Using hot deserts in rich countries
Map of Australia
Uluru or Ayer’s Rock
Uses of the Australian outback
Uluru or Ayers Rock is a scared site for the aboriginal Anangu people. he surrounding environment is very sensitive, but despite this – the
number of visitors has risen dramatically from 5000 in 1961 to 400,000 in 2005
tourism can bring economic benefits to the local people e.g. when they buy aboriginal arts and crafts
There are some problems:
Aboriginal culture is often exploited and adapted to provide entertainment
People come for the ‘experience’ of the sunset at the sacred rock, but may learn nothing about aboriginal culture or beliefs while they are there
The Anangu have no role in the management or development of the tourist resort where most visitors stay
it can be difficult to make a living from farming in the outback
the soils are poor, with little organic matter to retain moisture, and plants are low in nutrients
if water is available, there’s just about enough grass to feed cattle or sheep – but only in quite low numbers
in order for farmers to make any money the farms are huge – some are the size of Wales!
Hunting and gathering
Australia’s aboriginal peoples have traditionally survived by hunting and gathering – finding edible plants and animals in the outback
The created conditions in which the grubs live and breed
They built dams across rivers to catch fish, and to make pools where birds would gather
They used fire to drive out animals for hunting, to clear wood, and to allow grass to grow. As a result, fire-tolerant plants (eucalyptus trees) came to dominate the landscape
Australia now has a growing ‘native food’ industry based on traditional aboriginal knowledge of what’s edible in the outback
Most people in the outback work in mines. Australia has some of the world’s largest reserves of quality iron ore, silver and gems such as opal. Coober Pedy in South Australia is the opal capital of the world – 70% of the world’s opal comes from there
Most of Australia’s iron ore is sold to China. Every day, several trains (2.2 km long) carry the material to the port at Dampier
Australia with Simon Reeve
Excellent series talking about Australia – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01xzcwd/clips
Managing the challenges
Farming in the outback is very challenging, because of the lack of water. Farmers have two main water sources:
most farms have dams and reservoirs to store water for sheep and cattle
the farmers also use boreholes to tap into underground water
Although farmers can currently meet the challenges of the harsh desert environment, recent droughts in Australia have put pressure on the land and water supplies. This has led people to question whether both water and land are being used sustainably.
The new Uluru Aboriginal Cultural Centre educates visitors about aboriginal culture and history. Its displays include photos, spoken histories, aboriginal language learning, videos and artefacts. Aboriginal guides also lead outback walks to inform visitors about bush food, as well as the significance of Uluru as a sacred site and other cultural subjects. The new Cultural Centre provides economic as well as cultural benefits. The income from the admission fees goes to the Anangu community. Today over 30 aboriginal people work in the park, and the park’s management is dominated by aboriginal owners.
The Sonora Desert in the USA attracts retired people moving to places like Phoenix for the sunny climate and open spaces. This is called retirement migration.