Monaro (New South Wales)

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The Monaro, near Cooma

Monaro (pronounced "mon-air'-ro") is the name of a region in the south of New South Wales, Australia. It also includes a small area of Victoria near Snowy River National Park. The Australian Capital Territory is often considered part of the region. Most towns in the region have very close links with Canberra.

The Monaro region is a large plateau about 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above sea level. It lies between the valley of the Murrumbidgee River in the north, and the Errinundra Plateau in the south. It drops steeply to the coast on its eastern side. Much of the region is an ancient highland, but there is basaltic bedrock near Cooma and Nimmitabel. This produces the only true chernozems in Australia. These are some of the best soils in the whole country. Elsewhere on the Monaro the granitic soils are very infertile. They supported dry forest vegetation before clearing for farming.

Because it is located east of the Snowy Mountains, the rain-bearing westerly winds drop rain and snow on the mountains leaving the Monaro region in a rain shadow. Annual rainfall ranges from 430 mm (17 in) around Dalgety to 700 mm (28 in) at the eastern edge of the plateau. Occasional storms can produce very heavy rainfall. On one day in June 1975, Nimmitabel received 256 mm (10 in) of rain. Temperatures in summer are warm to very warm. The average maximum temperatures range from 28 °C (82 °F) around Canberra and Queanbeyan to 22 °C (72 °F) on the highest parts of the plateau. Nights in summer can be cool, but in winter the region is the coldest part of mainland Australia outside the Alps The with July minimum temperatures averaging −0.3 °C (31 °F) in Canberra and −1.5 °C (29 °F) in Bombala.

The Monaro region features rolling hills that rise to very rugged peaks in the Tinderry Mountains. There are shallow valleys in the upper Murrumbidgee. The basaltic Monaro Range separates the Snowy and Murrumbidgee drainages. Because the climate in the basaltic areas is too cold for crops, the main industry is raising sheep and beef cattle.

The Monaro Highway is the main State highway from Canberra to the Monaro region. The main towns in the region are Cooma and Bombala, others include Berridale, Adaminaby, Delegate, Dalgety, Nimmitabel and Jindabyne.