The Sun and Australia

When European artists first came to Australia they noticed that the Australian sun provided a different, brighter light.  This light was captured in many paintings completed by these artists.  Sunlight in Australia remains uncommonly bright and is often noticed by visitors from the northern hemisphere.  Australian sunlight affects life here in many ways, similarly to everywhere else but with more strength and magnified effects.

As poet Dorothea MacKellar wrote in her best known work My Country Australia is a wide brown country.  Your can hear the poem here read by the author herself:

I have lived in Australia all my fairly long life and I perfectly understand the poem because I have lived every part of it.  Australia is often an absolute delight to the senses but can also be terrifying, capricious in ways that are not known in other countries.

Australia’s forests are made up mostly of many varieties of eucalyptus trees and these burn hotter than other tree species and are therefore harder to fight and they spread rapidly.  Rain sometimes falls in sufficient quantity to reinvigorate the inland sea which is now represented by the mostly dry Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre).  after heavy rains in the NT and Queensland the Diamantina and other rivers begin to flow and after some weeks the water may reach Kati Thanda.  At Kati Thanda the dry salt is covered with water and millions of water birds converge to begin a breeding frenzy.  When the lake eventually dries again tens of thousands of chicks will die as their parents disperse over Australia.

Australia has migratory birds that fly from the northern hemisphere to feed and return north to breed but there are also bird species that migrate within Australia.  Unlike similar birds in other regions these migratory birds do not follow established routes.  Because Australia’s rains are so variable they follow the water, wherever it goes.  Sometimes a few of these birds make it as far as New Zealand.

Sometimes Australia’s sun is a great burden, driving fires and flooding rains.  We have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, not a thing to be proud of!  But we have mostly learned to live in our country and while Australia has many animals and insects that can kill we actually enjoy a better rate of personal safety than many other countries.


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