Click on the images of the
see higher resolution versions.
Read below for links to the sources of the maps.
Between the Central Highlands and the Strzelekis is the LaTrobe Valley. This is best known for the massive deposits of brown coal, from which Victoria gains almost all of its electricity. Beyond the right of this picture is the Bass Strait oil and gas fields - off the coast from the central part of the Ninety Mile Beach. Together these make Victoria self-sufficient for electricity, oil and gas. The Bass Strait field opened in the mid-sixties. Before that gas was made by cooking black coal - mainly from New South Wales. The oil and gas is not going to last a great deal longer - but the brown coal will keep going for centuries. Some natural gas is used for power generation - because such power stations can respond to peak demand better than the huge brown-coal stations. I think this is a waste of precious gas. Better to build a cable between Tasmania and Victoria. Then we can use their hydro stations for peak load, and they won't need to build more dams to cope with drought years. Tasmania has around 600,000 people, and quite a few of them just love building dams and turning forests into paper.
There is no nuclear power in Australia - but there are several large uranium mines. There is only one nuclear reactor - a small one in Sydney for research and isotope production. The Brits conducted some above-ground atomic bomb tests in South Australia in the 1950s.
Looking north west over central Victoria with Port Phillip Bay slightly to the right of centre. Sunshine and clouds over Bass Strait - a very dangerous piece of water. There is a full-size ship - the Tasmanian Taxi - which runs between Melbourne and Davenport. It takes cars, busses, trucks etc. - has nightclubs, a swimming pool and so on - its a big ship. It often gets rough in Bass Strait, and occasionally people wind up in hospital, even on this full-size ocean-going ship. On the day this photo was taken, it looks so calm that you could water-ski to Tasmania.
Only a handful of lighthouses in Australia are still operational - ships are supposed to use satellite navigation systems instead. One of the now defunct light houses is on Cape Otway - slightly left of centre in the picture and covered in cloud. I have fond memories of spending the night with a friend at Blanket Bay, to the north-east of the forest covered Cape, in my terrestrial Space Shuttle - a 1979 VW Kombi - with no-one else for miles around. The lighthouse was about five miles away and its beams periodically swept through the night sky above us. On a previous mission, with an older craft, another friend and I took a short-cut from Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay rather than take the main track to the Cape. We never got there - the van was bogged to the axles and we walked to the lighthouse to call for a four wheel drive to fish us out.
Port Phillip Bay, with Geelong to the left, Melbourne to the right and the Mornington Peninsular in the foreground. Port Phillip Heads, AKA "The Rip" is a very dangerous piece of water. Pilots are taken out by ocean-going launches from Queenscliff at all hours of the day and night - to clamber up a ladder on the side of a ship and guide its captain and crew through the heads. The big ships generally don't come unstuck - but there are very narrow limits regarding where the water is deep enough, which rocks to avoid and so-on. Most of the drama comes from the tidal forces pushing water in and out of the bay - forming whirlpools and, I understand, some exotic and sobering boating conditions. There is a magnificent dive site a few miles inside the heads - "Popes Eye" - an artificial island built last century for a fort to assist the Victorian Navy in keeping Russians from invading. (Australia's states were separate colonies until Federation in 1901.) The rock island attracts fish and gets lots of sunshine and fresh water. I remember being accosted by a squadron of cuttle-fish there and enjoying fighting my way through the thick kelp forests.
These maps are from the extensive Perry-Castañeda Library Map
Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. Some of the
there are courtesy of the CIA(God bless their
souls!) They have a list of map-related sites which lead me to the NASA
mentioned below. In particular, the contemporary Australian maps
the University of Texas site are at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/australia.html
The historical maps of Australia and the Pacific are at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/historical/history_austral_pacific.html including a large 1932 map showing the path of early European explorers:http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/historical/Australia_SE_1832.jpg .
The photographs are from Space Shuttle missions - using and extraordinary point-and-click browsing system. There are 220,973 images from the Shuttle missions 1 to 76 - they take a lot of pictures! These are available at the NASA Ames Browser for the NASA JSC's Earth Observation collectionhttp://ic-www.arc.nasa.gov/ic/projects/bayes-group/Atlas/Earth/mission-menu.html
Here is a tiny portion of the map - on most screens this will be
90% of real size. (Victoria is a very small part of Australia.)
In addition to the extensive written information, there are
charts showing monthly rainfall, and the monthly average daily maximum
minimum temperatures for 17 cities and towns. These are most
Tornadoes are very rare in Melbourne - though I did once manage to stand inside a little willy-willy for a few seconds in Bundoora. We get squall lines sometimes - a turbulent line of low cloud carrying icy, blustery, air, rain and hail that literally rolls across the bay - with calm sunny weather before and after it. In the early eighties, there was a huge dust storm as a front picked up thousands of tonnes of topsoil from the Mallee (north-western Victoria) and drove it like a bulldozer straight over where Melbourne happened to have been built. Everything went dark brown in the middle of the day and there was dust everywhere. There are some dramatic photos of this - somewhere.
From what I hear, you don't want to be in Cairns in the wet season! Melbourne's wide daily range of temperatures in summer, and especially the two to four day hot-spells we get, mean that a double-brick house (like I rent) rides out the daily temperature changes nicely - and takes several days to be seriously affected by heat-waves. Most Melbourne homes are not double brick - they are brick-veneer, which is all wrong from a thermal perspective. The outer layer of bricks is well coupled to the air outside and probably only lags by a few hours. Having a timber frame, and simply 15 mm of plaster for inside walls, the inside of the house has very little thermal inertia. However, double-brick - with 100 mm thick brick internal walls - has a massive thermal inertia.
By contrast, in Queensland and Northern NSW, it gets hot and humid and stays that way. So there's no point in having thermal inertia or insulation. Houses are traditionally set high - and some of the older timber homes don't even bother with an outer layer of weather-boards. They have simply the frame (4 x 2") and tongue and groove lining boards on the inside walls. That's what you see from the outside! The houses generally have a verandah all around - and all rooms have doors between them that open to the verandah. It would be banana's to build a house like that in Melbourne!
Sydney has more rain than Melbourne - but it buckets down, whereas it tends to spend longer drizzling in Melbourne.
Sydney is more humid than Melbourne - which makes it a favourite
cockroaches, which are very rare in Melbourne. Melbourne's water
is only very slightly chlorinated - I can't tell that it is. The water
Sydney and Brisbane stinks of chlorine. Adelaide has to get its
from the tail end of the Murray (after it has been depleted and
by irrigation projects) it used to be said that it was one of the few
where ships did not take on water.
The story, by Michelle Pountley, which accompanies these three maps is here.
Firstly, two maps showing what percentage of
workforce have either university, or trade qualifications.
Even allowing for some artistic license in
how these trends are depicted, the trends are still dramatic.
I imagine, many other cities, Melbourne's suburbs differ
There are still some suburbs that I don't know the exact location of -
living here for 36 years. There are many suburbs or groups of
where I don't really know anyone.
If you want to understand Australian culture - and in particular Melbourne - don't miss the work of Michael Leunig! I can't think of a more generous, perceptive person whose work - since the early 1970s - has meant so much to me and many people in Australia.
The Herald-Sun outsells The Age nearly two-to-one. I wouldn't be surprised if the demographics of these two newspapers were highly correlated with the trade / university education trends depicted in these maps.
Here is the third map from the Herald Sun / ABS:
then point your browser at this fab NASA site: http://ic-www.arc.nasa.gov/ic/projects/bayes-group/Atlas/
There is also a relatively low resolution (compared to the above
"Earth and Moon" viewer which synthesises images of any area of the
- including how that area is lit at the current time. http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/vplanet.html
This site enables you to easily choose which city to look at.
This example, centred on Melbourne, shows seabed relief too. Tasmania was connected to the mainland around 10,000 years ago when more water was locked up at the poles in the form of ice.
There is a big, synthetic image, "map" of the world from
- like the above, as if it were photographed, but actually made with
I found it at Calvin J. Hamilton's multi-lingual guide to the Solar
System (no longer there)
Here's the Australian section of the big colour topographic map of the Earth, from the US National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder Colarado (no longer there) :http://julius.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/fliers/94mgg01.html Click on it to see a bigger version.
To see where the Australian continental place is believed to have fitted in with other parts of Pangea, click here to dive into the middle of a tutorial on plate-tectonics from the Hawaii Natural History Association.
In contrast to Indonesia and New Zealand, Australia is geologically a very quiet continent. There are no active volcanos on the mainland or Tasmania - but there is one on an island nearer the Antarctic: McDonald Island. I have never seen an active volcano - but I certainly intend to do so. Check at the Current Volcanic Activity site of Volcano World at the University of North Dakota to become completely distracted from Australia . . .