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Abstract:

Australia developed as a nation of coastal fringe dwellers even before the
realisation in colonial times that there was no inland sea and the continent had
a ‘dead heart’ of desert and scrub. The maritime character of the nation developed
with the reliance on coastal seas for transport and trade during European settlement,
through to the present day where the coast is the setting for most of Australia’s
population, industry, tourism and recreation. The geological history of the coast and
its distinctive configuration, landforms and environmental regimes have produced
a unique, highly diverse continental margin. In turn, the coast has profoundly
influenced the pattern of settlement and development of Australia.

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