Teaching Students About the Australian Savanna

Approximately How Much of Australia is Desert?

35% of Australia is desert, and 23%  is the Australian savanna. Travel to the Australian savanna, and you’ll be so hot you get sweat lag!

The Australian savanna is a biome in the North of Australia. Typically, it is very flat, with a landscape of small trees and shrubs that pockmark a sizeable open grassland. It has a tropical climate and sees a copious amount of rainfall in the wet season.

Where is the Australian Savanna?

The Australian savanna biome includes the northern section of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and higher parts of Queensland. It makes up 23% of Australia’s land. If you imagine Australia as a giant scoop of ice cream, the Australian savanna is the part that looks like chocolate sauce dribbled over the top.

How Big is the Australian Tropical Savanna?

Name: Carpentaria Tropical Savanna

Area: 365,042 km2 (140,944 sq mi)

Australian States: Northern Territory and Queensland

Did you know?

There are also tropical savannas in Africa, Asia, and South America. This is because they have tropical climates similar to Australia. Most of these are in the north and close to the equator, but Australia is in the south, so the seasons are switched.

What Animals Live in the Australian Savanna Biome?


Grass Finch – There are many species of grass finch. They are colorfully patterned to attract mates and eat grass and seeds, which is convenient since that’s about all there is in the savanna.

Corellas – Corellas are a species of cockatoo. They have a solid hooked bill to procure seeds from the dry plants and can feed on the ground or in the trees.


Marsupials are the dominant species in most areas of the tropical savanna. They include the Eastern Gray Kangaroo, the Whiptail Wallaby, the Koala Agile, the Echidna, Wallaroos, Possums, Gliders, the Northern Quoll, and the Golden Bandicoot.

Wallabies – Wallabies enjoy a varied menu of grass and grass. They are incredibly camouflaged against the brown earth and have a very acute hearing to pinpoint dangerous predators that may be slithering or crawling close to their dinner plates. They also can hop away at incredible speeds on their large hind feet.


Reptiles are prevalent in the areas that see more water retention, including the thorny devil and the saltwater crocodile, the giant snake in the world, and can grow up to 8 meters long.

Goannas – Goannas are a large species of lizard that can run extremely fast. They can survive on very little food and water but have a keen sense of smell that helps to discover the whereabouts of their prey. Like snakes, a goanna’s sense of smell is in the tip of its lithe tongue, which it then pokes into its nose to taste the scent and determine the prey. In addition, they have sharp, pointy teeth and dangerous-looking claws.


Grasshoppers – The humble grasshopper lives in the Australian savanna, constantly adding to the cacophony of sounds on the horizon. They eat grass and will lay their eggs in the grass, which will then hatch after a nice rainfall.

What Grows in the Australian Tropical Savanna?

Small, grass-like plants called shrubs are the only plant life that can survive in a dry area. Many species of grass have adapted to live in this extreme environment. They are adapted to stay in a specific type of soil and grow in an environment with very little rain. When the rains come, they thrive, then turn brown in dry periods.

The few plants and flora that grow here are well-equipped to take advantage of the weather and aim to increase when water is available, holding on to survival with sheer willpower for the rest of the year. With such little water, the trees growing in the Australian savanna are small, stumpy, and few and far between. One of the most common adaptable trees that can survive is the eucalyptus. There is also the baobab tree, which grows rather bulbous and sheds its leaves when the soil is too dry.

What’s the Weather Like in the Australian Savanna biome?

The Earth rotates on an axis, causing the planet’s northern regions to face the sun as close as possible, making for a beautiful summer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the tropics. When the sun is closer, there is more water evaporation which causes monsoonal rains and a hot and humid climate that’s enough to make a rock sweat.

In the summer, the Australian savanna sees many monsoons that drop heavily in quick bursts. This is when the areas receive the most rain. At other times of the year, there is very little rain, and the land becomes arid. Despite the change in rainfall, regardless of the time of year, it is pretty much HOT.

The desert landscape regularly reaches over 50 degrees and barely drops below 30. Essentially, the Australian savanna has only two dry and wet seasons. Forget spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The four seasons are hot, hotter, hottest, and holy moly, it’s too hot.

Bush Fires and the Risk of Fire in the Desert

Fire tends to be hot and dry, so when you have an area that tends to be extremely hot and extremely dry, you run extreme fire risks. So naturally, with each dry season come natural forest fires. When a bush fire rages through the savanna, it’s always bad news. Animals have to get out of the way as fast as possible, and there is no protection. Some can survive if they dig a deep enough burrow into the cool underground, but most must flee or be engulfed by fire.

Geographers believe that natural fire keeps the savanna healthy, however. Fortunately, the plants can bounce back from the common bush fires that erupt in these lands, and the ash helps the seeds in the soil to germinate so that plants can grow again. As a result, eucalyptus trees are pretty robust and can survive anything but the worst fires.

Farming in the Savanna

Australia has a booming agricultural industry, even in the savanna. The cattle have been bred to live in tropical conditions. The farms tend to be very large, but the areas suffer from weeds that damage the local grasses, and overgrazing is also damaging local flora by making it harder for them to mature and seed.

The Australian savanna biome is unique in many ways; the climate, vegetation, animals, and beauty are found nowhere else in the world in the same way. In addition, the atmosphere is unique d. So it’s safe to say that the planet would lose a great beauty should the Australian savanna biome be destroyed.

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