Top 5 things you didn't know about Australia (Issue 20, 2012)
Did you know Australia has over 7 000 beaches? Or that Australia’s National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair, is rumoured to have a missing verse? Here is a list of the top five things you might not know about this amazing country.
- If Western Australia were a country, it would be the tenth largest
Only Brazil, the USA, China, Canada and Russia are bigger than Australia. But the state of Western Australia (WA) is bigger than some countries, including Algeria, Greenland, Mexico, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Libya. This is a state that actually has some cattle farms that giant over all of England. Also, Perth – the State’s Capital City, is one of the most isolated cities in the world.
- The platypus is venomous
It’s well known that Australia has some strange animals. But among the wombats, quolls, devils, goannas and there is possibly the strangest of them all – the platypus. Reports of early platypus encounters with Europeans were met with utter disbelief. The egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, semi-marine mammal actually had some early European settlers utterly confused – with some believing it was a fraud. The male of the species has a spur on its hind foot that can emit poison.
- Camels are feral pests in Australia
Australia faces some major problems with invasive, non-native fauna and flora, and camels are becoming increasingly dangerous for native animals. Mostly dromedary camels were brought to Australia in the 19th century for transport and construction use, however they have now become feral and their population has boomed – putting stress on the environment and native animals.
- The national sport is cricket but…
…footy rules. Australian Rules Football (AFL) was actually invented by cricketers as a way to stay fit in the off-season. AFL is not just a sport for some people in Australia, particularly Victoria (the state where it origins from), it is a way of life. The AFL Grand Final is arguably the most important date on the national sports calendar (although the Melbourne Cup comes close).
- Australia has the most natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Australia has nineteen World Heritage Sites, three of which, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, Sydney Opera House and Australian Convict Sites are under the cultural category. The rest fall entirely or partly under the natural category, which gives Australia a considerable amount (7.5 per cent) of the planet’s natural heritage.