Some interesting Australia facts we have discovered:
- Native Aborigine people have been living in
Australia for 30 thousand and perhaps 50 thousand years, so the land could
really be called theirs. However, like US with the Indians and New
Zealand with the Maoris, these native people have gotten a pretty unfair
deal. This is slowly being rectified through a number of means such as
giving land back to the Aborigines such as Ayers Rock (Uluru) and public
apologies, such as happened in May of 1997.
- In 1642, Australia was discovered by the
European Dutchman Abel
Tasman calling it originally New Holland. Much later, Captain James Cook explored
the east coast of Australia in the
1770s by mapping some of the coastline. It wasn't until the 1840s that
England began sending people to Australia. Believing that the land was
not good for much, they began sending convicts to be incarcerated there
making the east coast of the continent a big penal colony. Australians make
a lot of fun of their heritage of their ancestors being prisoners. In
fact, many of these people only committed petty offences in England and were
of very good stock. After the war with the American colonies was lost,
this became one way that England tried to get rid of the poorer and less
desirable elements of their population.
- Nearly twenty million people now live in
Australia, 95% of them
on only 1% of the coastal land around continent. The entire middle
parts of Australia are largely empty, so population density is calculated in
square kilometers per person, not the number of people per square
- The total
size of Australia is almost exactly the size of the lower 48 US
states. Since there are far fewer people for so much land, there is
far less crowding and much of the land is national parks. There are
540 of them in Australia!
- Australians are dubbed Aussies by everyone in
the world. There is really no other slang term for them that we have
- Australians also drive on the left side (wrong side to us!) of the
road, but their roads are generally a little wider than those in New
Zealand, so you are not as scared when a two trailer 34 wheeled land truck
goes by!. RVs
are also called CamperVans and are small by American standards. You
see a few larger RVs, but by comparison, there are far more in New Zealand.
- The Australian dollar is worth about 53 cents (US)
and, right now, that is a very good deal for us traveling there. Once
your money is exchanged, things are about 15% cheaper than in the US.
It is not quite as good a deal as New Zealand was.
- Tipping is done when service is particularly
good at better restaurants. Otherwise, there is really no tipping
- ATMs are everywhere, just as they were in New
Zealand, and they also have NO
- Weights are measured in kilograms and distances are in
kilometers and temperatures are in Celcius. Stephanie continues to get
practice on conversion factors!