Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Molonglo High Plains - Locality

Molonglo High Plains

Molonglo High Plains - looking South

You are looking at one of the oldest landscapes in the world.

The farm lands of the Molonglo High Plains lie on the edge of the wilderness of the Talaganda Forest - dominated by ancient peaks, including the extinct volcano Palerang.

The Molonglo High Plains are in South Eastern NSW - encompassing the localities of Captains Flat, Hoskinstown and Rossi. 

This is a series of posts about the high plains - and the wilderness beyond.  The posts can be found:

Over a millennium, the Molonglo River and its 6 tributaries (Balallaba, Yandyguinula, Primrose, Chimney, Antills and Dairy Station Creeks), have shaped high fertile plains nestled deep into surrounding ranges.  These high plains are segmented into distinct flat valleys - each roughly the same height. To the East, the Rossi-Forbes Creek plains are 800-900m high.  In the center,  the Captains Flat - Hoskinstown Plains are 700-800m high.  After leaving the Hoskinstown plain, the river travels though hilly terrain before, finally, meeting the Queanbeyan River.

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Like the landscape, many of the placenames and paths are ancient - following patterns that stretch back into the earliest days of human occupation of the region, tens of thousands of years ago.

Some of the names are more recent and some are still settling. 'Hoskinstown' is referred to by some as Hoskingtown - even after community plebiscite it is still not agreed by all.  In particular, the local bush fire brigade continues to be called the Hoskingtown-Rossi Rural Fire Brigade.

Molonglo High Plains - Looking East to the Black Range and Palerang - Oct 2012

The road from the Briars Sharrow/Captains Flat Road to Hoskinstown travels along the north east of the Molonglo flood plain at 750m elevation with approximately 550mm of rain annually.  It follows a track used by the first people and recorded on early survey maps.

Further on, travelling to Rossi, the road follows the Yandyguinula valley.  By way of contrast, Rossi is situated near to the Great Dividing Range at 880m with rainfall in excess of 750mm of rain.

Elevation - Hoskinstown to Rossi

Within this relatively short distance there are a number of significant differences but there are a number of similarities: rain tends to fall in spring and summer, it gets cold in winter and, geographically, the land is a mixture of granite and acid volcanic.

Differences in flora are due to rainfall and frost. The woodlands near Rossi become isolated stands on the lower, drier, slopes. On the frost flats of the Molonglo plain native grasslands survive. Along the Yandyguinula (which tends to run at 1-2Ml per day), there were extensive stands of introduced willows.

The area supports a large population of native and introduced birds and animals - including wedge-tailed eagles.

The area has a number of significant challenges.  Pastures on both the plains and open woodlands have been infested with introduced weed species including Serrated Tussock, Chilean Needle Grass and African Lovegrass.  Die-back, past management practices, wild-fire and climate once saw mature trees retreat from the ridges which extend into the plains.  Intensive sheep-cattle farming in the post war years led to a loss of bio-diversity and the development of salinity problems.

The last two decades have seen a dramatic reversal of the earlier losses. Today, continuing efforts to address this issue, through both weed control and revegetation, are being tackled on a catchment-wide basis.

Molonglo High Plains - Looking West on Sunset

(In different forms, this document was prepared based on local knowledge and published in the 1990s.  Information was drawn from many local people.)

Peter Quinton

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