If you’re planning on visiting Australia, or even if you’re already living or studying here, it pays to be aware of the history and peculiarities of the land Down Under. While some facts about Australia are important to know, others are simply great conversation starters that can broaden your understanding of the Australian continent.
So, here are 10 crazy facts about Australia that’ll no doubt impress your friends and family.
The Australian Alps (Snowy Mountains) get more snow than the Swiss Alps
Australia has a reputation for being a hot, dry country filled with pristine beaches and fantastic surfing locations. However, Australia has a number of snowy areas, too.
The Australian Alps, otherwise known as the Snowy Mountains, actually receive more snow per year than the Swiss Alps.
Melbourne is one of Australia’s most famous cities, consistently sitting near the top in worldwide liveability rankings and boasting an enviable arts, culture, sports, food and drink scene.
But Melbourne actually started out with a very different name. The city was founded by John Batman, and thus came perilously close to being named Batmania. Melbourne still bears some of Batman’s influence, through Batman Park in the CBD and Batman Street in West Melbourne.
Melbourne used to be the capital of Australia
While Canberra is the capital of Australia now, it wasn’t always this way. Before Canberra was designed as a halfway point between Melbourne and Sydney, Melbourne took the crown for a number of years. The Victorian city was the capital of Australia for 26 years, from 1901 to 1927.
Missing prime minister
On 17 December 1967, former prime minister Harold Holt visited Cheviot Beach in Victoria to go swimming with friends. According to his friends’ accounts, Holt headed deeper and deeper into the water before eventually disappearing.
His disappearance sparked a huge manhunt, with over 50 divers searching the area. It also sparked several conspiracy theories, ranging from the PM being a Chinese spy to a CIA assassination.
Deadly box jellyfish
Australia is home to some of the most terrifying animals in the world, including crocodiles, venomous snakes, sharks, and over 1,500 species of spider.
However, while all of these may be the scariest animals in Australia, they’re not the deadliest. The box jellyfish – found off the coast of Northern Australia – is actually responsible for more deaths in Australia than saltwater crocodiles, snakes, and sharks combined.
While war typically takes place among people, you may be surprised to learn that there was an ‘inter-species war’ between humans and emus in Australia. From 2 November to 11 December 1932, the Australian Government deployed a military force to reduce the rampant emu population in Western Australia, with the media at the time calling the operation the ‘Great Emu War’.
Even more shocking is the fact that the people actually lost the Emu War, with the Aussies unable to significantly lower the emu population, despite their overwhelming firepower.
The parliamentary ‘mate’ ban
Australian slang is a huge part of the local culture. But, in an effort to introduce a better level of professionalism to the Australian Parliament, a new rule was passed in 2005 that made it illegal to refer to someone using the slang term ‘mate’.
However, the law only lasted for 24 hours, as it was quickly overturned after opposition from then-prime minister John Howard and opposition MPs.
Criminal police force
Australia was famously founded as a prison colony, with the United Kingdom sending undesirables and prisoners to Australia in an effort to keep them away from the main population.
Australia’s convict also influenced how the country was run and structured in later years. For instance, the first police force in Australia was made up of well-behaved prisoners.
Longest fence in the world
Australia is a huge country, so it’s no surprise that it boasts the longest fence in the world.
Built between 1880 and 1885, the 5,614 kilometre-long Dingo Fence was constructed across South Australia and Queensland to keep the dingo population away from south-east Australia.
Australia’s unique island geography separates the country from the rest of the world, allowing for a unique ecosystem filled with distinct wildlife.
One of the most famous of these Australian animals is the wombat. While wombats are beloved for their cuteness, a lesser-known fact is that they have cubed poos. The cubed shape comes as a result of the wombat’s diet and slow metabolism.