Living in the Australian outback
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Why is most of Australia desert? - Normally rain bearing winds blow across the pacific towards Australia. The mountains that border the coast - the great dividingn range cause this air to rise and cool rapidly. This leads to condensation and then rain.
As the air descends from the mountains, it is drier and a 'rain shadow' is created. This results in western areas. The further west the winds blow, the drier they are - so the driest areas are in western Australia.
The back of Bourke - Bourke is a small town in the outback of South Wales. Australias outback is huge! It is as big as the Atlantic! The outback is one of the worlds most barren and least populated places. Mostly its desert or semi desert, with scattered cattle farms. Mining towns are linked by a few tarmac covered roads and drift tracks. Australians rarely travel there, reffering to its remoteness as the 'back of the bourke'.
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How plants and animals survive
The three main ways in which desert plants have adapted to arid climates are: Succulence, drought tolerance, drought avoidance.
Succulence - Australia has over 400 succelent species. They store water in fleshy leaves, stems or roots. Desert rains are infrequent, light short lived and evaporate quickly, so water must be captured and stored: Can quickly absorb large amount of water throughb shallow root systems. Can store for a long period of time, Stems and leaves have waxy cuticles which make them waterproof. READ MORE.
Drought tolerance - means having mechanisms that help to survive drought, plants of this type shed leaves to prevent water loss through transpiration, become dormant. Others like eucalypts, remain evergreen but have waxy leaves with few stomata, to minimise water loss. These plants have deep roots which penetrate soil and rock to get underground water, They photosynthesis with low moisture levels, which would be fatal to most plants.
How plants and animals survive 2
Drought avoidance - Most drought avoiders are annuals - they survive one season, have a rapid life cycle, and die after seeding: Their seeds last for years and germinate only when soil moisture is high. Some germinate during autumn, after rain and before winter cold sets in. The seedings survive winter frost and flower spring.
Australian desert animals - Australias deserts are not the worlds driest, but rain is unpredictable. Several years can pass between showers. Many animals settle near small water courses - known as billabongs. Desert animals have had to evolve to survive.
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Coping with Australias extremes
Managing supplies of water - Farmers have two water sources: Most farms have dams and reservoirs to store water which cattle and sheep can drink, Farms use boreholes to tap into underground artesian water. Rain soaks into desert soils and percolates(trickles) down into the bedrock. Over many years water gradually collects. If you drill a borehole, it comes up - either under natural pressure or by using windpumps. This water can be used for domestic supply or for animals.
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Going underground - Most people in the outback dont farm, they work in mines. Australia has some of the worlds largest reserves of quality iron ore, silver and gems (such as opals). Wages are high to attract people. But living there means using lots of energy to run the air conditioning needed to make life bearable. Traditional settlers lived differently. The town of Coober Pedy in south Australia is built almost wholly underground. Houses are cut into solid rock, where daytime heat and night time cold are evened out.
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Valuing people and culture
The aboriginal style - The traditional aboriginal diet varies, depending on the area of Australia they are in. For desert groups, there is a huge variety of food available such as: fruits, seeds, grubs and meat. Now Australia has a growing native food industry based on traditional aboriginal knowledge of what edible in the outback. Several plants have multiple uses as food, medicine, utensils, tools, musical instruments or weapons.
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Aboriginal beliefs and lifestyles - Their beliefs focuses on the land. They see it as sacred and something to be protected. Traditionally aboriginal people survived by hunting and gathering - finding edible plants and animals: Created conditions in which grubs could live and breed, They built dams across riversto catch fish, and to make pools where birds would gather, As generations split and younger people move to towns, stories about care of the land are being lost...
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Tourism and aboriginal culture - The aboriginal peoples are some of the worlds longest established communities. They first reached Australia at least 43,000 years ago, the first aboriginal people came to Uluru, Uluru is located within the Uluru Kata Tjuta national park. Uluru is known as Ayers rock which is a sacred site amongst the aboriginise people.
What problems do tourists bring? - Can be exploited to provide entertainment...
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