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Overview of Australia

So what makes the Land Down Under tick?

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Disclaimer: The content of these pages are intended  for recreational reading only. ASA Consultants supplies this information in good faith and do not claim it to be authoritive nor does it reflect any official policy/statement/statistic from any body/party/institution/government department what-so-ever.

Climate

Although the climate of Australia varies from tropical (monsoonal) in the north to cool temperate in Tasmania, the majority of the country is hot and dry; the sea exerts little moderating influence beyond the coast, and the highland area is too small and low to have more than local effect. More than two-thirds of continental Australia, in the west and centre, receives less than 500 mm (20 in) of rain a year, and one-third is desert with less than 250 mm (10 in) of rain annually. Only 10 per cent of the land, in the north, along the east and the western coasts, and in Tasmania receives more than 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain a year. The tropical northern coastal region has two main seasons: a hot, wet season with summer rains falling mainly in February and March, when the North-western monsoons prevail; and a warm dry winter season characterized by the prevalence of south-easterly trade winds. The monsoon reaches inland for  varying distances, extending furthest in Arnhem Land and the Cape York Peninsula. Many points on the northern and north-eastern coast have an average annual rainfall of 1,524 mm (60 in); in northern Queensland, around Cairns, average annual rainfall exceeds 2,540 mm (100 in). On the fringe of the monsoonal region there are drier savannah grasslands, where low, unreliable rainfall is supplemented by artesian water. 

In western, central, and northern Australia average summer temperatures range between 26.7° and 29.4° C (80° and 85° F), but can frequently exceed 38° C (100º F).The warm, temperate regions of the southern coast of continental Australia have four seasons, with cool winters and hot summers. January and February are the hottest months, with average temperatures varying between 18.3° and 21.1° C (65° and 70° F). June and July are the coldest months, with an average July temperature of about 10° C (about 50° F), except in the Australian Alps, where temperatures of 1.7° C (35° F) occur; snowfields exist in the Mount Kosciusko area. The eastern coastal lowlands receive rain in all seasons, although mainly in summer. The warm, temperate western and southern coasts receive rain mainly in the winter months, usually from prevailing westerly winds. Tasmania, lying in the cool temperate zone, receives heavy rainfall from the prevailing westerly winds in summer and from cyclonic storms in winter. In addition to the Australian Alps in southern New South Wales, snow also falls during the winter in the northern part of Victoria, and in Tasmania. 

All of the southern states are exposed to hot, dry winds from the interior, which can suddenly raise the temperature considerably. In most years, drought affects some part of Australia, and localized floods and tropical cyclones are common. South-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, has the highest incidence of bushfires in the world, along with California in the United States and Mediterranean Europe. In 1994 bushfires swept through New South Wales, destroying hundreds of homes in suburban Sydney. 

Natural Resources

Australia is rich in mineral resources. The most commercially notable include: bauxite (found in Queensland and Western Australia); bituminous coal (Queensland and New South Wales); iron ore (Western Australia and Tasmania); nickel and gold (both Western Australia); lead, zinc, and silver (all found in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania); brown coal, or lignite (Victoria); offshore oil (Victoria); and offshore natural gas Western Australia and Victoria). Australia’s famous deposits of gem minerals include the white opals of Andamooka and Coober Pedy, South Australia, and White Cliffs, New South Wales; and the unique black opals of Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, and Mintabie, South Australia. The huge diamond deposits discovered in the Kimberleys in 1979 have made Australia the world’s leading supplier by volume, and the sixth largest in terms of value. Topaz and sapphires are found in Queensland and New South Wales. Australia also has some of the world’s largest known uranium reserves, located in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and South Australia. However, they have been minimally developed because of the lack of domestic demand and strong objections from the environmental movement. 

Australia has both fossil and renewable energy resources. The country’s coal reserves, which are used to generate about 75 per cent of electricity, are easily worked and enormous; known reserves are sufficient to last for almost 400 years at present production rates. Natural gas production is located mainly off Western Australia, and known reserves should last 55 years. However, oil production in the Bass Strait, which met about two-thirds of domestic demand in the late 1980s, is expected to begin declining shortly. In terms of renewable resources, Tasmania, the most mountainous part of Australia, has used its considerable hydroelectric power potential to meet most of its electricity needs. Continental Australia has less hydroelectric power potential because of its generally low relief. However, a number of schemes have been built in the Great Dividing Range. In addition to the Snowy Mountains Scheme, they include the Burdekin Falls Dam in Queensland. Australia has considerable wind power potential, and windmills were widely used during the pioneering days of white settlement. However, today they tend to be used only on remote outback sheep stations.

See the overview list for more... 

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