A for Arid

Driest inhabitated continent – Australia

One of the aspects of Australian life that shocked my family on arrival was water restrictions. Four minute showers, people!  They may lack reliable electricity in Nigeria but they do not lack water.  How could this country their Dad was so keen on living in not have enough water?

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet.  Only Antarctica is drier, but it isn’t exactly inhabited.

Australia is the lowest, flattest and, apart from Antarctica, the driest of the continents. Unlike Europe and North America, where some landscapes date back to around 20,000 years ago, when great ice sheets retreated, the age of landforms in Australia is generally measured in many millions of years. This gives Australia a very distinctive physical geography.


Only 10% of Australia’s almost 7.7 million square kilometres is suitable for agriculture.  Temperatures can be extreme.  The highest recorded temperature was at Oodnadatta, South Australia when the temperature reached 50.7 C  (123.3 F) recorded on the 2nd January, 1960 although I have read the record is 53.1°C (127.6°F) recorded at Cloncurry (QLD) on 16 January 1889.  Suffice to say, parts of this continent get HOT!

There seems to be no debate about the coldest: Charlotte Pass, New South Wales reached  -23.0 C  (-9.4 F) recorded on the 29th June, 1994.

The closer to the equator, the more tropical the weather.  Down south, where we live, the climate is temperate but still dry.  We had drought conditions for over a decade: hence the four minute showers.  We do have a couple of places that are considered wet, with over 300 days a year considered “wet”, however they are few and far between.  Australia is indeed a continent of extremes.

Australia is bigger than many overseas visitors expect.  From the above link:

The land area of Australia is almost as great as that of the United States of America (excluding Alaska), about 50% greater than Europe (excluding the former USSR) and 32 times greater than the United Kingdom.

Despite the fact Mr O lived here for two years before we got married, he still marvels at the size of just our state, let alone the continent.  We drive to the beach: if my family, in their homeland, drove for the same time they’d be almost in another country.  Here, we’ve just popped down the road!

Travelling through the deserts is not something to be attempted by those not suitably skilled.  Many people have died in the harsh conditions over the years.  Here is a story of two such travellers: http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/How-a-desert-claimed-two-illprepared-travellers/2005/04/12/1113251629492.html

I have to encourage all my family to drink enough, even in Melbourne.  We’ve had a couple of 38 degree (100 F) days already this summer and here it is usually a dry, dry heat.  Miss O 1 asked me, before summer, how hot can it get.  I told her, “Open the oven when I am cooking and breathe the air”.  Now she believes me!

I did buy the kids umbrellas: I think they have been used twice.  I haven’t owned an umbrella in years.

A is for arid.

A is also for Anglesea, which doesn’t look very arid at all!  If you prefer the beach to deserts, check out a day we had at Anglesea.

Bloggers participating in “My A-Z Challenge” so far:

The Hand Family in Portugal (Portugal)
Algarve Blog (Portugal)
Sami’s Colourful World (Australia)
What about your saucepans? (Dominican Republic)
Love versus Goliath (Australia)
restlessjo (Poland)

32 comments on “A for Arid

  1. Great introduction Robyn! I think we are going to open a lot of people’s eyes about Oz!
    Looking forward to your ‘B’.


  2. I can relate to Mr O marveling at the size of your state. I live in Texas and there are over 800 miles between the east and west border. The first time I drove with the Hubs from Houston to Colorado I remember remarking after 11 hours of travel and we were still driving in Texas…Had we gone east instead of west we could be on the East Coast by now…Amazing!!


    • It is about 11 to 12 hours to drive across the widest part of Victoria. It takes about 41 hours to drive fromn Perth to Sydney – across Australia – or over 55 hours from Perth to Townsville (up north in Queensland. Those times are according to http://www.whereis.com so I’m not sure how accurate they are!


  3. Very interesting and a very cool idea. I love to learn about other places. A is for arid. Can’t wait to read what B is for!


  4. Great introduction Robin to the challenge/project on A-Z Australia. Thank you! 🙂


  5. Didn’t realize Australia is almost a desert, somehow 😉


  6. Hi Robyn will link to your A-Z too. xx


  7. Thanks, Robyn. Following the A-Z challenges will be fun.


  8. Hey Team O, Go Aussie! We’re not fancy but we’re Dry, flat and Hot, I can feel the other continents collective jealousy. We also have roos and Vegemite – Booya Europe.


  9. Oh Lordy, doesn’t bare thinking about! The thickest frost here this morning. Pleased to meet you, by the way!


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