bay—Tin Can Bay Dugong Protection Area.
  • There are palustrine and estuarine wetlands and large areas of ‘contains wetlands’.*
  • High value species include shorebirds, dolphins, dugongs and marine turtles, together with the northern most known aggregation of grey nurse sharks in the waters off the subcatchment.

*Areas mapped as ’contains wetlands’ typically include many small wetlands, which are too small to map individually.

Main image. Access to walking track, Rainbow Beach, Photo by Tourism and Events Queensland.

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Last updated: 23 July 2020

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2020) Great Sandy Strait catchment story – Mainland coastal catchments, WetlandInfo website, accessed 24 September 2020. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/processes-systems/water/catchment-stories/transcript-great-sandy-strait-and-surrounding-catchments/transcript-great-sandy-strait-mainland-coastal-catchments.html

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science