Land surface climates have never been more crucial that at the present. Scenarios of climatic change, say due to greenhouse warming, require successful prediction of the land surface characteristics since this is the locus of mankind's activities. Evaluation of the state-of-the-art land surface parameterization schemes has only just begun. Here we consider the performance of the Biosphere Atmosphere Transfer Scheme (BATS) when coupled to the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Climate Model (CCM). The land surface climatology generated by averaging the results of a three year model integration on a monthly basis is evaluated for the continent of Australia by comparison with published descriptions of a wide range of parameters. Proposals are outlined for improved methods of validation and testing the predictions of such complex biospheric submodels at least at continental scale. Future requirements for an interactive vegetation submodel are examined by assessing the generalized life zones predicted by the CCM as compared with the life zone types currently specified in the model and those predicted by the same GCM but using a simpler land-surface scheme. It is concluded that the climate community is now poised for the next crucial step towards a fully interactive land-surface climatic model.