Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Numbat


Numbats are Australian marsupial’s now only found in Western Australia. They grow to 35cm-45cm in size and have reddish-brown fur with distinctive stripes. They are the only Australian animal to feed entirely on termites (white ants), of which they can eat up to 20,000 a day.

Numbats are seen to be active during the day and live in open woodlands, taking shelter from predators in logs and burrows. They are best seen at Dryandra Woodland, near Narrogin, and at Perup Forest near Manjimup in Western Australia.

First discovered by European settlers in 1831, the numbat population has been wiped out in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia due to the introduction of the European red fox in the 19th century.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Australian Uranium Mines

Uranium Dioxide

Australia is one of the world’s largest suppliers of uranium along with Kazakhstan and Canada. Although uranium is a common element in the Earth’s crust – it is typically 40 times more abundant than silver – there are only limited places in the world where its concentration makes it economically viable to mine. Australia is believed to have the world’s largest deposits of uranium.

Uranium Mines

Australia currently operates three uranium mines: Olympic Dam and Beverly in South Australia and Ranger in the Northern Territory. There are several other notable deposits and potential mining sites scattered across the country.

In 2010 Australia produced nearly 7000 tonnes of U3O8 which was down significantly on previous years, with exports falling to A$700M in the year compared to over A$1B in previous years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles are an alien-like landscape located in Western Australia. Thousands of these limestone formations protrude from the ground in the Nambung National Park. Although the process of their formation is uncertain, it is believed the limestone material came from the sea shells of marine creatures in an earlier era. It is suspected that the pinnacles were exposed some 6,000 years ago and then covered again by shifting desert sands, only to be uncovered again a few hundred years ago.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Australia’s Longest River


Today’s Fun Fact Wednesday explores Australia’s longest river – the Murray. The Murray River is 2,375Km in length and is the world’s third longest navigable river after the Amazon and the Nile. It flows from the Australian Alps in New South Wales, along the New South Wales-Victorian border to Lake Alexandrina in South Australia, where it meets the ocean.

It joins the Darling River that flows from Southern Queensland to form the Murray-Darling system which is critical to the irrigation of much of Australia’s agriculture. The Murray River is responsible for irrigating 42% of over 1 million hectares of farm land.

One of the best ways to explore the Murray is in a houseboat which can be hired from various locations along the river.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Aboriginal Place Names

By User Thomasburrows on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the names of many places in Australia are of Aboriginal origin? European settlers would often adopt the names of locations and landmarks from Australia’s indigenous people. This also explains why several names – such as Woy Woy – are repeated, with the repetition creating a form or emphasis in the native language.

These are the translations of some well known places:

  • Ballarat – Resting place;
  • Bondi – Water breaking over rocks;
  • Caboolture – Place of the carpet snake;
  • Geelong – Tongue;
  • Illawarra – A pleasant place;
  • Indooroopilly _ Gully of running water;
  • Mt Coot-tha – Dark honey;
  • Parramatta – Place where the eels lie down;
  • Pilbara – Mullet or Dry;
  • Wagga Wagga – Place of many crows and;
  • Woy Woy – Deep water.

There are many others and many are simply Aboriginal names for a particular place in their own right.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Australian Tropical Cyclones


As Tropical Cyclone Yasi heads towards the Queensland coast, today’s Fun Fact Wednesday discusses the phenomena of cyclones in Australia.

The Australian cyclone season runs from 1st November to 30th April. They are generated by warm ocean temperatures of 26.5oC or higher, resulting in water evaporation that forms clouds. The rotation of the Earth then causes these cyclone clouds to rotate.

To be classified as a cyclone, wind speeds must exceed 63km/h. The severity of a cyclone is graded on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most extreme with winds above 280km/h resulting in almost total destruction on land. TC Yasi has been classified as category 5.

The names of cyclones are taken from a list of 104 names used by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Up until 1975, all of the names selected were female but now cyclones are given male and female names alternately. Cyclone names are reused unless the cyclonic event has a significant affect on Australia – such as TC Tracy. When a name is retired it is replaced by a name on a supplementary list. The Bureau  of Meteorology accepts requests for new names to be added to the supplementary list in writing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Australians of the Year

Simon McKeon

This evening the Australian Prime Minister Hon Julia Gillard MP announced Simon McKeon as the 2011 Australian of the Year. The 55 year Victorian has come to prominence due to his philanthropic efforts in supporting charities both nationally and internationally. Following a successful career as an investment banker, Mr McKeon has worked to support charities including MS Research Australia, World Vision International and Red Dust Role Models.

Jessica Watson

In the same ceremony the Prime Minister announced Jessica Watson as the Young Australian of the Year. The 17 year old from Queensland won the hearts of the nation when she successfully circumnavigated the globe, unassisted, in her yacht Ella’s Pink Lady in 2010.

Ron McCallum

The Senior Australian of the Year is Professor Ron McCallum AO of Artarmon, NSW. Having served as Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, Prof McCallum has been recognised as a fervent campaigner for equal rights. He is also totally blind and is a deputy chair of Vision Australia.