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iWhat are the place's special features? What types of tourist might it attract How could it be developed for ecotourism, and what has to be pro­tected?


How might a sustainable balance be achieved between the tourists' needs and the requirements of the environ­ment and the local culture?

How might the development be man­aged?


What type of complex could be planned that would incorporate sensi­tivity towards the environment and culture?


What activities could be undertaken that would cause minimal damage to the environment and culture but educate and inform the tourist?

Table 4.6 Ecotourism activities in Australia's states and territories


Place appropriate for ecotourism activities New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Tasmania Northern Territory Australian Capital Territory Classi­fication
The Southern Alps X                
The Grampians {Gariwerd)   X              
The Daintree Rainforest     X            
The Flinders Ranges       X          
The Hamersley gorges         X        
The Franklin River           X      
The Coburg Peninsula             X    
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve               X  
The Lake Eyre Basin                  
The Katherine gorges                  
Cape Otway                  
The Stirling Ranges                  
The Great Barrier Reef                  
Warrumbungle National Park                  
Ginninderra Falls                  
The Simpson Desert                  
Wilson's Promontory                  
Flinders Island                  
The Bungle Bungles                  
Ben Boyd National Park                  
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park                  
The Coorong                  
Aboriginal cultural sites                  




Where are many of the human activities and/or biophysical phenomena of these places located precisely?

Australia has a great variety of places that have ecotourism potential, and they exist in a wide range of climates, landscapes and ecosystems. Although some are densely populated, most are remote, are rarely visited and have few permanent residents. Their

traits of isolation and wilderness are increasingly being sought by urban dwellers from all over the world. Vast tracts of the regions are already deemed national parks, conservation parks. World Heritage sites, Abo­riginal lands, marine parks and nature reserves. The regions' variety is more than matched by the types of ecotourism activity undertaken - see the map in Fig­ure 4.22 on page 113 and Table 4.7 below and on page 112.

Table 4.7 Australia's regions and their ecotourism characteristics



Ecotourism characteristics


Tropical and subtropical Extent Cooktown in Queensland to Coffs Harbour on New South Wales north coast • 5.2 per cent of Australia's area and 14.4 per cent of its population • Warm low-latitude climate • Coastal plains, rivers, islands and ancient volcanic features • Remnants only of rainforests and subtropical forests

South-eastern coast

Extent Coffs Harbour southwards to Mount Gambier in South Australia • Australia's largest cities • 1.6 per cent of Australia's area and 51.1 per cent of its population • Coastal plains, their climates moderated by their location • A range of open and closed forests dependent on rainfall; some temperate rainforest and expanses of open sclerophyll woodland

Australian alps and eastern highlands

Extent From south-eastern Victoria to the Queensland-New South Wales border - a 150 kilometre-wide belt of mountains • 3.9 per cent of Australia's area and 4.8 per cent of its population (816,000) • High plateaus and hills dissected by rivers and streams • Cold to cool climate and extensive areas of snow in winter; the higher rainfall areas of Australia • Wet-sclerophyll open forests dominate; above the tree line at about 1800 metres, alpine plants dominate

South-east interior

Extent West of the Australian alps and eastern highlands; the large area extends from near the South Australia-New South Wales border in a crescent up to Toowoomba in Queensland

• 4.6 per cent of Australia's area and 7.9 per cent of its population • Lowlands, river flats and hills dissected by many rivers flowing westwards into the Murray-Darling Basin

• Warm to hot in summer and cool to cold in winter • Extensively cleared for agriculture

• Woodland to grassland, depending on moisture available • Redgum forests of the river floodplains along the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers


• Popular with tourists between June and September due to lower rainfall • Three World Heritage areas - the Daintree Rainforest - Wet Tropics, the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island - and many national parks • Scuba diving, snorkelling, scientific study, viewing unique species of plants and wildlife • Spectacular landforms and scenic views: islands, reefs, caves, mountains, waterfalls, forests and volcanic features

• National parks that have open and closed forest communities • Walking, trekking, cruising, driving and cycling in mountain, forest and lake areas • Spectacular coastal scenery and beaches - along the Great Ocean Road, for example • Many animals and wildlife habitats

• Government-run and government-supported interpretive centres for educating the public on the region's unique features

• National parks in north-eastern New South Wales form part of a World Heritage site • Rare plants, animals, caves, waterfalls, ravines and canyons • Bushwaiking, including alpine walks, is popular; spring and summer wildflowers are common; cross-country skiing is undertaken during winter • Sparsely settled and isolated sections due to steep relief

• Despite extensive settlement, the national parks have plants and animals that have adapted to the drier conditions • In mallee areas, it is possible to undertake guided and educational tours • Rivers and floodplains provide wetland habitats and scenic attractions

Table 4.7 continues.

Т0 U R I S M

Table4.7 (continued)



Ecotourism characteristics


Tasmania Extent. Tasmania • 0.9 per cent of Australia's

area and 2.9 per cent of its population • Much of the state is rugged and highland, therefore much of the natural environment has been retained • In the western section the rainfall is high, and U-shaped valleys, lakes, alpine meadows and wild rivers dissect mountains • Temperatures lower than those of the mainland; more than 2000 millimetres of rain falls on almost half the west coast • Temperate rainforest, wet-sclerophyll forest and dry-sclerophyll forest are dominant

Mediterranean Extent South-western Western Australia and

southern South Australia • 3.1 per cent of Australia's area and 16.1 per cent of its population • Winter rainfall and summer drought or dry conditions • Generally low relief; gulfs in South Australia • Mostly cleared of eucalypt woodlands; karri and jarrah forests in the higher rainfall areas of south-western Western Australia

Desert and semi-desert Extent Most of western, central and inland

Australia • 53.4 per cent of Australia's area and 1.8 per cent of its population (306,000)

• Rainfall of less than 250 millimetres per year

• High daytime temperatures in winter and temperature extremes in summer • Nights are cold due to lack of cloud cover • Mostly lowlands and dry salt-lake basins • Plants are minimal and drought loving

• Much to offer the ecotourist • A World Heritage area: the south-western national parks • Bushwalking on many trails and tracks is popular; isolated locations that have unique plants and wildlife • Cycling is possible, and river cruises along the Gordon River provide access to the isolated inland sections • Spectacular coastal scenery offers many opportunities for study and viewing

• Mangrove areas near Adelaide, and freshwater lakes of the Coorong • Aboriginal heritage sites offer education programs • Weathered ancient granite rocks on the Eyre Peninsula and parts of the coast • Unique wildlife research and habitats on Kangaroo Island - animals include echidnas and sea lions; activities include whale watching • Forest and woodland walking trails - the Heysen Trail in South Australia and the karri and jarrah forests in Western Australia • The Warrawong sanctuary in South Australia provides a unique ecotourism location

• Three World Heritage areas - Uluru, Shark Bay and Willandra Lakes; other national parks that fascinate the ecotourist • Other locations include the Nullarbor Plain and the McDonnell, Flinders, Gammon, Hamersley and Musgrave ranges • Sandy and gibber deserts stretch across the centre and are reached by four-wheel-drive vehicle or air • Aboriginal lands make up a large proportion of the areas, as do large pastoral properties


Tropical savanna Extent. Australia's second-largest ecosystem,

covering most of the north • 27.3 per cent of Australia's area and 0.3 per cent of its population (50,000) • Its proximity to the equator means summer temperatures remain in the 30-degrees-Celsius range • From October to April, warm unstable equatorial air results in high rainfall - the 'wet' season • Monsoon forest, woodland and grassland dominate; five months of 'dry' limits tree growth


• Limited occupation and few centres, so much of the area remains wilderness • Feral animals - camels, donkeys, goats, pigs and buffalo - have devastated some areas

• The Kimberleys in Western Australia have wild gorges, waterfalls, large rivers and many areas of Aboriginal art

• Trail walking and flying predominate in isolated and rarely visited areas • The Bungle Bungles, Kakadu National Park - a World Heritage area - and the Katherine gorges • Queensland has many Aboriginal


(Source: Adapted from Joan Binnion, 'Ecotourism and the ecological regions of Australia', in Issues magazine, June 1993 issue)



Tropical savanna


Tropical and subtropical north coast

South-eastern coast

Australian alps and eastern and Tasmanian highlands

South-east interior Desert

Mediterranean Semi-desert

Who uses these places?

The places are visited by both domestic and overseas tourists, and the overseas ones come particularly from Europe, New Zealand, Asia and North America. The overseas visitors travel to Australia because of its geographic proximity, its cultural links, its unique attractions and/or their relative wealth.

Australian Tourism Commission research has re­vealed that our magnificent, unique scenic areas are very attractive to tourists.

What did theoverseas tourists nominate as attractions?

• German and Italian tourists nominated the wish to experience unspoilt scenery as a major moti­vation in deciding to visit Australia.

• Seventy-eight per cent of Japanese visitors stated that being close to nature was important or ex­tremely important in their decision making.

• In a 1991 United States study, 98 per cent of the survey respondents thought that having beautiful scenery was a vital attraction, and 95 per cent of them believed that Australia has these character­istics.


Figure 4.22 The eight regions of Australia, based on broad biophysical characteristics

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