Chapter 11: The Austral Realm

Regions of the RealmAustralia, New Zealand
Major Geographic QualitiesAustralia and New Zealand constitute a geographic realm by virtue of territorial dimensions, relative location, and dominant cultural landscape. Differ physiographically—Australia—vast, dry, low-relief interior and New Zealand—mountainous with a temperate climate. Marked by peripheral development—Australia because of its aridity and New Zealand because of its topography. Populations peripherally distributed and highly clustered in urban centers. Economic geography dominated by the export of livestock, specialty goods, wheat, mineral resources. Integrated into the economic framework of the Asian Pacific Rim as suppliers of raw materials. Heightened immigration from neighboring realms—Australia is “returning” to Asia.
Land and EnvironmentPhysiographic contrasts related to locations with respect to tectonic plates. Australia at the center of its own plate—The Australian Plate: Stable, Great Dividing Range, Great Artesian Basin, Murray-Darling River System, Western Plateau and Margins. New Zealand at the border of the Australian and Pacific plates: Earthquakes, Mountainous.
ClimatesAustralia: Latitudinal position. Humid temperate in the east. Eastern humid temperate. Mediterranean in the south and southwest: Interior isolation. Desert and steppe. New Zealand: Under influence of Southern and Pacific Oceans. Moderate, moist conditions.
The Southern OceanSurrounding Antarctica. Subtropical Convergence—marine transition where cold, dense waters meet warmer waters of other three oceans, Change in temperature, chemistry, salinity, and marine fauna. West Wind Drift—the body of water circulates clockwise around Antarctica.
BiogeographyAustralia’s Distinctive Fauna and Flora: Marsupials—Animals whose young are born very early in their development and then are carried in an abdominal pouch, Species of eucalyptus trees. Biogeography—study of distribution of fauna and flora. Zoogeography—study of animal life. Wallace’s Line vs. Weber’s Line. Aboriginal population arrival (about 50,000 years ago): Appears to have caused an ecosystem collapse, Widespread burning of existing forest, shrub, and grasslands led to spread of desert scrub and caused the rapid extinction of large mammals. Arrival of Europeans and their livestock: Further destruction of remaining wildlife habitats.
AustraliaHistorical Geography: Aboriginal societies arrived 50,000 years ago, Arrival of Europeans doomed the Aboriginal societies. The Seven Colonies: Major coastal settlements became centers of seven colonies, Pattern of straight-line boundaries, Northern Territory—Darwin‒Largest clusters of Aboriginal.
Historical Geography: Successful Federation1901—Commonwealth of Australia: Six States, Two Federal Territories: Northern Territory to protect the interests of Aboriginal populations, Australian Capital Territory, Federal capital of Canberra). Federation—association among territories sharing autonomy with a central government. Unitary state—power is concentrated in a strong, central government.
Sharing the BountyNo adequate sharing of national wealth. Aboriginal population disproportionately disadvantaged: Lower life expectancies, Higher unemployment levels. National campaign to address these ills: Formal apology in 2008, Enhanced social services, Favorable court decisions in support of Aboriginal land claims. Ranks in the top 15 countries in the world in terms of GNI. Far ahead of all its western Pacific Rim competitors except Japan and Singapore in terms of key development indicators.
ImmigrantsNew immigration policy focus: Skills, financial status, age, and facility with the English language, Relatives of earlier immigrants, Quota on asylum-seekers. Immigrants account for most of population growth and multicultural society.
Core and PeripheryCore Area—population concentrated in the east and southeast facing the Pacific Ocean. Secondary core area in the southwest. Periphery—the Outback. Spatial arrangement is a result of climate.
An Urban Culture82% Urban population. Coastal orientation: Cities, manufacturing complexes, and agricultural areas.
The CitiesAustralian cultural identity. Sameness of urban and rural landscapes across the continent. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin: Clean and orderly, High standards of public infrastructure.
SydneySprawling metropolis. Compact, high-rise CBD. Port—ferry and freighter traffic.
Economic Geography: Agricultural AbundanceSheep-raising and wool. Beef products. Dairying near urban areas. Commercial grain farming. Sugarcane in warm, humid coastal areas. Mediterranean crops. Diverse crops in irrigated areas.
Mineral WealthDiverse and abundant mineral resources: Gold, Oil and Natural Gas, Coal, Nickel, Copper, Bauxite, Tungsten, Asbestos, Iron Ore. Japan and China—Australia’s best customers.
Manufacturing’s Limits“Tyranny of distance”—expensive imports from Britain and U.S.. Import substitution—local entrepreneurs establish their own industries to produce goods cheaper than imported because of high transport costs. Diversified domestic industries: Machinery, textiles, chemicals. Primary sector prominence—export of raw materials. Service sector: Tourism—5% of economy.
Australia’s ChallengesTies to Europe weakening. Ties to Asia/Pacific Rim strengthening. Challenges at home: Aboriginal claims, Concerns involving immigration, Environmental degradation, Issues related to Australia’s status and regional role.
Aboriginal issues2008—Government issued a formal apology for mistreatment of Aborigines. Aboriginal land issue: 1992—Australian High Court ruled in favor of Aboriginal claims: An Outback issue. Aboriginal Land Councils—make people land-rich but dirt poor: Prevent private enterprise.
Immigration IssuesEugenic (race-specific) immigration policies until 1970s. Today, East and South Asian immigrants outnumber both European immigrants and natural increase: Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka.
Environmental IssuesEnvironmental degradation: Aboriginal and European damage, Deforestation, Extinction, endangered and threatened species. Climatic variability: Arid dominance, El Niño events.
Australia’s Place in the WorldQuestion of Australia becoming a republic or keeping the Queen. Ending its status as a British Commonwealth. Relations with Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea. Growing global presence and within Asia and Pacific Rim. 2012—closer relations with the U.S.: U.S. troops will be stationed at Australian military bases.
New ZealandMaori—people of Polynesian roots would have been a part of the Pacific Realm. European colonization—70% of population. Two large mountainous islands and scattered smaller islands: North Island, South Island. Southern Alps. Combined territory larger than Britain. Prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Human Spatial OrganizationPopulation concentrated in lower-lying slopes and lowland fringes: 86% urbanized. Cropland and pastures: Sheep, dairy cattle, and beef cattle, Variety of vegetables, cereals, fruits. Primary export revenues—wool, milk products, and meat. North Island: Wellington—capital, Auckland—largest urban area. South Island: Canterbury Plain. Christchurch: Dunedin. Peripheral development pattern imposed by high rugged mountains and fragmented lands.
The Maori Factor and New Zealand’s Future1840—Maori and British Treaty: Granted colonists sovereignty over New Zealand, Guaranteed Maori rights over tribal lands. 1862—Parts of the treaty revoked. Maori land claims and growing demands. 1990s—New Zealand courts supported Maori position. Cultural declaration of Maori as official language.
The Green FactorOne of the leading “green” societies in the world. Long-active Green Party. Established environmental conservation program. New Zealand is ranked first in the world on a range of environmental indices. Approximately 30% of its land is protected. More than 70% of its energy is from renewables (hydro and geothermal). Nuclear-free country. Environmental courts hear cases involving environmental management decisions.