Most countries have their secrets and interesting tidbits of information, but the land down under is a place of mystery, intrigue, and — quite frankly — some bizarre things.
So naturally, Australia’s chock-a-block full of fun and often weird facts. It sits happily in the southern hemisphere, daring you to come see its venomous snakes, pink lakes, and majestic Great Barrier Reef.
But if you can’t quite make it (although there are plenty of great reasons to visit Australia), at least you can read all the fascinating facts about Australia right here.
1. Melbourne Has the Second Largest Population of Greeks in the World
Athens may claim the largest Greek population, but it turns out that Melbourne is a close second. This, one of the quirkiest facts about Australia, mostly owes its existence to the Gold Rush from the 1850s.
Greek sailors left the English ships they sailed for the land down under in hopes of accumulating a great golden fortune when they heard that gold had been discovered. They planned on returning home rich men.
A few of their wives moved to the continent to join their husbands, and so the huge Greek community in Victoria was founded.
2. The Australian Alps See More Snow than Switzerland
Bizarre, isn’t it? You’d think the Swiss Alps would be the most snow-dusted of them all, but the Australian alps hold that title.
It’s due to the fact that Switzerland is a landlocked country, while the Australian Alps are nearer to the coast. This means that there’s much more moisture in the air from the proximity of the ocean.
This usually results in rain, but, if the altitude is high enough, the end result will be an abundance of snow instead.
3. The Biggest Coral Reef System is in Australia
Of course it’s none other than the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, sitting snugly off the coast of Queensland in the northeast. It measures 1,429 miles from end to end, taking up an impressive 133,000 square miles.
It’s the vibrant, living home to over 9,000 known species of marine life, including sharks, turtles, fish, crocodiles, and dolphins, to name a few. Hands down, it’s a great place for snorkeling.
4. Australia has the World’s Longest Golf Course
Fore! Nullarbor Links is the longest golf course in existence at over 850 miles long. It’s an 18-hole par 72 course and took five years to construct.
The course is nestled along the southern coast of Australia, stretching from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia all the way to Ceduna in South Australia.
It crosses two time zones, and players travel along the continental road to reach the next holes. In case you’re wondering, it takes an average of four days to play a full game of golf here. Bring snacks.
5. It’s Home to the Only Mammals that Lay Eggs
That’s right. The platypus and the echidnas are the only two mammals that don’t give birth to live young but instead lay eggs. The platypus we all know about. But you may not be as familiar with the echidnas, which is also called a “spiny anteater” and somewhat resembles a hedgehog.
But plenty of animal species in Australia are noted for being…eccentric. So the fact that these oddball mammals call this continent their home is no wonder.
6. The Sydney Opera House was Built in 14 Years
14 years is quite a stretch of time for modern construction, but the Sydney Opera House was worth it. Originally the opera house was meant to be completed in four years. Construction began in 1959, but budget overruns and other delays caused the elongated building period.
Most of the problems were purportedly caused by the complexity of the design of the opera house, but finally, in 1973, it could be revealed as a completed structure. Totally worth the wait.
7. The National Day of Australia is January 26
Who doesn’t love a public holiday? January 26 is known as “Australia Day” by the locals. It’s a national day of remembrance in honor of the First Fleet of British ships arriving at Port Jackson in New South Wales in 1788.
It’s also a day to remember the raising of the Flag of Great Britain by Governor Arthur Philip at Sydney Cove.
Australian cities celebrate the day with outdoor concerts, sports competitions, festivals, community barbecues, and fireworks presented by the National Australia Day Council. It’s a pretty big deal.
8. Australia has More Camels than Egypt
You expect to see kangaroos in the outback, but camels? These nobbly beasts were brought to Australia from the 1840s to the 1900s to be used for transportation through Australian deserts.
It makes sense, what with the outback resembling Egypt’s harsh heat and barren sands and their capacity for load-bearing.
Nowadays, mainland Australia is home to about 750,000 wild camels, mostly found roaming in the Gibson, Great Victoria, Great Sandy, and Simpson deserts. It’s one of the most interesting facts about Australia, that’s for sure.
9. Australia is the Second Driest Continent
No surprise here. 70% of its land is arid or semi-arid, which means it receives an average of 350mm of rain or less throughout the entire year. The country sits under a subtropical high-pressure belt, which keeps air pushing down and discouraging the lift required for rain clouds to form.
You might’ve been sure that it’d take the number one spot for the driest continent, but Antarctica wins that prize. It is technically a desert, after all. But when we’re talking population, Australia is the driest inhabited continent overall.
10. Australia has the Most Deadly Venomous Animals
Australia certainly has a well-earned reputation for dangerous animals. Box jellyfish, stonefish, blue-ringed octopus, and marbled cone snails are a few of the deadly creatures that’ll take you down. And that’s only the marine life.
We haven’t even gotten around to funnel-web spiders and inland taipan snakes. And would you know it, even the adorable platypus has enough venom to kill a dog or make a human seriously ill.
The creatures of Australia don’t play about when it comes to survival, thanks to evolution and the continent’s isolation.
11. Australia’s Capital is Canberra
Perhaps a less interesting fact, you might think, but wait for it.
From 1901 to 1927, Melbourne was the capital city of Australia. At first it was a temporary set-up, then became more official over the years. After a time, Sydney decided it should have a shot at being the capital city instead, and the rivalry between the two major cities grew.
It got so bad that it was decided that neither of them should have the title, and a city in New South Wales was chosen instead. Specifically, the city of Canberra. The national government officially relocated from Melbourne to its prepared home in New South Wales in 1927.
12. It has the World’s Longest Fence
This is one of those facts about Australia you just don’t expect. It’s called the Dingo Fence, and it was built as a pest-exclusion fence to protect the fertile lands of South Australia to the east from dingoes.
It’s an impressive 3,488 miles long, stretching from Jimbour near Dalby in Western Australia all the way to the Nullarbor Plains cliffs.
Construction began in the 1880s and the fence was finally completed in 1885. At one place, it connects with the border fence of New South Wales for 160 miles before shooting off to the west and its final end in South Australia.
13. World War I Veterans Fought in the Great Emu War
It may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. It was a battle of man versus bird when the emus became too populous. And, being an average of 5.7 feet in height and flightless, they wreaked havoc on crops in an already arid land.
What became known as the Great Emu War was a nuisance wildlife management military operation that took place in the later part of 1932.
The birds proved to be tougher than they looked, so World War I veterans were hired and given Lewis machine guns to fight the flightless beasts.
However, it took about ten bullets to kill a single emu, and while the campaign was deemed mildly successful, the birds still ran rampant.
In the end, the emus won the war, and it took exclusion fences and emu bounty hunters to eventually control the problem and protect Australia’s vital wheat crops.
14. Bondi Beach is the Site for Guinness World Records
Two specific world records, specifically. In 2007, 1,010 women donned their swimsuits and headed to the famous beach to set the record for the world’s largest female swimsuit group photoshoot.
In another classic Australian move, Sydney’s Bondi Beach was also the location for the Guinness World Record of the most surfing Santa Clauses. 320 surfers in Santa suits hit the waves to achieve this one, and it’s doubtful any other country is going to top them any time soon.
15. Australia has the World’s Largest Rock
Of all the facts about Australia, this is probably one of the most well-known. Ayers Rock, locally known as Uluru, is almost exactly in the center of the Australian map. It’s far from most Australian cities, but it’s worth the trip to see this red sandstone behemoth towering above the ground.
Uluru is also sacred to the area’s Aboriginal people, the Pitjantjatjara, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Close to the mighty rock are plenty of springs and waterholes, not to mention ancient paintings and rock caves, so prepare to be amazed.
16. It Also Has the Largest Sand Island
Another of these fun facts about Australia is that it’s home to Fraser Island, also called K’gari. It lies snugly off the southeast coast of the continent near Queensland at a massive 76 miles long and 14 miles wide, making it the world’s largest sand island.
The remnants of tall rainforests cling to its white sands, and sand dunes shift in changing winds. Inland, you’ll find plenty of freshwater dune lakes supplying the thirsty forest with its much-needed nourishment.
If you go exploring on Fraser Island, you’ll see eucalyptus woods, mangrove forests, peat swamps, and plenty of coastal heaths.
The ability of such varied flora to thrive here is thanks to the mycorrhizal fungi that grow in the sand, feeding and nourishing the plant life. As such, Fraser Island is a fascinating UNESCO site.
Fraser Island is also home to the S.S. Maheno shipwreck, the famous wreck of a trans-Tasman liner that was washed ashore during a cyclone in 1935.
17. 90% of Australia’s Population Live on the Coast
It’s not only for those beach vibes. The inland temperatures can soar, and the land isn’t too forgiving. Not to mention there are fewer jobs, fewer resources, and there aren’t as many services available.
A further 64% of Australia’s population lives in the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, and Adelaide. They’re all coastal, but they’re also huge centers of trade and industry, meaning job security and access to the perks of city life.
18. The Continent Exports 10,000 Camels Every Year
With the huge Australian population of camels, it’s not surprising they can afford to export a few thousand every year and make an average of US $1.52 million doing so. The destination of these camels? You might be surprised to discover that it’s the Middle East.
Australia’s first export of camels was to Malaysia and Brunei, but the Middle East now dominates the market share. This is because the camels are wild and disease-free, which makes them a delicacy in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
They’re not only exported for their meat, though. They also make prime breeding stock for Arab camel racing stables.
19. Australia is the Sixth Largest Country in the World
Yet again, this is another fact about Australia comes in that revolves around size. It’s the sixth largest country after Brazil, China, the United States, Canada, and Russia – being latter being the largest.
Its square mileage is 2.97 million (or 7.74 million square kilometers), with a population of almost 26 million people.
20. They Export the Most Wool in the World
As of 2022, Australia’s population of sheep stood at 74.4 million, the highest it’s been since 2013. That’s roughly 3 sheep to every person living on the continent. It’s the third largest sheep population in the world (China has the top spot there).
Their dry climate lends itself towards wool production, creating the ideal circumstances for Australian-bred Merino sheep to produce top-notch fine wool in large quantities. This allows them to be the world’s largest exporter of wool, producing roughly 25% of the worldwide wool market.
21. They Have the Longest Straight Railway Track
The Indian Pacific Train runs literally from Perth where the Indian Ocean laps its waves, to Sydney in Western Australia where the Pacific Ocean reigns supreme.
It’s one of the great railway journeys of the world, and this particular route includes the longest straight stretch of train track the world has seen.
It reaches 297 miles across the Nullarbor Plains and is one of the most stunning ways to experience Australia’s inner landscape at your leisure.
The entire journey is 2704 miles long and takes 65 hours to complete: that’s an average of four days and three nights.
22. Australia’s First Cops were Criminals
In 1789, Governor Arthur Philip created the Night Watch, the first civilian police force, out of a band of twelve of the most well-behaved convicts. They were tasked with keeping law and order in Sydney Town.
Why convicts, you might wonder? When the American War of Independence ended, England needed somewhere to send their criminals, and Australia was the chosen location, specifically New South Wales.
More Watch Teams followed, and almost a century later, in 1862, they were combined under a Police Regulation Act, and so the NSW Police Force was formed.
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