South Australia has
boundaries with other States on the west, north and east and on the
south is flanked by the Southern Ocean. It has a total area of
984,377 km2, representing one eighth of the Australian
continent. More than 50 per cent is pastoral land, with 6.5 per cent
of the State designated as national parks and wildlife reserves.
Most of the population lives in the southern coastal zones below the
South Australia is a land of
generally low relief with the inland area largely covered by plains,
sand and gibber deserts. The coastline has a south-easterly
north-westerly trend, interrupted by two major indentations, Spencer
Gulf between Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, and Gulf St Vincent between
Yorke Peninsula and the Fleurieu Peninsula. To the south of Gulf St
Vincent is Kangaroo Island, about 480 km in circumference. It is the
largest of the 100 or so islands on the South Australian coastline.
The most important mountains are the Mt Lofty-Flinders Ranges
system, which extends north about 800 km from Cape Jervis to the
northern end of Lake Torrens. In the south, the Mt Lofty Ranges are
of comparatively low altitude, the highest peak being Mt Lofty at
727 m. To the north, the Flinders Ranges are of greater height, with
St Marys Peak the highest point at 1,166 m. The Flinders Ranges
contain unusual basins, of which Wilpena Pound is the best known.
The River Murray, which drains about one seventh of Australia,
enters the sea in South Australia and is the states only major
river. For 216 km to Overland Corner, the river occupies a wide
valley, then passes through a narrow, steep-sided valley to Lake
Alexandrina and Lake Albert at its heavily silted mouth.
Surrounding the northern Flinders Ranges is a series of vast
lakes which fill only after heavy rain, normally appearing as
shallow depressions with salt or clay encrusted surfaces. The
largest of these, Lake Eyre, is 15 m below sea level and is fed by
intermittent rivers flowing from the north-east, creating one of the
largest areas of internal drainage in the world. Lakes Gardiner,
Frome and Torrens are to the south of Lake Eyre.
South Australian enjoys hot dry summers
with relatively mild nights and cool winters, with most rainfall
occurring during May to August. Adelaides average daily maximum
temperature in January is 29°C, and in
July 15°C. South Australia is the driest
of the Australian States and Territories. Its average annual
rainfall is 528 mm, but just over 80 per cent of the State receives
an average of less than 250 mm of rain a year.
Source: Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, International Public Affairs Branch 1994