Australia is an anomaly. An English speaking outpost of western ways and values tacked on to the southern tailend of Asia. Predominantly a vast, under populated continent of wide open spaces just over the horizon from the teeming millions of South east Asia. A nation beyond the Indian and Pacific Oceans usually thought of as being the bottom of the world. It’s often called ‘Down Under’, an expression, incidentally, reserved for foreign headline writers and rarely heard in Australia itself, least of all from Australians.
For centuries the continent was just a blur and a mystery in the minds of early European explorers. In some ways, it seems, things haven’t changed all that much. Despite Australia’s globally acclaimed achievements in many fields, and the fact that its minerals, energy and agricultural industries are some of the richest and most efficient in the world, the nation is still a question mark in many minds. This widespread ignorance has spawned a number of myths and misunderstandings, most of which are exploded upon arrival. For example, the image of a wide sun scorched land tended by a breed of tall, lean sheep farmers and cattlemen is, like most images, only part of the story. What is not generally known is that Australia is not a rural society at all; anything but. It is the most urbanized society in the world, with more than 70 per cent of the population jammed into its eight major cities.
Even a cursory look at a map tells you that Australia is big, but it is only when you get there that you begin to realise just how big. The vast empty spaces and what one writer termed “the tyranny of distance” only accentuates the sheer overpowering extent of the country, the world largest island and the driest of the continents.
It spans three and sometime four time zones, and takes almost three days to cross by express train. Only five nations are bigger.
Perth, in the west, is as close to Singapore as it is to Sydney, in the east. Highway One, the coastal road around the continent is almost as long as the distance from London to Honolulu. Western Australia is four times the size of Texas or five times as large as France.
Cattle stations in the Northern Territory are bigger than some American States. Stretching from latitude 11 degrees south on the tip of Cape York to the Roaring Forties regions of 44 degrees south of southern Tasmania, where there are wide climatic variations.
While the monsoon is drenching the humid tropical north between December and April, a dusting of snow may be failing on the mountain ranges behind Hobart. The north east of Queensland is doused by 4,410 mm (174 in) of rain a year, while the huge arid Centre thinks itself fortunate to receive 250 mm (10″) in the same period.
Despite the extremes of weather to be found across the continent, the climate along the eastern fringe where the vast majority of the 15 million Australians live. is most pleasant.
Seasonal differences are less noticeable the further north one goes. Tasmania is chilled by winds from the polar region in winter and is coolish to warm in summer. Victoria is cold in winter, while winter in New South Wales is mild and both are delightfully warm to hot in summer. Queensland is hot most of the year, and you will find warm, balmy weather somewhere along the coast. It’s advisable to stay away from the blistering heat of the centre during the height of summer, and avoid the tropics during ‘The Wet’ period.
Adelaide in South Australia and Perth in the West both boast of their Mediterranean like climates, and with a million people each are the only sizeable centres of population away from the eastern seaboard and the farming rich slopes and plains of the Great Dividing Range, the low mountain spine which runs down the entire coast. Sydney and Melbourne house half the people, which gives some explanation for the vast sprawl of those two cities.
In contrast, the dry and dusty ‘Out back’ is virtually empty, with sheep and cattle stations needing immense tracts of semi desert to support their stock. The Centre itself is thousands of square kilometres of in hospitality where one desert waste runs into another. Yet the raw, unforgiving landscapes have their own primeval beauty, for Australia is the oldest of the continents, more than 3,000 million years in the making. The dramatic mesas and gorges of the ancient Kimberley and Hammersley Ranges in Western Australia are remains of a plateau which rose out of the oceans during the formation of the Continent.
Ayers Rock is sacred to the Aborigines, but its majesty also causes visitors to feel its awesome presence.
To the naked eye the land looks hot and parched but give It a sprinkling of rain and the desert blooms with hundreds of varieties of wild flowers. The magnificent coral of the Great barrier Reef is the largest thing ever built by natures organisms.
Australia is truly a land of many wonders. A visit is therefore most highly recommended.
Article Source: by Al Bainbridge