Australia - why?Sep 22, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Australia - there are significant differences
Contemplating a trip overseas? Thought about Australia? If so, or even if not for that matter, just what is Australia like?
Well, if we have a brief "in a nutshell" overview, hopefully you will get some idea - and that can only help with the decision whether or not it is for you - and for those who have already decided it is this should also assist in deciding exactly what it is you want to see.
Now I have no way of knowing, but there is a good chance you think of Australia as a big flat desert, with kangaroos and koalas everywhere and the people walking around saying g'day mate. And you would be partially correct.
Lets look at language, the lingo, first. It is true Australians basically speak English but there will be more than a few words that will have you guessing. This, by the way, is exactly the same to us when we go, for instance, to the USA. There are variations in language between North and South and even state to state, and that applies equally to both countries. The important thing is that Australians and Americans do basically understand each other, with a good few laughs along the way. When we were in the USA we were initially a little embarrassed asking what some word, or words, meant but we never met anyone who minded putting something in a way we could understand. You will find the same here, so please just pull us up and ask.
Getting back to the supposed expectation of Australia, yes we do say good onya (on you) mate a lot, and g'day (good day) mate - but there are no kangaroos hopping around populated areas and I expect you will be surprised to know there are less than ten thousand koalas in existence. There are, on average, about twenty million kangaroos, which may sound a lot but there are a hundred and sixty million sheep and eighty million cattle - so not even kangaroos are overly prolific especially when it is remembered that Australia and the USA are almost exactly the same size.
Usually Australia is considered a very dry place, and it is. But would it surprise you to know that rainfall in a given year can be zero through to almost five hundred inches, in different places of course.
In fact the driest area is the Lake Eyre drainage basin, in the centre of outback South Australia, the driest State in the world. In this area the rainfall averages four inches a year. The wettest region is in the tropical north-east, with many places around a hundred and fifty inches up to a one year record of almost five hundred.
Most Australians, in fact almost seventy percent, live in cities close to the coast. The reasons are many, but one is certainly that the coastal fringe is relatively well-watered and fertile.
Wet and humid tropical conditions through to warm and temperate essentially sums up the climate. All of Australia experiences warm to very hot summers and winter is mostly mild except in the snow regions. Australia has more snow than many European countries and temperatures can reach ten degrees below freezing point. Record wise the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia was at Cloncurry, Queensland at 53 degrees centigrade (about 127F) and the coldest 23C below freezing (minus 9F).
Harsh desert and semi-desert dominate the central and far western areas and the whole area is essentially flat. The "Great Dividing Range", a mountain range, follows close to the east coast from North to South, and on the sea side conditions are generally moist and lush. All the major State capital cities are mild to hot and free from extremes of heat and cold.
Speaking of cities, I guess every city in the world has it's own little idiosyncrasies, but at the bottom line there is a down turn commercial and retail hub, a plethora of suburbs from super expensive and ritzy down to the politely called affordable, if basic. Major roads and freeways connect it all together like huge umbilical cords. Having been to the USA west coast I know for certain that the cities found there have very similar characteristics with what you will find here. Melbourne and Adelaide have much in common with Los Angeles and Sydney and Brisbane are closer to the style of San Francisco. I do not mean to suggest its not worth paying these cities a visit - it most certainly is. But they are not so different as to have you feeling you have suddenly landed on Mars!
The population centres are very spread out, at the least about five hundred miles apart.
General terrain wise Australia is certainly different from just about anywhere else. It is in fact the least mountainous continent in the world, and from talking with tourists the endless "flatness" is something that usually comes up in conversation. Apparently most of the Northern Hemisphere was created in the last 20,000 years, with huge shifts in the earths crust and of course volcanoes. Here in Australia the land is little changed from over 600 million years ago. Consequently the whole place is relatively weathered down and the fossils found here are among the oldest on Earth - in fact up to three thousand million years.
I have seen this put so many ways in my fifty years I will say the latest "best guess" is that Australia was once joined to South America, Africa, India, and Antarctica to form the supercontinent called Gondwanaland. It is now said this huge land mass only split up eighty odd million years ago. Being separated for so long is the reason so many unique animals and vegetation have evolved.
Native animals, plants and birds are so prolific in Australia it is said to be unique in the world. There are 250 species of mammals, 750 species of birds, 500 species of reptiles and amphibians, 150 species of snakes, 22,000 species of fish, 65,000 known insect species and 1,500 species of spiders.
So yes there are significant differences, mainly away from the cities.
That is what drags over five million overseas tourists a year to the country - you must be due to come soon!
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