2 Australia’s Geographical Dimensions A continent is one of seven great landmasses. The majority of countries are located on one of these continents. The continents vary in size. From largest to smallest: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Antarctica and Australia. In the beginning of time, all seven of these continents were joined together into one super continent named Pangaea. These continents split and moved around the globe due to continental drift, Australia drifting further south. Australia is approximately 7862 square kilometres in area. Australia also has two time zones, the east and the west. Crossing from north to south would cover over 2500 kilometres
3 Australia’s Geographical Dimensions From largest to smallest, the states and territories of Australia are: Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT The external territories of Australia are: Coral Sea Islands Territory, Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos Islands and The Australian Antarctic Territory.
4 Locating AustraliaAustralia is located in the southern and eastern hemispheres. Western and Eastern hemispheres are not commonly referred to but they are divided by the Prime Meridian, which we lay on the east side of. Australia is located beneath some of the most populous countries in the world, some of the largest cities (megacities) and some of the world’s largest and most important economies.
5 Longitude And Latitude Longitude is imaginary lines around the globe running from north to south. These lines measure distance east and west of the Prime Meridian (0°) Latitude is imaginary lines around the globe running from east to west. These lines measure distance north and south of the Equator. Latitude is always given before longitude. The longitude and latitude of Australia is: °S, °E
6 Origins Of The Continent: Aboriginal Perspective Dream stories are important to Aborigines because they show and explain how all things began. The stories give them an extremely strong spiritual and survival connection to the earth and land. The land provided everything they need to survive and connected them with their ancestors. There are varying Dreamtime stories due to different customs and languages of tribes. These stories can be passed down in a number of ways, mainly through drawings or verbal means. The symbols on these paintings act as a map, that mark camp sites, running water, danger etc. These stories provide a basis for people’s spirituality and provide rules to live by.
7 Origins Of The Continent: Geographical Perspective Tectonic processes are the cause of how the broad shape Australia today came to be. Tectonic plates are cracked Earth curst which ‘float’ on the layer of rock below via convection currents. Convection currents in the rock caused the plates to move slowly around the surface. This theory is called continental drift. Continental drift influenced the shape of Australia. Pangaea evolved into Laurasia and Gondwana, then into Eurasia and then to today’s current continents. Extreme disasters tend to occur on the plate boundaries because there is an easy chance for collision of plates which can cause disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions etc. The movement of the Earth’s plates also influenced the landforms of Australia, through fold and fault mountains. Many of Australia’s mountain ranges are an example of these processes.
8 Tectonic Processes and Volcanic Activity There was extensive volcanic activity in Australia in the past. There were volcanoes the size of Vesuvius. Many volcanologists say that these volcanoes occurred as the continent drifted north and moved over a hot spot in the mantle. Around 33 million years ago, Australia passed over a very large hot spot, resulting in about 30 volcanic eruptions over the next 27 million years, Australia’s volcanic landscape has changed overtime through erosion of existing volcanoes.
9 Impacts of Changing Climates and Sea Levels Australia is the lowest and flattest continent in the world. During the last Ice Age, the sea level was 100 metres lower then it is today. At the end of this Ice Age, higher temperatures led to the retreat of ice sheets and glaciers, causing sea levels to rise to present levels. Some of the lower valleys were drowned, which created harbors such as Sydney Harbour. Many scientists believe that Aborigines are descended from people who migrated to Australia from southern Asia. This was probably the largest-scale migration in history. The first people to reach Australia could simply walked most of the way across the land bridge between PNG.