Jeannie 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.
This catchment story is part of a series prepared for the catchments of Queensland.
We would like to respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which this project takes place, and Elders both past and present. We also recognise those whose ongoing effort to protect and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures will leave a lasting legacy for future Elders and leaders.
Table of contents
Main image. The Jeannie River - provided by Christina Howley.
Understanding how water flows in the catchment
To effectively manage a catchment it is important to have a collective understanding of how the catchment works. This map journal gathers information from experts, local land managers and other data sources to provide that understanding.
The information was gathered using the ‘walking the landscape’* process, where experts and local land managers systematically worked through a catchment in a facilitated workshop, to incorporate diverse knowledge on the landscape features and processes, both natural and human. It focused on water flow and the key factors that affect water movement.
The map journal was prepared by the Queensland Wetlands Program in the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in collaboration with local partners.
*Walking the Landscape—A Whole-of-system Framework for Understanding and Mapping Environmental Processes and Values (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection 2012) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.
How to view this map journal
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Main image. Cape Flattery dunes and lake - provided by Christina Howley.
Map journal for the Jeannie catchment—water movement
This map journal describes the location, extent and values of the Jeannie catchment. It demonstrates the key features which influence water flow, including geology, topography, rainfall and runoff, natural features, human modifications and land uses.
Knowing how water moves in the landscape is fundamental to sustainably managing the catchment and the services it provides.
Main image. Waterfall on the Jeannie River - provided by Christina Howley.
Jeannie catchment story
The Jeannie catchment is located in north Queensland and is part of the Cape York Natural Resource Management (NRM) region. The catchment falls within the Cook Shire and Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire council areas.
The catchment includes large areas of Aboriginal freehold land*, conservation and natural environments (national park, Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land CYPAL, and traditional indigenous uses) and grazing on native pastures together with other land uses. The tenure of Aboriginal freehold land is held by several different groups and it is important to approach the relevant group prior to access.
The catchment covers approximately 3,052 square kilometres (click for animation).
The catchment is a series of coastal catchments and the main waterways are:
All waterways (click for animation) flow to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and the Coral Sea. The GBR is World Heritage-listed (GBR WHA) and a marine park** (GBRMP).
The Jeannie Catchment is adjacent to the Endeavour and Normanby 'sub-basins' (or catchments)***. There are hydrological connections between these coastal catchments through surface flow and groundwater.
There is a drop-down legend for most maps and it can be accessed by clicking on 'LEGEND' at the top right of the map. On this map you can use the drop down legend for the land use.
There are also 'pop-ups' for most mapping features - simply click on the mapping of interest for more information.
Main image. Melaleucas and other native vegetation along the Muck River - provided by Christina Howley.
*Land tenure map correct at time of publishing (version 35 dated 8 August 2018) - provided by Department of Environment and Science.
**'Zoning is an important component in managing marine areas. It defines the activities that can occur in which locations. The level of protection increases from the General Use (Light Blue) Zones up to the most restrictive, Preservation Zone. Each zone has different rules for the activities that are allowed, the activities that are prohibited and the activities that require a permit. Zones may also place restrictions on how some activities are conducted.
There are eight different types of zones that apply to the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The major zones are:
Other zones include Preservation (Pink), Scientific Research (Orange), Buffer (Olive Green) and Commonwealth Island Zones, which make up less than five per cent of the Marine Park.' (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2018). See links at the end of this map journal for further information.
***This mapping shows the DNRME 'sub-basin' mapping. The use of the terms 'catchment', 'basin' and 'sub-basin' are sometimes used interchangeably. In this map journal the term 'catchment' has been used other than when referring to this DNRME mapping.
Values of the catchment—key features
Key features of the Jeannie catchment include:
Main image. Saltpan on the lower Muck River - provided by Christine Howley.
Values of the catchment—economic
The Jeannie catchment supports a variety land uses*, however most of the catchment is conservation and natural areas with traditional indigenous uses.
There are relatively small rural areas including grazing (mostly on native pastures), forestry, cropping (hay and silage) and horticulture, together with mining and associated services (airstrip and residential).
*Australian Land Use Management Classification (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources 2010) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.
Values of the catchment—environmental and social
The Jeannie catchment provides important habitat for many marine, estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial species. The catchment holds important values for Traditional Owners and there are large areas of Aboriginal freehold land.
The catchment includes large protected areas (national parks CYPAL) and indigenous lands, which also provide for recreational activities such as bush walking, bird watching and swimming. These activities not only provide substantial social and health benefits but they are also very important for tourism.
The wetlands* and creeks of the catchment provide habitat for many important aquatic species, including plants, fish and birds. Pandanus swamps grow throughout the catchment and can indicate groundwater close to the surface.
Estuarine areas also support important plants (mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass), estuarine crocodiles, marine turtles, marine mammals and fisheries species. These areas are also used for camping, fishing, crabbing and boating. The beaches around Cape Flattery are also used for recreational activities.
Information about the different types of wetlands shown in this mapping is provided here.
The catchment also includes declared fish habitat areas (FHAs)**, wetlands listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands Australia (DIWA) and nature refuges.
Many of the species in the catchment have lifecycles with connections to the GBR, which is World Heritage-listed and a marine park.
Main image. Dense mangroves along the Muck River - provided by Christina Howley.
*Queensland Wetland Mapping version 5 (2017).
**Declared Fish Habitat Area Plans (Queensland Government 2016) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.
Natural features—geology and topography
Several different rock types combine to make up the geology of the Jeannie catchment.
The headwaters of the catchment are dominated by hard metamorphic geologies (mudrock/arenite, mostly the Hodgkinson Formation, Gilbert River Formation and Dalrymple Sandstone) on steep slopes. There are smaller areas of hard geologies such as chert and rudite in the south, and granites and ferricrete in the north. Water flow is fast off the hard geologies, particularly where slopes are steep.
Large sand dunes systems of Cape Flattery - provided by Christine Howley.
There is also basalt in the south, which is more porous and allows groundwater infiltration and large areas of more porous sand, particularly in association with Cape Flattery.
Conceptual models for several of the catchment's geology types are provided below.
Exclusion zones - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Fractured rocks - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Coastal sand masses/beach ridges - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Alluvia - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Alluvia - lower catchment - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Permeable rock - conceptual model by the Queensland Government.
Main image. Steep vegetated slopes of the Jeannie River headwaters - provided by Christina Howley.
The Jeannie catchment usually experiences annual wet and dry seasons, with most of the rainfall typically between December and March.*
The hydrological seasonality associated with these wet and dry season flow conditions are critical to the ecological character, function and associated values of aquatic ecosystems. The dry season is also an essential part of the functioning of the system with these semi-permanent waterholes just as vital to the ecosystems as the wet season flows.
Average annual rainfall is highest over the peaks such Mount Cookabar, Stuckey and Pannielwego in the south, Rocky in central parts, and the Altanmoui Range in the north.**
*Climate online data (Bureau of Meteorology 2019) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.
**This dataset depicts the 50-year mean annual rainfall isoheyts (contours) over Queensland for the period 1920 to 1969. The dataset was produced from the mean annual rainfall of as many locations as possible including private collections. Incomplete datasets were `made whole` by calculating values for missing periods through correlation with adjacent rainfall stations.
Vegetation affects how water flows through the catchment, and this process is affected by land use and management practices. Native vegetation slows water, retaining it longer in the landscape and recharging groundwater aquifers, and reducing the erosion potential and the loss of soil from the catchment.
Vegetation impacts on water flow - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Several different vegetation types combine to make up the original native (preclearing) vegetation of the Jeannie catchment.* Small parts of the catchment, mostly in the south, have been cleared or partially-cleared for a range of rural land uses. Some of this vegetation has regrown.**
Explore the swipe map showing vegetation clearing over time, using either of the options below.***
These developments and activities change the shape of the landscape and can modify water flow patterns. The catchment is relatively undeveloped with McIvor River being the most northerly cleared area.
Main image. Sedges, Cape Flattery lake - provided by Christina Howley.
*Broad Vegetation Groups derived from Regional Ecosystems. Regional Ecosystems are vegetation communities in a bioregion that are consistently associated with a particular combination of geology, landform and soil.
**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.
***This application takes time to load.
Modified features—infrastructure, dams, weirs and bores
There is limited infrastructure across the catchment. Land use has modified natural hydrology in some areas. Modifications to channels, such as straightening and diversions, can increase flow rates.
Important infrastructure such as tracks (unsealed roads) and creek crossings can create barriers and impermeable surfaces that redirect water through single points or culverts, leading to channelling of water in some parts of the catchment.
The unsealed nature of the tracks in this catchment can have various impacts. Erosion from these tracks can lead to increased sedimentation in adjacent waterways. This can reduce habitat quality and availability for aquatic life such as macrophytes, invertebrates e.g. mussels and fish.
The tracks can also become boggy and impassable during wet periods. This can lead users to drive off-track and/or create additional tracks, further impacting vegetation and water quality.
Roads/tracks and levees - conceptual diagram by Queensland Government.
Weirs modify natural water flow patterns. They can hold water that would otherwise flow straight into the stream network, and influence tidal movement.
Weirs and other infrastructure can also affect fish passage through the catchment.
There are several bores* across the catchment, which can influence groundwater systems. Numerous artesianal bores have been capped in the Muck, Little Muck and Wakooka subcatchments to limit groundwater draw-down.
*Taken from database storing registered water bore data from private water bores and Queensland Government groundwater investigation and monitoring bores - provided by online Queensland Spatial Catalogue, see metadata at the end of this map journal for further information.
Most of the catchment is undeveloped and protected by native vegetation.
Vegetation clearing and tracks can result in increases in the volume and speed of runoff. Cattle, feral pigs and horses can disturb the soil, increasing erosion in the landscape and the stream channels. This can result in sediment being carried downstream impacting water quality.
Erosion on duplex soils along the Jeannie River - provided by Christina Howley.
Coastal erosion can also be associated with wave action, particularly cyclones.
The suspended sediment of most risk to the GBR is the fine fraction. Fine sediment:
The impacts of suspended sediment contributes to the cumulative impacts of other stressors (e.g. freshwater flood plumes, elevated nutrients, impacts from cyclones, increasing sea surface temperatures) to increase the overall impact on organisms of the GBR.
While coarse sediment may not travel as far as fine sediment, posing a smaller risk to the GBR, it can still significantly impact on local values. Coarse sediment tends to settle out of the water column more rapidly and can smother local benthic communities (e.g. freshwater mussel beds).
Water quality is influenced by diffuse runoff and point source inputs. Most of the catchment is protected by vegetation, however runoff can be generated by farming, mining or residential (remote communities) land uses.
Diffuse runoff includes on-site sewage facilities (e.g. septic tanks) and stormwater discharges, particularly from low permeability surfaces. The concentration of potential contaminants in the stormwater discharge depends on the land use of the area.
A major consideration of this catchment is the proximity to sensitive receiving environments. Coral reefs, mussel beds and seagrass beds of high conservation significance occur adjacent to this catchment. There is very little opportunity for the treatment or capture of potential contaminants before they are delivered to the fringing reefs and associated ecosystems.
Catchment conceptual model - provided by Queensland Government.*
See links at the end of this map journal for further information on the following references.
*Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022 (Queensland Government 2018)
Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Modelling Program (Queensland Government 2017)
Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan - Report Cards (Queensland Government 2020)
Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Modelling Program (Queensland Government, 2017)
Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022. Queensland Government (2018)
Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan - Report cards (Queensland Government (2017)
Water flows across the landscape into the Jeannie River and other waterways (click for animation)*.
Rainfall results in runoff to lakes, streams and rivers and infiltration to groundwater. Groundwater may also contribute to stream flow depending on geology and time of year and/or support a variety of groundwater dependent ecosystems. Runoff may also support a variety of terrestrial ecosystems or may be 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 sediments that store and release water, prolonging the time streams flow.
Two gauging stations operated between 1970 and 1988 in the Jeannie catchment and links to historic flow information** can be found at the end of this map journal.
Main image. Cape Flattery lakes - provided by Christina Howley.
*Please note this application takes time to load.
**Water Monitoring Information Portal (Queensland Government 2020) - see links at the end of this map journal for further information.
The main areas
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 Jeannie catchment is listed as a single catchment but consists of several distinct areas which have similar characteristics:
*Definition sourced from the City of Gold Coast website - see links at the end of this map journal.
Little Muck River
Main image. The Muck River mouth and coastline - provided by Christina Howley.
Main image. The lower Jeannie River - provided by Christina Howley.
Main image. Cape Flattery wetland and sand dunes - provided by Christina Howley.
The Jeannie catchment shows how natural and modified features within the landscape impact on how water flows. These issues need to be managed to ensure that the significant natural and social values of the catchment are protected, and to minimise impacts on the multitude of values within the catchment and downstream in the GBR, while providing for residential, water supply, farming and other important land uses of the catchment.
Knowing how the catchment functions is also important for future planning, including climate resilience. With this knowledge, we can make better decisions about how we manage this vital area.
Main image. Dog footprint across the Muck River saltpan - provided by Christina Howley.
Thank you to those that have contributed:
This resource should be cited as: Walking the Landscape – Jeannie Catchment Story v1.0 (2020), presentation, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland.
Images provided by:
The Queensland Wetlands Program
The Queensland Wetlands Program supports projects and activities that result in long-term benefits to the sustainable management, wise use and protection of wetlands in Queensland. The tools developed by the Program help wetlands landholders, managers and decision makers in government and industry.
This map journal has been prepared with all due diligence and care, based on the best available information at the time of publication. The department holds no responsibility for any errors or omissions within the document. Any decisions made by other parties based on this document are solely the responsibility of those parties. Information contained in this document is from a number of sources and, as such, does not necessarily represent government or departmental policy.
Data source, links and extra information
Some of the information used to put together this Map Journal can be viewed on the QLD Globe.
Queensland Globe allows you to view and explore Queensland spatial data and imagery. You can also download a cadastral SmartMap or purchase and download a current titles search.
More information about the layers used can be found here:Source Data Table
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (2012) Walking the Landscape—A Whole-of-system Framework for Understanding and Mapping Environmental Processes and Values, Queensland Wetlands Program, Queensland Government, Brisbane
Last updated: 15 September 2020
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2020) Jeannie Catchment Story, WetlandInfo website, accessed 24 September 2020. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/processes-systems/water/catchment-stories/transcript-jeannie.html