viernes, 10 de enero de 2014

The Australian Outback

At the beginning of the school year Australia came up in class. I wish I had known about the video at the time. Anyway, here it is for those of you who have an interest in this country.

Before you watch the video, answer these questions:
Which country do the British refer to as down under?
What places, people or things of interests do you associate with Australia?
Do you know anyone who has been to Australia?
Would you like to go?
What can a tourist see or do in Australia?

To learn a little bit about one of the most characteristics features of Australia, the Outback, watch this Encyclopaedia Britannia video.

Self-study activity:
Watch the four-minute video and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for intermediate students.

1 There are cities in the outback.
2 The outback is highly populated.
3 The outback is fertile.
4 Uluru and Ayers Rock is the same thing.
5 Uluru changes colour during the day.
6 There are 45 to 50 different tribes of Aborigines.
7 Kangaroos do the most activity during night time.
8 Camels are native to Australia.
9 Australia is a world top producer of sheep.
10 Minerals are extracted in the outback.

The outback conjures one of the most iconic images of Australia to the rest of the world. The term outback or the bush defines any part of Australia removed from the more settled edges of the continent. In other words, it is outback, from the largest cities that reside on Australia’s coast.
The outback is typified as arid or semiarid, open land often undeveloped. From space, we see it as a vast reddish landscape. One can fly roughly two thousand miles between Sydney and Darwin without seeing anything but scattered and minute signs of human habitation.
The Great Sandy Desert is one such part of the outback. Maps of this land sometimes designates areas as lakes, but many such lakes are dry.
In Australian northern territory lies Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. Uluru, a Unesco World Heritage Site might be the world’s largest monolith. The rock-a-piece changes colour throughout the day as the position of the earth changes in relation to the sun. At sun set, Uluru seems to glow a fiery orange red hue. Caves at the base of the rock are sacred to several aboriginal tribes and contain carvings and paintings. The art is distinctively abstract and representational at the same time.
The aborigines have been in Australia between 45 to 50 thousand years and have endured the harshest desert conditions the outback ever experienced. They survived in hunter gatherer societies, they created an elaborate culture of religion, storytelling, dance and other complex and nuanced social rites.
While the outback may hold few people, it’s still home to wildlife. The red kangaroo is native to the outback, hardy and well adapted to cover the open terrain, kangaroos survive in the hot days resting in the shade and licking their forearms to promote heat loss by evaporation. The majority of their activity is spent during the night and times of low light.
Lorikeets and other members of the parrot family often flock near waterholes or billabong in the wet season. The native cuckoo burrow also inhabits areas of the outback in the eastern border of Australia, and has been introduced to Western Australia as well. This bird is distinctive for its call, it sounds like the English laughter.
After 1788 the English began to settle Australia as a colony. They were challenged by the outback’s hot dry conditions and import camels to help them cross deserts. The construction of the railroad in the early 20th century lessened the necessity of camels for travel and up to 20,000 camels were released into the wild. Over the rest of the century, their numbers grew in rural Australia. Today, the feral camel population is estimated to be between 600,000 and over a million.
The English also brought livestock to the outback, raising them on large land-holdings called stations. Sheep-herding became very successful, making Australia a top world producer. Beef cattle are also raised in cattle masters, what North-Americans might call round-ups cattle are herded by helicopter or off-road vehicles to loading points, where road trains hold the live cattle to market.
Where rain fall permits, wheat is grown. Some margins of the outback are well-known for their fine wines, but where agriculture is difficult, minerals provide an industry. The outback has reported careful prospectors particularly in the open mines near Coober Pedy.

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