Australia

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Despite the extensive arid and desert areas that cover most of the country, there are a wide range of diverse habitats. In the north are rainforests and vast plains, in the southeast are snowfields, and fertile croplands are found in the east, south and southwest.

Because of its isolation, Australia has developed an incredibly unique collection of wildlife, including iconic species like kangaroo, koala, wombat, platypus and birds such as the emu and kookaburra. As a country surrounded by the Indian, Southern and Pacific oceans, Australia’s coastal marine habitats range from coral reefs to seagrass plains to giant kelp forests.

Climate change and drought are among the most pressing environmental problems facing Australia as well as deforestation, overfishing, pollution and invasive species.
 / ©: WWF-Caon / James W. THORSELL
Aerial view of the Daintree river delta, Queensland Australia.
© WWF-Caon / James W. THORSELL

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Australia’s summers (December to February) can be very hot, with temperatures ranging from around 40°C in the Outback and desert regions.
  • The country is experiencing one of the worst periods of drought in over a century.
  • Australia is one of the highest users of water per capita in the world, despite being the driest inhabited continent. Water conservation has become a top priority at all levels. Find out how to save water at: http://www.savewater.com.au
  • Tap water in Australia is safe to drink.
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Recycling
  • Recycling facilities in Australia are widely available - at home, schools, community centres, shopping centres, businesses and parks.
  • Local councils issue curbside recycling bins and collect plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and garden and vegetable waste to recycling plants. Find the closest place to recycle at: http://www.recyclingnearyou.com.au/
  • Many communities in Australia have drop-off recycling centres where you can deposit recyclable items that cannot be put in curbside recycling bins. These include batteries, car parts, clothing, furniture and plastic shopping bags.
  • Currently, only the state of South Australia has a container deposit refund - 10 cents per can or bottle.
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Transport
  • Getting around Australia by train is probably not the best way; rail systems are more used for freight transport than passengers. The main routes in Australia are from Perth to Adelaide and from Melbourne to Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.
  • Travelling by bus is probably the best and cheapest way to get around Australia. As Australia is about the same size at the US, keep in mind that distances between destinations can be huge.
  • The Spirit of Tasmania (http://www.spiritoftasmania.com.au) operates a regular ferry service between Devonport in Tasmania and Melbourne.
  • There are many well-defined bike routes and lanes in most Australian cities.
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Food
  • Consumers are increasingly choosing organic products; many organic food products can be found in Australia's major supermarkets - look for the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) label (http://www.australianorganic.com.au).
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Souvenirs
  • Most of Australia’s wildlife is protected and violators of the law can expect heavy penalties. Avoid purchasing live native animals, insects, marine shells and stony coral.
  • Souvenirs and gifts made from kangaroos can be exported provided that you do not intend to sell, trade, exchange or use them in any other form for commercial purposes.
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Green Spots
  • Blue Mountains National Park: The Blue Mountains National Park - less than two hours from Sydney - is one of eight national parks that make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Blue Mountains offer spectacular scenery, impressive rock formations, extensive eucalypt forests and diverse wildlife, including kangaroos.
  • Kosciuszko National Park: The park is named after Mount Kosciuszko, which at 2228 metres is Australia’s highest mountain. There are a number of hiking tracks which take you past small mountain streams, glacial lakes, deep gorges and high peaks. Other activities in the park include rafting, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and mountaineering.
  • Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park: Covering 1,280km2, this park on the island-state of Tasmania contains some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Australia. Lake St Clair on the southeast side of the park is the main attraction and the starting point for the famous Cradle Mountain track. Tasmanian devils, wallabies, wombats and platypuses can be spotted within the park.
  • Kakadu National Park: A three hours drive east of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park. The UNSECO World Heritage-listed park is known for its diverse habitats including a sandstone plateau and escarpment, savanna woodlands, open forests, rivers, floodplains, mangroves and mudflats. It is also known for its Aboriginal rock art sites and wildlife, which includes saltwater crocodiles.
  • Daintree National Park: Located in far northern Queensland, Daintree is covered by rainforest. Boat trips are available up the Daintree River and are a great way to spot many birds and animals, even crocodiles.
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park: Located in the Northern Territory in the iconic “red centre”, Uluru is one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions and best-known national symbols. Formerly known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is the world’s largest rock monolith; it is a 3.6km-long, 348m-high chunk of sandstone that rises abruptly out of the sandy scrubland. The rock holds deep significance for the local Aboriginal people.
  • Great Barrier Reef: The Great Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef system in the world, extending 2,000 kilometers along the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protects a large part of the Great Barrier Reef.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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