Australia Fun Facts

  • 13 December 2007
  • USA

Australia Fun Facts AKA: “Did you know?”
From Lonely Planet’s Australia

You’re Safe in Their Hands
Australia has almost 112,600 Surf Life Savers, who collectively spend some 1.4 million hours patrolling Australian beaches, where they rescue approximately 10,000 people per year (p. 20)

Aussie Tug of War
Wooli (pop. 600) hosts the Australian Goanna Pulling Championships over Easter. Rather than ripping the eponymous animal to shreds, participants squatting on all fours, attach leather harnesses to their heads and engage in cranial tug-of-war. This sport was all the rage in the 19th century, until it was replaced in popularity by sheep worrying and dunny dodging. (p. 190)

Patent Pending
Great Australian inventions include the half-car-half-truck (utility vehicle), the bionic ear, the black box flight recorder, the notepad and the wine cask. (p. 44)

Sweeny Todd It Ain’t
The Australian fetish for meat pies is legendary: Australians eat 260 million of them a year, around 13 per citizen. (p.168)

Plight of the Cane Toad
Queenslanders have several nicknames, but perhaps the most curious one is ‘cane toad’, after the amphibious critters that were introduced to Australia in 1935 in an attempt to control the native cane beetle. These creatures are not a pretty sigh and have proved to be absolutely useless as they ignored the pesky cane grub and instead focused on reproducing. From an original batch of just 101 toads, there are now over 200 million of these long-legged creatures hopping around Australia- an invasion that has seen the populations of native snakes and goanna lizards decline. Indeed, the problem has gotten so bad that a millionare pub owner has introduced a beer-for-a-bag-of-toads bounty that’s even got the support of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But it seems not everyone hates them; Queensland’s representative rugby league team has chosen the cane toad as their unofficial mascot and they have even been listed by the National Trust of Queensland as a state icon. Warts and all. (p. 294)

Unusual Zoo
Even if you don’t normally like zoos, visit the Australia Zoo. It isn’t your typical zoo- the animals aren’t in cages; instead they roam through semi-natural habitats spread over acres, many of which you can walk directly through. This zoo is the life’s work and great love of the late Steve Irwin. Profits from the zoo help endangered species and fund an on-site wildlife hospital.  (p.341)

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef includes 1500 species of fish, 400 types of coral, 4000 breeds of clams and other molluscs, 800 echinoderms, including sea cucumbers, 500 varieties of seaweed, 200 bird species, 1500 different sponges, and 6 types of turtle. (p.390)

A Different Kind of Souvenir
If you’re looking to do more than simply soak up the sun on your travels there are a number of ways you can leave your mark on the environment- in a good way. The Tolga Bat Hospital, located just outside Atherton near Cairns, is always looking for volunteers to help look after the hundreds of bats that they rescue, rehabilitate and release every year. The winged critters are surprising cute and work might include feeding the ‘bubs’ or looking after orphaned flying foxes. (p.428)

Yellow Gold
Prized for its rich golden hue, rot-resistant oils and fine grain, Tasmania’s Huon Pine is one of the slowest-growing and longest-living trees on the planet. Individuals can take 2000 years to reach 30m in height and live to be 3000 years old. (p.640)

Doo Town
No one is really sure how it all started, but the raggedy collection of fishing shacks at Doo Town all contain the word “Doo” in their names. There’s the sexy “Doo Me”, the approving “We Doo”, the Beatle-esque “Love Me Doo”, and the melancholic “Doo Write”. (p.649)

Beer Can Regatta
Don’t miss this cheerfully odd event in mid-July featuring races for boats made entirely from beer cans. (p.804)

Prince Leonard’s Land
If you thought Australia was an island nation, you would be incorrect. The Principality of Hutt River is Australia’s “second largest country” formed when Leonard Casley, appalled by new government quotas on wheat production, seceded from the Commonweath in 1970. The principality has around 13,000 citizens and is constitutionally valid. It has a post office and gift shop and welcome visitors. (p.951)

Staircase to the Moon
The reflections of the rising full moon hitting the rippled Roebuck Bay mud flats, exposed at low tide, create the optical illusion of a golden stairway leading to the moon. The town is abuzz with everyone eager to see the spectacle. At Town Beach there’s a lively evening market with food stalls and people bring their fold-up chairs and a bottle of something. (p. 979)

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