Australia is so geographically diverse and unique, it’s hard to pick just a few highlights from the country. There are, however, a few activities that stand out, such as sandboarding in the Pinnacles Desert near Perth. Of course, surfing anywhere in the country is fantastic. The Grampian Mountains northwest of Melbourne have hiking and climbing for visitors of all fitness levels and abilities. I probably don’t need to even mention scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, but I will.
Australia, officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia, is located in the Southern Hemisphere and includes the main island of Australia, as well as numerous smaller islands, the best known of which is Tasmania. Located in the South Pacific, Australia is bounded by the Coral Sea to the northeast, Tasman Sea to the southeast, Great Australian Bight to the south, Indian Ocean to the west, and Timor Sea to the north.
Major Cities in Australia
The largest and best known cities in Australia include Canberra, the capital, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, and Perth.
Geography of Australia
At 7.6 million square kilometres, Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, the smallest continent, and has about 34,000 kilometres of coastline. It’s often referred to as the “island continent” and sometimes the “Earth’s largest island” even though Australia is technically not an island.
Australia sits atop the Indo-Australian Plate. Since it’s so big, Australia has a wide variety of landscapes and climactic zones. Australia’s best-known geographic feature is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, which is located off the country’s northeast coast and extends over 2000 kilometres. You’ve likely seen pictures of an enormous flat rock that rises out of an Australian plain. They actually have several, one of which is Mount Augustus, the largest monolith in the world, which is located near the West Coast. The tallest peak on the mainland is 2,228 m Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales, but the tallest in the country is Mount McClintock in the Australian Antarctic Territory at 3.492 m.
The northeast of the country is home to subtropical rain forests, and the southeast is comprised largely of mountain ranges. In the middle is a really big desert. Anyone who has seen Crocodile Dundee knows about Australia’s vast wild outback, which is mostly semi-arid desertish landscape. And, of course, there are lots of nice beaches.
Australia Weather and Climate
Since it’s so enormous, and surrounded by ocean, Australia has different climates in different places. They include equatorial, tropical, subtropical, desert, grassland, and temperate. To get a better idea of how Australia’s climactic zones are arranged check out this climate map.
Tourism makes up a significant part of the Australian economy (about 2.5%) and in 2010-11 the country received 5.9 million short-term visitors. Considering the size of the country, though, it’s not exactly what you’d call jam-packed.
Australia is a geographic wonder with tons of unique outdoors opportunities. The country is home to twelve UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites including the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites, Fraser Island, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, the Greater Blue Mountains Area, Heard and McDonald Islands, the Lord Howe Island Group, Macquarie Island, the Ningaloo Coast, Purnululu National Park, Shark Bay, Western Australia, and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
The Great Barrier Reef is, of course, epic for snorkelling and scuba diving. Fraser Island, just off the East Coast is the largest sand island in the world and home to hoof of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes. The Gondwana Rainforests in the east contain a cornucopia of rare and threatened species. The Heard and McDonald islands, just 1,700 km from Antarctica is one of the few places on earth where the unique ecosystem is completely intact and free of alien plants and animals. The Ningaloo Coast has an enormous network of underground caves and is also a gathering place for whale sharks and sea turtles. This list could go on and on.
Adventure activity recommendations
It’s hard to pick just a few highlights from this diverse country. But a few exceptional outings include:
• Sandboarding in the Pinnacles Desert near Perth is a great way to experience the desert without getting bored.
• Surfing anywhere in the country.
• The Grampian Mountains northwest of Melbourne offer hiking and climbing for enthusiasts of all levels.
• I don’t even know if I need to tell you that scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef should be on everybody’s list.
Australia Outdoor Adventure Activities
• Stand-up paddle boarding
• Scuba diving (wreck, reef, cave)
• Surfing (all levels)
• Hang gliding
• Sky diving
• Bungee jumping
• Hot air ballooning
• Whitewater rafting
• Kayaking (river and lake)
• Caving and spelunking
• Hiking/trekking (all levels)
• Via Ferrata
• Rock climbing (all levels)
• Ice climbing
• Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
• Horseback Riding
• Skiing and snowboarding
• Cross-country skiing
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