• Solomon Islands!

    Solomon Islands: Looking up at palm trees. Go Now!

    Solomon Islands
    This Melanesian country is best known for its many islands and beaches... and this natural landscape (pictured) is why most people go. Don't miss out on the unique Melanesian culture and foods though! Begin Your Journey!

  • Tonga!

    Tonga: Coastline. Go Now!

    The heart of Polynesian culture is rooted in Tonga, but most visitors just come for the natural beauty. Explore Tonga!

  • Vanuatu!

    Vanuatu: Jetty into the ocean. Go Now!

    Picturesque serenity is a good way to describe Vanuatu, but the culture offers much more, including the inspiration for bungee jumping, which remains a rite of passage for young men. Explore Vanuatu!

  • Palau!

    Palau: "70 Islands!" Go Now!

    Few people have even heard of this small Micronesian country, but those who have often return with stories of beauty unmatched elsewhere, such as view of the "70 Islands" (pictured). Go Now!

  • Explore the: Federated States of Micronesia!

    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

    Federated States of Micronesia
    This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Begin Your Journey!

  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Australia


Australian Geography - 12 Apostles
12 Apostles

Australia is a huge country with a fairly diverse geography, but much of the country is low-lying plateaus. The country consists of the large island of Australia, the smaller island of Tasmania, as well as hundreds of smaller islands surrounding the large island.

On the large island of Australia the lands begin at higher elevation in the northwest, but fall in elevation as the land moves to the south and central part of the island. The lands in the western half of the island tend to be fairly rocky and even the regions with soil rarely receive rain making much of the island desert. Much like the lands from the northwest fall as you move east, the lands from the north central part of the island also fall as you move south and again this region is very dry and primarily desert. The land again rises a bit in the east, then slowly falls to the eastern coast. The eastern coast gets more rain and is filled with rivers and lakes as this is where most of the population lives.

Off the northeastern coast of Australia is the Great Barrier Reef and off the southeastern coast of the large island is the island of Tasmania, which is fairly fertile and hilly. The highest point in the country is only 7,300 feet (2,200 meters), which is Mt. Kosciuszko, which is in Australia's southeast.


Australian Geography - Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley

Although a large country, much of Australia is nearly unlivable due to the above mentioned geography and the weather. Much of the country is desert with extremely hot and dry days with cold nights. The rocky soil and poisonous snakes don't attract many people either. The north coast tends to be hot, humid, and rainy, giving the region a tropical weather pattern and great conditions for plants and animals to survive. Despite this, most people tend to prefer the western, eastern, or southern coasts. The oceans regulate the temperatures in these areas, never giving any of these regions extreme highs or lows. These coasts, especially the southeastern corner also get steady rain giving rise to rivers, lakes, good soils, crop growth, fresh water, and hence, ideal living conditions. It is no surprise that most of the people in Australia live in the southeastern corner.

Australia is a fairly large country and its weather differs due to its many geographic variations and the seasons. However, these seasons are fairly consistent across the country with the exception of the northern coast, which is tropical and has only two seasons (wet and dry), whereas the south has more variety in the seasons.

Australian Geography - Outback

Summers in Australia are December to February. This is the hottest time of the year for most of the country as Sydney and much of the southeastern coast has daily highs of 80° F (27° C), Perth is a bit hotter with daily highs hitting about 90° F (32° C), and Darwin, in the north, hits about the same daily highs as Perth. The major differences at this time of year come in rain and night temperatures. Sydney and Perth have night temperatures in the mid-60s° F (17-19° C) and the rain is inconsistent, but fairly steady year round. The humidity in Darwin, Cairns, and much of the north is excruciating at this time of year as the rains are regular and daily lows never seen to get below 78° F (26° C). This hot and humid rainy season in the north lasts from about October to about March. The country's interior also has fewer seasonal variations; nights can get very cold year round (30s-40s° F (3-9° C)), with daily highs around 90° F (32° C) most days, although the rains here are usually absent.

Winters in Australia (June to August) experience colder temperatures nearly everywhere. The temperatures in the north don't get too much lower during the days (although at nights they can dip to 66° F (19° C)), but the humidity seems to take a break and the rains ease back from about April to September. Sydney, Perth, and many other cities in the south are usually in the mid-40s° F (6-8° C) at night, but temperatures still get into the low-60s° F (16-18° C) most days. Not unlike the summers, the interior has very cold nights (30-40s° F (2-9° C)) and day time temperatures also drop, although it tends to stay in the 60s or 70s° F (18-26° C) most days.

The in between seasons vary between the summer and winter extremes, but are less predictable as rain and temperature swings can be significant and rapid. The exception to this is again in the north where these moths tend to shift from rainy to dry or vice versa.


Australian Geography - Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

Australia has one of the most unique ecological systems in the world as the country is home to hundreds of bird, mammalian, fish, and reptilian species, many of which are native to Australia and can be found nowhere else on earth. For this reason many animals found elsewhere in the world are absent in Australia and many animals in Australia can only be found here... and in foreign zoos.

The mammal life in Australia is filled with many unique animals now known throughout the world as the country is home to kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, wombats, wallabies, Tasmanian Devils, and platypuses among other unique animals. More common mammals can also be found, such as bats and small rodents. Other common animals also arrived with people, particularly settlers from New Guinea, who brought with them pigs, dogs, mice, and rats among others.

The waters surrounding Australia are also home to mammals in the form of dolphins, whales, and sea lions. More than the mammals in the waters around Australia, the fish and other sea life is incredibly diverse. The amount and variety of coral reefs off the country's northeast coast (the Great Barrier Reef) is the world's largest and most diverse coral system in the world. The reefs also attract thousands of animals from fungi and starfish to mackerel and sharks. Among the many animals around the corals, as well as off the other coasts, are surgeonfish, clownfish, sailfish, puffer fish, butterfly fish, grouper, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, marlin, mahi-mahi, shrimp, krill, crab, oysters, seahorses, manta rays, sharks, jellyfish, starfish, and sea urchins among many others. The country's inland lakes and rivers are also home to many freshwater animals including perch, spiny lobster (or crayfish), and bull sharks have been known to swim upstream as well.

The water and the land have attracted more than just fish, they have also attracted numerous birds, including many that feed off the animals in the sea. The bird life in Australia again includes both common species as well as some more unique to Australia, including doves, owls, honeyeaters, emus, swans, lyrebirds, cockatoos, parakeets, budgerigars, passerines, scrub fowls, heron, and in the far south even some species of penguin. Early settlers also introduced the chicken, perhaps settlers who arrived from New Guinea or another island to Australia's north.

Like the mammalian life, the reptilian and amphibious life is fairly distinct and diverse. The most well-known and feared of these animals are snakes as dozens of species exist, including most of the world's most poisonous. Lizards, toads, frogs, and turtles are also common on land and in the waters around the country.

The insect and other small animal life is fairly diverse. These animals include butterflies, bees, ants, flies, snails, spiders, and worms among others.

Like the animal life, the plant life is also quite diverse. Many plant species in Australia have existed in the country for thousands of years and the island is home to many of the oldest plant species in the world. Among these plants are included acacia trees, eucalyptus trees, palm trees, mangrove trees, fungi, ferns, mosses, daisies, hibiscus, frangipani, and thousands of additional tree, flower, and plant species. In addition to these plants, many others have arrived thousands of years ago from the nearby islands to Australia's north including coconuts, taro, breadfruit, bananas, yams, arrowroot, lemons, and sugarcane among others.

This page was last updated: March, 2013