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.