Introduction to Australia
Did you know that Australians call themselves Aussies? Australia is also the only nation-continent in the world and home to just over 20 million people and 75 million sheep.
Find out more information about Australia below.
Country local name: Commonwealth of Australia
Government type: Federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence: 1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)
National holiday: Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorates the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli in Turke, 25 April (1915)
Population: 22,507,617 (July 2014 est.)
Ethnic groups: English 25.9%, Australian 25.4%, Irish 7.5%, Scottish 6.4%, Italian 3.3%, German 3.2%, Chinese 3.1%, Indian 1.4%, Greek 1.4%, Dutch 1.2%, other 15.8% (includes Australian aboriginal 0.5%), unspecified 5.4%
Languages: English 76.8%, Mandarin 1.6%, Italian 1.4%, Arabic 1.3%, Greek 1.2%, Cantonese 1.2%, Vietnamese 1.1%, other 10.4%, unspecified 5% (2011 est.)
Religions: Protestant 30.1% (Anglican 17.1%, United Church 5.0%, Presbyterian and Reformed 2.8%, Baptist, 1.6%, Lutheran 1.2%, Pentecostal 1.1%, other Protestant 1.3%), Catholic 25.3% (Roman Catholic 25.1%, other Catholic 0.2%), other Christian 2.9%, Orthodox 2.8%, Buddhist 2.5%, Muslim 2.2%, Hindu 1.3%, other 1.3%, none 22.3%, unspecified 9.3% (2011 est.)
Terrain: Mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in the southeast
Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Lake Eyre 15 m below sealevel;
Highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m
Natural resources: Bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, rare earth elements, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum
Agriculture – products: Wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruit; cattle, sheep, poultry
Industries: Mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel
Exports: Coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Shopping hours: Most stores are open Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5.30 pm
Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm
Climate: Generally arid to semiarid; temperate in the south and east; tropical in the north
Natural hazards: Cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires
Australia has two climatic zones. The tropical zone, which makes up 40% of Australia, has two specific seasons: summer (wet) and winter (dry). The second climatic zone is the temperate zone, which experiences all four seasons.
Generally speaking, Australia is a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit northern and central Australia is in the dry season, which falls between April and November, because of the clear skies and warm days. The south, by contrast, may be significantly cooler, so is best visited in the wet season, which runs from December to March. It is warm throughout Australia during this period.
Seafood in all its forms is the most popular dish in Australia with almost 600 varieties of marine and freshwater seafood on offer, including Barramundi, Sweetlips and Coral trout. Other popular seafood includes prawns, oysters (Sydney rock oysters), lobster, crabs, squid, mud, shellfish (Moreton Bay bugs) or yabbies and a lot of species of fresh- and seawater fish.
An increasing number of food festivals allows you to try fresh produce and enjoy the delicious flavors. Moreover, Australia is an incredibly efficient agricultural nation growing grains, fruit and vegetables. In general, food and drink reflects the country’s past.
“Bush tucker” is food from Australian flora and fauna, which can help transform ordinary recipes into an extraordinary dish. (So what kinds of things exactly?)
The usual meat like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, buffalo or emu is truly loved, but there are also strong supporters of “unusual” meats such as kangaroo, wallaby or crocodile.
Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world. The most popular wine-producing regions are the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Margaret River and Hunter Valley, These produce Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Sémillon.
The most common Australian beers are James Squire, Coopers, Little Creatures, Cascade or Matilda Bay.
Australians people love coffee and Melbourne enjoys a special reputation.
SOME LINGUISTIC CURIOSITIES
· Aussie is a colloquial term for ‘Australian’.
· Australia means ‘southern’ from the Latin Australis and it’s based on legends of an ‘unknown southern land’ (terra australis incognita), which date back to the Roman times.
· Australia is very multicultural – about 200 different languages and dialects are spoken here.
· The largest free festival – Moomba, which is held in Melbourne means ‘up your bum’ in many Aboriginal languages.
· Uluru means ‘shadowy place’ in the local aboriginal dialect.
SAYINGS AND SLANG PHRASES
G’Day – Hello!
Ace! – Excellent!
Bloody oath! – That’s certainly true!
Come a gutser – A bad mistake/have an accident
Exy – Expensive
Ripper – Great
Give it a burl – Try it/ have a go
Going off – good fun
Rack off – get lost! Get out of here!
Doing your block – losing your head
Spewin’ – very angry
Knock up – wake up
Macca’s – McDonald’s
Neck oil – beer
Tucker – food
Too right! – Definitely!
Pig’s arse! – I don’t agree with you!
Tinny, tin-arsed – lucky
Tall poppies – successful people
Screamer – party lover
Piece of piss – easy task
Moolah – money
· Australians are usually tolerant, kind, open-minded people who prefer friendly people with a sense of humor. Honesty is expected and appreciated. Better is to be modest and humble than to behave arrogantly.
· Australians do not tolerate racist or sexist language.
· The best way to greet someone is with a handshake, smile and a friendly ‘Hallo’.
· Remember to maintain eye contact when you are talking to someone. Avoiding someone’s eyes is usually considered to be disrespectful.
· Being punctual is appreciated.
· On social occasions, it is usual that you should pay for yourself, even on a date.
· Gift giving is common in families, friends or neighbours.
· Address people using ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’, ‘Ms.’ or ‘Miss’ and the surname. But Australians like to start to address each other by their first names as quickly as possible, so you will not have to wait too long before you are on more informal terms.
· It is important that you should be well-groomed and neatly dressed.
· Don’t drop litter!
Sydney is the best known and largest city in Australia, located on Australia’s southeastern coast. Most of us immediately think of the opera house when we hear ‘Sydney’, but it is not the only attraction. The Harbour Bridge, scenic harbour, the amazing Taronga Zoo, the historic Rocks, world-class restaurants, a choice of year-round festivals and its beautiful coastal beaches – Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Bronte and Palm Beach – are all good reasons to visit!
The Great Barrier Reef is located in Queensland. Stretching for approximately 2,300 km, it is the world’s largest barrier reef system containing millions of unique, endangered organisms. It is an amazing place for underwater explorers and scuba divers. If you prefer some dry entertainment then you can take a scenic flight over the reef or stay in coastal getaways like Port Douglas, Airlie Beach, Hervey Bay, Cairns or Missions Beach. You can trek the ancient Daintree Rainforest if you like.
Alice Springs is located in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. This place offers access to magic Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), which rises to a height of 348 m, wonderful landscapes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas, the red dome-shaped rocks), Kings Canyon and the MacDonnell Ranges. You can feel the adrenaline thanks to riding a camel in the Simpson Desert or getting acquainted with the Aboriginal culture.
World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Located along the southern coast of Queensland, it is over 120 km in length and offers one of Australia’s most outstanding four-wheel-drive adventures. You can hire a 4WD and explore whereever your fancy takes you. Land of giant dunes, inland fresh water lakes and ancient rainforest with rare flora and fauna – it’s a paradise for nature lovers!
Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria and the second most populated city in Australia. It is an important port, and is famous or its sport, restaurants and its unique style. Melbourne is famous as a vibrant hub of style, important port, sport, dining and it’s. Its style is unique. Considered the nation’s cultural capital, you can find galleries, theaters, buzzing bars, shops, park and gardens.
Perth is the country’s fourth-largest city, located in Western Australia. It’s a magic place, isolated from other major cities, but with its own easygoing character, with which you will fall in love. It’s an ideal place to sip a drink on Cottlesloe Beach or take a cruise down the Swan River. The area is sophisticated and full of youthful atmosphere.
Adelaide is an elegant capital in the South of Australia. The city is boarded by many of Australia’s famous wine regions. Discover Adelaide’s culture and old-fashioned charm, which is retained from the colonial area. You can soak up the atmosphere in picturesque villages, take part in festivals or visit spacious green parklands and Adelaide Central Markets. Swimming with dolphins in Glenelg is also an enchanting thing to do.
Located in the Northern Territory, Darwin is the only tropical capital city in Australia and is a popular holiday destination. Visitors can enjoy the waterfront restaurants and bars, visit the galleries, museums and admire tropical parklands.
Kakadu National Park is one of the planet’s great wilderness areas, covering nearly 20,000 km² (3.2 million acres). It is around three hours east of Darwin. It is a natural wonder with stunning, rare and endangered fauna and flora, monsoon rainforest, wetlands, waterfalls and mangrove swamps. You can visit the park by car, air, on foot or by boat.
The Blue Mountains are located 81 km west of Sydney and are World Heritage-listed. This breathtaking area has one million hectares of tall forests, canyons, lookouts from sheer cliffs, waterfalls, deep valleys and bushland. It’s a must-see!
Tasmania or ‘Tassie’ is an island state of Australia. The place delights visitors. You can soak up Hobart’s history, enjoy parks (Freycinet National Park, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasman National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Mount Field National Park) or visit Mona Museum and Art Gallery.