Fun Facts about the Land Down Under

In honor of Australia Day, which we celebrated last Saturday, here are some fun facts about the continent:

• When the English first saw a platypus, they thought the Australians were playing a joke on them by sewing the bill of a duck onto a rat.

• Australia was once a British penal colony of thieves and other unsavory folks. Australia’s first police force was made up of 12 of the best-behaved convicts.

• Australia has six states and its capital is in Canberra, not Sydney.

• There are 1,500 species of Australian spiders. But the number of people who have died from spider bites in Australia since 1979 is zero. I guess that means 1978 wasn’t a great year for spider lovers.

• Here is the home of the Tasmanian Devil, and it has the jaw strength of a crocodile.

• It is said that first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per person than any other community in the history of mankind.

• There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia and only some 20 million people.

• The Australian Alps get more snow then Switzerland.

• Uluru (Ayers Rock) has a circumference of more than 8 kilometers.

• More than a quarter of Australians were born in another country, making it the developed country with the second-highest proportion of migrant settlers in the world, next to Luxembourg. It’s done wonders for the nation’s restaurant scene.

• In 1954, Bob Hawke made it into the Guinness Book of World Records by drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob Hawke went on to become Australia’s Prime Minister in 1983.

• Australians eat kangaroo meat. While not as common as chicken or beef, it’s offered on some restaurant menus and is sold in butcher shops. The meat is a leaner and healthier alternative to beef or lamb, with a 1–2% fat content.

• Melbourne has the world’s second-largest Greek population.

• Australia is the world’s smallest continent but also is the sixth-largest country in the world.

• Held in the Northern Territory, the annual Darwin Beer Can Regatta is a race of boats made from used beer cans. The boats are “raced” in the shallows with hilarious consequences.

• Australia’s favorite breakfast spread is Vegemite, a black, salty concoction made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract.

• The Australian Wombat has square poops, which they use to mark their territory.

Sydney, Australia

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