10 AMAZING Facts About AUSTRALIA
As we return to our trip around the globe, we’re stopping in a rather revered country, one that many wished to see. As we digitally travel to The Land Down Under, we're going to meet 300 jolly surfers, we'll see what mum has got cookin' for all of your Wally siblings, we'll yabber about some Boomers, and we promise, there isn't a Buckley's chance you'll be disappointed. This video, as Australians would call it, is the Dinky-di.
The Island of Misfit Boys
When you don’t want someone in your presence, you find a way to banish them. In 1788, England did exactly that by deporting approximately 763 convicts to Australia, which was to act as a prison colony. Over 50,000 criminals in 60 years were brought to the land Down Under, but it was about more than rehabilitation. In fact, it was widely believed by England’s upper class that criminals were defective, could not be rehabilitated, and simply needed to be separated from those that lacked such defects. In this colony, prisoners were not kept behind bars, but conditions were grim. Sadistic volunteers from Great Britain oversaw prisoners, kept strict rules and harsh punishments.
When it comes to World Records, Australia isn't exempt from these feats, even when it comes to comedic value. In December of 2015, some 320 Australians took to the waves, breaking the record for most "Surfing Santa's" at one location. In November of 2015, David Richards broke a record for "Most bulbs on a Christmas Tree" by stringing 518,838 LED lights on 22-meter or 72-foot tree in Canberra to raise money for families affected by sudden infant death syndrome. On March 29th, 2008, daredevil Robbie Maddison broke the record for the longest motorcycle ramp jump at 106.98 meters or roughly 351 feet at the Crusty Demons Night of World Records at Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Despite being seemingly in its own world, the country of Australia and the people that devote themselves to it have experienced loss during some of the world’s most trying times. To commemorate those that gave their lives during the First World War, which is the first major military action fought by both Australian and New Zealand forces, Aussie’s celebrate ANZAC day. ANZAC Day specifically points towards the landing of Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. During the battle on the peninsula, Australia saw a loss of 8,000 soldiers against the Turkish defenders, who wound up pushing allied forces into a defeat. For both Australia and New Zealand, the battle molded a legendary image for the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
In 1856, the states of Victoria and South Australia introduced a new system of voting that many countries still utilize today. Dubbed the “Australian ballot,” and later the “secret ballot,” this voting method made it possible for voters to be able to cast a ballot in privacy. As the protection of voters became a growing concern across the globe, United States and parts of Europe adopted the Aussie means of voting. Traditionally, the means of privacy is a ballot box or booth of a specific dimension. The voters are given uniform cards and a uniform means of marking said card. More modern voting methods have turned to electronic methods, which tend to be under constant scrutiny… in the United States.
Australian Gold Rush
The United States of America isn’t the only country to have experienced a gold rush. During the 19th century, specifically in 1851, Edward Hargraves stumbled across a small speck of gold near Bathurst. Post-discovery, Hargraves dubbed the gold site “Ophir,” was named Commissioner of the Land, received a life pension, and inadvertently started a gold rush in Australia. By 1852, 370,000 immigrants landed in Australia in hopes of cashing in on the boom in mining. As it usually is when money is involved, tensions rose between the miners and authorities over goldfield licensing, leading to 1,000 men proclaiming an oath at the Eureka stockade to defend their rights and liberties. After intervention from Melbourne troops, 22 of the 1,000 were killed and Eureka was reclaimed.
We may have seen some of Australia’s indigenous wildlife tucked safely within some cave, but there’s nothing like seeing them in their natural habitat. Critters like the Tasmanian Devil, a tiny creature Mel Blank turned into a whirlwind of a beast, or the equally as cute wombat. We’d be doing a disservice to not name the expected animals, like the kangaroo, koala, or baby-eating dingoe; but we also don’t want to leave out the tiny kookaburra or the long-nosed fur seal, found on the southern coast of Australia. There is, of course, the myriad of deadly creatures like the cone snail, cassowary, stone fish, just to name a few. Oh, and how did we forget the platypus, the beaver's ugly cousin. Or is the beaver the platypus' ugly cousin? Actually, according to experts, they aren't related at all, as the platypus is only related to one other animal in the rare monotreme family, the Echidna. So, yea.. that joke didn't go as expected.
Tourist Attractions in Australia
As you should and can expect with any country you’ve yet to travel to, Australia is home to quite an array of attractions and sites worth making the trip for. One of its more notable buildings is the Sydney Opera House, a venue for concerts, local theater, and so much more. History buffs may enjoy visiting the Shrine of Remembrance, which was built to commemorate and honor the 19,000 Victorians that perished during the First World War. Thalassophobics are going to want to stray from the Great Barrier Reef, but anyone with a keen interest in nature should get a kick out of this system of 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. Additional attractions include Port Jackson, Blue Mountain, Tasmania, and the Great Ocean Road.
Don’t let Outback Steakhouse fool you. Australian cuisine is far more interesting than a blossoming tray of onions and steaks. In fact, for a restaurant that prides itself on its Down Under style, it’s missing a well-known Australian staple – Vegemite. Beyond the yeasty food paste, indigenous and more traditional Australians are known to dine on the witchetty grub, a wood-eating larvae. Should an almond-tasting insect not whet your appetite, maybe something sweeter like lamington or smokier like barbecued snags will hit the spot. Those crazy Aussies are also known for their love for meat pies, Macadamia nuts, Fantales, Tim Tams, Weet-Bix, and Anzac biscuits.
Sure, we all know Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett, Paul Hogan, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and Mel Gibson as certified Australians, but there’s more that hails from Down Under than great Hollywood talent. 2000 Sydney Olympic winner Cathy Freeman, who took gold in the 400m run, did her country proud, as did 1973 Nobel Prize winner Patrick White. Radio's blast out tunes from the country’s musical stars, Keith Urban, Kylie Minogue, and Olivia Newton John as our eyes are treated to works of art by artists such as Brett Whitely, Pro Hart, and Normal Lindsay. Let’s also not forget the stunning personality of Steve Irwin, who personified Australia for much of the world.
Many people likely don’t associate Australia with inventions – or really anything outside of kangaroos – but the country has been home to some great innovators. Some of the earliest inventors were Australia’s aboriginal population, who invented the boomerang some ten thousand years ago. In the 20th century alone, Australian inventors were churning out products that we still use on a regular basis today, such as notepads, configured by stationer J. A. Birchall; Dr. David Warren’s black box flight recorder; and the power strip, originally developed by Peter Talbot. Other notable firsts include the first feature-length film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, the first refrigerator, and more locally used items like the didgeridoo, a wooden musical instrument. For the girls watching this, you know those Ugg boots you love so much? Yep, that's right, thank Australia the next time you slip them on!