General Information about Australia
Australia - that already sounds like an adventure! One immediately thinks of road trips, jungle walks, exotic animals, endless roads, bustling cities and countless beaches. Furthermore, surfboards, sharks and a wonderful underwater world, but also giant spiders, snakes and deserts come to our mind. It`s safe to say: once you are traveling to Australia, the craving for adventure will not last long!
Basic Information about Australia
Australia is located south of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In addition to the huge mainland, which extends some 4000 km from west to east and almost 4000 km from north to south, more islands and archipelagos belong to this versatile landscape. Geographically, Australia can be roughly divided into three zones. The western zone is home to most of the country's deserts, as well as some smaller mountains. Furthermore, island mountains like the famous Uluru are found in this higher situated zone. The middle zone is located lower. Here you will find both, the driest area of the country and the densest network of rivers. The east of the country is bordered off from the lowlands by a mountain range known as the "Great Dividing Range", extending north-south and stretching down all the way to the east coast.
Australia´s coastline is exceeding 25,000 km in length. There are countless coastal cities around the continent. With a few megacities, Australia also has a city culture that differs significantly from its neighboring country New Zealand. For sure, you will find a vibrant living here! Combined, this results in a lifestyle that is characterized on the one hand by wealth and business and on the other hand by a relaxed beach culture, which is also found in the big cities with their lively city beaches. This blend of prosperity and serenity, along with the attractive and eclectic nature of deserts, mountains, jungles, lakes and fabulous diving spots, make Australia an increasingly popular destination. In 2012, about 6 million travelers visited the country. Nevertheless, tourism accounts for only about 8 percent of its economy. The rich mineral deposits and the large sector of agriculture ensure strong exports.
Animals and Plants in Australia
Australia's wildlife is exciting! Geographically isolated, with a special climate characterized by heat and drought in many parts of the country, but also with tropical, subtropical and temperate zones, many species of which some only occur in Australia have evolved. In a rough overview as this is, one can only deal with this topic inadequately. But really, Australia inhabits some of the most toxic species in the world, which does not necessarily present an advantage for tourists. It is important to be aware of the existing dangers you can come across in each region. Stay safe by being well informed about how you should react in cases of or how to avoid bites and stings. There are hardly any animal species that can be found throughout Australia. Rather, different species have adapted to different habitats. If you think about Australia's wildlife, you are likely to imagine kangaroos and koalas. Marsupials are found in numerous forms in Australia.
Australia is home to over 800 species of birds and more than 4,000 species of fish. No other place in this world counts more lizards than Australia does. Even crocodiles can be found in both fresh and salt water. Many species of snakes including more poisonous than non-toxic ones, are found in Australia on land and as in water. Furthermore, amphibians feel comfortable in Australia. The poisonous and introduced cane toad has become widespread and is causing great damage today. Jellyfish, some of which are deadly when in contact with human skin, also inhabit the waters, as do turtles found in both fresh and salt waters.
Many species of insects live in Australia. Huge, sometimes poisonous spiders, mosquitoes, cockroaches and bedbugs do not always make Australia a pleasant place to be.
In summary, we come to the conclusion that there is magniful wildlife to be explored and observed in Australia. However, one should always proceed with caution and being advised to be well informed and prepared, especially when entering the sparsely populated areas where help is not always available.
Australia´s plant kingdom is characterized by the drought of the landscape. In addition, the soils are very old since only little new biomass decays. Consequently, few nutrients are available causing conditions that are suitable for only a little number of plants. In Australia grass is the predominant vegetation. Eucalyptus and acacia are also extremely widespread and to be found in an incredible biodiversity. The Mallee eucalyptus are especially interesting. These are low-growing, multi-stemmed species which have adapted strongly to the drought and even profit from bush fires. They eject an increasing amount of seeds after fires have faded, which then find ideal conditions on the open grounds. Rainforests are found in only a small proportion but are home to many different native species. The plants of Australia have so far not been fully explored. As with the animals, the colonization of Europeans has brought about a major change in the flora of Australia. Forests have been cleared, grasslands transformed into agricultural land, and foreign plants have been introduced endangering native flora and which have already displaced some of the existing species. Nevertheless, there are still many spectacular and unique things to marvel at in Australia.
Climate and Weather in Australia
Due to its size Australia counts several climates.
Australias´ northern parts host zones of equatorial climate. These are followed by a tropical area where you have hot and rainy summers (especially in January there is heavy rainfall), but rather dry winter months. It is warm all year-round. In the south, however, there are dry summers and humid winters. It is also hot in the summer, however during winter times temperatures go back to as low as 10 degrees Celsius. In this area the water is much cooler than in the northern parts.
In the middle stripe, the conditions differ greatly from west to east. The west is rich in rainfall decreasing from south to north. In the center of Australia there is a desert climate. Here it is very dry all year round. It can be very hot in summer (over 40 degrees Celsius) and in winter moderately warm during the day but with cold nights. The east of the middle strip gets rainfall all year round but more in the summer months than in the winter. The water and the air are warm at all times. Only in the mountain ranges it can get cold.
From winter sports to desert feeling - Australia has everything to offer, which is why you should think about the time of the year before you planing your trip. Our itinerary suggestions will definitely help you making a reasonable decision.
History and Language of Australia
Australia has been colonized much earlier than New Zealand has. Already some 50,000 years ago, ancestors of the Aborigines left their mark. Since until about 6000 years ago Australia was connected by land with today's Papua New Guinea. Cultural influences of this region are noticeable in early findings. Later on, this mainland connection had been covered by the sea. Never the less, Australia had always been visited by Asian traders and never became completely isolated.
In ancient years, Europeans already suspected that there had to be another country in the south. After a trip to China in the 13th century, Marco Polo delivered reports of a country where supposedly two-headed animals had been seen. He was probably referring to kangaroos. From the 16th century onwards, European sailors kept coming to Australia. As they arrived at the west coast, they were not very interested in the country as they saw little value. It was not until 1770 that James Cook declared parts of the east as British colony. Australia was used as a penal colony for nearly 100 years. The rich mineral resources however started to attract also voluntary settlers. There were disputes with the natives, who had to live in areas assigned to them without any rights. Many had lost their children as they were taken and brought to youth institutions to be raised and socialized far away from their culture of origin. It was not until 1965 that Aborigines gained back their right to vote throughout the country. They even regained some of the territory that had previously been considered no-man's land, even though it was inhabited by locals. To date, there is no complete equality of opportunity for Aboriginal people. Inferior education, higher unemployment rates and more crime show proof.
English is spoken throughout Australia while the locals have developed their very own tongue. It is often joked about Australians abbreviating everything - of course this fact has not been made up. The languages of the Aboriginal tribes are numerous and for the most part threatened by extinction. However, language centers have been set up to work on preserving those languages. Due to the many immigrants from Asian countries and Europe, today many other languages are spoken in Australia, but English has remained the national language.