Oh, Australia! Such a vast and majestic land filled with contrasts. Did you know that Australia is the smallest continent, and the 6th largest country, by area, in the world, after Russia, Canada, China, USA and Brazil? It is also the only nation-continent on the planet, meaning that is the only single country that occupies an entire continent, and it is technically an island!
Here are some obligatory fun facts about our neighbor across the ditch:
Capital: Canberra – a lot of people think it is Sydney, but that is actually incorrect. However, a fact within a fact – did you know that Canberra was chosen to be the capital of Australia mainly because politicians at the time could not decide between Melbourne and Sydney? And, to be fair, it would have been a difficult choice for anyone because they are all great cities!
Population: 23.9million (as of 2015) – that’s over 5 times more than New Zealand’s population. That’s why we refer to Australia as our BIG brother (or sister).
Area: 7.6million square kilometers
States: 8 territories or states
Indigenous people: Aboriginal Australians (or the Aborigines)
Country telephone code: +61
Currency: Australian Dollar
Climate: four seasons, and range from tropical to temperate. Australia’s seasons are the opposite of the Europeans, but the same of the Latin Americas.
National pass-times: the beach, surfing, barbeques (much like us Kiwis!)
National animals: Kangaroos and Koala Bears
Here is a little bit of history about how Australia came to be…. The coastal peoples of Southeast Asia first settled the land that came to be called Australia some 40,000 to 70,000 year ago. The first known and recorded European landing was in 1606, by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, sailing with the Dutch East India Company. They named the new discovery “New Holland”, and explored it for a little while but were not impressed. So they concluded very soon after that there was “no good to be done there”. Then, in 1770, the English came, led by Captain James Cook, and started really exploring and exploiting the land, renaming it “New England”. Prisoners from Britain were sent to Australia, turning Australia into a major convict colony. A slang word for Australians (by the English) was Pome – Prisoners of mother England. Many years of colonization and expansion later, this is the Australia we have today.
Nowadays, it is easy for Kiwis to get caught up and become jaded by this long-standing rivalry between Australia and us. Yes, we invented the Pavlova and Australia claimed it to be theirs. Yes, we are constantly stripping triumphs from right under each other’s feet (nothing makes a Kiwi cheer louder than witnessing New Zealand beat Australia in a sport, and vice versa!).
And yes, they claimed Russell Crowe too. But rather than looking at it from a rivalry point of view, isn’t it better to see it as a common ground between us? We easily forget how much in common we actually have with our big brother neighbor. We really get along just fine!
Although Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world and is more circular in shape, and New Zealand is the land of the long white cloud and gets ample rainfall, there are still similarities between the two lands. Most of Australia’s populations live on the coast of the continent, where you will find some 10,685 beaches (as counted by the Coastal Studies Unit at the University of Sydney) spread along a total of over 50,000 kilometers of coastline. Undeniably, New Zealand is nowhere near those numbers, but we are also a coast dwelling and beach loving people. Australia and New Zealand share the same love for our national favorite pass-times – sun, surf, sand and the good ol’ barbie. Come summer and everyone will be hitting the beach and cranking up the barbeque stove – it’s just fantastic! And both countries embrace the relaxed and easy-going lifestyle.
Just as we have a strong agricultural background, Australia also has a long and strong history in farming and crop growing. We are both world leaders in dairy and cattle farming, producing and exporting world famous dairy products, beef, lamb, and not forgetting wine – Australia produces approximately 1.5trillion bottles of wine yearly! In Australia, there are some 40million kangaroos, and over 74million sheep. In New Zealand, we have almost 70million sheep, making us the country with the highest sheep per unit in the world!
As you can see, Australia and New Zealand share a common European ancestry. And although a large population of Australians are of European decent, the country is also very multicultural and home to people from over 200 other countries. Australia Day, on 26th January every year, celebrates the diverse society and embraces the ethnic, social and historical landscape of the nation, calling for unity in diversity – an ideal we Kiwis also adore.
Australia is definitely worth you visiting, if you have not been already! There aren’t many people we know who have not been to Australia. But in the odd chance that you are one of them – here are just a few simple reasons that you should consider going there, whether of for a holiday, to study or to settle down.
1. The country is so big and diverse there is literally something to suit every person. So much to see, do and eat, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic time.
2. Shopping, shopping, shopping! New Zealand shopping is great too, but think of Australia shopping like it is New Zealand shopping, times 10!
3. Go for the sights and the outdoors – people don’t refer to Australia as the great outback and the land down under for no reason. The land displays great contrasts, from one territory to another, thanks to its unique location and sheer vastness, it is worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, even if you are not much of an outdoor type of person. From natural wonders like the sacred Uluru (or Ayers Rock) in the Northern Territory, to modern architectural feats like the Sydney Opera House; at just little over a 4 hour flight, you really need to see it for yourself!
4. Go to learn – Australia hosts six top 100 universities of the world, and many other world class tertiary institutes. If you are looking at studying abroad, why not consider a world ranking tertiary institute in Australia? And while we are on the subject, did you know that here at Kiwizone, we are a registered education agent some of Australia’s well known universities and polytechnics? We get that international studies is a sizeable investment, our working relationships with a network of Australian and New Zealand tertiary institutes ensure that you are able to get the best value and experience out of your studies.
So there you have it, Australia in a nutshell! What does Australia have in store for you, we wonder – why not make a trip and see for yourself!
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