The Australian Outback

Report on the ecosystem of the Australian Outback.




            Even though the Australian “Outback” doesn’t officially exist within governmental frameworks or boundaries, the area generally refers to the remote areas of Australia’s interior.  Traditionally, “the bush” (slightly rural stretch of land) ends at the “black stump,” and anywhere beyond that is the Outback.  Also referred to as the “never-never,” the Outback is roughly 2.5 million square miles.  There are primarily three sections of the outback: the north (top end), middle (red center), and south (southern outback).


Abiotic Factors

            Australia is the driest habitable continent on Earth, and the arid Outback has a very unique climate.  Maximum temperatures average 36-39°C in summer and 18-24°C in winter.  Remember summer and winters are in opposite months than the U.S.A.  During the cooler months of July and August, night temperatures can drop well below freezing causing frosts up to fifty percent of the mornings.  Rainfall varies in different regions of the Australian Outback.  In the tropical north of Australia, an average of 40 cm of rain falls annually, but in the colder southern and eastern Australia, only about 15 cm falls.  Western Australia’s average rainfall is 20 cm.  The driest part of Australia is the center where rainfall can drop below 12 cm per year.  Average rainfall is difficult to calculate in Australia because the rainfall is so unpredictable.  Besides the northern part of Australia, there are no seasons.  Rain can fall any day of the year or not at all for many years.  Average evaporation rates in the Outback are greater than 340 cm.

            All of the soil in the Outback is poor, eroded, and impossible to support livestock or crops.  However, the rangelands in the Lake Eyre Basin contain a few fertile plots of land to raise cattle and sheep.  The Outback is extremely rich in iron, magnesium, aluminum, and uranium ores along with major deposits of gold, nickel, lead, and zinc.  Basically, hot, dry weather; small, random amounts of rain; and poor soil define the non-living setting of the Australian Outback.

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