We develop and apply a systematic literature review methodology to identify and characterize the ways in which the peer-reviewed literature depicts how climate change adaptation is occurring in Australia. We reviewed the peer-reviewed, English-language literature between January 2005 and January 2018 for examples of documented human adaptation initiatives in Australia. Our results challenge previous assumptions that adaptation actions are not happening in Australia and describes adaptation processes that are underway. For the most part, actions can be described as preliminary or groundwork, with a particular focus on documenting stakeholder perspectives on climate change and attitudes towards adaptation, and modelling or scenario planning in the coastal zone, agriculture, and health sectors. Where concrete adaptations are reported, they are usually in the agricultural sector and are most common in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia’s food basket. The findings of the review advance our understanding of adaptation to climate change as a process and the need to consider different stages in the process when tracking adaptation.
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