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The Samford Valley


The Samford Valley in south-east Queensland occupies an area of approximately 50 km2 and encompasses the localities of Camp Mountain, Highvale, Wights Mountain, Samford Village and Samford.

It is surrounded by prominent mountains to the north, west and south. To the south and west is Brisbane Forest Park and the D’Aguilar Ranges. To the north is House Mountain Range and Mount O’Reilly. South Pine River forms the main drainage system from the west and flows east within the northern half of the valley, while Samford Creek flows along the southern half of the valley.

Regional setting of Samford Valley in southeast Queensland
Regional setting of Samford Valley in southeast Queensland, Click image to enlarge.
(Bronwyn Jones (2007), permissions granted)

A brief history

The Samford Valley was not settled by Europeans until 1855 as it lay in a relatively secluded area with no easy access. In 1862 the government began surveying portions of Samford and and the railway reached the area in 1918.

Although it mainly supported dairy and beef cattle, the Samford Valley has also been subject to intensive agriculture including banana and pineapple plantations. Mount Nebo and the Samford Range were also extensively harvested for cedar and hoop pine. Significant development in the valley started in the 1960s.

The last two decades have seen the valley subject to increasing urbanisation. The population has been increasing since the early 1990s with much of the rural land having been converted to residential land.

Map of Samford Valley (Google Maps, 2011)
Map of Samford Valley and location of the Samford Ecological Research Station (SERF), Click image to enlarge.
(Google Maps (2011), permissions granted)


The Samford Valley has a subtropical climate. The figure highlights the dominance of summer rainfall.

Samford monthly average rainfall, 1912–2003
Monthly average rainfall at the weather station Samford CSIRO (1912–2003), Click image to enlarge. (Bureau of Meteorology (2006), permissions granted)

Dominant land uses

The dominant land use is rural residential, and residential in the north and east and some rural properties. The area includes conservation areas on the ranges, agriculture (crops, animal production) in the west and central to the valley, and residential areas in the east and lower section of Samford Creek. SERF supports the last stand of remnant vegetation in the Samford Valley. The greater part of the valley was cleared in the early 1900s.

Main Landuse in the Samford Valley
Map featuring the different types of landuse in the Samford Valley, Click image to enlarge.
(Bronwyn Jones (2007), permissions granted)
Samford Granodiorite has weathered out forming the valley.
Samford Geology and drainage map of the Samford Valley, Click image to enlarge. (Bronwyn Jones (2007), permissions granted)


Geological history
The basin–shaped Samford Valley is delineated by its geology where a granitic intrusion has been preferentially weathered and eroded.

The Samford Granodiorite is a mass of granitic rock which intruded the basement rocks of the area around 220 million years ago. The molten mass was under high pressure and around 700°C; it gradually cooled producing a cystalline rock. Over geological time the basement rocks eroded and exposed the granodiorite, which itself then began to erode. The coarse–grained rock mass eroded faster than those surrounding it forming what is now known as the Samford Valley. The surrounding rocks hardened under heat and pressure and form the Neranleigh–Fernvale Beds and the Bunya Phyllite, which are 320 to 350 million years old and form the basement rocks of south–east Queensland.

Clays and sands are the main weathering products of the Samford Granodiorite, and are typical soils of the valley. This material is transported within the valley by overland flow then out of the valley via creeks and the South Pine River.

Samford Granodiorite has weathered out forming the valley.
Samford Granodiorite (a granitic rock) has weathered out forming the valley; Samford Ecological Research Station (SERF) circled Click image to enlarge.
(Google Earth (2007), permissions granted)

The weathered and fractured granitic rocks of the valley floor have formed aquifers that contain an important water supply for the Samford area. Deeper groundwater does not occur within the valley.

Fresh runoff and groundwater from the greater rain water in the surrounding ranges seeps into the granitic rocks. Shallow bores to around 20 m extract water from upper weathered zones; deeper bores (up to 40 m) tap the fractured rock systems. Groundwater flows towards the centre of the valley, and some seeps into the South Pine River. The more saline groundwater in the central zone has resulted from the accumulation of salts as the groundwater sources evolved and from evaporation.

Locations of groundwater bores within the valley in 2007 are indicated below. Earlier bores extracted from alluvium or weathered granites; later deeper bores have been drilled into the fractured granites.

Locations of groundwater bores in the Samford Valley
Locations of groundwater bores in the Samford Valley, Click image to enlarge. (Bronwyn Jones (2007), permissions granted)