Australia`s major landforms and drainage basins

Australia’s major landforms
and drainage basins
5A1 – Australia A Unique
Syllabus Agenda
 major landforms and drainage basins
 patterns of:
 climate
 weather
 Vegetation
 unique flora and fauna
Syllabus Agenda
 identify and represent Australia’s major
physical features and patterns on a
variety of maps
 describe Australia’s major physical
features and patterns
 explain the interrelationships that exist
in the physical environment of Australia
 Australia is the flattest continent, with an
average height of only 330 metres above
sea level.
 It is also the driest inhabited continent
with an average annual precipitation of
450 mm and the lowest flow from its rivers
compared with other continents.
 However, these averages disguise the
wide variety of unique topographic
features and river regimes that are found
within this continent of extremes.
Learn the Lingo
Topography - characteristics of land in terms of slope, elevation an
Landform - A landform is an individual topographic feature, which ca
be as minor as a cliff or a sand dune, or as major as a peninsula or a
mountain range
Catchment – an area drained by a river
Metamorphic – a type of rock changed by great heat and
Geomorphologist- a geographer who studies the
formation of landforms
Major physical regions
Australia has 3 major physical
1)the Western Plateau
2)the Central Lowlands and
3)the Eastern Highlands
These landform regions have been
created by movements in the Earth's
crust, river erosion and changes in
climate and sea level.
Australia’s 3 major landforms
The Eastern Highlands
 Are characterised by the Great Dividing
Range which is not one mountain but a
collection of many loosely connected ranges.
 The range extends north to the Cape York
Peninsula in QLD and south to Tasmania.
 These were formed by faulting, folding and
some volcanic activity but have largely been
eroded by water to create areas of deep
gorges and valleys such as the Blue
The Central Lowlands
 Occupy parts of inland QLD, NSW, Vic
and SA
 They are drained by Lake Eyre and the
Murray Darling River system
The Western Plateau
 Consists of vey old rocks, formed under
the shallow seas and uplifted millions of
years ago. It covers 1/3 of the continent.
 Approx 70% of the Western Plateau is
composed of deserts.
 The Nullabor Plain, Arnhem Land and
the Kimberley are all part of this
Rivers and drainage basins
 A drainage basin is an area of land where
surface water from rain and melting snow or ice
converges to a single point, usually the exit of the
basin, where the waters join another waterbody,
such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland,
sea, or ocean.
 In closed drainage basins the water converges to
a single point inside the basin, known as a sink,
which may be a permanent lake, dry lake, or a
point where surface water is lost underground.
 The dividing line between drainage basins is
known as a watershed.
 Two of the largest drainage basins in Australia
are the Murray–Darling Basin and the Lake Eyre
Basin, which each cover an area of over 1 million
square kilometres.
Percentage run off for each
Murray-Darling Basin
The Murray–Darling Basin contains the three longest
rivers in Australia—the Murray, the Darling and the
The Darling and its tributaries (a stream or smaller river
that flows into a main river) drain the northern half of the
basin. They contribute 12 per cent of the flow to the
Murray River. The Murrumbidgee and its tributaries drain
central and southern New South Wales. They contribute
13 per cent of the flow to the Murray River.
The Murray and its tributaries upstream of the
Murrumbidgee junction drain central and northern
Victoria and southern New South Wales. Under average
conditions this region contributes 75 per cent of the flow
to the Murray.
Lake Eyre Basin
The largest drainage basin in Australia is the Lake
Eyre Basin covering an area of 1.2 million square
It is one of the largest internal drainage systems in
the world. When there is water in the creeks and
rivers they flow inwards towards Lake Eyre, but as
the area is almost flat they flow slowly and a large
amount of water is lost through evaporation.
One of the rivers in the basin is the Finke River that
only flows on a few days each year. It is thought to be
the oldest river bed in the world. Starting west of
Alice Springs, its water disappears in the Simpson
Desert and is believed to have reached Lake Eyre on
only one occasion last century
You work for National Geographic and have been given the
task of creating a feature article on one of the following:
Franklin River (Eastern Highlands)
Lake Eyre Basin (Central Lowlands)
Uluru (Western Plateau)
Australian Alps (Eastern Highlands)
In your article you need to answer key geographical
What is it?
Where is it,
Is it changing/moving?
What makes it a special tourist attraction?
Include maps, pictures
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