Slike strani
PDF
ePub

stretches on the summit, and these in some instances act as feeders to the streams which reach the coast. The plateau determines the northern, western, and southern drainage slopes of the island and maintains its general elevation from Dry's Bluff at an altitude of 4,257 feet on the north to Cradle Mountain, 5,069 feet in the north-west, a distance of nearly 50 miles; from the Bluff south-west to the Denison Range, for over 60 miles; and from the same point in a southerly direction to Table Mountain, 3,596 feet, a distance of about 43 miles. Below this central plateau there is a second table-land region at a lower elevation, maintaining an altitude of between 1,200 and 2,000 feet. This division stretches westward, including the Middlesex Plains, the Hampshire Hills, and the Emu Plains, and its limits follow the coast line more or less closely, the space between it and the ocean in some localities widening out into low lying expanses raised very little above sea level. At intervals, rising abruptly from this region, various isolated peaks are to be seen, the chief being Mount Bischoff, 2,598 feet, Valentine's Peak, 3,637 feet, Mount Tor, and Mount Pearse, 3,800 feet. In addition there are, round the coast, ridges and plateaus more or less elevated such as Ben Lomond on the north-east, 5,010 feet, Mount Wellington, near Hobart, 4,166 feet, and the Frenchman's Cap, near Macquarie Harbour, 4,756 feet. It has been principally among the plains and lower levels of the North-western, Midland, and Southern portions of the island that settlement has taken place, chiefly in the geological areas of Tertiary and Mesozoic age. Here, in the recent Tertiary period, the soil of the plains and valleys has been enriched by extensive outbursts of basalt with accompanying tuffs. There is evidence to show that these basaltic sheets, which cover large areas in the Midland, North-western, and North-eastern districts, are invariably associated with the ancient Tertiary lake systems. It is from these volcanic rocks that the rich chocolate soils have been produced, and but for their agency a large portion of what is now the most fertile area of the State would have been comparatively poor or perhaps hopelessly barren.

Tasmania is well supplied with rivers, some of them of considerable volume, flowing through fine scenery and magnificent forests, and in some instances adorned with picturesque waterfalls. The largest is the Derwent, which rises in the central plateau, and enters the sea at Storm Bay. In the lower portion of its course, the river widens out into a magnificent estuary on which the capital city, Hobart, is situated. The Derwent receives numerous tributaries, of which the chief are the Nive, Dee, Ouse, Clyde, and Jordan from the north, and the Florentine, Russell, Styx, and Plenty from the south. The Huon issues from Lake Edgar, and after flowing through a heavily-timbered, rich, fruitgrowing district, debouches into the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. The Coal River takes its rise in the eastern mountains and falls into the sea at Pittwater, near Hobart. On the north, the Tamar flows into Bass Strait, and after passing Launceston forms a fine estuary with excellent

facilities for navigation. The river is formed by the confluence of the North and South Esk at the city, and is fed by numerous tributaries higher up. The Mersey, on which the town of Latrobe is situated, enters the sea at Port Frederick. On the west and south-west the following streams flow into Macquarie Harbour :-The Gordon, which emerges from Lake Richmond, and receives in its course the Wedge, Denison, Serpentine, and Franklin, and the King River, with its affluents the Queen and the Eldon. In the north-west are the Pieman and Arthur rivers. On the east, the watershed approaches very close to the shore and there are no streams of any great importance. Two short rivers, the Swan and the Swanport, discharge into Oyster Bay.

Several large freshwater lakes are situated on the central table-land. Of these the most extensive are the Great Lake, 13 miles long by a maximum width of 8 miles, and with an area of 28,000 acres ; Lakes Sorell and Crescent, 17,000 acres ; Lake St. Clair, 10,000 acres ; and Lakes Arthur and Echo, each about 8,000 acres. These lakes serve as natural reservoirs for the supply of numerous rivers flowing chiefly to the southward. Most of them are very deep and owe their origin to the same causes which have produced the beautiful lakes of Scotland and Wales. In addition to those mentioned there are numerous lagoons and mountain tarns.

NEW GUINEA.

THE

'HE island of New Guinea lies close to the northern extremity of Queensland, being separated from the mainland by Torres Strait. Excluding Australia itself, New Guinea is the largest island in the world, and lies between the equator and 12° south, and between 130° 50′ and 134° 30' east longitude. Its greatest length is 1,490 miles, and its maximum breadth 430 miles, its area being about 234,770 square miles. It is occupied by British, Dutch, and German colonists; the British portion includes the south-east of the island, with an area of 90,540 square miles, of which 87,786 are on the mainland, and 2,754 square miles comprise various groups of islands. The eastern end of the possession is very mountainous; moving westward, the various chains unite to form a great central cordillera, which attains its highest point in the Owen Stanley Range, where Mount Victoria rises to a height of 13,200 feet above sea-level. Conspicuous also in the eastern portion of the island are Mount Suckling (12,228 feet), Mount Obree (10,246 feet), Mount Yule (10,046 feet), and Mount Brown (7,940 feet). The mountains follow the coast, and are distant from it about 20 to 50 miles; at the head of the Gulf of Papua the ranges become broken and considerably reduced in height, as well as further removed from the seaboard. The western portion of the possession may be generally described as low and swampy, densely clothed with forest; dense forest growth is also characteristic of the mountains. New Guinea is a well-watered country; its two largest rivers are the Fly River, with its tributary (the Strickland), and the Purari. The Fly River has a total length of 600 miles, but some portion of its upper course lies within Dutch territory. The river has been navigated for a great distance, and it is said that small steamers of fair draught can ascend over 500 miles. The Purari rises in German territory, and is navigable for a considerable distance from its mouth. There are many other rivers, but, as they have not been explored, no detailed description of them can be given. The southern and south-east coast-line is well indented, and several fair harbours exist.

Lying as it does just under the equator, the climate of New Guinea is very warm, but as no extensive range of observations has been made, the maximum and minimum temperature cannot be definitely stated. At Port Moresby the average shade temperature at 9 a.m. is 81.6° Fahrenheit, with a maximum of 94°; this would argue very high

maximum daily temperature, but not greater than along some portions of the northern coast of Australia. The rainfall varies greatly in different parts of the island; at Port Moresby the quantity recorded in 1902-3 was 41 inches, and at Sogeri 67 inches; at Dogura on the north-east coast, on the opposite side of the island, the average is 59 inches; but at Samarai, at the south-east end of the island, the rainfall registers between 120 and 130 inches per annum. At Daru, in the west of the possession, the average is about 85 inches, but a fall of nearly 150 inches has been registered, and it is probable that equally great rainfall is experienced in the central mountains.

NEW ZEALAND.

THE

AREA AND BOUNDARIES.

HE Colony of New Zealand consists of the three main islands named respectively North Island, Middle Island, and Stewart Island, together with the numerous subsidiary islands which from time to time have been added to the territory by proclamation. The group is situated in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,200 miles to the south-east of Australia. That portion of the Southern Ocean which lies between the Australian Coast and New Zealand is now distinguished as the Tasman Sea, in honor of the first discoverer of New Zealand and Tasmania. Including outlying islands, the total area embraced within the limits of the Colony is 104,751 square miles, of which the North Island with adjacent islets constitutes 44,468 square miles, the Middle Island with adjacent islets 58,525 square miles, and Stewart Island with adjacent islets 665 square miles.

THE NORTH ISLAND.

Coastal Features.

This island is, as its name implies, the northernmost of the group, and is separated from the Middle Island by Cook Strait. In shape it is peculiar, consisting of a roughly square main body, with projections stretching from each corner, the longest being to the north-west. This remarkable northward peninsula is about 280 miles long, and from 53 to 8 miles in breadth, and is almost cut in two by the Hauraki Gulf on the eastern side, and the Manukau Harbour on the west. On the narrow isthmus intervening, the town of Auckland has been built. At the extremity of the peninsula lies the headland of Cape Reinga, from which, according to Maori legend the souls of the dead were plunged into the abode of departed spirits. A little to the eastward is North Cape, and to the west Cape Maria Van Diemen. Off the point lie the rocky islets known as the Three Kings, the scene of several disastrous shipwrecks. Proceeding down the western coast from Cape Maria Van Diemen, the first inlet of importance is Ahipara Bay, with Reef Point at its southern entrance. Next come Kaipara Harbour and Manukau Harbour. Lower down is Kawhia Harbour, with Albatross Point on the southward entrance. Here the coast takes a westerly sweep and forms the North Taranaki Bight. On the extremity of the western projection of the island is situated Cape Egmont, with the prominent landmark of Mount Egmont standing a

« PrejšnjaNaprej »