How well do you know Australia? Here’s some random and weirdly wonderful facts about the great island continent to impress your mates with:
- Animal numbers: There are around 75 million sheep in Australia. That’s 3.3 times as many sheep as there are people! There are also 60 million kangaroos bounding around.
- Pokie players’ paradise: Australia has plugged in 20% of the world’s poker (slot) machines for a population representing only 0.33% of the world’s total population.
- God’s big country: Australia is home to the largest cattle station in the world. Anna Creek Station in South Australia covers almost 24,000 square kilometres, which is bigger than Israel.
- Who ate all the pies? We did: Australians eat 270 million pies per year.
- Life’s a beach: Have 27 years to spare? Then go ahead and visit one of Australia’s 10,000 beaches. But this would mean you’d have to be at a different one every day for your 27 years of beach bumming.
- Political priorities: The 2010 Australian election television debate between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott had to be rescheduled so that it didn’t conflict with the finale of hugely popular reality cooking show Masterchef.
- City of gold: In the 1880s, commercial gold exploration meant that Melbourne was one of the richest cities in the world.
- Real footy: AFL (That’s Aussie rules football, for our uninitiated foreign friends), the country’s biggest spectator sport, has some humble beginnings. It was started in the mid 19th century as a casual way to keep Melbourne cricketers fit in the off-season. The game’s laws were formally codified in 1859, before the formation of England’s FA which first met to codify soccer’s rules in 1863, which means the Aussie game is technically older than soccer!
- Giving the hump: Forget the images of camels in Arabian desserts. Rather, picture them in Australia. Saudi Arabia imports camels, for meat and milk production, from Australia.
Camels were introduced Down Under by European explorers and settlers in the 19th century. Many were simply released into the wild when motor transport took over. The beasts became a feral pest and by 2008 Australia’s feral camel population was estimated to be around 1 million. An aggressive culling programme and exports have since reduced the population to around 300,000.
- A long way to the ballott box if you want to have a poll: The biggest electorate in Australia is Durack in the state of Western Australia. Stretching some 2,905 kilometres and covering almost 1.6 million square kilometres. This means driving across Durack is the same distance between London to Istanbul.
IMAGES: via Shutterstock