I’ve spent the summer shocked, freaked, pumped, amused and straight up WHAT THE ACTUAL about some of the things I discovered while road-tripping for months around our sunburnt country.
Here are my top 18 ridiculous facts that are now my favourite things about Australia.
THE GREAT EMU WAR
In 1932 emus were running amok in the farmlands of Campion, Western Australia so the military were called in to ‘manage the situation’ … with machine guns. One month and 10,000 rounds later, the crestfallen field force of humans withdrew from combat having only knocked off 986 of the 20,000 bullet-dodging feathered heroes. Emus won the war. Lest we forget.
Did you know that nearly everyone walks around Uluru anticlockwise? Well, you do now.
COFFEE QUESTIONS ARE DIFFERENT IN EVERY STATE
The baristas of NSW will ask if you want milk with your long black. In Queensland you’re asked if you want your coffee in a mug or cup. Peeps in the Northern Territory assume you’re ordering ice-coffee (you have to specify you want it hot) while South Australians and Boomers across the land generally ask for it to be ‘extra hot’ (aka burnt).
WI-FI WAS INVENTED HERE
Which doesn’t explain why it’s so hard to get.
QUOKKAS DON’T HAVE DADDY ISSUES
They have mummy issues. The female quokka will expel her offspring from her pouch when threatened by a predator. The noise made by her young attracts the attention of the predator, giving mum the chance to escape.
CANBERRA IS BY THE SEA
Jervis Bay is technically part of the ACT. It was surrendered by NSW in 1915 and handed over to the ACT so the pollies could have some oceanfront. Are you surprised?
CROISSANTS BETTER THAN PARIS
According to everyone including The New York Times, Melbourne’s Lune Croissanterie makes the best croissants in the world. Founder Kate Reid apprenticed in Paris before setting up her croissant warehouse-lab in Fitzroy, that sees lines around the corner, literally every day. Her traditional French croissant is prepared over three days and makes you feel like a thief – a steal for only $5.90.
BANANA IS NOT A FRUIT
Banana shire in central Queensland was named after a prize-winning bull that used to help local stockmen getting cattle into yards. A statue of Banana stands proudly in the main street so his great herding deeds are never forgotten.
EACH STATE HAS ITS OWN GINGER NUT RECIPE
The NSW/ACT one is hardest, Queensland’s is thinnest, SA/WA/NT recipe is sweetest and the Victorian/Tassie recipes are closest to traditional ginger nuts of overseas. At one stage, Arnott’s trialled a single recipe for the whole country and there was absolute uproar.
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Male echidnas have four-headed penises. Apparently they have to be well endowed to get around the spines.
A MAN IS REAL ESTATE
Chris Hemsworth aka the Barefoot Bandit of Byron is the very essence of ‘location location location’. His mere presence in Australia’s once laid-back – now poshest – beach-town (sorry Noosa), upped the prices of real estate in Byron by around 30 per cent, and that was before COVID hit (it’s now nudging 50 per cent). He even coaxed Matt Damon to give up Hollywood and move here too so I ask you IS THERE A GREATER FLEX than baiting Jason Bourne? Thor has the maddest real estate flex on Earth.
The Great Barrier Reef’s Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay that is home to nesting turtles, 100,000 birds and incredible marine life. While people come from around the world to snorkel and scuba its turquoise waters the best thing about the island is knowing it is held together by three things – dead coral, tree roots and guano, aka bird poo.
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A PIE GRAVEYARD IN THE CAPITAL
At the opening of Old Parliament House in Canberra in 1927, two truckloads of pies, sausage rolls, prawns and fish had to be buried nearby due to over-catering.
PARROTFISH SLEEP IN A COCOON OF MUCUS
Parrotfish males are a vivid neon colour, green, red, turquoise and pink. They are named for their parrot-like ‘beak’. And when they sleep, they create a mucus cocoon to protect themselves from parasites, like bloodsucking isopods. They are found mostly off the coast of WA and Queensland.
THE WORLD JOUSTING CHAMPION IS ONE OF US
Phil Leitch is the hero you didn’t know we had. He is Australia’s only full-time professional knight and jouster, and currently holds the title of World Jousting Champion. Working at Kryall Castle just outside of Ballarat he runs a team of jousters (which includes his daughter) who use real horses, armour and wooden jousting sticks at mock-jousts for tourists. Phil has been repping Australia in world jousting tournaments for years but why his face isn’t on our money, remains unknown.
A TRUE AUSTRALIAN HORROR STORY
Mutiny, sunken treasure, desertion, murder, starvation, massacre, sexual slavery, treachery, drownings, poisoning of babies and bloody battles were all part of the terrible fate of passengers on-board the Batavia which shipwrecked on WA’s barren Abrolhos Islands in 1629. This INSANE horror is all thanks to one Dutch passenger Jeronimus Cornelisz, who led a sickening campaign that saw 125 men, women, children and babies brutally murdered for no apparent reason. Historians consider it to be Australia’s first mass murder, and Jeronimus to be the world’s first documented psychopath.
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST POLICE FORCE WAS MADE UP OF THE BEST-BEHAVED CRIMINALS
FINALLY … WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY TO HAVE TURNED ON TOM HANKS
It was his own fault though. While locked up in hotel quazzleton, Tom Hanks did the impossible and turned our entire country off him thanks to his utterly offensive Instagram pic of Vegemite on toast. With no sign of butter, and the bread-to-Vegemite ratio of a 10-year-old and Nutella jar, Hanks rightly received so much backlash from Aussies about his balls-up of our national dish, it made headlines around the world. While he apologised for his offensively thick spread, we will never forgive or forget.