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Year 5 History and Geography

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Australia

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Australia is one of the largest countries on earth - so large that it’s also a continent! Australia is called the land ‘down under’ because it is below the Equator. Most of the land in Australia is hot and dry desert, called the outback . In the south, where the temperatures are a little cooler, you will find cities such as Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Can you find those cities on the map?

Australia is home to some amazing places and some very exotic animals. Let’s find out more.

australia map

Let’s Visit the Outback

The Australian outback stretches for thousands of miles from east to west and from north to south. It is so hot and dry in the outback that there are not many people living there. Most of the people in Australia live in the coastal cities of the south, where the few major rivers reach the sea. The only well-known town far inland is Alice Springs, home to only 25,000 people. Alice Springs was able to grow up in this hot area because it has springs that provide it with water. That’s how it got its name!

The Todd River in Alice Springs is called a ‘dry river’. That is because there is very little water in it now. If it rains, the river can sometimes flow again. This is so unusual that, when it happens, people living in the town come out just to watch the river flow!

If you live in the outback, there might not be a school nearby. Some children have to watch their lessons on DVDs and be taught by a teacher through a computer or over the radio. Their teacher might be in a classroom hundreds of miles away.

Two hundred miles from Alice Springs is an enormous and very special rock. Uluru, which is also called Ayers Rock, is a massive piece of sandstone. If you walked all the way around the outside of Uluru, it would take over two hours! It would also be very hot, so you would need to walk very early in the morning, when the temperatures are cooler. In the light of a sunrise or sunset, Uluru looks as if it is to a beautiful deep orange-red. The indigenous Australian people respect it as a sacred site.

australia map

Amazing Australian Animals

Australia is home to many animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They evolved in Australia, but could not migrate anywhere else because the continent was surrounded by ocean. Some, like kangaroos, koalas and wombats are called marsupials . The name comes from an ancient Greek word for a pouch, because the mothers carry their young in a pouch on their tummies. The duck-billed platypus is a mammal, like cows, dogs and human beings, but the females lay eggs. (The platypus and the echidna are the only mammals that lay eggs.) All these animals might look cuddly but they can fight! Australia’s snakes and spiders include some with strong and dangerous venom.

Off the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef, formed from the minerals left by thousands of tiny corals, is home to many wonderful sea creatures, such as tropical fish, turtles and clams.


This activity is adapted from pages 95-99 of What Your Year 5 Child Needs to Know. Other books in the Core Knowledge UK series can be purchased here.