Many of my American friends are quite surprised when I tell them that Australia has almost the same land mass as the contiguous states of America, about 80% in fact.
Australia is the oldest, flattest and driest continent on earth.
Although we have about 80% of the land mass of the United States our population is approximately 24,000,000 compared to Americas approximate 304,000,000. That means that there are about 30 Americans for every sq km of the U.S. compared to 2 Australians for every sq km of Australia.
The majority of Australians live on the eastern coast.
Australia was settled by Europeans in 1778 around the same time of the American Revolutionary War.
Some more interesting facts about Australia
* Swimming – In 1838 it was declared illegal to swim at public beaches during the day! This law was enforced until 1902.
* The secret ballot was first used in Victoria and South Australia following the granting of responsible government. Other states introduced secret ballots as follows: 1856 – Victoria & South Australia 1858 – New South Wales & Tasmania 1859 – Queensland 1893 – Western Australia. The secret ballot was referred to as ‘kangaroo voting’. World wide, secret voting is often referred to as the ‘Australian ballot.
* Female vote – Australia was the second country to give women the vote.
* In 1954, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob later became the Prime Minister of Australia.
* Until 1984, Australia’s National anthem was “God save the Queen/King.”
* Cartoonists – A cartoon is a drawing that makes a satirical, witty, or humorous point. On 17 July 1924, the world’s first society of cartoonists, the Black and White Artists’ Society, was formed in Sydney.
*Australia day – January 26, Australia day, is the anniversary of ships arriving in Sydney carrying a load of Convicts.
*Australia was the 3rd country, after the US and Russia, to launch a satellite into orbit. It was for the British, using a ‘Blue Streak’ rocket
*A census taken in 1828 found that half the population of NSW were Convicts, and that former Convicts made up nearly half of the free population.
*It is estimated that by the time transportation ended in 1868, 40 per cent of Australia’s English-speaking population were convicts.
*In 2007, it was estimated that 22 per cent of living Australians had a convict ancestor.
*Convicts were not sent to Australia for serious crimes. Serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or impersonating an Egyptian were given the death sentence in England.
*Crimes punishable by transportation included recommending that politicians get paid, starting a union, stealing fish from a river or pond, embezzlement, receiving or buying stolen goods, setting fire to underwood, petty theft, or being suspected of supporting Irish terrorism.
* Alcohol- It has been reported that the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per head of population than any other community in the history of mankind.
* Police force – Australia’s first police force was a band of 12 of the most well behaved Convicts.
*The Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan has the most toxic venom of any snake. Maximum yield recorded (for one bite) is 110mg. That would probably be enough to kill over 100 people or 250,000 mice.
*A 10kg Tasmanian Devil is able to exert the same biting pressure as a 40kg dog. It can also eat almost a third of its body weight in a single feeding.
*Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.
*A monotreme is a animal that lays eggs and suckles its young. The world’s only monotremes are the platypus and the echidna which are indigenous to Australia.
*The male platypus has a poisonous spine that can kill a dog and inflict immense pain on a human.
*Box Jelly fish – The box jellyfish is considered the world’s most venomous marine creature. The box jellyfish has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.
*The Sydney Funnelweb spider is considered the world’s most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours. Its fangs are powerful enough to bite through gloves and fingernails. The only animals without immunity to the funnelweb’s venom are humans and monkeys.
*America’s cup – In 1983, the yacht “Australia II” ended the Americans 132 year dominance of the America’s cup
*4 X 100 meters – The American 4 X 100 meters freestyle relay team had never been defeated until the 2000 Olympics when they were beaten by the Australians.
*Cazaly – When charging from their trenches, Diggers would yell “Up their Cazaly” in tribute to the ruckmen Roy Cazaly. “Up there Cazaly” was later made into a song that reached number one on the charts.
*Sydney – Australia’s first and largest city. Also known as Sin City. Wanted to be Capital of Australia but its convict stigma counted against it.
*Melbourne – Wanted to be the Capital of Australia on the basis that it was the home to the Australian establishment and was not founded by Convicts. (Founded by John Batman; son of a Convict)
*Canberra – Because Sydney and Melbourne kept bickering over which city should be the capital of Australia, it was decided that neither of them would be capital and instead, a new capital would be built in the middle of them both.
*Hobart – Australia’s second oldest city. The too-frequent visits by French explorers concerned the British authorities and in 1803 it was decided that a colony should be established on the island to secure British territorial claims. Convicts were then sent.
*Newcastle – Newcastle’s coal deposits were discovered by a party hunting escaped Convicts. Sydney’s difficult Convicts were then sent to Newcastle to mine the coal. Known as an egalitarian city where miners and winemakers share a beer or a fine drop.
*Adelaide – Claim to fame is that it is a City that has lots of Churches. Adelaide is the Capital of the only Australian state never to have received Convicts.
*Perth – The last Australian state to receive Convicts. It has been said most of them now work in parliament.
*Brisbane – In 1824, a southern state governor sent a party of difficult Convicts to found a new settlement in Queensland. These days, southern state children send their difficult parents to Queensland to retire. Also a Mecca for Southern State teenagers who upon finishing school, head north for a week of booze and debauchery.
*Long fence – The ‘dingo fence’ in Australia is the longest fence in the world, and is about twice as long as the Great Wall of China.
*Waltzing Matilda – ‘Waltzing Matilda’ the title of Australia’s most famous song.
*Bludger – Australians refer to lazy people as ‘bludgers’. The word is derived from ‘bludgeoner’ which is a prostitute’s standover man.
*Larrikin – A larrikin is a comical, roguish individual who is prone to rowdy and unruly behaviour. The term was coined from an Irish policeman in a Melbourne court, claiming the prisoner was “larkin about”.
*POME – Australians refer to English people as Poms or Pome. This is an acronym for Prisoners of Mother England. May have originally been an abbreviation for pomegranate which is Convict rhyming slang for immigrant.
*The name Australia comes from the Latin Terra Australis Incognito which means the Unknown Southern Land.
*Drongo – Australians may refer to fools, idiots and hopeless cases as Drongos. Drongo was a 1920’s racehorse that showed promise but never won anything in 37 starts. In the 1940s, the term was applied to recruits of the Australian airforce.
*Digger – Australian servicemen are referred to as Diggers. This term comes from miners on the Australian goldfields of the 1800’s.
*Kangaroo – The name for the Australian marsupial Kangaroo came about when some of the first white settlers saw this strange animal hopping along and they asked the Aborigines what it was called. They replied with ‘Kanguru’.
*Dropbears – Dropbears are an evil species of koala that fall from trees and attack humans. The evil strain of koala don’t actually exist. The story was created to fool Americans.
*Bunyips – Bunyips haunt rivers, swamps, creeks and billabongs. Their main goal in life is to cause nocturnal terror by eating people or animals in their vicinity. They are renowned for their terrifying bellowing cries in the night and have been known to frighten Indigenous Australians to the point where they would not approach any water source where a Bunyip might be waiting to devour them. Some scientists believe the Bunyip was a real animal, the diprotodon, extinct for some 20,000 years.
*Megafauna – 20-30 thousand years ago, Australia was home to Megafauna; giant species of marsupials including a wombat the size of a rhino, meat eating kangaroos, kangaroos three meters tall and lizards 7 meters long. It is not known exactly what happened to them.
*The Bradshaws – The Australian Kimberley is home to a mysterious form of rock art known as the Bradshaws. The art is dispersed in around 100 000 sites spread over 50 000 sq. km. Although the art’s pigment can’t be dated, a fossilised wasp nest covering one of the paintings has been dated at 17,000 + years old. This makes the art at least four times older than the pyramids.
The Bradshaws depict people with straight hair and poney tails. One painting even depicts a boat, with a rudder, and 29 people on board. Unlike other Aboriginal art, it is not known what purpose the Bradshaw paintings served. Graham Walsh, the foremost expert on them, has suggested that they might be a form of iconography(picture writing) painted by a now extinct Asiastic race.
*Phar lap – Phar Lap was Australia’s greatest race horse winning 37 of his 51 starts. After handicappers saddled him with enough weight to stop a train, his owner took him overseas to race in America. He easily won his first race but then died in mysterious circumstances.
* Mungo man – In 1974, scientists discovered the Mungo man – a primate who was ritually buried 40-60,000 years ago with his hands covering his penis. ANU’s John Curtin School of Medical Research found that the skeleton’s genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. It was analysed and compared to the genetic material from nearly 3,500 people; including Neanderthals, Asians, ancient Aborigines, and present-day Aborigines. It was found that Mungo Man’s DNA lacked a gene that was common to all the other samples. Consequently, unlike every other known person on the planet, or unearthed skeleton, Mungo man can not be traced to humans that left Africa any time in the last 200,000 years.
*Homicide – Australia was founded by Convicts. Its homicide rate is 1.8 per 100,000 population. The United States homicide rate is 6.3 per 100,000. Almost 400% greater than Australia.
*The ocker – 10 percent of Australians satisfy the definition of an ‘ocker’ . This 10 percent of the population consume 80 percent of the beer drunk in Australia.
*Gun toting- On average, American soldiers fired seven times as many bullets as Australian soldiers during the Vietnam war.
*Urban dwellers – Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries, with about 70 per cent of the population living in the 10 largest cities.
*Gambling – Per Capita, Australians spend more money on gambling than any other nation.
*With less than 1 percent of the world’s population, Australia has more than 20 percent of its poker machines.
*Australia’s expenditure on arts products ranks among the highest in developed countries.
*Rabbits – For each person in Australia there are two sheep and over 16 rabbits, the latter introduced in 1859 by one enterprising man who brought 24 wild rabbits from England in an effort to remind him of home.
*Cannabis use – It is estimated that 50% of Australians aged 14-19 are active users of Cannabis.
*Cannabis industry – The sale of illegal cannabis industry constitutes 1 percent of Australia’s GDP and is twice the size of the Australian wine industry.