Australia is extremely dry, with about 35 percent of the country
receiving very little rain (if any). Almost 20 percent of available land
is some form of desert.
AYERS ROCK (Uluru)
Considered the largest solitary rock on the planet, its red
sandstone surface smoothed by high winds over time is revered as a holy
place and called Uluru by the aboriginal peoples It's 1,143 ft.
(348 m) high.
DARLING/MURRAY RIVER SYSTEM
The Darling River, 1,160 miles (1,879 km) in length, flows southwest
from the edges of the Great Dividing Range into the Murray River.
The Murray rises in the Australian
Alps and flows 1,200 miles (1,930 km) to the Spencer Gulf, directly west
of Adelaide. It's the longest river in Australia and is a vital source
of irrigation for the country's major agricultural industries.
This low mountain range runs through far southwestern Australia. Its
highest point is Mt. Cooke at 1,910 Ft. (580 m).
Covered by small sand dunes and a few rocky hills, this 120,000 sq. mile
desert is home to numerous Aboriginal reserves. Farming and cattle
raising activities are difficult here as rain seldom falls.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
This spectacular coral reef, about 1,250 miles (2,000 km) in length
contains the world's largest deposit of coral. It's not one continuous
reef, but rather an irregular jigsaw puzzle of over 2,800 individual
coral reefs and assorted coral cays.
Famed worldwide for its beauty and
wildlife (over 1,500 species of fish alone), it became Australia's first
World Heritage Area in 1981.
A reddish-brown low mountain range located in Western Australia is the
homeland of many Aboriginal peoples. This beautiful national park is
famed for its red rock gorges and waterfalls.
The Kimberley, much of it still unexplored, is notorious for the
dramatic red landscapes of jumbled rocks and gorges, and for the very
strong ocean tide that flows in (twice daily), causing dangerous river
rapids and whirlpools.
Dozens of islands and coral reefs
dot the rugged coastline, and access to this area of Australia is most
difficult, as roads are few and far between.
Made famous by Ayers Rock and a favorite of campers and rock climbers,
this series of rolling hills, mountain ridges and valleys is popular
because of consistently good weather and beautiful scenery. The highest
point is Mt. Ziel at 5,023 ft. (1,5312 m).
CAPE YORK PENINSULA
Described as the world's "last wilderness," and as one of the "wildest
unexplored wilderness area on the planet," Cape York is home to
jagged-tooth mountains, tropical rainforests, extensive mangrove
forests, grasslands, swamps and fast moving rivers.
GREAT DIVIDING RANGE
Running along the eastern/southeastern edge of the country and extending
on into Tasmania, these mountains and its varied ranges separate the dry
Australian interior from the coastal areas. The highest point is Mt.
Kosciusko in the Australian Alps at 7,310 ft. (2,228 m) high.
The Blue Mountains World Heritage
Area in New South Wales, about two hour's drive from Sydney, is one of
the most beautiful locations in the world and one of Australia's most
GREAT SANDY DESERT
At 150,000 sq. miles in size this arid expanse of Western Australia,
south of the Kimberley Plateau, features scattered scrub vegetation and
rocks. It has miles of red sand ridges (dunes) and very few people.
GREAT VICTORIA DESERT
Famous for its red sand dunes, indigenous wildlife and isolation, the
Victoria Desert (250,000 sq. miles in size) extends for about 450 miles
(750 km), and is mainly a barren area of red sand hills and ridges, dry
salt lakes, with very little grassland.
GREAT ARTESIAN BASIN
Also know as "Channel Country," it's one of the largest artesian
groundwater basins in the world and a vital source of water for
LAKE EYRE BASIN
Lake Eyre itself is over 50 ft.(16 m) below sea level and located in the
driest part of Australia. Usually it holds little water, and now, due to
the severe drought conditions in the country it has none.
Lake Eyre Basin is considered the
world's largest internal drainage system, covering about one-sixth of
the country. Rivers here flow based on rainfall, and because of that
rare commodity, isolated water holes are vital for local communities and
This sparsely populated slice of southwestern Australia is extremely dry
with very little surface water and very few people, It can be crossed by
the using the Eyre Highway, named after the famed explorer Edward
John Eyre, who was the first person to survive an East-West crossing
of Australia in the mid-1800s.
Along the southern coastline on the
Great Australian Bight, (Bight: a bend or curve in the
shoreline) the local terrain is unparalleled. Enormous stretches of
pure white sand are found in the Bilbunya Dunes and the Baxter Cliffs
along the Bight are absolutely stunning.
Similar to the Great Sandy Desert, it has large areas of red sand
plains, scrub vegetation and a few scattered hills. It's mostly
uninhabited with some isolated mining and livestock raising.
Shark Bay is one of only 14 places on the planet that meets ALL four
natural criteria for World Heritage listings. Those criterias include
outstanding examples of the earth's evolution, biological and ecological
processes, incredible natural beauty and significant natural habitats
for animal and plant species.
The bay has the largest area of
seagrass species in one place, and supports a rich aquatic life of
dolphins, dugongs, sea snakes, turtles and whales.
At 56,000 sq. miles in size this desert of sand drifts and wind-blown
sand dunes receives very little rain and summer heat can be brutal. High
temperatures in the desert often exceed 120º F, and even though humans
are advised to be cautious here in summer, the desert itself is far from
Tourists are commonplace in winter
and many visit the strikingly beautiful landscapes of the Queensland
Simpson Desert National Park.