Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth


Quite a heavy week this week in terms of posts. I must bring some levity to the blog tomorrow but Theme Thursday beckons today and the topic is – Earth. What better opportunity to talk about the largest island continent on our little blue marble of a planet. And for the record, we're on the top of the globe!

Australia is the world’s largest island continent .. the sun shines differently down here. The ozone layer is thin and you burn to a crisp in an instant. . It occupies 7.7 million square kilometres and is the flattest and driest of continents (with the exception of Antarctica) anyone flying north to south from Darwin to Sydney will see little more than “Red shit!” and mulga brush. I swear we have more ‘red earth’ than the rest of earth!

There are rainforests . . .


. . . and vast plains . . .


. . . snowfields . . .


. . . desert in the centre . . .


. . .and fertile croplands . . .well when they're not beseiged by drought . .


. . . and about one third of the country lies in the tropics . . .

Australia has a coastline of 36,735km - if it were possible to drive non-stop along the entire coast at 60 km/h it would take about 24 days to complete the trip.

The continent is one of the oldest land masses - continental bedrock exposed by erosion is more than 3,000 million years old - and is the flattest of the continents because it lies near the centre of a tectonic plate. The average elevation is less than 300 metres, compared with the world’s mean of about 700 metres. The Australian Alps in the south east contain Australia’s highest ground, the highest point being Mount Kosciusko (2,228 metres). More than one-fifth of its land area is desert, more than two-thirds being classified as arid or semi-arid, unsuitable for settlement. The coldest regions are in the highlands and tablelands of Tasmania and the south-eastern corner of the mainland. The hottest temperature recorded was 53°C (127°F)at Cloncurry in Queensland in 1889. Australia is the only continent without current volcanic activity - the last eruption took place 1400 years ago at Mt. Gambier.

Our largest slice of the world economy is made through delving into the earth. We hold the largest demonstrated resources of lead, mineral sands, nickel, tantalum, uranium and zinc and are sixth in the world for cobalt, copper, gold, iron ore, lithium, manganese ore, rare earth oxides and gem/near gem diamonds.

The fruit of the earth has provided $500 billion to the Australian economy over the past 20 years (and Kevin Rudd has managed to spend it inside a year but that’s neither here nor there). The mining / mineral industry supports over 310,000 Australians. Farming the earth is another very important economic aspect of Australia. We are our own breadbasket and thanks to a diverse and varied climate, we can grow just about everything. The early colony was built on the sheep’s back and to this day farming of cattle, sheep and the growing of grain crops is an important part of the economy.

There are 154,472 farms in Australia - including those for whom farming is not their primary business. However, there are 137,969 farms solely dedicated to agricultural production. The gross value of Australian farm production (at farm-gate) totals $35.6 billion-a-year. The top three agricultural commodities produced nationally (ranked by gross $ value) are: Cattle and calves $8.0 billion Milk $3.2 billion Wheat $2.5 billion. We even export rice to land poor Japan!

That’s probably enough on the facts and figures but as you can see, so much of our GDP depends upon management of the earth and I use that term very loosely.

Whilst we should be eating kangaroos, emus and crocodiles (well some of us do) who are native, endemic and friendly to the ecosystems in which they live, we insist on digging, planting and introducing damaging cloven hoofed competitors to the natural landscape.

We open cut mine and are careless with regeneration after the mining’s done. We fell old growth forest to make wood chips for paper manufacture. We shift our beaches to unclog estuaries and we divert water to provide irrigation to crops.

We have forgotten the art of bush tucker although it is becoming more popular in kitchens over here and it’s not unusual to see three or four native ingredients blended in lieu of more traditional ones. quandong, kutjera, muntries, riberry, Davidson's plum, and finger lime. Native spices include lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, and aniseed myrtle and the most identifiable bushfood plant harvested and sold in large scale commercial quantities is the macadamia nut.

We look at this wide brown land and it's rich and fertile, mineral rich earth as a bottomless pit of opportunity . . . it’s not . . .and just wait until you get me started on ‘water' when that comes up as a theme!

Apologies to some. Slow download speed and a few busy evenings have kept me away from some blogs but I will catch up on the weekend . .promise!

37 comments:

Brian Miller said...

your land is beautiful, and described very nicely. that we take it for granted all in the pursuit of innovation and ...aggravating, too early to get on the soap box. tis sad.

Thriftcriminal said...

Yeah, still reckon I'd like to live there. Even if it is necessary to cull the crocs from time to time (you can eat them too, right?)

Miles McClagan said...

...the inventor of the lamington...the inventor of the Big M...the birthplace of Melissa...and a place where when lightning cracks over cane fields, we laugh! Laugh like drains and think this is Australia!

Not a bad little place

Terence McDanger said...

Bill Bryson ain't got nuthin' on you Baino!

Mrsupole said...

What exactly is bush tucker supposed to be?

But seriously, you did an awesome job of describing your country. It really makes one want to come and visit. The pictures were fantastic.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

God bless.

California Girl said...

Your large corner of the earth. Some day I will get there.

ian said...

All that and Merv Hughes too.

A bonzer place to live

Cuppa Jo said...

It snows.

Ok, as I have to go to work, I'll have to do more in depth reading later, but...

I wonder if I knew it snows.

nick said...

I didn't realise Australia could grow just about anything because of the diverse climate. Exporting rice to Japan is a nice one! I also didn't realise quite how many minerals the country has. I still want to tour some of the wilder parts of Oz. Some day maybe.

Candie Bracci said...

Amazing post Baino.This is a real beautiful country.Beautiful decription and pictures.

The Clever Pup said...

Thanks for the lesson. A lot of hard work went into that. I'm looking at my Australian opal as I type.

Did you see the part in the Hitchhiker's guide when the workmen were painting Ayers Rock red with paint? Very funny.

Leah said...

Thank you, Baino!

My husband and I very very much want to make this trip. Someday, maybe...

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great post....there is everything there in australia! coincidentally in an hour I'll be flying off on my own type of 'walkabout' and my friend who lives in melbourne (but visiting her family in texas) is picking me up at the airport.

she's been after me for decades to visit, and maybe one I can...if not for hope....

she loves it and most likely will never return to live here having a wonderful life and creating a wonderful family and community there...

24 days to travel the coastline of your lovely continent island by car! there's a goal!!

thanks for the great geography lesson (and so much more!!)

the photos are also spectacular....

Wings said...

Beautiful, Australia has it all. Such a unique and wonderful place.

subtorp77 said...

Baino, totally amazing post!

Grannymar said...

Baino, you should work for the Australian Tourist Board!

Very interesting tour and background to your island! Mucho tanko!

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

I must come see your "island continent" one day.
PS
You have been leaving some very funny comments along the way.
I forget where, but they made me laugh.

Tom said...

I'd love to visit someday...Australia is a beautiful big island! Great bunches of info.

Christopher said...

I just can't get over how staggeringly beautiful Australia is. Sometimes I joke that Australia has at least five different national anthems (the real national anthem, 'Waltzing Matilda', 'Home Among The Gumtrees', 'G'Day G'Day', and 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down') but for being both a country and a continent it deserves at least five songs.

What's always amazed me is the diversity of plants. I used to grow carnivorous plants and I think Australia has the greatest number of different species of any place on Earth.

steph said...

Any earthquakes in Oz?

btw You didn't get spammed today. First time in weeks. What's changed?

Ronda Laveen said...

Thank you so much for the Australia 411. It is beautiful. I have never associated snow with it. No volcanic activity? Since I live central to 2 active volcanoes, that seems unreal. And I never new about the Macadamia nuts. I always associate them with Hawaii.

VE said...

I read the whole thing! Interesting. Nice photos to go with. Back in 1982 I flipped a coin, Heads-Australia, Tails-Europe. It was a two month vacation and it came up tails. I've been wanting to circle back and complete the Australia visit for nearly 30 years now. I'm planning on 2013 to finally do it. Fascinating place...

And so if you're not "down under" then you're "topped over"? ;)

Megan said...

I didn't realize that so much of it is uninhabitable. I knew it was a lot, but not that much!

300 m is a very short average.

willow said...

Excellent post and stunning photos, Baino! I must visit one day.

laughingwolf said...

what's with 'western civilization' and its incumbent greed? grrrrr

deep pockets can never spend what they hoard in a thousand years, yet finagle others out of the wee pittance they struggle to accumulate

Baino said...

I have a soapbox Brian but it would take more than a post for me to expunge!

Yep but they taste like fishy chicken Thrifty.

Not bad at all Miley, and you have half these resources on your own tiny island.

Whoa Terrence, that's a big claim! But thanks anyway.

Mrsupole, the aborigines have a funny way of speaking. Bush - anywhere beyond the black stump - Tucker - food . . Usually found naturally if you know where to look.

Well make sure you have some time Cali, it's like travelling around the states, a big place!

Ian . God's country!

Joe, only between June and August. We have ski fields in the south east and Tassie gets the odd smattering occasionally.

Nick I defy anyone to ask us to grow anything and have it fail. Could be talking off the top of my head here but everthing from Corn to coconuts, broccoli to banyan trees. It's a problem in terms of introduced species that thrive and destroy such as Blackberry, Lantana et al.

Thanks Candie. It can be beautiful indeed. And I didn't even touch on vineyards, mountains, forests, sand islands, the barrier reef, Kakadu wetlands and the amazing Kimberly and NT Canyons.

Actually Clever Pup, didn't take too long - I am the Google Queen!

Leah many people feel it's too far away (including Madonna) but it's only 14 hours from LA!

Kimy you have a great reunion. Unfortunately I nicked my photos unlike you who seem to have travelled EVERYWHERE! Melbourne is a very nice city. Very different to Sydney as it was planned and the temperature is more moderate. Perhaps you should make a trip down there! Just don't go in Winter, chilly and wet!

It does Wings but then I look at the amazing natural beauty of the US and am not surprised that Americans often choose to travel at home! It's beautiful too.

Cheers Subby!

Grannymar, I will show the uglier side of Australia one of these days. It's not as perfect as it looks on the surface. A little balance is required.

Aunty, after saying I was having trouble accessing sites, I had time to kill last night and managed all but the photo blogs! Must have been in a good mood!

Tis cool Tom and much inspiration for doodles . .just look at the wildlife! You couldn't invent a roo, platypus or echidna if you tried!

Chris, Waltzing Matilda (well the tune anyway) is really our National Anthem. Don't tell me John Williamson has made it to Tennessee . .cant stand the droning moron! Although he had everyone singing Home Among the Gum Trees during the Royal Easter Show!

Steph, yep, we get the odd one. The last to do any real damage was about 200ks north in Newcastle during the late 80's. And then there's cyclones, bushfires, floods, drought . . .

Apparently not Ronda. That was something I didn't know either. Plenty of craters!

VE you mean you usually don't! *bitch slaps to Tuesday*! Better 'topped over' than 'toppled'.

Megan, who wants to live in Red Shit other than lizards and insects! Some of the farms alone out beyond the great dividing range are 50,000 - 1 million acres! They have to muster with a helicopter.

Willow you must . . sorry I stole all the photos . .time poor and my pics of cool things usually have people standing bang in front of them! Besides, I've never been to the top end or Northern Queensland.

Dakota Bear said...

Thank you for the informative post about your country.

Would love to visit, but I have to get past the length of the flight from New York.

K8 the Gr8 said...

If I could clone myself for two months, I'd be over like a shot, heading straight for the nearest camper-van rental place. It's gorgeous.

Um... I tagged you by the way.

*runs away*

kj said...

queen f: your blog is not one i want to skim, so i'll be back to catch up when i can mosey through at my own pace. xoxo!

River said...

I love Australia. I've been here since I was 9 months old and I'm never leaving. Now, if the Powers That Be could just drop our summer temperatures by, oh, say 10 degrees, and maybe splash a bit more water around, it would be heaven.

Coffee Messiah said...

What a beautiful country and history.

Liza said...

Thanks for teaching us about your part of the world. I hope to get there some day. It's absolutely breath-taking.

Bimbimbie said...

I think you deserve a Tick, a Gold Star and a Toffee for your homework*!*

Ribbon said...

Baino I'm gonna make a link to this post from me... hope that's okay with you.

x Ribbon

PS oh yeah... it's a great read:-)

Sarah Lulu said...

G'day ....great post.

I'm in NSW rural ...Australia.

nice to meet you,

Sarah Lulu

Baino said...

Oh Dakota it aint that far. Have a stopover in Singapore!

You don't need a camper van K8 you can borrow my car! And thanks for the tag. I'll post it sometime this weekend. "Mommy" Gawd, who says 'Mom'.

Take your time kj

Especially after this summer, River, twas a stinker!

Like I said Coffee, perhaps a little 'balance' is called for next week . .It's beautiful alright but it has it's ugly side.

At the rate your travelling Liza, could be sooner than you think. And welcome over to the banter that is Baino!

No toffee Bimbimbie, plays havoc with the fillings!

Mi casa su casa Ribbon, go for it!

Nice to meet you to Sara Lulu, welcome over, the water's fine!

Colette Amelia said...

You are the best tour guide! thanks for the great overview of your unique country! My son spent last year there with his australian lass and thanks to you I really feel I know a little of that land down under!