The Great Dividing Range, also known as the Eastern Highlands, is the most extensive mountain range in Australia. It is made up of numerous escarpments with a complex geological and ancient history, upland regions, plateaus, and mountain ranges. At over 2,175 miles, it is the earth’s third longest land-based range. The range’s width varies from 100 miles to 190 miles. The range begins at the northeastern-most tip of Queensland through New South Wales ending at the Grampians National Park’s central plains in Victoria.
History of the Great Dividing Range
The Eastern Highlands was created about 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous era. The folding and faulting processes created the plateaus and mountains which are made up of dolomite, schists, quartzite, sandstones, and limestones. Various Aboriginal clans lived in the Eastern Highlands for thousands of years before the arrival of the British settlers.
After the British colonized Australia, the ranges were a huge obstacle to the British settlers. The rugged nature of the highland made exploring the Blue Mountains quite challenging. Therefore they crossed the ranges using the walking trails established by the Aboriginal people. The first expedition group to cross the ridges from Sydney to Bathurst through the Blue Mountains was led by William Wentworth, William Lawson, and Gregory Blaxland.
Natural Features of the Great Dividing Range
Parts of the Great Dividing Range, which are made up of well-watered and flat land, were developed for pastoral and agricultural uses. These agricultural and pastoral regions include Southern Tablelands, Southern Highlands, and Northern Tablelands in New South Wales and Darling Downs and Atherton Tableland in Queensland. All the Australian mainland alpine regions including Mount Kosciuszko are part of the main range. The high regions in eastern Victoria and New South Wales are referred to as the Australian Alps.
The middle part of the highlands has numerous peaks which are surrounded by various smaller canyons, valleys, and mountain range. Some of the principal planes in the Great Dividing Range include Bogong High Plains, Southern Highlands, and South-Eastern Australia’s High Plain. Some of the ranges and spurs which are part of the Eastern Highlands include Moonbi Range, McPherson Ranges, Liverpool Ranges, Blue Mountains, Bunya Mountains, Barrington Tops, and Dandenong Ranges. Other tablelands and ranges in the Eastern Highlands include the Monaro District, Mount Royal Range, and Liverpool Range.
Water Catchments in the Great Dividing Range
The valleys in the region have produced water for various important water supply projects and reservoirs in the area including Warragamba Dam, Snowy Mountains Scheme, and Upper Nepean Scheme. Some of the rivers which flow to the eastern side of the Highlands include River Shoalhaven, River Richmond, River May, River Macleay, and River Hunter among others. The ones that flow to the southern parts of the range into Victoria include Rivers Glenelg, Hopkins, Yarra, Thompson, Cann, and Snowy. The rivers that flow north from Victoria to Murray-Darling Basin include Campaspe, Loddon, Ovens, Mitta Mitta, and Goulburn. Namoi, Macintyre, Macdonald, Lachian, Herbert, Flinders and Condamine rivers flow west of the Great Dividing Range.
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