(Before anyone asks, this is related to the Sahara, Makgadikgadi and Himalaya questions.)

The Sahara may take credit at being the hottest desert, but the Australian Outback is hardly a pushover by comparison.

enter image description here

Here, dehydration is the easiest way to die. The most iconic animals of Australia--marsupials, monitor lizards and cockatoos--must be especially tough to call this hellhole home.

The Outback in this alternate Australia might have a different personality. First and foremost, it's not called "Australia", but "Sahul".

enter image description here

Here, it looks as though the islands of Tasmania, New Guinea and New Zealand have merged to become part of the continent. The brown lines are the Great Dividing Range, a series of volcanic peaks no taller above sea level than 18,500 feet.

The next difference is Lake Eyre, a megalake over 460,000 square miles in area and 170.5 feet at the deepest.

enter image description here

The final difference between Australia and Sahul is that the distance from Sahul to Antarctica is 1400 miles, half the distance between Australia and Antarctica.

Would these three listed differences turn the Outback from unforgiving desert into something more comparable to the Garden of Eden, or would it still be desert, just a little on the chilly side?

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, can't help on this one. I know very little about autralian weather. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ The Australian outback is tough to live in not just because of the climate, but because of the dominance of Spinifex grasses, which is pretty much indigestible by vertebrates. Temites really like it, though. alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/kids/nature/plants/spinifex.shtml $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


At half the distance to Antarctica, southern Sahul would be at the same latitude as southern Patagonia and so would most likely have the same range of climate types:

Köppen climate classification world map

A mix of mild temperate (C) on the east and west coasts, with dry (B), Steppe (S), arid (h & k) interior and southern coast. The southeastern tip of Tasmania/South Island would likely be tundra (T) or polar (E).

Northern Sahul would similarly be a hot desert (BW) from the west coast to the interior, and the east coast would be humid and temperate (Cf), particularly east of the Dividing Range.

(I doubt Lake Eyre could form under these conditions, so you may want to add additional details to explain its formation.)

Would you consider posting your entire world map as it is? Ocean and climate currents are fairly easy to estimate, and their contribution to climate predictable. Rather than these piecemeal questions you could get an accurate snapshot of global climate conditions and identify problem areas.


Wind back the clock. Australia was much further South in the geological past. Due to continental drift it has been heading North and bit to the East. can't be sure about the movement of New Guinea so it has ended up smacked into northern Australia.

In essence this will be a colder and wetter Australia. Where you have placed this alternative Australia it will down either close or right in the path of the Roaring Forties. If so, more moisture will be transported further into the interior of Australia. Also, the rainforests that covered so much of Australia will still be place. How much colder is currently an open question.

Demographically the people who colonized Australia 40,000 years ago will be living in a very different country. They may have arrived later in Australia than the original settlers who developed into the Australian Aborigines. Quite likely they will have developed more settlements which could include villages, maybe even cities, and, quite possibly, agriculture.

Another answer that suggested that without checking on the wind and current patterns it isn't easy to determine how many of the changes would have played out. I quite agree.


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