Australia is unlike any other country in the world. It is the only continent whose land shapes have not been changed by upheavals in the earth since time began.
All its mountains have been eroded over a long period of time by wind and water. Most Australian mountains have a smooth round shape, instead of being jagged as are the Rockies or Himalayas. The highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko (pronounced Koz-ee-os-co) is only some 2,230 m (7,316 ft) high, much lower than mountains in other continents. Three-quarters of Australia is between 180 m (591 ft) and 451 m (1,480 ft) above sea level, making it one of the flattest countries in the world.
|Olgas And Uluru|
|The Olgas consist of 28 fascinating dome shaped rock outcrops and are located 26 km west of Uluru, which is the second largest monolith on earth. It has great significance for our Aborigine's and there are a number of sacred sites at its base. An Aboriginal Cultural Centre is nearby.|
Australian seasons begin on the first day of the month. In most other countries seasons begin on the twenty-first day of the month. The twenty-first day of December and June are the longest and shortest days. The twenty-first of March and September are the Autumn and Spring solstices.
The following table compares Australian seasons with those of Europe and North America.
|December 1||March 1||June 1||September 1|
|Europe and North America||Winter||Spring||Summer||Autumn|
|December 21||March 21||June 21||September 21|
Australia, the worlds largest island and smallest continent, has a rich diversity of scenery and landform from arid red heartland, cropping land and pastures, to snow-capped mountains.
Australia's pre-history goes back some 47,000 years when it is believed that the first people crossed the sea from South East Asia. Terra Australis (South Land) was the name given to the then undiscovered land mass that was thought to exist to balance the known areas in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Aborigines had possession of this land before the white man came. They have left a rich heritage in their folklore, their rock and tree carvings and bark paintings.
The Dutch, whose first recorded sighting of Australia was in 1606, were the first to extensively sail around the continent, naming it New Holland.
In 1770, Captain James Cook sailed from England in the Endeavour, finally putting Australia on the world's maps by charting a portion of the coastline and taking possession of the eastern half of Australia for Britain.
Australia's recorded history is only just over 200 years. The British government soon began looking for an alternative penal settlement to the North American colonies that it lost in the American Revolution. Settlement began in 1788 with the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet. Whilst sailing up the Eastern seaboard he discovered a perfect natural harbor that he named after the then Home Secretary, Lord Sydney. Phillip also opened a second post for transported convicts on Norfolk Island. In 1803, a further penal was created in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). The early years were ones of great hardship and near starvation.
Australia was saved from being no more than a penal colony by the introduction of fine wool sheep and the opening up of the western plains of New South Wales. British policy broadened to allow emancipists (freed convicts), discharged prison guards, and free migrants to take up land. By the 1830s they were leaving Van Diemen's Land to live on the mainland. Here they found the free settlement of Victoria, which became a separate colony in 1851. In 1829 the convict-free British colony of Western Australia was founded on the Swan River. In 1836 the colony of South Australia was formed.
In 1825 an expanding New South Wales established a separate penal colony at Moreton Bay (Brisbane); this became the capital of the new colony of Queensland in 1859. Squatters (illegal occupants of land) also opened up the Darling Downs in western New South Wales. By 1844 the free settlers of New South Wales forced the British to stop sending convicts. However, transportation to other penal colonies continued.
It was not long before gold was discovered, the year 1851, the town Bathurst. People came from all over the world. Gold was discovered in Western Australia. Kalgoorlie became known as the Golden Mile and was the richest gold area that the world has ever known.
None suffered so grievously in these early years as did the Aborigines. Treated no better than animals, they were hunted down for preying on settlers' sheep and cattle. They were virtually annihilated in Van Diemen's Land and nearly so in Queensland
The six colonies, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia eventually united to form a Federal Commonwealth. This happened in 1901 and Edmund Barton became Australia's first Prime Minister. Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, became the temporary capital Australia. The newly created Northern Territory entered in 1911. The constitution provided for an elected Senate (Upper House) and House of Representatives with specified powers and left the other powers to the states. In 1927 the Federal Government moved to the newly created Australian Capital Territory, and Canberra (the aboriginal word for "meeting place") became Australia's capital.
Today Australia is a bustling highly developed nation with migrants from all over the world. The mixture of cultures, customs and food has turned Australia into an exciting and vibrant country, not only to live in but to visit as well. Environmentally it is a healthy place to live, with longevity of life enjoyed by all.
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