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Travel in Australia and New Zealand

Why is Australia Called "The Outback?"

Australia is often referred to as "The Outback." While this term is sometimes used to refer to Australia in general, the term actually pertains to a specific area of Australia. In reality, the actual "outback" region is delineated primary by the remoteness of the area, since it's basically empty semi-arid and desert land.

Where is "The Outback" Actually Located?

The actual "outback" area runs between the two coasts of Australia, stretching from the western coast to the Great Dividing Range to the east. It runs in a primarily horizontal line. However, the region actually excludes some of the more fertile and green areas of the country, such as the countryside of Victoria.

Although there is a specific region in Australia that is generally referred to by the term "outback," many people tend to use the word to describe any area that is located outside of the primary urban areas. The term "outback" is generally used to describe the area because it's located "out the back of beyond," which means it is quite a distance from almost anywhere. Although the term "the bush" is also commonly used to refer to remote areas, "the outback" is meant to describe areas that are even more remote. There are also extremely remote areas of the outback that are sometimes referred to as "The Never-Never."

What Exists in "The Outback"

Although you'll definitely find wildlife in the outback region, overall it's a fairly empty expanse of space. The area is quite rural, and is primarily used for running sheep and cattle, at least in the areas that are marginally fertile. The agricultural areas of the region are generally excluded from the outback region. In addition to being remote and empty, the outback also suffers from lack of rainfall and poor soil fertility. As such, even when used as an area to run cattle and sheep, it can often take large expanses of land in order to achieve the desired benefits.

You'll find Aboriginal reserves in the outback region. Also, in addition to the cattle and sheep you'll find running in the area, a number of native wildlife species also call the area home. For example, you'll often see wedge-tailed eagles, emus, dingos and kangaroos in the outback region. The "Dingo Fence" was originally constructed to keep the dingos from moving into the southeast portions of the continent, where there are fertile agricultural regions. Although there are many wildlife species that live in the outback region, many of them are seldom seen. This is because a number of these animals prefer to rest in the bushes during the hot sunny days, coming out at dawn, dusk and during the evening instead.

What you generally will not find much of in the outback are people, other than the aboriginal communities. Approximately 90% of the Australian population resides in the continent's coastal urban areas. Although there aren't a great many people living in the outback region, there are plenty of stories about the swatters, bushrangers and swagmen that do populate the area. In fact, these stories are often at the center of many favorite tales and legends, and do a lot to add to the overall national culture.

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