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Date:7/25/2014 10:13:27 AM
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Down Under ...
We are sailing towards our next destination … Australia. We will spend at least six days there, exploring the various areas and their flora and fauna.

Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans, and the Tasman Sea lying between Australia and New Zealand. The world's smallest continent and sixth largest country by total area, Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the "island continent", and is sometimes considered the world's largest island.

Australia's size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with subtropical rain forests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east areas, and a dry desert in its center. It is the flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils; desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land. Mount Augustus, claimed to be the world's largest monolith, is located in Western Australia. The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate. The population density is among the lowest in the world, although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline. Melbourne reached first place on The Economist's 2011 World's Most Livable Cities list, followed by Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide in sixth, eighth, and ninth place respectively.

The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which is correlated with periodic drought, and the seasonal tropical low pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia. These factors induce rainfall to vary markedly from year to year. Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical predominantly summer rainfall (monsoon) climate. The southwest corner of the country has a Mediterranean climate. Much of the southeast (including Tasmania) is temperate.

Australian wine is produced in 60 distinct production areas, mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of local climates and soil types. In 1995, an Australian red wine, Penfolds Grange, won the Wine Spectator award for Wine of the Year, the first time a wine from outside France or California achieved this distinction.

Tomorrow we will do a study of the animals found on the continent of Australia. (See a topographical map of Australia at the bottom of my page.)
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