Destination information Australia

History

About 50,000 years ago, the first people who lived in Australia were the Aborigines. At that time much surrounding water was frozen during the Ice-age. There was a natural bridge from Asia to Australia. This allowed people and animals to walk to Australia. Later, when the earth warmed and the ice began to melt, Australia became an island. In the year 150, the Greeks wrote about Australia for the first time. They named the land "Terra Australis". 

Willem Jansz was the first European to discover Australia in 1606 in his Duyfken (small Dutch ship) when he passed Cape York in the north of Australia. The western side of Australia was also visited several times by the Dutch and other Europeans, but this New Holland was not colonised. In 1770 the English explorer James Cook discovered the east coast of Australia. The area was later named New South Wales and used as a colony for British prisoners. Slowly, the country also became popular among other citizens. In 1849, the first gold was discovered in Australia and the population increased rapidly.

In 1901, Australia adopted a federal constitution and became a self-governing part (dominion) of the British Empire. Australian troops took part in both world wars. During the Second World War, Australian units fought in Ambon, Egypt, Crete and the Pacific. Melbourne was the first capital, but in 1911 it changed. A competition by the government to design. A new capital was commenced. The winning design by American architect Walter Burley Griffin was implemented in 1913 and in 1927 the new capital Canberra was build between Melbourne and Sydney. 

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The Country

Australia is the smallest continent and is by some considered the largest island. In the north it is situated at the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Torres Strait. To the east at the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea and to the south at the Bass Strait and the Great Australian Bight. The Indian Ocean lies to the south and west of Australia. The country has a total coastline of 25,760 kilometers.

About three quarters of Australia is desert. Only in the northeast you can find rainforests, which further south are often more subtropical than tropical. Apart from the dry, hot climate from the deserts, Australia also has steppe, savannah and scrublands. Australia is the lowest and flattest continent. A large part of the desert area is located just above sea level, in the West Central Lowlands and the Western Plateau. On the east coast, there is more varied terrain. This is also where the highest mountain is located, Mount Kosciuszko, with an altitude of 2228 meters. Other famous mountains and rocks are, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Mount Augustus, the Devils Marbles and Wave Rock.

Due to the dry climate many rivers are completely dry in some times of the year. The country has two major rivers that contain water throughout the year: the Murray and the Darling. There are also lakes in the country such as Lake Eyre, the Torre Grease and Gairdnermeer which mostly lie dry. Large bays include the Great Australian Bight, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Spencer Gulf.

 

  • Destination information Australia

The culture

Many of the Australian population have English or Irish ancestors, who were sent there in the 18th century from Great Britain as convicts. This is the reason why cricket and rugby are now favorite Australian sports! The British culture was spread during this period and has developed ever since. Just look around at the streets in the city: it's like walking in London or Dublin.

The friendliness of the Ozzies can be found everywhere. Whether you are lost in the wilderness, want to order a beer or book a room in a hostel: you will be kindly helped. No hurry, no stress, no hassles, no worries mate, it's all going to be alright. To really taste this attitude, you should not just stay in the cities. In the Outback you are more able to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the typical easy- going Ozzie mentality. 

The weather

Since Australia consists of such a large area, it is impossible to describe the weather and climate of the whole country in one line. We will shortly describe the climate in each State.

New South Wales has a temperate climate with more than 340 sunny days a year. In summer months, the average temperature is 26 °C. In winter months the average temperature is 16°C. Most of the rain falls in the months March till June.

Victoria is known for its diverse climate zones, dry areas in the north-west and the alpine snowfields in the north-east. Melbourne has warm summers and mild winters: the average temperature in summer is 25°C and in winter 15°C.

Average temperatures in summer are higher in South Australia. In summer the average temperature is 29°C and in winters around 15°C. Summers are hot and dry while winters are mild. June is by far the wettest month of the year.

Western Australia has more than one climate zone. In the North-West, heavy rainfall characterizes the area in summer months, while the inlands are dry with high temperatures. February is generally the hottest month with an average temperature of 31°C. 

Tasmania has a temperate sea climate. The best month to travel to Tasmania would be January since this is - most of the time - the driest and warmest month. October is the rainiest month.

The Australian Capital territory has an average continental climate, with hot summers and cool winters. In summertime you can enjoy days with 9 hours of sun, in winter this gradually decreases to 5 hours. July is the coldest month with an average temperature of 11°C, though at night the temperature drops below zero.

The Northern Territory is known for its wet- (December till March) and dry season (May till September). The weather is very diverse. The summer months have an average temperature of 37°C while winters are colder and temperatures are almost always below freezing point at nights. In spring, dust- and hailstorms may occur.

Queensland is known for its subtropical climate. Unlike the above-mentioned States, the rain in Queensland mostly falls in summer months instead of winter months, although temperatures are moderate to high the entire year. The maximum temperature in Brisbane is 31°C while in Cairns this is 36°C. This example shows the diversity of climate within one State.

It is mostly warm to hot in the Northern states and cooler in the Southern states of Australia. Australia is one of the driest continents in the world with only 600 mm of rain on average each year.

If you are going to travel through Australia it is good to know its seasons: Spring: September till November, Summer: December till February, Autumn: March till May, Winter: June till August.

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