Geography of Australia

The northernmost point of the country is 10 ° 41 south latitude (Cape York, Queensland), the southernmost point is 43 ° 38 south latitude (Southwest Cape, Tasmania Island). The distance between them is 3680 km. The southernmost point on the mainland is 39°08 S (South Point, Victoria). From it to Cape York – 3180 km. The westernmost point is 113°09 E (Steep Point, Western Australia), the easternmost is 153°38 E (Cape Byron, New South Wales). The distance between them is approx. 4000 km.

From the north, Australia is washed by the shallow Timor and Arafura seas, in the west and south by the Indian Ocean. To the east of the continent are the shallow Coral and Tasman Seas. The length of the mostly slightly indented coastline (including the island of Tasmania and offshore islands) is 59,736 km. Along the northeast coast, the Great Barrier Reef (the largest on Earth) stretches for almost 2000 km. The island of Tasmania is separated from the mainland by Bass Strait (width over 200 km). Australia’s “closest” neighbors are separated from it by vast expanses of water. The closest is Papua New Guinea (150 km to the north).

The landscapes of the oldest continent on Earth are from several million to hundreds and even thousands of millions of years old. It is the lowest and flattest (mainly 100-500 m above sea level) and the driest of the inhabited continents, which is a huge plateau, concave in the central part with raised edges.

Vast plains occupy 95% of the continent, mostly lifeless expanses of deserts and swamps, not at all like the “green continent”, as Australia is called in Russia (and earlier in the USSR). To the west are the largest deserts: the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and the Great Victoria Desert. The driest region is the vast Central Lowland. Mountain uplifts occupy 5% of the territory, but only 2% falls on the heights of St. 1000 m. In the western part of the continent there are several dilapidated mountain systems (the highest points are from 1251 to 1531 m). Closer to the center of the continent, the world’s largest giant stone monolith Uluru (Airs Rock), 8 km in diameter and 335 m high, rises alone.

The river network of Australia in the interior is poorly developed, 60% of its territory is occupied by drainless areas. There are almost no permanently navigable rivers. The largest water system Murray (length 2520 km) – Darling (about 2000 km) is located in the southeast. The Murray and its tributary the Murrumbidgee keep a constant current, and the Darling gets lost in the sands in dry seasons before reaching the Murray, making it temporarily unnavigable. On the island of Tasmania, there are many short and fast, full-flowing rivers all year round.

In the south of the Central Lowland, drainless salt lakes remained from the dried-up sea, completely filled with water only during rare rains: Eyre (9500 km2, here the lowest point of the continent is 16 m below sea level), Torrens (5900 km2), Gairdner (4300 km2) and others. Lakes formed in volcanic craters and coastal lakes are common. For the island of Tasmania, glacial lakes are most typical. The continent is rich in groundwater, accumulated in huge artesian basins at a depth of 20 m to 2 km.

The soil cover of small thickness prevails, represented by soils of sierozem (desert), gray-brown (steppe), red-brown and brown (forest-steppe and forest), podzolic (tropics, subtropics) types.

The flora and fauna of the isolated continent is very peculiar and diverse. Dense bushes are found in deserts and arid parts. Evergreen tropical forests in areas with sufficient moisture. Natural forests account for approx. 21% of the territory of Australia (with 81% occupied by eucalyptus and 10% by acacia). There are more than 500 species of eucalyptus – from low-growing (10-12 m high) to 100-meter giants, more than 600 species of acacias. Palm trees, pandanuses, tree ferns, etc. also grow. On the island of Tasmania, beech forests grow, and evergreen meadows are common.

The adornment of the animal world of Australia is the marsupial bear cub koala, wild dog dingo, wombat, platypus and echidna. Among mammals, there are approximately 120 species of marsupials – from different types of kangaroos, martens, squirrels to tiny desert mice. Possum is very common. Numerous species of lizards, snakes (including poisonous), river and sea turtles, but only two species of crocodiles. Of the approximately 700 bird species, approx. 500 – endemic: emu, kookaburra, cockatoo parrots, birds of paradise, cassowaries, black swans, etc. There are more than 1200 species of fish and fish in the surrounding waters. There are whales, seals, sharks.

Natural resources are of global importance. Recoverable reserves of tantalum (over 90% of world reserves), mineral sands (rutile – 44%, zircon – 40%, ilmenite – 29%), nickel (34%), uranium (29%), lead (23%) and zinc (18%) are the largest in the world. Australia is in the top six countries in terms of reserves of bauxite, hard (6th place, 6% of world reserves) and brown (2nd, 20%) coal, cobalt, copper (3rd, 7%), industrial (3- e, 15%) and precious (and semi-precious) diamonds, gold (3rd) and silver (4th, 11%), iron (4th, 10%) and manganese (4th, 7%) ores. There are also large reserves of natural gas, oil, tin, tungsten, shale sands, etc. Australia’s stone is opal (95% of the world’s reserves).

According to bridgat, the change of climatic seasons in Australia is opposite to their change in the Northern Hemisphere. Where there are all four seasons, the coldest months are July and August, and the warmest months are January and February. Approximately 40% of Australia lies north of the southern Tropic of Capricorn in tropical and subtropical zones with two seasons – rainy (November-May) and dry (June-October). In the coastal part of the tropical zone, the year-round average is +23-28°C, the annual precipitation is 1000-2000 mm (in some places up to 3500-4000 mm). But 80% of the country’s territory receives less than 600 mm, and 50% – less than 300 mm of precipitation per year. Droughts are frequent, incl. long (from 3 to 6 years in a row), which are often replaced by floods. Most areas of Australia are periodically subject to extreme temperatures (+ 40-50 ° C during the day), and short-term nighttime sub-zero temperatures (-4-5°C) have been recorded even in the intra-continental tropical zone. In the zones of the central deserts, the climate is sharply continental, the temperature varies during the day: from +45–50°C during the day to -6–10°C at night. Tasmania has moderately warm winters (sometimes snow melts quickly) and cool, humid summers.

Geography of Australia