The Land Down Under, the Land of Thunder, New Holland are just some of the other names given for that big, beautiful, mysterious continent of Australia. Many people think they know all facts about Australian culture there is to know about Australia, but chances are, they don’t know even a small percent of all that Australia has to offer.
Read on for 16 facts about Australia you probably don’t know!
1. Penal colony
In 1788, eight years after Captain James Cook landed on the eastern coast of Australia and dubbed it New South Wales, the British brought over eleven boats full of convicts and established a penal colony.
The historical facts about Australian culture that these prisoners, however, were carefully chosen for their skills to help establish the land for more settlers were convicted of less serious crimes. After serving seven years, they were pardoned and given farmland. The first police force in Australia was created using convicts that were well behaved.
2. Gambling is a big deal
This weirdest fact about Australia that Aussies spend more money per capita on gambling than any other nation in the world. Twenty percent of the world’s poker machines are found in Australia, and more than 80% of Australians gamble regularly.
3. No native wildlife is hooved
Wild animals native to Australia may be furry, pawed, marsupial or downright venomous, but none have hooves. Camels do run wild in Australia, but these critters do not have hooves.
In days long gone, Australia was the home to several species of gigantic animals, called megafauna. These included large marsupial lions, giant ducks, enormous kangaroos, and huge goannas.
4. Australia goes big
Australia spans an area that is equal to the distance between Moscow and London. It boasts large properties, with one cattle ranch being bigger than the country of Belgium.
Melbourne, in 1880, was considered the richest city in the world. One fun fact about Australia that currently, the richest woman in Australia, Gina Rinehart, makes about $598 …per second.
Australia is home to the world’s largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef, and the longest continuous fence in the world, measuring 5,614 meters in length. Australia also pays the most for electricity than any other nation.
5. Feral camels are a problem
At one time, there were over a million feral camels in the Outback. The problem was so extreme that the government had to intervene and begin a program of camel eradication. One fun fact about Australian animal that Saudi Arabia actually imports a large number of camels from Australia.
6. Australian wildlife doesn’t want to kill you
Australia is the home to 21 out of 25 venomous snakes in the world. Jellyfish, sharks, and crocodiles are just a few more hazardous critters in Australia. The number one killer, though, are the lowly bees, wasps, and hornets. Anaphylactic shock accounts for more deaths per year than the other creatures combined.
7. The Platypus is the world’s cutest joke
A mammal that lays eggs has webbed feet and a duckbill, a beaver’s tail, and is venomous is probably the strangest combination of features in any living animal.
The spurs on the rear feet of the Platypus are venomous enough to kill a small dog. For humans, the reaction is the pain rather than death. Uncontrollable, unstoppable pain that is unable to be relieved by normal painkillers for several days kind of pain. Add in nausea, vomiting and the destruction of muscle tissue, and we may have to give this adorable critter a hard pass if we see him by the river.
When a platypus was first sent to England, it was believed that someone was playing a joke on the receiver by stitching a duck’s bill onto a rat.
8. Giant sculptures
Australia baits tourists with over 150 gigantic sculptures of everything from food to animals. Tourists flock to these to have unique photo-ops. A large boxing crocodile resides outside of Darwin, and a huge rocking horse advertises the toy factory and wildlife park in Gumeracha. A giant Sphinx outside of Melbourne houses a casino and hotel inside of it.
9. Australian coat of arms
The Emu and the Kangaroo were chosen to be on Australia’s coat of arms because neither one can walk backward. The Australians chose this to reflect that they are forward-thinking, and never turn back. Coincidentally, Australians are the only ones in the world that actually eat the animals they have chosen for their coat of arms.
10. Australia is the driest continent
Inhabited continent, that is. Antarctica surpasses Australia as the driest continent in the world overall. Because Australia’s center portions are mostly vast desert, the majority of people living on the continent live closer to the shores and beaches. Australia is quite sparsely populated; the total population of Australia is around 23 million.
11. Australia has a wicked sense of humor
To curb tourism, Australia invented an animal that was more dangerous than all of its regular wildlife. A carnivorous cousin to the Koala, The Drop Bear reportedly hung out in tree branches and dropped on unsuspecting tourists, attacking them ruthlessly. The Australian Museum and many other mainstream institutions played along with the joke.
The government released several public warnings, including educational videos. Ways to avoid the attacks included smearing vegemite on the body, hopping on one leg, and trying to confuse the bear by speaking in Australian slang.
12. The Aborigines are the oldest culture on earth
If you want to know ten interesting facts about Australia then this one of them. The native aborigines have been around between 40,000 to 60,000 years, making them the oldest known culture on earth.
13. It snows in Australia
Some parts of Australia go through their share of snow-filled winter months, and there are ski resorts in Australia. There is a snow-capped mountain range in Australia known as the Australian Alps, but most of these mountains can be scaled without the use of specialized climbing equipment because they aren’t as high or steep as the European Alps.
14. There are many beaches in Australia
If you love beaches then Austalia is heaven for you. They have many unique beaches which worth to travel. Around 10, 685 of them, to be exact. It is estimated that it would take you just under thirty years to visit them all if you toured one per day. Most Australians live within 50km of a beach.
This probably the most fun fact about Australian animals. Hoppy, happy kangaroos come in many species, not just the common red ones we often see depicted. In fact, there are 60 varieties of kangaroo in Australia. Baby kangaroos are only about 2 cm long when they are born.
Kangaroo meat is sold in grocery stores and is reported to be healthier than lean ground beef or lamb. Grocers in Australia also sell crocodile meat. These dishes are best served with a sprinkling of chicken salt, which contains no chicken at all.
16. Human Development Index
The Human Development Index, which ranks countries based on longevity, happiness, knowledge, and living standards has ranked Australia as number two. Australia is so pleasant; it is estimated that 70 visitors overstay their visas every week.
With so much to do and see, Australia should be on everyone’s travel list. Thousands of miles of beach beckon and the cities are clean and well maintained. There are outback activities for the inner adventurer in you, and festivals celebrating Australia’s rich and colorful heritage. You can go fully armed with your trivia now that you learned these 16 facts about Australia that you probably didn’t know.