About Australia

About Australia

About Australia

Australia lies southeast of Asia, between the Pacific and Indian oceans, and is completely surrounded by ocean expanses.

The sixth largest country in the world, Australia is affectionally known as the “Great Southern Land” and is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. Australia is about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 per cent larger than Europe, but with a population of only 25 million people, Australia has the lowest population density in the world – only three people per square kilometre.

Australia’s coastline stretches almost 50,000 kilometres and is linked by more beaches than any other country in the world – over 10,000. More than 85 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast, making it an integral part of their laid-back lifestyle.

Governance in Australia

Australia is a constitutional monarchy under England and while the Queen is the head of state, Australia effectively governs itself through its three-tier governance system (Federal Parliament, State Parliament and local body Councils). The public votes every three years which often sees a change in government. The two main political parties are the Liberal National Coalition (LNP) and the Australian Labour Party (ALP). 

Australian Flag

The flag of Australia has been in its current form since 1954. Because of Australia’s British ties, the Australian flag is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign – a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist quarter – augmented or defaced with a large white seven-pointed star (the Commonwealth Star) and a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars – one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars.

The flag’s original design (with a six-pointed Commonwealth Star) was chosen in 1901 from entries in a competition held following Federation, and was first flown in Melbourne on 3 September 1901, the date proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day. A slightly different design was approved by King Edward VII in 1903. The seven-pointed commonwealth star version was introduced by a proclamation dated 8 December 1908. The dimensions were formally gazetted in 1934, and in 1954 the flag became recognised by, and legally defined in, the Flags Act 1953, as the “Australian National Flag”.

Population

Australia has an average population density of 3.3 persons per square kilometre of total land area, which makes it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The population is heavily concentrated on the east coast, and in particular in the south-eastern region between South East Queensland to the north-east and Adelaide to the south-west. 

Australia is highly urbanised, with 67% of the population living in the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (metropolitan areas of the state and mainland territorial capital cities) in 2018. Metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Australia’s Largest Cities by Population

RANK
CITY
STATE
POPULATION
1
Sydney
NSW
5,312,163
2
Melbourne
Vic
5,078,193
3
Brisbane
Qld
2,514,184
4
Perth
WA
2,085,973
5
Adelaide
SA
1,359,760
6
Gold Coast–Tweed Heads
Qld/NSW
693,671
7
Newcastle–Maitland
NSW
491,474
8
Canberra–Queanbeyan
ACT/NSW
462,136
9
Sunshine Coast
Qld
341,069
10
Wollongong
NSW
306,034

Early History

Indigenous Australians (Aboriginals) are believed to have arrived in Australia 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, and possibly as early as 65,000 years ago.  They are widely believed to be the oldest known culture in the world. They developed a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, established enduring spiritual and artistic traditions and used stone technologies. At the time of first European contact, it has been estimated the existing population was at least 350,000, while recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained. 

The first known landing in Australia by Europeans was by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. Fellow dutchman Abel Tasman was the first man to circumnavigate Australia and was also the first to land in Tasmania in 1642-43.  However, it is James Cook who claimed Australia as a British Territory in 1770.

The first major European colonisation of Australia was by Great Britain when they began sending shiploads of convicts to Botany Bay (modern Day Sydney) in 1788.  Between 1788 and 1868, approximately 161,700 convicts (of whom 25,000 were women) were transported to the Australian colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Western Australia.

Early History

Indigenous Australians (Aboriginals) are believed to have arrived in Australia 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, and possibly as early as 65,000 years ago.  They are widely believed to be the oldest known culture in the world. They developed a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, established enduring spiritual and artistic traditions and used stone technologies. At the time of first European contact, it has been estimated the existing population was at least 350,000, while recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained. 

The first known landing in Australia by Europeans was by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606. Fellow dutchman Abel Tasman was the first man to circumnavigate Australia and was also the first to land in Tasmania in 1642-43.  However, it is James Cook who claimed Australia as a British Territory in 1770.

The first major European colonisation of Australia was by Great Britain when they began sending shiploads of convicts to Botany Bay (modern Day Sydney) in 1788.  Between 1788 and 1868, approximately 161,700 convicts (of whom 25,000 were women) were transported to the Australian colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Western Australia.

Economy

Australia’s market economy is dependent on International trade, with over 53,000 businesses exporting their goods to the world. The principal export industries being mining & gas, agriculture, education, financial and information technology sectors. Australian agriculture feeds 60 million people around the world each year. Australia’s major trading partners include USA, China, and Japan. In 2018, Australia overtook Switzerland to become the country with the highest average wealth per capita. 

Tourism also contributes significantly and attracts travellers from every country around the world. Chinese, New Zealanders and Americans are the most frequent travellers to Australia. 

Climate and Weather

Being such a large continent, Australia enjoys widely varied weather, from arid deserts to tropical weather in the far north and a temperate climate in the south-west. Though parts of Australia do have snowfall in winter, much of Australia is constantly warm and sunny, making it the perfect year-round holiday destination, whatever you want to do!

Climate in Australia

Australia’s climate varies widely with regards to temperature, humidity and rainfall. A large percentage of the country is desert and generally only around the coastline will you find much greenery.

There are relatively clearly defined climates found in Australia, including:

Rain

Rainfall varies a lot in Australia and there are frequently droughts, which can last for several seasons. Hence water conservation is very important in Australia.

There are four main factors which contribute to the dryness of Australia:

Compared to other continents, Australia is very dry – only Antarctica has less rainfall. The northern Queensland coast does not experience this dry climate and averages 4,000 millimetres of rainfall each year.

Occasionally Australia experiences dust storms, which can cover a region or even several states. The country can also experience the occasional cyclone or severe thunderstorm (usually during summer).

Rain

Rainfall varies a lot in Australia and there are frequently droughts, which can last for several seasons. Hence water conservation is very important in Australia.

There are four main factors which contribute to the dryness of Australia:

Compared to other continents, Australia is very dry – only Antarctica has less rainfall. The northern Queensland coast does not experience this dry climate and averages 4,000 millimetres of rainfall each year.

Occasionally Australia experiences dust storms, which can cover a region or even several states. The country can also experience the occasional cyclone or severe thunderstorm (usually during summer).

Snow

In winter, snow can fall in the mountains of Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania. The regular snow fall in some areas has even allowed a seasonal ski industry.

On occasion snow has been reported in the mountains of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, however this is very rare.

Seasons in Australia

The best seasons to travel to Australia (nicest weather) are in either Spring or Autumn.

Spring:

September – November

Summer:

December – February

Autumn:

March – May

Winter:

June – August

Temperatures

Most of Australia receives over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year making it perfect for outdoor activities. During summer (December to February), the average temperature is 29°C. However northern and central areas can become much hotter.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Australia was at Cloncurry in Queensland in 1889, where it reached 53°C!

Winter (June to August) is still quite mild over much of the continent, with temperatures averaging 13°. Northern areas still experience warm days with cooler nights, while southern areas become colder and experience rain showers. Even though it’s winter there are still many sunny days.

Flora and Fauna

Australia is very well known for it’s deadly and dangerous animals – snakes, spiders and crocodiles. But there is so much more to Australian wild-life. Among other well-known Australian animals are the platypus and Echidna; a host of marsupials, including the kangaroo, koala and wombat; and birds such as the emu and kookaburra. In fact, 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds and 89% of in-shore fish are unique to Australia.

Famous Australians and their achievements

Australia is home to many world-famous people. Actors Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman; Musicians like Keith Urban, ACDC, Slim Dusty and Kylie Minogue; Sporting Personalities Dawn Fraser (Swimming), Don Bradman (cricket) and Rod Laver (Tennis) are all Australian.

And boy, do Australians love their sports. Cricket, Tennis and swimming in Summer, or the football codes (rugby union, rugby league, AFL and soccer) in winter – Australians are sport crazy. Australia also plays host to some of the top sporting events on the international calendar. The Australian Open in January is the first stop on the international Tennis scene every year. The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix runs every July at Phillip Island. The Melbourne Cup (Aka “The race that stops a nation”) is on the first Tuesday in November. On boxing day, you could go to either The Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race on Sydney Harbour. So, if you love your sport, make Australia your next destination.

But it’s not just sports. Australians are well known for (and very proud of) their creativity, ingenuity and ‘can-do’ attitude. Did you know that Australians are responsible for inventing the black box flight recorder, electronic pacemaker, cochlear implants, electric drill, medical application of penicillin, even Wi-Fi technology and the original Google maps? It’s all true, and they all changed the world.

Famous Australians and their achievements

Australia is home to many world-famous people. Actors Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman; Musicians like Keith Urban, ACDC, Slim Dusty and Kylie Minogue; Sporting Personalities Dawn Fraser (Swimming), Don Bradman (cricket) and Rod Laver (Tennis) are all Australian.

And boy, do Australians love their sports. Cricket, Tennis and swimming in Summer, or the football codes (rugby union, rugby league, AFL and soccer) in winter – Australians are sport crazy. Australia also plays host to some of the top sporting events on the international calendar. The Australian Open in January is the first stop on the international Tennis scene every year. The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix runs every July at Phillip Island. The Melbourne Cup (Aka “The race that stops a nation”) is on the first Tuesday in November. On boxing day, you could go to either The Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race on Sydney Harbour. So, if you love your sport, make Australia your next destination.

But it’s not just sports. Australians are well known for (and very proud of) their creativity, ingenuity and ‘can-do’ attitude. Did you know that Australians are responsible for inventing the black box flight recorder, electronic pacemaker, cochlear implants, electric drill, medical application of penicillin, even Wi-Fi technology and the original Google maps? It’s all true, and they all changed the world.