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The location of the mediterran subtropics

The mediterran subtropics of Australia are located in the south of the continent divided in two parts, seperated by the great Nullabor-Plain.

One area is at the coast-region in south-/southeast region in Australia between a south latitude of 32° and 38°. It includes the Smoke Bay at the Eyre peninsula eastward to the Australian Alps near Portland in the federal state Victoria:

The location of the mediterran subtropics in the southeast of Australia

The other area of the mediterranen subtropics is located in the southwest in Western Australia. Agriculture is practiced between latitude of 28° south to 35° in the triangle Geraldton - Cape Leuwin - Esperance. Here the climate is semiarid and humid. It is the population-richest part of Western Australia. This region in southwest is called Swanland. This second area is now described:

The location of the mediterran subtropics in the southwest of Australia

Karte suedwesten.jpg

The agrarian-geographical development

The agrarian-geographical development is since the 19th century subdivided in three phases.

  1. As first, the pasture farming the opening-phase is called. This phase of the development establishes on family businesses, that tried as first to use the country pasture-economically. Ranches and farms are developed.
  2. The agronomic-consolidation-phase followed the first one. The agriculture was extended because the demand for agricultural products suddenly rose extremely fast. The huge increase is to be led back on the prime of the mining.
  3. The phase of the widening-irrigation-economy is the third and last phase of the agrarian-geographical development. Modern agriculture and modern cattle-raising guarantee a versatile country-utilization on the basis of the intensification until today.

Some Geoelements with their effects on the agrarian-economy

Karri Woods

Because the southwest Australian agrarian-area is surrounded by warm water and there is no mountain-barrier, not only the winterrain is fallen down. In the late summer and autumn, edge-tropical low pressure-areas can move far into the south and cause more intensive rain activity. On the basis of these rainfalls, there is a rich natural flora (Mallee Scrub). The agriculture is essentially risk-poorer because the summery dry-time is not especially distinctive. The everhumid subtropics in the most outer southwest preserces an anual rainfall of 1400mm per year. The water is needed by high-stocky Karri Woods (Eucalyptus diversicolor).

Jarrah Woods

The relief describes a plain country-surface interrupted by the Darling Range - a mountain range up to 600m high with Jarrah Woods (Eucalyptus marginata).

The predominating Laterites in southwest Australia are not suitable für agriculture. But fertilization makes satisfactory profits available. The exceptions are the Alluviums in the valleys.

Problems, causes and consequences in the dry-zone

Between dry-country and irrigation-country in the southwest is distinguished, but the dry-country of the farm land nevertheless predominates. Within the region of the mediterranean-climate is irrigated only 1-2 per cent of this area. Smaller state irrigation systems are located south of Perth in a ragion of approximate 14000ha. Farm-own reservoirs and fountains, which work with motorpumps, are widespread on the other hand.

The above named irrigation-systems are necessary for the existence of the farmers, because long and sufficiently aquiferous rivers are not abailable. In agriculture, no complex and no extremely expensive irrigation-system are build because of the low interior requirement for agricultural products. This sector of the economy is mainly use for exports.

The consequences of the from southwest to northeast increasing dryness are managed by the farmers with a big adaptation to the climatic occurrences.

The agricultural products in the different agrarian-zones

Climate diagram of Perth
The agrarian-zones in Southwest-Australia

The agricultural area of the mediterranen subtropics in Australia's southwest can be devides into four parts:

  1. The intensiv use of the coast. This zone is to be apportioned in two part-regions:
    1. Livestock farming: Es werden Mastrinder und Milchviehhaltung betrieben..
    2. Forestry: Forestry is practiced in the Karri und Jarrah Woods.
    Only very few local areas are not useful for agriculture. For example a small area is wasteland in the middle of Geraldton and Perth is not available.
  2. The second zone is in the interior eastward. In the triangle south of Geraldton in the Avon Valley, Albany and Esperance is sheep breeding intensively in the Jarrah-Karri Woods. They are responsible for the production of wool and beef.
  3. The third zone connects to the second. East in the east of the Avon Valley, the wheat-belt begins. It is the biggest agriculturally used area in the southwest of Australia and with it also economically the most important country-utilization-zone. The wheat-belt pushes into the 300mm anual rainfall. It is in the open woodland at the Karri Woods and in the bush, there even partially on sandheather.
  4. Even farther eastward, you only find the so called wasteland, which is not used agriculturally. Although it now is very dry, several farms are found in this area, that hold sheep extensively. Furthermore, you find farms with additional cattle breeding.

Agrarian production for the export

The agrarian-regions of the Australian mediterran subtropics almost generate the goods exclusively for the export. The capacitys of the local market is extremely low because of the low population. The goods of the Australian production are nor cultivated and prepared here. The products are shipped in raw conditions.

Corn, barley, sheepwool, frozen meat, living-livestock, skins and coats get over the harbors Geraldton, Perth-Fremantle, Bunbury, Albany und Esperance into all different parts of the earth. Due to Great Britain's joining to the European community, the southwest-Australian agriculture economy had to come to terms with a sensitive relapse in 1973 because the mother-country for all products was an important buyer until then. This fact points to the dependence of the Australian agriculture economy on the world market.


The agriculture and the livestock-economy, predominantly sheep, are enough until to the climate possible border with all only possible help. So, a big expansion of the corn-side building takes place with help of new cultures of corn, new and better fertilizer and new, modern machines since 1945. It is corn even successful to build an extension on dry sandgrounds. Because now the subterranean clover survives the Summer-dryness it improves the nutritive value of the soil and as a consequence the all-year sheep-economy.

(Wuppertal, May 1991)

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