From its rich Aboriginal history – with tales of megafauna and three meter tall kangaroos – to the country’s obsession with “barbies”, “footie” and “thongs”, we delve deeper to share a few strange-but-true facts of the land Down Under.
1. In 1954, Bob Hawke, who later became the Prime Minister of Australia, drank 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. This feat won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
2. Australia’s first police force, the New South Wales Police Force, was made up of the 12 best-behaved convicts.
3. Australia is home to more camels than Egypt; most are sold to Saudi Arabia, where they form part of popular local cuisine.
4. Keep your furry friends close – Australia is one of the only countries in the world where the animals on the coat of arms are eaten: Both kangaroo and emu meat are considered to be healthy and lean.
5. Craving spanakopita, baklava or souvlaki? Head down to Melbourne, home to the world’s largest Greek population outside of Athens.
6. Even though Australia has over 10,000 beaches, it was illegal to swim during the day before 1902.
7. While most people think of the land Down Under as being dry and dusty, the Australian Alps receive more snowfall than Switzerland.
8. It is illegal to walk on the right-hand side of a footpath, this is supposed to ensure orderly pedestrian traffic.
9. Celebrating a creature most see as a pest, each year a hotel in Brisbane hosts the Australia Day Cockroach races – considered the world championships of cockroach racing. Yes, really.
10. Australia is home to some of the world’s most deadly creatures, including 20 of the 25 most deadly snakes in the world.
11. Melbourne was originally called Batmania after John Batman, a “rogue, thief, cheat and liar” who negotiated with Wurundjeri elders for the purchase of the 2,400 km2 that formed the basis of the city. The settlement was renamed less than a year later – after the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne.
12. The city of Canberra was built in 1908 after it couldn’t be decided whether Sydney or Melbourne should take the title of capital.
13. In 1975, Australia’s government shut down due to a budgetary impasse. Queen Elizabeth II solved this stalemate by firing the entire cabinet and starting again with a fresh team.
14. An Australian man once tried to sell New Zealand on eBay. The bid reached AUS $3,000 before it was taken down due to a violation of the site’s policy.
15. The emu and the kangaroo are included on the national crest because neither animal can walk backwards.
16. The Dingo Fence – also called the Dog Fence or Great Barrier Fence – is the longest fence in the world. Measuring 5,530km, it’s roughly twice as long as the Great Wall of China.
17. The world’s longest golf course, Nullarbor Links, measures more than 850 miles long and spans two states – South Australia and Western Australia.
18. Want to emigrate to Australia? You’ll be in good company – more than 25% of the Australian population was born in another country.
19. If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take more than 27 years to see them all.
20. Australian town and suburb names are cause for endless amusement. Some of the more interesting monikers include Humpybong, Woolloomooloo, No Where Else, End Of The World and Mount Buggery.