"AUSTRALIA – Defined by distance and isolation." Australia by tiabunna
Australia Travel Guide: 44,913 reviews and 113,570 photos
Recently, I was at a social gathering and chatting with a mate of many years. I don’t see him often enough, but during our yarn it turned out that he’s planning a trip to Hungary with his wife: the first time he’s returned since he became a refugee after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. It’s a long way. He also spoke of the migrant camp he and his family were placed in when he arrived here, and how they had to come to terms with the ‘relaxed’ Australian approach to doing things. As I listened to Miklos, I knew that his story was the ideal entry point for this page, because it is so typical: Australia is a melting pot of humanity, isolated by distance from most of the inhabited world and, in many cases, arriving because of circumstances in countries they left.
From a glance at a map, it’s not immediately obvious that Australia sits in the same (numerical) latitudes as the northern part of Africa. The 40S latitude runs between the Australian mainland and Tasmania – 40N runs through central Spain and southern Italy and the latitude of Melbourne approximates that of Algiers and Tunis. In Australia’s north, Darwin and the top of Cape York lie only about 12 degrees from the Equator. In the context of Africa, the region between the latitudes of Darwin and Melbourne includes the Sahara and some very dry country – and so it is in Australia.
The most benign climate is on or near the coasts, so it is unsurprising that most people live on the coastal fringes, in the State capital cities. Canberra, the national capital is newer, somewhat smaller, and is the largest inland city. Although Australia was developed largely on rural industries and natural resources, it now is the most urbanised large country in the world. But to see the cities is not to see Australia – they simply are the most populated parts.
With a population similar to that of Calcutta (about 20 million) spread unevenly around an area of nearly 7.7 million sq km (roughly equivalent to Europe less Russia), most of Australia is far from crowded. Yes, even distances within Australia can be as significant as those from the rest of the world: Perth is often quoted as the world’s most isolated city, it is closer to Singapore than to Sydney and there is 2000km of mainly desert between it and Adelaide, the nearest city.
Australia also can be a country of extremes, because of its size. As I write this, southern Australia is having a drought which has lasted seven years: the north of Queensland is having floods!
What is in my Australia page? For a start, I propose to focus on the sorts of general issues which might be relevant to visitors, maybe later I’ll get more into ‘places to consider visiting’. Probably more than any other of my VT pages, I expect that this will be a page which continues to be updated frequently.
The heading photo? Laughing Kookaburras, probably the most loved of all Australian birds. They’re found across most of the country.
NB: Latest update to airlines tip in "Transport" 30 October 2007.
- Pros:Relaxed lifestyle and largely unspoiled
- Cons:A long way from most other places
- In a nutshell:Whatever else, still a great place to live.
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