- Gulf of Carpentaria
The Gulf of Carpentaria is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern
Australiaand bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea(the body of water that lies between Australia and New Guinea). In geological terms, the Gulf is young; it was dry land as recently as the last ice age.
The land bordering the Gulf is generally flat and low-lying. To the west is
Arnhem Landand the Top Endof the Northern Territory. To the east is the Cape York Peninsula. The area to the south (like the Cape York Peninsula, part of Queensland) is known as the Gulf Countryor simply "the Gulf."
The climate is hot and humid with two seasons per year. The dry season lasts from about April until November and is characterized by very dry southeast to east winds, generated by migratory winter high pressure systems to the south. The wet season lasts from December to March. Most of a year's rainfall is compressed into these months, and during this period, many low-lying areas are flooded. The Gulf is also a breeding ground for
cyclones during the period between November and April.
In many other parts of Australia, there are dramatic climatic transitions over fairly short distances. The
Great Dividing Range, which parallels the entire east and south-east coast, is responsible for the typical pattern of a well-watered coastal strip, a fairly narrow band of mountains, and then a vast, inward-draining plain that receives little rainfall. In the Gulf Country, however, there are no mountains to restrict rainfall to the coastal band and the transition from the profuse tropical growth of the seaside areas to the arid scrubs of central Australia is gradual.
The first known European explorer to visit the region was the Dutch
Willem Janszoon"(whose name is also written as Jansz)" in his 1606 voyage. His fellow countryman Jan Carstenszoon(or "Carstensz.") visited in 1623and named the gulf in honor of Pieter de Carpentier, at that time Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Abel Tasmanalso explored the coast in 1644. The region was later explored and charted by Matthew Flindersin 1802and 1803.
In September and October the
Morning Glory Cloudappears in the Southern Gulf. The best vantage point to see this phenomenon is in the Burketown area shortly after dawn.
Major rivers of the Gulf
* Top End
* Gulf Country
** Gilbert River
* Cape York Peninsula
** Mitchell River
** Mission River
The Gulf is one of the distinct physiographic sections of the larger (and surrounding)
Carpentaria Basinprovince, which in turn is part of the larger East Australian Basinsphysiographic division.
The area around the Gulf of Carpentaria is a major
ZAFTmilitary base in the mechaanime series Gundam SEED.
* [http://www.morningglorycloud.com Morning Glory Cloud video footage] and video of the Gulf Region around Burketown
* [http://www.morninggloryaustralia.com Morning Glory Cloud meteorology]
* [http://www.aerialvideo.com.au/sweers.html Aerial Video of Sweers Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria]
* [http://www.aerialvideo.com.au/burketown.html Video of Burketown and the Gulf from the air]
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