The 'deserts' of Australia are not just the rolling sand dunes people have in their mind when they think of that word. It includes the grasslands, shrublands and woodlands of the arid regions, where the erratic rainfall is less than the evaporation rates of that water, resulting in a deficit of moisture. As the world's driest continent, Australia obviously has a large portion of it's country defined as arid 'desert' ecosystems.
Unlike many other arid areas in the world, in Australia the rainfall is not always received in annual cycles, but often follows longer term non-annual events.
There is a boom-and-bust pattern that occurs over many years, and can be unpredictable, with little rain for many years, and then a huge amount at once with subsequent flooding.
Over long periods of time, weathering and oxidisation has resulted in distinctive bright orange-red soils. Under and around the small trees and shrubs, much of the arid land of Australia is dominated by bunches of prickly grass called 'Spinifex'.
Despite the poor quality substrate and unpredictable rainfall, there is a surprising range of beautiful flowers, and they can add a splash of colour to the arid habitats across Australia.
Despite the aridity, the drier areas of Australia are home to some of our most colourful birds!
Mammals can be more difficult to find, and unfortunately, many species of the Australian arid regions have been reduced in number or even become extinct.