Australian Continent

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Australian Continent


a continent located in the southern hemisphere.

Australia extends for 3,200 km north to south, from 10°41’ S lat. (Cape York) to 39°11’ S lat. (Southeastern Cape) and for 4,100 km west to east, from 113°05’ E long. (Steep Point) to 153°34’ E long. (Cape Byron). Australia is bordered by the Indian Ocean on the west and south and the seas of the Pacific on the east and north—the Tasman, Coral, Timor, and Arafura. The coast is weakly cut; the large bays are the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north and the Great Australian Bight in the south. Cape York is the only large peninsula.

Australia is the smallest continent. Its area is 7,631,500 sq km; together with the islands of Tasmania, Kangaroo, Melville, and others, its area increases to approximately 7,704,500 sq km. The island of Tasmania is separated from Australia by the Bass Strait, 224 km wide. The Great Barrier Reef stretches along Australia’s eastern shore for 2,300 km.

Orography The terrain of Australia is dominated by plains. About 95 percent of the surface does not exceed 600 m above sea level in altitude. There are three main orographic units: (1) The West Australian Plateau, average elevation 400–500 m, with the following elevated regions: in the east, the Musgrave (Mount Woodroffe, 1,440 m) and Macdonnell (Mount Ziel, 1,510 m) ranges; in the north, the Kimberley Plateau (altitude up to 936 m); in the west, the flat-peaked sandstone Hamersley Range, with altitudes up to 1,226 m; in the southwest, the Darling Range, with altitudes up to 582 m. (2) The Central Lowlands, with altitudes predominantly 100 m or less above sea level. The lowest point in Australia—12 m below sea level—is located in the area of Lake Eyre. In the southwest there are the Flinders Ranges and Mount Lofty. (3) The Great Dividing Range, of middle altitude, with flat summits, a steep, sharply dissected eastern slope, and gently stepped western slope, changing to rolling foothills. The highest point in Australia is Mount Kosciusko (2,230 m), located in the Australian Alps in the south.

The contemporary relief of Australia largely conforms to the ancient relief, having experienced no sharp tectonic movements since Precambrian times. The surface was subjected to a lengthy process of denudation, as a result of which peneplains—vast plains with insular mountain ranges—were created on the outcroppings of the basement. Intensive sedimentation in the Mesozoic-Cenozoic era in the synclines of the Australian shield and in the zone of the Central Australian downwarp contributed to the formation of vast stratified and accumulated-lake plains. The areas of greatest submersion of the platform are occupied by alluvial-lake plains of the Central Basin and the plains of marine and lake accumulation of the Murray basin and the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Higher stratified plains are developed on the slopes of the synclines and the troughs between them and also in the northwest and south of the West Australian plateau, in areas of regional synclines of the ancient basement. Foundation plateaus and plains predominate in western Australia. Repeated alternation of pluvial and arid epochs in Neogene and Pleistocene eras determined the combination of ancient and modern forms of diverse origin—including mineral dunes in the moist southeast and dry riverbeds and ancient lake hollows in the deserts. The Great Dividing Range rises up on the site of denuded Paleozoic fold systems. Cenozoic volcanism brought about the appearance here of lavic plateaus and plains, small craters, and volcanic lakes. The development of the Antrim Plateau resulted from Paleozoic volcanism. Forms of Pleistocene mountain glaciation are bounded by the Kosciusko massif. The most notable regions of karst relief are the Nullarbor Plain, the Blue Mountains, the Barkly Tableland, and the Atherton plateau.

Geological structure and mineral resources. Much of Australia (the western and central area) belongs to the region of the ancient Australian platform, which also includes the northern, western, and southern (west of the Gulf of St. Vincent) underwater extension of the continent, the Arafura Sea, and the southern islands of New Guinea. The eastern border of Australia is formed by the East Australian geosynclinal fold belt, which developed in the course of the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic eras. The Australian platform has an Archean-Lower Proterozoic basement, formed by deeply metamorphized volcanic rocks of basic composition and terrestrial deposits, transformed into gneisses and displaced by granites. There are outcroppings of Archean rocks in the west (the Pilbara and Kalgoorlie blocks) and in the center (the Musgrave Ranges). In northern Australia there are smaller Archean blocks with a Proterozoic sedimentary cover (the Kimberley Plateau, for example), separated by narrow geosynclinal fold systems of Lower Proterozoic origin. Unmetamorphized terrestrial, carbonaceous, and volcanic rocks of the Proterozoic cover, reaching thicknesses of many kilometers, are spread broadly over the platform, making up the Nullagain downwarp in western Australia and flat hollows on the Kimberley Plateau, Arnhem Land peninsula, and southwestern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria; they underlie a Lower and Middle Paleozoic sequence in the deeper and more intensely deformed Amadeus downwarp (aulakogene) and also in central Australia. In some places, such as the Geor-gina hollow in northern Australia, upper layers of the cover belong to the Lower Paleozoic era; on the border of the Proterozoic, covers of plateau basalts occur.

In the coastal and shelf region, a system of perioceanic downwarps—including the gulfs of Joseph Bonaparte, Canning, Carnarvon, and Perth—existing from the start of the Paleozoic, are developed; in places, the depth of submersion of the basement exceeds 5–10 km. As a rule, they are separated from outcroppings of the basement on land by great breaks, which give them the structure of semigrabens. In some areas, the hollows are separated by upthrusts (horsts) of the basement and also from the underwater border of the continent; then they constitute grabens. The Canning downwarp is extended into the heart of the basement by the hollow (syncline) of the same name, in the northeastern part of which there is the Late Paleozoic-Early Triassic Fitzroy graben (aulakogene), northwestern in range. In the south of the platform is the shallow Cenozoic Eucla basin, which opens into the Great Australian Bight.

The East Australian fold belt divides, west to east, into three systems according to age: (1) the Adelaide system (Late Baikal-Early Caledonian), which crops out toward the north; (2) the Lachlan (Caledonian) system, extending to the south into Tasmania; (3) the New Britain (Hercynian) system, separated from the preceding by the Late Paleozoic Bowen-Sydney regional downwarp. The last two systems are frequently merged historically under the name of the Tasmanian geosyncline. As a whole, the belt is composed of intensively deformed sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Upper Proterozoic and Paleozoic, containing numerous intrusions of granites.

In the Triassic, the East Australian belt entered the platform stage of development (the young platform). In the Jurassic-Paleocene, a series of basins and synclines (the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Great Artesian Basin, the Murray gulf) developed on the folded foundation of the belt and on the adjacent region of the ancient platform. Further east, on the coast of the Tasman Sea, some smaller basins arose. The structure of the basins of both the ancient and young platforms is complicated by folds of the platform type. Young subsidences (by faults) also affected the Victoria shore; the formation of the Bass Strait was connected to these actions. The Great Dividing Range resulted from the most recent uplifts of the coast of the Tasman Sea. Its formation and the settling of the coasts of the Tasman Sea and Bass Strait were accompanied by basaltic volcanism.

The basement of the Australian platform contains significant deposits of gold in western Australia, polymetallic and uranic ores and bauxites in western Queensland and elsewhere; the Proterozoic sedimentary cover has rich deposits of iron ores—in the Hamersley Range in western Australia and so on. In Upper Paleozoic and also in more recent formations in the east of Australia there are deposits of coal. In recent years, deposits of oil and gas in sedimentary accumulations of various ages have also been discovered in a number of regions of Australia, including the Great Artesian Basin, the Victoria shore, western Australia, and the Amadeus trough.


Climate Much of Australia lies in the tropics; the north lies in subequatorial latitudes, the south in subtropical latitudes. The total solar radiation is constantly high: in the north and south, about 590 kJ/cm2/yr, in interior regions 750 kJ/cm2/yr. The radiation balance over much of Australia is 250–290 kJ/cm2/yr; in the north and northeast it is 335 kJ/cm2/yr (1 kcal/cm2 = 4.19 kJ/cm2; 1 kJ/cm2 = 0.24 kcal/cm2). At the low altitudes of the Australian plains this balance produces constantly high temperatures throughout the continent. Australia lies almost entirely within the 20°C–28°C summer and 12°–20°C winter isotherms. Seasonal temperature variation is demonstrated mainly in the internal regions of the tropical belt and in the subtropics. The warmest region, with January temperatures over 40°C, is in the northwest (Marble Bar). The absolute maximum temperature is 53.1°C, observed in Cloncurry (Queensland). The absolute minimum temperature in interior regions of Australia falls to between –4°C and –6°C. Frosts are persistent only in the Australian Alps, where temperatures down to –22°C are recorded.

The fact that much of Australia is located in the continental sector of the tropical belt determines the dryness of the climate—which is aggravated by the continent’s expanse from west to east, the weak cutting of the shores, and the barrier of the Great Dividing Range on the paths of moist winds from the oceans. Less than 250 mm of precipitation falls annually on 38 percent of Australia. However, there is no long drought, since the flatness of the continent and its relatively small dimension from north to south favors the penetration of moist winds both from the north and the south into the heart of the continent. In summer (December-February), the Australian minimum pressure becomes established over the strongly heated continent; from the northwest and north it draws in the moist equatorial monsoon, which brings precipitation to the coast (more than 1,500 mm a year in the six to seven moist months). South of 22° S lat. precipitation diminishes to 300 mm/yr in the four to five rainy months, and 250 mm/yr on the western coast.

A series of anticyclones pass over the south of the continent, resulting in the dry summers of southwestern Australia, the Nullarbor Plain, and the Victoria mountains. On the Murray and Darling plains, summer droughts are ameliorated by convective precipitation. In the east, winds from the Pacific Ocean carry moist air, heated over the warm East Australian current. The air’s rise up the slopes of mountains causes orographic precipitation, especially abundant between 16°S lat. and 19°S lat. The greatest amount of precipitation—2,243 mm—falls in Cairns. The summer maximum of precipitation is observed to the north of the line between Sydney and the North West Cape. In winter (June-August) descending currents of high-altitude anticyclones reach the chilled surface of the continent; the Australian pressure maximum is clearly expressed over central Australia. The winds which flow from it carry dry continental tropical air to the north and northwest; the dry season on the continent north of 15°C is linked to this. Cy-clonal rains on the line of a polar front between temperate and tropical air masses fall over southern Australia; for instance, in Perth, 494 mm of precipitation—55 percent of the yearly total—falls between June and August. On the eastern coast, south of Sydney, rainfall is distributed evenly in the course of the year, increasing in autumn with the stimulation of cyclonal activity on the polar front.

Subequatorial, tropical, and subtropical climatic belts are evident on the basis of thermobaric conditions and the nature of moistening in Australia. The Great Dividing Range, which holds back the warm and moist winds of the Pacific Ocean, accentuates the difference in moistening between the eastern coast and interior regions of Australia and isolates oceanic sectors in all belts. The subequatorial climatic belt north of 20°S lat. is characterized by constantly high temperatures (20–28°C) and the alternation of moist summer and dry winter seasons. It lies almost entirely in the inland sector; only on the northeastern coast is there a moister oceanic sector.

The tropical (tradewind) climate occupies the greatest area, between 18° and 30°S lat., with continental desert (the center), semidesert (in the west, north, and east to 145°E long.), and maritime sectors (the eastern coast and windward slopes of the mountains) with hot, moist summers and warm, less moist winters.

The subtropical climatic belt includes southern Australia. It has a southwestern Mediterranean Sea sector with hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters; a southeastern monsoon sector, evenly moistened over the year; and a continental sector with aridity increasing toward the center up to the Nullarbor plain, which is desert in the east. (See Table 1.)

Interior waters The weak development of surface drainage is connected with the prevalence of desert and semidesert climate. The total volume of drainage is 350 cu km annually (less than the other continents). The thickness of drainage is about 50 mm/yr over much of Australia; only on the windward slopes of the Great Dividing Range is it 400 mm and more. Seven percent of Australia belongs to the basin of the Pacific Ocean, 33 percent to the basin of the Indian Ocean. Sixty percent of the continent is occupied by regions of internal drainage with infrequent, temporary currents of water (creeks). The basin of Lake Eyre has the most numerous and longest creeks, including Cooper Creek and the Daiamantina. Drainage is observed in the creeks only after episodic summer downpours. Surface drainage is absent on the Nullarbor karst plain.

Most rivers of external drainage are short, with undeveloped longitudinal profiles and uneven rates of flow, navigable only in the lower reaches; they are primarily rain-fed. Floods, in accordance with the rainy season, occur during the summer on most rivers; only in southern Australia do they come in winter and in southeast Australia in autumn. The deepest rivers, with the most even flow, originate in the Great Dividing Range; the most variable are the rivers of the western coast, which run down from the semidesert coastal plateaus. The Murray River is the most abundant in Australia; its main tributary, the Darling, is the longest river in Australia (2,740 km), but it is not as deep. While the rivers of eastern Australia have large reserves of water power, their waters are used mainly for irrigation of land. The most important water power and irrigation constructions are on the Murray, Murrumbidgee, and Lachlan rivers (all in New South Wales), the Ord and Swan rivers in western Australia, and the Burdekin River in Queensland. There is a large-scale hydraulic engineering project in the Snowy Mountains to transfer the waters of the Snowy River to the Murray system, which will permit the irrigation of large tracts of land in the main agricultural regions of Australia.

There are many ancient lake hollows in Australia which fill with water only after episodic rains. Most of the year they are covered by a crust of clay and solonchak. The largest lakes in Australia are Eyre, Torrens, Amadeus, and Gairdner. There are large segregations of small lakes (up to 400) in the southwest of Australia—the plain of the Salt lakes.

A distinctive feature of Australia is the wealth of underground waters, which collect to depths of 1.5–2 km. More than 15 artesian basins occupy the synclines of the basement. The Great Artesian Basin in the Central Lowlands is the largest in the world (area, 1,736 thousand sq km). Underground water is an important source of the water supply of arid regions, but since it is highly mineralized, it is suitable mainly for the needs of industry and transport and for irrigation of pastures.

Soils Tropical soils cover much of Australia; south of 30°S lat. there are subtropical soils. In the interior, primitive tropical desert and semidesert soils and sand, primarily semifixed, predominate. On the West Australian tableland there are gravel soils and vast sheets of sand; on the plains of the Central Lowlands there are sandy-clayey and clayey soils, while there are saline soils around the lakes of the central basin. To the west, north, and east, in proportion to the increase in summer precipitation and the degree of laterization of soil strata, primitive desert soils give way to reddish-brown semidesert, red-brown, and red lateritic savanna soils. In the moist outlying regions of the north and east of the continent, red-yellow lateritic, partly podzolized soils and their mountainous varieties are developed; in the depressions and mouths of the valleys, subject to flooding by high water, there are swampy, saline soils of mangroves and marshes. With the increased moistening of the climate to the southwest and southeast, the desert soils of the dry subtropics on the Nullarbor Plain are replaced by gray-brown and brown soils, which give way on the windward slopes of the Darling Range and in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to reddish-brown soils. In the extreme southwest, relict krasnozems and zheltozems on lateritic crusts are encountered. On the windward slopes of the Great Dividing Range, north of 28° S lat., mountain lateritic soils are formed in intermontane valleys; on ancient and modern alluvial accretions and on weathered lavas there are tropical black soils. In the subtropical belt, on the slopes there are mountain zheltozems and krasnozems and mountain yellow-brown forest soils; on the peaks of the mountains there are mountain-meadow soils.

With irrigation, desalinization, and cleaning, arable land constitutes 60 percent of the area of Australia. In the 1960’s, about 2 percent of the land of Australia—mainly in the subtropics—was in use for agriculture. The soils suffer greatly from erosion and surface washout.

Flora Since the middle Cretaceous period, the organic world of Australia has developed in protracted isolation. Thus, the continent’s flora is very distinctive (up to 75 percent of the varieties are endemic), constituting the Australian region. Most typical are the eucalyptus and acacia. Evidence of pre-Cretaceous land links between Australia and South America and Africa come from common families of Proteaceae and certain ephedra, southern beeches, and others. Floristic links with the Malay Archipelago and the islands of Melanesia in the Neogene account for the Malayan character of flora—with considerable endemicism —of the tropical forests of the north and east of Australia.

The vegetative cover ot Australia reflects both the historical peculiarities of its formation and contemporary hy-drothermic conditions, first and foremost the degree of moistening of the territory. Except for in the west, the outlying areas of the continent are covered with humid forests—evergreen tropical in the northeast, eucalypt subtropical in the southeast and southwest. With increasing continentality of the climate in the heart of the country, humid forests are replaced by tropical and subtropical dry eucalypt forest, thin forest, and savanna. In dry interior regions, shrub and grassy formations are developed. The predominance of shrub thickets—scrubs in semideserts and grasses in deserts—is a specific feature of Australia.

Most important among Australia’s vegetative resources are the natural pastures in semidesert and savanna areas. About 2 percent of the continent’s area is covered with forests of commercial value. For the most part, they consist of eucalyptus, which yields hard wood resistant to decay, valuable oils, and gum.

Fauna Peculiarities of the animal life of Australia allow it to be designated as the distinct Australian region. The fauna of Australia is distinguished by its ancient origin, high level of endemicism, and absence of ungulates, primates, and carnivora (except for the dingo, a wild dog brought by man). Representatives of the fauna of Mesozoic and Tertiary times have survived on the continent, including most of the marsupials inhabiting the land and also the most ancient of the mammals, the monotrematous egg-laying echidna and platypus. Many Australian animals were destroyed as a result of hunting and changes in the landscape by the economic activities of man. The importation of rabbits, which destroyed much pasture, contributed to the decline in marsupials. Some varieties of kangaroo have disappeared, and the marsupial wolf and some forms of wombats are on the verge of extinction.

Natural regions On the plains of Australia, geographical zonation is clearly evident in the subequatorial, tropical, and subtropical belts. The situation of much of Australia in the tropical belt determines the dominant development of landscape zones of this belt. The greatest area is occupied by the desert zone with an annual precipitation of up to 200–250 mm but which has, because of intensive evaporation (200–300 mm per year) a high index of aridity (3 and more). Predominant are landscapes of sandy desert with occasional surface drainage; considerable sources of underground water support the existence of grasses. Plateaus and table lands are occupied by stony deserts with sparse xerophytic shrubs and broad development of relic lateritic crusts. The modern crusts are of salt, mainly siliceous and gypseous-sulfate; they occupy the greatest area in the deserts of the Central basin, where clayey and argillo-saline halophytic deserts are extensively developed. In the east of the Central Lowlands, with the increase in moistening and the decrease in the index of aridity to 2, the zone of scrubby semidesert gives way to the zone of tropical thin forest, dry forests, and savanna.

In the subequatorial belt of Australia, north of 18°S lat., lies the zone of savanna, thin forest, and shrubs. The greatest portion of this zone is made up of subzones of desert and dry savannas, thin forest, and shrubs, the landscapes of which are dominated by savannas and thin forests. On the Arnhem Land and Cape York peninsulas, where the index of aridity is less than two, a subzone of humid high-grass savannas and savanna forests is evident. In the subtropical belt, differentiation of the landscapes is most noticeable because of sharp climatic differences of the sectors. The index of aridity rises from two or less in the outlying areas of the continent to three and more on the Nullarbor Plain. Zonal types of landscapes recur in the outlying western and eastern areas of subtropical Australia. Zones of subtropical evergreen forests and shrubs change into thin-forest and shrub landscapes toward the center and then pass over into a zone of scrub steppes. The Nullarbor Plain is occupied by a zone of subtropical semidesert and desert. The Great Dividing Range is the only zonal-oro-graphic barrier in Australia. Forest zones stretch along its windward eastern slopes: in the subequatorial belt north of 15°S lat. there are permanently moist evergreen forests; between 15° and 28°S lat. there are evergreen tropical forests, less moist, predominantly eucalyptus; south of 28°S lat. there are monsoon subtropical forests and eucalyptus. On the western, leeward slopes, zones of evergreen xerophytic thin forests and savannas predominate. In the Australian Alps, high-belt landscapes are most fully displayed.

The natural landscapes of Australia have been heavily altered by man. The protection of nature has been best organized in southern Australia. Protected territory—in national parks and preserves—comprises 0.2 percent of the territory of the country. The largest state parks (with areas more than 40,000 ha—400 sq km) are Mount Kosciusko in the Australian Alps, Wyperfeld and Wilson’s Promontory in southeastern Australia, and Eungella in Queensland.

Three natural regions, coinciding with structural-morphological provinces, are evident in Australia: the West Australian tableland—a foundation plateau with weakly developed surface drainage and a predominance of landscapes of tropical desert and semidesert; the Central Lowlands—a region of accumulated depressed plains, with clear geographical zonation, increase in continentality of climate toward the interior regions, and the replacement of landscapes of thin forest and savannas in the same direction by semidesert and desert; and the Great Dividing Range—the main watershed in the climatic division of Australia, with a predominance of mountain-forest landscapes.


The first, extremely vague information about Australia reached Europe in the 16th century through Portuguese navigators, the traces of whose visit to the northern shore of Australia were found in 1816. However, the first documented discovery of Australia was attributable to the voyages of the Dutchman W. Janssen, who in 1606 investigated the northern part of the western shore of the Cape York peninsula. That same year, the Spaniard L. Torres sailed past the northern extremity of the peninsula.

All the other major discoveries of the Australian coasts in the 17th century were made by Dutch sailors, and so the continent was named New Holland. In 1611 the Dutchman H. Brouwer established that the most favorable route from the Cape of Good Hope to the island of Java passed between 20° and 30°S lat. Following the route traced by Brouwer, the Dutchman D. Hartog discovered a strip of the western shore in 1616 on the way to Java. A large part of Australia’s western coast was discovered by Dutch navigators during 1618–22. In 1623 the Dutch expedition of J. Carstensz and W. van Coolsteerdt discovered the southern portion of the western coast of the Cape York peninsula and the Arnhem Land peninsula. In 1627, F. Thijssen and P. Nuijts, both Dutch, discovered the western part of the southern shore of Australia. In 1642–43, the Dutch navigator A. Tasman sailed a circular route through the Indian and Pacific oceans, discovering Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and New Zealand. In 1644, Tasman investigated much of the northern and northwestern shore of Australia.

In 1699 the English pirate W. Dampier discovered a number of gulfs and bays on the northwestern shore of Australia. In 1770, during his first voyage around the world, the English navigator J. Cook discovered the eastern coast of Australia and sailed through the Torres Strait from the Coral Sea to the Arafura Sea. In 1788 an English penal colony was established in Port Jackson Bay (now Sydney); subsequently intensive surveying work of the shores of Australia began. In 1798 the English topographer J. Bass discovered the strait, later bearing his name, which separates Tasmania from Australia. In the course of three expeditions (1798–1803), his compatriot M. Flinders sailed around the entire Australian continent, investigating the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria and discovering a number of bays (in particular, Spencer Gulf and the Gulf of St. Vincent on the southern shore of Australia). Later he proposed renaming New Holland Australia. Simultaneously with Flinders’s expeditions, the French expedition of N. Baudin discovered a number of islands, gulfs, and bays. Work on the investigation of the shores of Australia was carried out by F. P. King (1818–22) and J. Wick-ham (1839).

The first expeditions into the heart of the continent set out from Sydney during 1813–17. These expeditions resulted in the crossing of the Great Dividing Range and the discovery, to the west of it, of plains irrigated by the tributaries of the Darling River. The Murray-Darling river system in southeast Australia was investigated by the Englishmen C. Sturt (1829–30) and T. Mitchell (1835–36). In 1840 the Polish voyager P. Strzelecki traveled across the Australian Alps and discovered the highest peak in Australia, Mount Kosciusko.

In 1841 the Englishman E. J. Eyre accomplished the crossing from Adelaide to King George Sound over the waterless deserts of southern Australia. In western Australia, the expeditions of the Englishman G. Grey (1837–39) resulted in the discovery of the Glenelg and Gas-coyne rivers and the investigation of the vast region between the mouth of the Gascoyne and Perth.

The study of the central regions of Australia—vast stony and sandy deserts larger in area than the Sahara—began in the 1840’s. The southeastern border of this region, between the city of Adelaide and Cooper Creek, was visited during 1844–46 by C. Sturt. In 1844–45 the German voyager L. Leichhardt crossed northeastern Australia from Brisbane to the Gulf of Carpentaria and discovered a number of rivers discharging into the gulf. In 1848, Leichhardt undertook a new journey into the heart of Australia, during which his expedition disappeared without a trace. A. Gregory’s search efforts were unsuccessful, but as a result of his two expeditions (1855–56 and 1858) interior regions of the Arnhem Land peninsula were investigated and the eastern border of the central Australian desert was crossed.

In 1860 the Englishman R. Burke was the first to cross the Australian continent (from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria). He perished on the return trip at the shores of Cooper Creek.

In 1862 the Englishman J. Stuart twice crossed Australia via the Adelaide-Lake Eyre-Macdonnell Mountains-Arn-hem Land Peninsula route. He was responsible for the most important discoveries in central Australia.

The interior desert regions of western Australia were investigated in the 1870–90’s by the English expeditions of J. Forrest (1869, 1870, 1874), E. Giles (1872–73, 1875–76), P. Warburton (1873), D. Lindsay (1891), L. Wells (1896), and D. Carnegie (1896). By the early 20th century, only small blank spots remained in interior Australia. They disappeared with the mapmaking of the expeditions of S. Weston (1908–09), D. Mackay (1926–37), and C. Madigan (1937–39). Private research, tied mainly to the search for minerals, was conducted in the 1960’s.



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