Portal:Australia

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The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.

The continent of Australia has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After sporadic visits by European explorers and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the eastern half of the continent was claimed by the British in 1770, and officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown colonies were successively established over the course of the 19th century.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The current population of around 21 million is concentrated mainly in the coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

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The Central Basin and Captain Cook water jet looking towards the National Library and Parliament House

Lake Burley Griffin is a large lake in the centre of Canberra, Australia's federal capital city. It was created in 1963 after the Molonglo River, which runs through the city centre, was dammed. It is named after Walter Burley Griffin, the architect who won the design competition for the city of Canberra. It should be noted that 'Burley' was Griffin's middle name, not part of his surname. The lake is located in the approximate geographic centre of the city, according to Griffin's original designs. Numerous important institutions, such as the National Library of Australia lie on its shores, and Parliament House is a short distance away. Its surrounds are also quite popular with recreational users, particularly in the warmer months. Though swimming in the lake is uncommon, it is used for a wide variety of other activities, such as rowing, fishing, and sailing. The lake's flow is regulated by the 33 metre tall Scrivener Dam, which is designed to handle a once in 5000 year flood event. In times of drought, water levels can fall below desired limits; so to compensate, water is released from the Googong Dam, located on a tributary of the Molonglo River.

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Aerial view of Happy Valley Reservoir.

Happy Valley Reservoir is one of the oldest reservoirs in South Australia, being built between 1892 and 1897. Initially 15 kilometres from Adelaide, the reservoir is now largely enveloped by the city's southern suburbs. It is relatively small in capacity, holding only 11,500 megalitres, but it is the site of the biggest water treatment plant in Adelaide and is responsible for providing more than 40% of the city's water.

Photo credit: Ctbolt

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