The Great Eastern Ranges forms a mountainous spine that runs the length of the continent, separating the coast from the arid interior. They span a vast 3,600 kilometers (2,237 miles) stretching from the majestic Grampian Ranges in western Victoria, along the Great Divide and Eastern Escarpment, to the wet tropics and the remote Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.
From their undulating heath covered slopes to the towering cliffs of Mount Kosciuszko, the Great Eastern Ranges are a biodiversity hotspot (areas containing a high number of species found nowhere else on earth), supporting 60% of Australia’s threatened animals and 70% of its plants. Living fossils like the Wollemi Pine and the world’s richest diversity of ancient flowering rainforest plants provide living connections to our deep geological history.
The Great Eastern Ranges forms the watershed and headwaters for the major river catchments of eastern Australia, providing clean water for over two-thirds of the continent’s population, whilst their dense forests soak up vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and filter the air we breathe. Run-off from the ranges flows into the Great Artesian Basin on the one side, creating the only reliable source of water for much of inland eastern Australia, and into the Pacific Ocean on the other.
The beauty and high diversity of the Great Eastern Ranges, their rich cultural and social history, and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation attract millions of local and international visitors every year contributing billions to our economy.
In the future, the more reliable rainfall and higher altitudes of the ranges will provide a vital refuge for animals and plants migrating in response to climate change, whilst also helping to buffer us against its impacts.