When it comes to earthquakes, living in Australia is much safer than other parts of the world, as Australia is well away from tectonic plate boundaries where large earthquakes occur more frequently. However, the Australian continent can still experience potentially damaging earthquakes, such as the magnitude 6.7 Meckering earthquake in October 1968 or the magnitude 5.7 Newcastle earthquake in December 1989.
Australia’s earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of stress that slowly builds up across the Australian tectonic plate as it moves northeast about 7cm per year. The Australian plate is the fastest moving continental land mass on Earth and is colliding into the fastest moving tectonic plate, the Pacific plate which is to Australia’s north and east. These combined tectonic movements cause the build-up of stress in the interior of the Australian plate, which is then released during earthquakes.