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Australian Values

Customs and Values

Wisdom
Australian quotes

Facts
Odd facts of Australia

Drinking
Shouts and rounds

Egalitarianism
The fear of inferiority

Etiquette
Important social rules

Humour
Black and taboo

Australia Day
The true meaning

Anzac Day
Lest we forget

Red Earth Blue Sky

E-mail


 

 

Maree man
Unusual Australian Facts

Although many people around the world might be impressed with European architecture, inspired by ancient Greek myths, and be amazed by historical stories of a great leader conquering the lands, few countries have produced the peculiarities of history, native fauna and sport seen in Australia. By world standards, the Australian environment is odd, and so are the people who populate it.

History

* Swimming - In 1838 it was declared illegal to swim at public beaches during the day! This law was enforced until 1902.

* The secret ballot was first used in Victoria and South Australia following the granting of responsible government. Other states introduced secret ballots as follows: 1856 - Victoria & South Australia 1858 - New South Wales & Tasmania 1859 - Queensland 1893 - Western Australia. The secret ballot was referred to as 'kangaroo voting'. World wide, secret voting is often referred to as the 'Australian ballot.

* Female vote - Australia was the second country to give women the vote.

* In 1932, Francis De Groot, a retired cavalry officer, managed to get himself selected as part of the honour guard at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When the ribbon was about to be cut, he galloped forward on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword, declaring the bridge open in the name of 'the decent citizens of New South Wales'. The ribbon was then tied back together and the ceremony continued. De Groot was carried off to a mental hospital, declared insane and later fined for the replacement cost of one ribbon.

* Independence for WA- In April 1933, 68 per cent of West Australians voted in favour of seceding from the Commonwealth of Australia. However, they needed permission from the British Parliament before they could officially become a new country. Meanwhile, Australia's Federal Parliament was arguing that Britain should not interfere in Australian politics. The end result was that Britain never made a decision. Consequently, Western Australian remained part of the Commonwealth.

* In 1954, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob later became the Prime Minister of Australia.

*Sir John Robertson, five times premier of New South Wales, was said to have drank a pint of rum every morning for 35 years. Later said: 'none of the men who have left footprints in this country have been cold water men.'

* Prime Minister Harold Holt went for a swim at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea on 17th December 1967, and was never seen again. The event has been referred to as 'the swim that needed no towel'.

* Until 1984, Australia's National anthem was "God save the Queen/King."

* Cartoonists - A cartoon is a drawing that makes a satirical, witty, or humorous point. On 17 July 1924, the world's first society of cartoonists, the Black and White Artists' Society, was formed in Sydney.

* Yowie sighting - In 1987, the Alice Springs police station received a call from a frightened family. The family had stopped for a cup of tea after a morning of rabbit hunting. Then a huge ape like creature, two meters tall and covered in hair, leapt out of an empty water tank and began walking towards them. The family fled to their truck and the creature ran after them before disappearing into the bush. The man, Frank Burns believed it was a man however the women, Phyllis Kenny, told the press she could tell the difference between man and beast and this was definitely a beast. The following day police searched the area and found a man, 203 centimetres tall weighing a estimated 127-159 kg (or about two Oprah Winfreys) sitting naked by the roadside. The man was then taken to a local mental hospital.  

*Australia day - January 26, Australia day, is the anniversary of ships arriving in Sydney carrying a load of Convicts.

*Australia was the 3rd country, after the US and Russia, to launch a satellite into orbit. It was for the British, using a 'Blue Streak' rocket

 

Convicts

*A census taken in 1828 found that half the population of NSW were Convicts, and that former Convicts made up nearly half of the free population.

*It is estimated that by the time transportation ended in 1868, 40 per cent of Australia's English-speaking population were of Convicts descent.

*In 2007, it was estimated that 22 per cent of living Australians had a Convict ancestor.

*Convicts were not sent to Australia for serious crimes. Serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or impersonating an Egyptian were given the death sentence in England.

*Crimes punishable by transportation included recommending that politicians get paid, starting a union, stealing fish from a river or pond, embezzlement, receiving or buying stolen goods, setting fire to underwood, petty theft, or being suspected of supporting Irish terrorism.

* Alcohol- It has been reported that the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per head of population than any other community in the history of mankind.

* Police force - Australia's first police force was a band of 12 of the most well behaved Convicts.

* Mass moonings - In 1832, 300 female Convicts at the Cascade Female Factory mooned the Governor of Tasmania during a chapel service. It was said that in a "rare moment of collusion with the Convict women, the ladies in the Governor's party could not control their laughter."

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Natural Environment

*The Australian Lyre Bird is the world's best imitator; able to mimic the calls of 15 different species of birds in their locality and string the calls into a melody. Also been known to mimic the sound mobile phones.

*The echidna is such a unique animal that it is classified in a special class of mammals known as monotremes, which it shares only with the platypus. The echidna lays eggs like a duck but suckles its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. For no apparent reason, it may decide to conserve energy by dropping its body temperature to 4 degrees and remain at that temperature from 4 to 120 days. Lab experiments have shown that the echidna is more intelligent that a cat and it has been seen using its spikes, feet and beaks to climb up crevices like a mountaineer edging up a rock chimney.

*Purple wallaby - The Purple-neck Rock Wallaby [Petrogale Purpureicollis], inhabits the Mt Isa region in Northwest Queensland. The Wallaby secretes a dye that transforms its face and neck into colours ranging from light pink to bright purple.

*The Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan has the most toxic venom of any snake. Maximum yield recorded (for one bite) is 110mg. That would probably be enough to kill over 100 people or 250,000 mice.

*The Wombat deposits square poos on logs, rocks and even upright sticks that it uses tomark its territory.

*A 10kg Tasmanian Devil is able to exert the same biting pressure as a 40kg dog. It can also eat almost a third of its body weight in a single feeding.

*Australia is the smallest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent in the world. It is the only country which is also a whole continent.

*Over 90% of Australia is dry, flat and arid. Almost three-quarters of the land cannot support agriculture in any form.

*A baby kangaroo at the time of its birth measures 2 centimetres.

*Kangaroos need very little water to survive and are capable of going for months without drinking at all. When they do need water, they dig 'wells' for themselves; frequently going as deep as three or four feet. These 'kangaroo pits' are a common source of water for other animals living in the kangaroo's environment.

*A kangaroo being chased by a dog may jump into a dam. If the dog gives chase, the kangaroo may turn towards the dog, then use its paws to push the dogs head underwater in order to drown it.

*Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

*A monotreme is a animal that lays eggs and suckles its young. The world's only monotremes are the platypus and the echidna.

*The male platypus has a poisonous spine that can kill a dog and inflict immense pain on a human.

*When a specimen of the platypus was first sent to England, it was believed the Australians had played a joke by sewing the bill of a duck onto a rat.

*Box Jelly fish - The box jellyfish is considered the world's most venomous marine creature. The box jellyfish has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.

*The Sydney Funnelweb spider is considered the world's most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours. Its fangs are powerful enough to bite through gloves and fingernails. The only animals without immunity to the funnelweb's venom are humans and monkeys.

*Lung fish - Queensland is home to lung fish, a living fossil from the Triassic period 350 million years ago.

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Migration

* Mungo man - In 1974, scientists discovered the Mungo man - a primate who was ritually buried 40-60,000 years ago with his hands covering his penis. ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research found that the skeleton's genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. It was analysed and compared to the genetic material from nearly 3,500 people; including Neanderthals, Asians, ancient Aborigines, and present-day Aborigines. It was found that Mungo Man's DNA lacked a gene that was common to all the other samples. Consequently, unlike every other known person on the planet, or unearthed skeleton, Mungo man can not be traced to humans that left Africa any time in the last 200,000 years.

*Robust - The first humans travelled across the sea from Indonesia about 70,000 years ago. These people are called 'Robust' by archaeologists because of their heavy-boned physique.

*Gracile - 50, 000 years ago, the more slender 'Gracile' people; the ancestors of Australian Aborigines, arrived in Australia. At the time of their settlement/invasion, the Gracile were the most technologically advanced people in the world.

*Tasmanian Aborigine - The Tasmanian Aborigine was of a different race to those on the mainland with features more similar to Africans. No full bloods live today.

*Convicts of African descent - Convicts comprised many different racial groups and many of these minority racial groups were very prominent in colonial society. Australia's first bushranger was a Convict of African descent. Another African Convict was arguably Sydney's first eccentrics as he walked around in a top hat and tails.

*Gold Rush - During the Gold rush of the 1850's, Australia received massive waves of migration from China, America, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England. An Italian migrant named 'Raefello Carboni' subsequently led the Eureka Rebellion.

*People: 92% Caucasian descent, 7% Asian descent, 1% Aboriginal descent.

*Post World War II - From 1945 through 1996, nearly 5.5 million immigrants settled in Australia.

*Four out of 10 Australians are migrants or the first-generation children of migrants.

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Sport

*Happy birthday anthem - In 1977, Alan Jones scored a surprise victory in the Austrian Grand Prix. Initially officials were going to play the Austrian anthem but then realised that Australia and Austria were not the same country. Unfortunately, they didn't have the Australian anthem so instead a local drunk played "Happy Birthday to You" on a trumpet.

*Don Bradman - Don Bradman averaged 99.94 during his career. The next highest average in the entire history of the game is around 60.

*Australian Football was invented by Sydney Tom Wills and Henry Harrison - both were both born in Sydney. Tom played the Aboriginal game of Mangrook as a child and it is believed the native game inspired the rules he initially proposed. The game then took hold in Victoria, and was largely rejected by Sydney.

*America's cup - In 1983, the yacht "Australia II"  ended the Americans 132 year dominance of the America's cup

*4 X 100 meters - The American 4 X 100 meters freestyle relay team had never been defeated until the 2000 Olympics when they were beaten by the Australians.

*Duncan Armstrong - At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, underdog Ducan Armstrong upstaged the great American Matt Biondi to win the 200m freestyle. (Australians like to beat Americans.) The win was made extra enjoyable when American's accused Armstrong of "surfing" the wave created by Biondi.

*Sydney Olympics - The Sydney Olympics were labelled the 'best ever games' by IOC president Juan Samaranch. What makes this a particularly sweet accolade for Australians is that they followed the Atlanta Olympics - staged by Americans.

*A Sydney Australian football match was once stopped after fans smuggled a pig into the stadium, wrote the name of a big-boned player on the pig's side and then released it onto the ground.

*Dawn Fraser - Dawn Fraser is the only athlete to ever win gold in the same event at three consecutive Olympics. At the 1964 Olympics, Dawn Fraser marched in the opening ceremony and wore a custom made swimsuit. For these breaches of protocol, the Australian Swimming Federation banned her from competition for ten years.

*Rod Laver is the only male tennis player to win the grand slam and he did it twice.

*Jeff Thompson once bowled a ball that was calculated to be at least 160 kms per hour which makes him the fastest bowler of all time. He is reported to have said that the sound of the bowl hitting the batsmen skull was music to his ears.

*Cazaly - When charging from their trenches, Diggers would yell "Up their Cazaly" in tribute to the ruckmen Roy Cazaly. "Up there Cazaly" was later made into a song that reached number one on the charts.

*Susie Maroney was a swimmer who from time to time felt inclined to swim long distances - such as Cuba to Florida.

*The day of the Melbourne Cup (a horse race) is a public holiday in Melbourne.

 


Cities
and States

*Sydney - Australia's first and largest city. Also known as Sin City. Wanted to be Capital of Australia but its convict stigma counted against it.

*Melbourne - Wanted to be the Capital of Australia on the basis that it was the home to the Australian establishment and was not founded by Convicts. (Founded by John Batman; son of a Convict)

*Canberra - Because Sydney and Melbourne kept bickering over which city should be the capital of Australia, it was decided that neither of them would be capital and instead, a new capital would be built in the middle of them both.

*Hobart - Australia's second oldest city. The too-frequent visits by French explorers concerned the British authorities and in 1803 it was decided that a colony should be established on the island to secure British territorial claims. Convicts were then sent.

*Newcastle - Newcastle's coal deposits were discovered by a party hunting escaped Convicts. Sydney's difficult Convicts were then sent to Newcastle to mine the coal. Known as an egalitarian city where miners and winemakers share a beer or a fine drop.

*Adelaide - Claim to fame is that it is a City that has lots of Churches. Adelaide is the Capital of the only Australian state never to have received Convicts.

*Perth - The last Australian state to receive Convicts. It has been said most of them now work in parliament or business.

*Brisbane - In 1824, a southern state governor sent a party of difficult Convicts to found a new settlement in Queensland. These days, southern state children send their difficult parents to Queensland to retire. Also a Mecca for Southern State teenagers who upon finishing school, head north for a week of booze and debauchery.

*Tasmania - The island state is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products. The government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines.

 

Language

*Waltzing Matilda - 'Waltzing Matilda' the title of Australia's most famous song, is German for 'carrying a backpack'.

*Bludger - Australians refer to lazy people as 'bludgers'. The word is derived from 'bludgeoner' which is a prostitute's standover man.

*Larrikin - A larrikin is a comical, roguish individual who is prone to rowdy and unruly behaviour. The term was coined from an Irish policeman in a Melbourne court, claiming the prisoner was "larkin about".

*POME - Australians refer to English people as Poms or Pome. This is an acronym for Prisoners of Mother England. May have originally been an abbreviation for pomegranate which is Convict rhyming slang for immigrant.

*The name Australia comes from the Latin Terra Australis Incognito which means the Unknown Southern Land.

*Seppo - Australians may refer to Americans as 'Seppos'. This is an abbreviation for 'Septic Tank' which is rhyming slang for 'Yank'.

*Drongo - Australians may refer to fools, idiots and hopeless cases as Drongos. Drongo was a 1920's racehorse that showed promise but never won anything in 37 starts. In the 1940s, the term was applied to recruits of the Australian airforce.

*Digger - Australian servicemen are referred to as Diggers. This term comes from miners on the Australian goldfields of the 1800's.

*Kangaroo - The name for the Australian marsupial Kangaroo came about when some of the first white settlers saw this strange animal hopping along and they asked the Aborigines what it was called. They replied with 'Kanguru', which in the native language meant 'I don't know' .

*Moomba - The city of Melbourne has a cultural festival using the Aboriginal word Moomba. It seems the festival's initial organisers asked the local Aborigines to suggest a name, and were told that moomba means 'lets get together and have fun.' The grateful organisers subsequently used the name.

In hindsight, the organisers really should have been suspicious that 'lets get together and have fun' could be expressed in two syllables. In reality, 'moom' means 'bum', 'buttocks', or 'anus', while the suffix 'ba' means 'in', 'at' or 'on'. So moomba actually means 'in the bum.'

 

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Mysteries

*Stolen baby - On August 17, 1980, Lindy Chamberlain, the wife of a Church minister, told authorities that a dingo took her baby Azaria from their campsite near Uluru. Curiously, the Australian public was more inclined to place faith in the character of a wild dog rather than in a minister's wife and as a consequence, Lindy was convicted of murder. Some years later, her conviction was quashed yet still, some Australians are adamant that the dingo was innocent.

*Dropbears - Dropbears are an evil species of koala that fall from trees and attack humans. The evil strain of koala don't actually exist. The story was created to fool Americans.

*Yowies- Like the Nth American big foot, the yowie emits a vile odour and screams offensively. Numerous sightings of Yowies have turned out to be escaped mental patients or hermits in jungle attire.

*Lost Prime Minister - In 1967, Harold Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia went for a swim at the beach and was never seen again. Theories about his disappearance include kidnapping by a Russian submarine, eaten by a shark or being carried away by the tide.

*Bunyips - Bunyips haunt rivers, swamps, creeks and billabongs. Their main goal in life is to cause nocturnal terror by eating people or animals in their vicinity. They are renowned for their terrifying bellowing cries in the night and have been known to frighten Aborigines to the point where they would not approach any water source where a Bunyip might be waiting to devour them. Some scientists believe the Bunyip was a real animal, the diprotodon, extinct for some 20,000 years.

*Megafauna - 20-30 thousand years ago, Australia was home to Megafauna; giant species of marsupials including a wombat the size of a rhino, meat eating kangaroos, kangaroos three meat tall and lizards 7 meters long. It is not known exactly what happened to them. One theory is that were hunted to extinction by Aborigines or that the Aborigines use of fire destroyed their habitat. Another theory is their habitat was destroyed by the progressive drying of Australia.

*The Bradshaws - The Australian Kimberley is home to a mysterious form of rock art known as the Bradshaws. The art is dispersed in around 100 000 sites spread over 50 000 sq. km. Although the art's pigment can't be dated, a fossilised wasp nest covering one of the paintings has been dated at 17,000 + years old. This makes the art at least four times older than the pyramids.

*Marree man - In 1998, a huge engraving of a Aboriginal warrior appeared in the Australian outback. It was 4km long, held a throwing stick, was bearded and had a penis which was estimated to be 200m in length. The markings appeared to have been made by a tractor pulling some sort of plough which created furrows 10m wide in the difficult terrain. To this day, the artist is a mystery.

*Phar lap - Phar Lap was Australia's greatest race horse winning 37 of his 51 starts. After handicappers saddled him with enough weight to stop a train, his owner took him overseas to race in America. He easily won his first race but then died in mysterious circumstances.

* Mungo man - In 1974, scientists discovered the Mungo man - a primate who was ritually buried 40-60,000 years ago with his hands covering his penis. ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research found that the skeleton's genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. It was analysed and compared to the genetic material from nearly 3,500 people; including Neanderthals, Asians, ancient Aborigines, and present-day Aborigines. It was found that Mungo Man's DNA lacked a gene that was common to all the other samples. Consequently, unlike every other known person on the planet, or unearthed skeleton, Mungo man can not be traced to humans that left Africa any time in the last 200,000 years.

Mungo Man's unique DNA has been used to challenge the 'out of Africa' theory of human evolution.

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Eccentrics

*Rosaleen Norton - Rosaleen was born in 1917. She lived outside the realm of respectable society; flouting all moral and social conventions. Her published book of illustrations was declared obscene by the censors and banned in 1952.

Popularly known as the Kings Cross Witch, she was hounded by the media who seized on her alleged satanic rituals, sex orgies and drug-taking. When asked whether she ever considered leading an ordinary life, she exclaimed: "Oh God no, I couldn't stand it! I'd go mad or sane. I don't know which."

*William James Chidley - William was born in 1860 and came to prominence due to his unconventional theories on sex, diet and clothing. Donned in a Spartan tunic, he preached living a 'natural' life of nudity and a diet comprising only fruit and nuts.

He suffered constant persecution by the authorities, was committed to various asylums and jailed. Ironically, he was regarded as a pervert for mentioning sex when he was something of a puritan in his teachings and lifestyle. However the public became fond of him and subsequently petitioned parliamentarians and the media to get him released.

*Billy Blue - Billy was a Convict of African decent. He was quite a character due to his respectable attire of top hat and discarded military uniform.

So colourful was his personality that his frequent law infringements were looked upon with a 'benevolent ' air by police.  

*Tim the Yowie man - Tim began his career as a mild mannered economist but during a bushwalking expedition, his life changed after coming face to face with a Yowie. (Australian bigfoot)

Tim realised his calling and gave up the figures to investigate those mysterious occurrences that others were too afraid to openly discuss. Tim named his genre "cryptonaturalism" and to this day, he remains the genre's only occupant.

 

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Economy and lifestyle

*Homicide - Australia was founded by Convicts. Its homicide rate is 1.8 per 100,000 population. The United States was founded by religious zealots. It's homicide rate is 6.3 per 100,000. Almost 400% greater than Australia.

*The ocker - 10 percent of Australians satisfy the definition of an 'ocker' . This 10 percent of the population consume 80 percent of the beer drunk in Australia.

*Gun toting- On average, American soldiers fired seven times as many bullets as Australian soldiers during the Vietnam war.

*Newspaper readership - Per capita, Australians read more newspapers than any other nation.

*Urban dwellers - Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries, with about 70 per cent of the population living in the 10 largest cities.

*Gambling - Per Capita, Australians spend more money on gambling than any other nation.

*With less than 1 percent of the world's population, Australia has more than 20 percent of its poker machines.

*Australia's expenditure on arts products ranks among the highest in developed countries.

*The average world population density is 117 people per square mile, that of the United States 76 and that of Macao is 69,000. Australia's is only 6.

*Employment of Australians - 80% service sector 14% manufacturing 5% rural.

*2.3 percent of Australia's GDP is derived from agriculture.

*15 percent of Australia's GDP is derived from mining.

*.02 percent of the Australian land mass is used by mines. More land is occupied by pubs.

*Rabbits - For each person in Australia there are two sheep and over 16 rabbits, the latter introduced in 1859 by one enterprising man who brought 24 wild rabbits from England in an effort to remind him of home.

*Bicentenary - At the highpoint of the Bicentenary in 1988, 51% of Australians couldn't see any good reason for celebrating.

*Cannabis arrests- In 1999, 46,000 Australians were arrested for possession or use of Cannabis.

*Cannabis use - It is estimated that 50% of Australians aged 14-19 are active users of Cannabis.

*Cannabis industry - The sale of illegal cannabis industry constitutes 1 percent of Australia's GDP and is twice the size of the Australian wine industry.

 

 


 

[Top]

Australian Innovation and Creation

Innovation and Creativity

Economic Reforms
that ended the classwar

Inventions
Thinking different

Social Innovations
Solving problems

Architecture
To be different or to follow a style

Poetry
Defying stoicism

Painting
Landscape and Identity

Cuisine
Creativity in the kitchen

Movies
Once were popular

 

""Shouting", or rather its meaning, is peculiarly Australian. The shortest and most comprehensive definition of "shouting" is to pay for the drink drunk by others." Drinking

"Australia has been hailed as a saviour of our soi-disant movie industry. So it could be, irrespective of its box office earnings, if it leads to recognition that we don't have a film industry, despite expenditure over 20 years of $1.5billion in subsidies and perhaps another half billion in tax concessions." Movies

"Australians are very difficult to impress; even if you do manage to impress them, they may not openly admit it." Social Rules

" What sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?" Economic Reforms

"a confused mix of landscape, animals, and Aboriginal culture, with a kind of Bible overtone." Painting

"A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop" Wisdom

"Gallipoli tends to seem strange to outsiders, as it appears to be a celebration of Australia's greatest defeat, but in essence it is rather a commemoration of those who died serving Australia in battle, be it warranted or not." Anzac

“We must be the only country in the world that marks its national day not by celebrating its identity, but by questioning it.” Australia Day

"He declared, confidently, that an immense number of women were dying for his diminutive highness, but became terribly angry, when an ugly, red-nosed publican with a hump-back, pretended to recognize him as an organ grinder strolling about with a monkey." Egalitarianism

"Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind,
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come
" Poetry