35 Fun Facts About Australia: Discover The Land Down Under

Fun facts about Australia (photo: Sydney Opera House)

Australia is a vast and diverse continent famous for its unique wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.

This article will uncover 35 fascinating facts about this extraordinary country, from its iconic landmarks and bustling cities to its intriguing history and natural wonders. Let’s dive straight in!

Facts About Australia At-a-Glance

Location: Southern Hemisphere, including the mainland, Tasmania, and smaller islands.
Population: 26.46 million (2023 estimate).
Capital City: Canberra.
Area: 7,741,220 sq km.
Official Language: English.
Predominant Religion: Christianity (38.6%), No religion (38.4%).
Climate: Arid to semiarid; temperate in the south and east; tropical in the north
(Source: The World Factbook)

General Australia Facts

1. Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. It boasts three different time zones and is the smallest continent in the world. 

2. Australia doesn’t have an official language. However, English is the most spoken language on the continent. It is spoken with a distinctive Australian accent and slang. Approximately 72% of the population only speaks English and no other language.

3. More Australians have ancestry from England than from Australia. 25.9% of people living in Australia are from the English ethnic group, while only 25.4% of the population are from the Australian ethnic group. 

4. Melbourne, Victoria, boasts the second-largest Greek population of any city globally, surpassed only by Athens, Greece.

5. The main religion in Australia is Christianity, and the most popular denominations are Catholic, Anglican, and Uniting Church. Roughly 43.9% of the population identifies as Christians, while 38.9% don’t follow a religion. 

Map of Australia
Map of Australia

6. Australia has one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. The nation is dominated by the Outback, but it also features ancient rainforests, pristine coastlines, highlands, and lowlands. However, more than 60% of Australians live in one of five major cities.

7. The Australian Aboriginal Culture is the oldest in the world. This unique culture has a history that dates back more than 75,000 years, making it the oldest civilization in the world. That makes Australian civilization more than ten times older than the ancient Egyptian Pyramids.

8. Australia is home to 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most famous include the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef, and the Sydney Opera House.

9. The island of Tasmania is renowned for its pristine natural environment, with air quality as pure as Antarctica’s. Approximately one-third of the island is designated national parkland or protected as a World Heritage site.

10. Australia has 60 officially recognized wine regions, annually producing around 1.35 trillion bottles of wine.

Interesting Facts About Australian History

11. The earliest evidence of life on earth was found in Australia. Dating back more than 3.5 billion years, fossils of blue-green algae called stromatolites can be found in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

12. From the late Pliocene period to the late Pleistocene period (2 million to 46 thousand years ago), Australia was home to a fearsome predator known as the Thulacoleo, or marsupial lion. This may have been the largest mammalian predator on the continent at the time, weighing up to 287 lbs (130 kg). 

A kangaroo, Australia's national symbol
A kangaroo, Australia’s national symbol

13. The kangaroo is a national symbol of Australia, but it was once very different. During the Pleistocene period, the continent was home to a species of giant kangaroo called Procoptodon. This species could grow 6.6 feet (2 meters) tall and weigh 530 lbs (240 kg).

14. Ancient Aboriginal rock art dates back thousands of years and depicts intricate stories, animals, and Dreamtime legends. Australia’s oldest known aboriginal rock paintings are more than 17,000 years old.

15. Aboriginal people believed in Dreamtime, a period during which they believed life was created. Dreaming is the word Aboriginal people use to explain how life began. The story varies from one Aboriginal language to the next.

16. Ancient Aboriginal cultures did not have a written language. Instead, they would rely on rock art and oral traditions to convey stories and knowledge. 

17. The oldest human remains found in Australia date back 40,000 years. The Lake Mungo remains to prove that ancient Australians performed cremation as a burial practice.

18. Ancient indigenous people created elaborate cave dwellings to escape extreme desert temperatures. Sophisticated tools were used to carve out the rock to create living spaces, and rock art was used to cover the walls of the caves.

19. The Aboriginal people regularly used natural materials such as bark, leaves, and grass to cover their bodies. Most men wore groin coverings, while women wore ceremonial skirts. 

20. Aboriginal people often decorated their bodies with clay, ochre, and animal fat. They would use this mixture to paint their bodies with unique patterns or to color their clothing.

21. The returning boomerang was invented by aboriginal people in Australia over 10,000 years ago. At the time, it was used to hunt animals such as birds or for the sport of throwing.  

The returning boomerang, a traditional aboriginal weapon

22. Approximately 5,500 years ago, Australia experienced a “mega-drought.” This drought lasted for more than 1,000 years and caused the extinction of entire indigenous and Aboriginal civilizations.

23. It is believed that native groups from ancient Australia might share ancestry with native South Americans. This demonstrates that Ancient Australians were possibly one of the world’s first human oceanic travelers.

24. The British colonized Australia towards the end of the 18th century. The original plan was to create a penal colony on the continent (an overseas settlement established for punishing criminals). Captain Arthur Phillip landed with 11 ships carrying convicts in 1788.

25. In the 19th century, swimming was illegal in Australia. The lack of swimming suits, changing sheds, and strict public decency laws led to new rules that made it illegal to swim at a beach during the day.

Fun Facts About Modern Australia

Australian outback landscape
Australian outback landscape

26. Australia is home to the largest population of camels in the world. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, a herd of wild camels in Australia consists of more than 1 million camels. For context, there are only approximately 100,000 camels in Egypt.

27. Australia ranks second in the world for sheep population. More than 63 million sheep live on the Australian continent, with just 26 million people. That means there are almost three sheep for every person.

28. The longest fence in the world is the Dingo Fence in south and southeast Australia. The fence stretches over 5,600 kilometers (3,488 miles) to keep dingos out of fertile lands.

29. Australia’s forests have the tallest flowering trees on Earth. Eucalyptus trees can grow to 300 feet (91 meters) or higher.

30. There are only two species of egg-laying mammals on earth, and both are found in Australia. The Echidna and the duck-billed platypus are both monotreme species. 

31. By land area, Australia is the sixth largest country globally, second only to Brazil in fifth place. The continent covers a total land area of 7,741,220 square kilometers (2,988,901 square miles).

32. In 1932, Australia had a bizarre “war” against emus. The “Great Emu War” was a military operation to deal with the country’s growing population of emus. Veterans from World War I were deployed with machine guns to combat the plague of birds.

33. In the 1970s, Victoria became the first state in the Western world to implement compulsory seat belt laws. Just a year later, every state in Australia followed suit. 

34. The kangaroo accounts for almost 70% of all Aussie crashes with animals. As a result, kangaroo crossing signs are found all over the continent. 

35. In Australia, the word thong has a very different meaning. Instead of being a word used to describe a piece of underwear, a thong is a flip-flop.

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