"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A little more geography

The Australian continent is mainly pretty flat, our major mountain range runs North and South
for a tad more than 2,500 Km following the line of semi arid land shown just inland from
our East coast on the map below.

The highest peak is Mt. Kosciuszko (kozzy-OS-co) at 2228 meters (7310 Feet) it was named by
the Polish explorer Strezlecki who discovered it in 1840, this peak is located in a section of the
Great Dividing Range known as the Snowy Mountains, these cover a vast area with many peaks of
1800 / 2000 meters.

Seen here in Summer time the peaks just roll on forever, or so it seems.
Please click to enbiggen.

They are the home of our snow fields in Australia where each winter we have more snow than
falls in Switzerland, it has been estimated that had the upheaval that formed this range been a
bit more severe and put another 200/300 feet on the peaks we would have had year round snow
on them, as it is though the melting snow each Spring feeds the only major river system in the
country which flows inland... away from the ocean.
Known as the Murray/Darling River system it is actually 2 rivers that join together to travel
2310 miles and drain vast areas of flat terrain in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland
to the Southern Ocean.
At some stages the Great Dividing Range is little more than a series of rolling hills before it
rears up again into another mountain admittedly they are not huge by world standards but they
do run for a long way.

The lowest point in Australia is Lake Eyre, located in South Australia this normally dry lake is
15 meters below sea level and covers an area of 8,340 square Kms, when there are severe floods
in Queensland during the tropical wet season (usually after a tropical cyclone) there are 5 rivers
that carry the excess water into SA where after about 3 months traveling ever so slowly they
congregate at Cooper Creek which in turn after bringing life giving moisture to a huge semi-desert
area gradually begins to fill Lake Eyre, this process takes another 2 months and might only happen
3 or 4 times over 100 years rather than each year.

This is Lake Eyre in normal times, the edges of the lake are not as well defined as this in lots of its shoreline, underneath the salt bed there are often soft spots where unwary travelers can quickly come to grief.

Of course in the very hot summers of this area evaporation dries the lake up again over the
following year and things settle down to wait the next big wet, this river system is different to
the Murray/Darling system in that its only after big floods that the water accumulates in
sufficient quantity to reach the Cooper Creek and Lake Eyre.
Meanwhile the great majority of our rainfall reaches rivers that run only for short distances
before emptying their precious bounty into the ocean, this is particularly so in the North of the
country during the wet season.

In July 1964 Englishman, Malcolm Campbell, set a land speed record of 493.10 MPH on a specially
prepared track on the salt bed of Lake Eyre in his car "Bluebird"


Jack K. said...

Peter, thanks for sharing the information and the photos. They are beautiful.

If memory serves me right, Campbell brought his car or one like it to our great salt flats in Utah and set a land speed record there many years ago.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Walker said...

Beautiful scenery.
I guess thats where the man from Snowy Mountain came from.

kenju said...

More snow than Switzerland??? I can hardly believe it. Is it because Australia is so much larger than Switzerland?

Dave said...

What a beautiful picture of the mountains Peter!!!

Thanks for the education about OZ!

Rachel said...

Great pictures and interesting details of Australia Peter.

That car is quite amazing looking!

Puss-in-Boots said...

It wasn't that long ago that Lake Eyre had water in it, wasn't it? It was when there was all that rain in Central Aust and Uluru looked like a giant waterfall...about 10 years ago now, I think.

Suzz said...

Peter, you never cease to amaze me. Now I'm seeing your beautiful country through your expert tours.

linda may said...

G'Day Peter,
Just been for a visit on your blog. I love this country!
Also read about Steve Irwin's anniversary, my god has it been 2 years. It sure looks like his family is set to continue his great work.
Like you I was a bit put off by some of his over enthusiasm, but it always made me laugh. That was just him. We really lost something great when he died didn't we! I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the news came on the radio.

Pamela said...

Walker must have meant Man From Snowy River country. Is it?