1. Australians are a righteous, forward-thinking bunch of convicts
Australia was the first country to allow women to stand for Parliament. In 1902, Australian women were not only given the right to vote (they were the second country to do so, after New Zealand) but also to stand for Parliament. It was the first time women were given this right anywhere in the world.
2. The country is home to a whole lot of camels
When a vast proportion of your country consists of dry, arid, unusable land, what are you meant to do with it? Foster large populations of camels and export them to Saudi Arabia, of course! Australia has the largest population of wild camels of anywhere in the world, even though they’re not native; they were first introduced to aid crossing the Australian outback and their population has grown so prolifically, they’ve more recently been considered a pest. Since they’re are not exactly wanted, Australia exports its camels to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Brunei.
3. Most Australians live near a beach
With over 35,000 kilometres of coastline fringing the great island of Australia, it comes as no surprise that Australians love the beach. But did you know that 85% of people live within 50 kilometres (around 30 miles) of the coast? We pity the poor 1 in 10 of all Australians who don’t have ready access to the ocean; it’s like working at an ice-cream shop and being allergic to dairy.
4. The largest single property in Australia is bigger than Israel
Anna Creek Station in South Australia is not only the largest working cattle station in the world, but at 24,000km2 (that’s roughly six million acres), it’s larger than the country of Israel (20,770km2). Can you imagine how expensive their rates bill must be?!
5. Kangaroos can not walk backwards
Spend a few minutes researching the humble kangaroo and you’ll uncover many interesting facts. For instance, their young are born the size of a jellybean; their main form of transportation is hopping; and they can’t actually walk or jump backwards. Their strong tail gets in the way, so they jump sideways instead.
6. Kangaroo is delicious
It seems Australians don’t mind eating their native icons. Despite being on the Australian coat of arms, kangaroo meat is available in almost all major supermarkets and butchers; it is naturally lean and high in iron and protein, making kangaroo meat a very healthy option to throw on the BBQ.
7. Wombat poo is cube-shaped
Wombats, like many animals, use their excrement to mark their territory, and to let potential mates know they’re up for a little something extra. Since the Australian bush – where wombats do the majority of their hanging out – is notoriously uneven, wombat poo is cubed-shaped so that it doesn’t roll away.
8. Australia is home to three times as many sheep as people
When visiting Australia, you’ll expect to see kangaroos and koalas everywhere, but you’re actually more likely to see sheep! While New Zealand is typically known as Sheep Country, Australia is a close second with 74 million sheep to 23.5 million people – a ratio of three to one!
9. No native Australian animals have hooves
Australian animals are all completely unique, but they do have one thing in common: they don’t have hooves. Kangaroos and wallabies have soft pads on their feet, much like a dog or cat. In fact, animals with hooves actually damage the environment by compacting the soil, making it harder for native vegetation to grow.
10. Australia is home to a coal seam that is eternally on fire.
Don’t read too much into this: it’s not a sign that Australia can actually lay claim to being hell on earth! But there does exist a coal seam in New South Wales that has been combusting for over 5,000 years, making it the world’s oldest coal fire. When it was discovered, the smoke and ash coming from the mountain actually caused early settlers to believe it was an active volcano.
11. Canberra was created to settle a growing feud
When the question was raised of which city would become Australia’s capital, a fight broke out between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two most populated cities. Since no one could decide between the two, the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra was formed to call off the stalemate.
12. The Selfie is Australian
Aussies love adding “-ie” to everything: Barbie for barbeque, Ciggie for cigarette, Firie for firefighter, and so on. So it stands to reason that “Selfie” (for self-portrait) is Aussie slang. In fact, Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd became infamous for taking selfies during his political campaign.