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Join Australian Geographic on a journey to Australia’s coast. With three-quarters of us living within cooee of the coast, it’s not surprising that saltwater courses through the nation’s lifeblood. The coast is where we head for summer holidays and the source of our sun-bronzed surfer image. The rest of the world knows us as much for our coastal features as for our legendary Red Centre. Just off Western Australia, the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef plays host to the world’s biggest fish – whale sharks that arrive annually without fail on feeding migrations. Our coast is where the 12 Apostles hold a shaky line to the south and the Great Barrier Reef to the east feeds the ocean well beyond our borders with life. No-one owns any of our 10,700 beaches – from the iconic Bondi in NSW and Bells in Victoria to the stunning arc of sand that hugs Wineglass Bay on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula. But most of us each claim at least some possession, whether it’s with a spot on a towel in the sun or in a Depression-era beach shack overlooking Australia’s oldest national park, the Royal, south of Sydney. Our coastline links us to more than 8000 islands that also make up Australia. Much of Australia’s vast inland is connected with the coast, via the mighty Murray, our longest river. This great snake of water finally reaches the coast at the Coorong on South Australia’s south-east coast, to trickle into the Great Australian Bight. Vast numbers of birds thrive on the wetlands here. And just like so much of Australia’s coast, life ripples and pulses under the influence of the tide.
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