Australia Fun Facts
With its warm weather, wicked surf, and laid-back lifestyle, what's not to like about Australia? We've got the basics on the land down under.
A (Very) Brief History
Aboriginal Australians led an essentially hunter-gatherer existence in isolation until 1606 when the Dutch landed, scoped the place out and called it New Holland. Then, in 1707, the English took over and renamed it New South Wales. Between 1788 and 1839, Britain shipped its criminals to Australia. New South Wales became open to non-criminals in the mid to late 1800s. In the 1900s the name game stopped and the Commonwealth of Australia was born.
- Nicole Kidman: Born in Hawaii but raised in Australia, Tom Cruise's ex-wife was a well-established Oz celeb before she became a Hollywood award-winner.
- Mel Gibson: Although he was born in New York, Mel Gibson was raised in the land down under and that's where he raises his children.
- Naomi Watts: King Kong star Naomi Watts was born in the UK but moved to Australia at age 14.
- Russell Crowe:Born to Australian parents in New Zealand, actor Russell Crow moved to Australia when he was four.
- Chris and Liam Hemsworth: Australian brothers that made it big in Thor, The Avengers and The Hunger Games.
- Koalas: Although called Koala bears, these guys are actually marsupials, not bears.
- Wallabies and Kangaroos: There are 40 species of kangaroos and wallabies in Australia.
- Tasmanian Devil: This is a carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupial.
- Dingos: Dingos are basically wild dogs.
- Tasmanian Wolf: Sometimes called a Tasmanian tiger, these guys look more like cute kitties than wolves.
Cool Things to See and Do
- Great Barrier Reef: More than 2,500km long (bigger than England and half the size of Texas), this is the world's largest reef. It is also home to the greatest variety of plants and animals found in any location. Dive in to see fish, coral, clams, seaweed and turtles.
- Uluru: In the outback of Oz is the world's largest monolith - Uluru (pronounced OO-la-ROO), sometimes called Ayers Rock. The oval-shaped chunk of sandstone is 345m high, two miles long and one mile wide.
- Bridge tours: Take a three hour hike up to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. That is, if you're not afraid of heights. It's over 134m above sea level, but bridge suits are provided by the tour company as well as a harness and communication equipment.
Did U Know?
- January 26th is Australia Day.
- Australia is the world's smallest continent but sixth-largest country.
- Vegemite is a popular food in Australia. It is made by Kraft and is a vegetable paste that is usually served on toast.
- Australia is home to more than 100 species of unique marsupials, which means that these guys can't be found anywhere else in the world.
Have Your Say
Have you ever been to Australia? What interests you about the country? Leave a comment and let us know!