The geography of Australia is extremely vast and largely diverse. It is both the smallest continent in the world and the sixth-largest country. Strangely enough, it is as wide as the distance from London to Moscow and, all in all, it is, including its island nation Tasmania, around the same size as the United States (minus Hawaii and Alaska). Despite its size, the population is concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts. The state of Tasmania includes numerous small islands and extends to Macquarie Island. The territories of Australia include the Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands, Heard Island, the McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, the Coral Sea Islands, Ashmore Island, and Cartier Island. In fact, in total there are some 12,000 islands meaning Australia has the largest area of ocean jurisdiction in the world.
It is a country whose landscapes are also among both the driest and oldest of the world, and is a continent that is the lowest and flattest across the globe. Despite this, there are a number of mountain ranges, particularly across the western part of the country such as the Hamersley Range, the MacDonnell Ranges, and the Musgrave Range. There is also the Eastern Highlands, or the Great Dividing Range, which is the most substantial mountain range in the country and the third longest land-based range in the world; it reaches its highest point in Mount Kosciusko (2 228 m). There are also some freestanding mountains, the most famous of which is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in a central part of the country. The relatively narrow eastern coastal plain has temperate forests, the most rainfall, the most abundant and varied flora and fauna, and thus the densest human settlement. The western half of the continent is occupied by a desert plateau that rises into barren, rolling hills near the west coast. In terms of coast, the Great Barrier Reef, extending about 2000 km, lies in the northeast.
Given its size and diversity, the country’s climate is largely dictated by what region you are in. The central and western plateau tends to have a hot desert climate, the east and southeast coast an oceanic climate, the northern coast a monsoon climate, the southwest coast a warm-Mediterranean climate and the areas in between a hot semi-arid climate. For the most part, there are four seasons across the country and a wet and dry season in the tropical north. Thus December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring. Rainfall also differs depending where you are: in some places, like Darwin and Sydney, you experience mostly summer rainfall while other places, like Perth, experience heavy winter rain. Still, others have more consistent precipitation throughout the year. Temperature-wise, the north tends to experience hotter weather when compared to the south.
Our conservation volunteer projects in Australia vary in location and are relatively spread out. In Victoria, average maximum summer temperatures sit in the mid-20℃s with lows in the mid teens and winter sees temperatures drop to maximums of between 13℃ and 16℃ and lows of between 6℃ and 10℃. Rainfall is largely consistent throughout the year. In Brisbane Queensland, maximum summer temperatures average at 29℃ while winter ones drop to around 20℃, with minimums sitting at 21℃ and 9℃ respectively. The rainy season is between October and May. Further north in Cairns, Queensland, average temperatures are higher, with maximums sitting at 31℃ in summer and 25℃ in winter and minimums 21℃ and 17℃ respectively. The rainy season is between December and April with the heaviest rains falling between January and March. The water temperature along the Queensland coast varies from 21℃ in winter to 26℃ in summer. Along the coast in New South Wales (Wollongong and Newcastle) average maximum temperatures range from 26°C in summer to 16°C in winter with average minimum temperatures falling to between 19°C in summer and 7°C in winter. The weather is largely mild with consistent rain. Darwin, in the Northern Territory, has two distinct seasons: Wet (October to April) and Dry (May to September). Average maximum temperatures sit consistently around 30℃ while minimums range from 25℃ in summer to 17℃ in winter. Adelaide, in South Australia, experiences mild winters and a warm, dry summer. It has an average maximum temperature of 29°C in summer and 16°C in winter. Winter and Spring see the most rain. In Perth, Western Australia, average maximum temperatures are 29°C in summer and 14°C in winter with lows falling to around 18°C in summer and 10°C in winter. Winter also sees most of the rain. Lastly, Hobart, in Tasmania, experiences mild, rainy winters and cool summers. Maximum summer temperatures sit around 20°C and winter reaches highs of around 13°C with minimum temperatures dropping to 12°C in summer and 6°C in winter.