25 Fun and Surprising Facts about Australia

March 26, 2024

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Uluru (Ayers Rock)

The Land Down Under is world famous for its diverse landscape, its Aboriginal culture, and a fair share of venomous creatures!

You might think you know everything there is to know about Australia, but we bet there’s still plenty you can learn about Oz. Here are 25 facts that will make you fall in love with incredible country.

1. Over 85% of Australians live by the coast

In 2019, an estimated 87% of the population (over 22 million Australians) lived within 50 km (31 miles) of the coast. Some of the biggest coastal cities in the country include Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.

2. Aboriginal culture is one of the oldest in the world

It’s estimated Aboriginal culture dates back at least 60,000 years. This predates the first modern human settlements in Europe and the Americas by over 20,000 years.

3. Australia has more camels than koalas

There are estimated to be less than 60,000 koalas in the wild in Australia

Koalas may be one of Australia’s most famous and beloved animals, but there are actually more camels than koalas in the country. In 2023, Australia’s koala population was estimated to be less than 60,000 in the wild, while there are over one million feral camels. Australia first imported camels in the 19th century as working animals.

4. On cloud wine

Australia is famous for its wine, particularly Shiraz and Chardonnay. In 2022-23, Australia exported over 621 million liters (136.6 million gallons) of wine, worth an estimated $1.86 billion. While many people will have heard of the Aussie beer culture, wine is actually the country’s preferred alcoholic beverage. Between March 2022 and 2023, 8.9 million people drank wine in Australia. In the same year, just 6.5 million people were drinking beer.

5. The flag of Australia was adopted in 1903

The original Australian Blue Ensign design was created in 1901, and the country adopted a slightly altered design in 1903. The current version was adopted in 1908. Five of the stars on the flag represent the Southern Cross constellation; the sixth (largest) star is the Commonwealth Star.

6. Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country

Australia covers an area of 7,741,220 km² (2,988,900 mi²), making it the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of total area.

7. Melbourne has the largest Greek-speaking population (outside Greece)

The capital of the southeastern state of Victoria has the largest Greek-speaking population than any other city in the world. There are approximately 400,000 people in Melbourne who claim Greek ancestry.

8. Life is a highway

Australia is home to the world’s second-longest highway, Highway 1. It stretches 14,500 km (9,009 miles) and joins the country’s mainland cities (apart from Canberra). The highway was established in 1955 and remains the only route in Australia that runs through each of the six states.

9. Australia has the most national parks in the world

There are around 650 national parks in Australia. The largest is Munga-Thirri National Park, which spans an area of 10,120 km² (6,288 mi²). By comparison, Yellowstone (the first national park in the US) covers an area of 8,991 km² (5,587 mi²).

10. Selfies began in Australia

Well, it wasn’t the Aussies who invented taking a photo of oneself. But the word ‘selfie’ was supposedly invented by an Australian. In 2002, a young Australian man went online and posted a photograph that he took of himself after a drunken fall. Although he later claimed the word ‘selfie’ was already common slang in Australia, the post was the first time the word was posted online.

11. K’gari is the largest sand island in the world

K'gari (Fraser Island)
K’gari (Fraser Island)

Australia’s K’gari (Fraser Island) covers an area of approximately 1,655 km² (639 mi²), making it the world’s largest sand island. It’s located approximately 250 km (160 miles) north of Brisbane in the Fraser Coast Region of Queensland. The island was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

12. The Australian Alps get more snow than the Swiss Alps

It may sound crazy, but it’s true. During the winter, the Australian Alps near Canberra get heavy snowfall, often more snow than the Swiss Alps. The Great Dividing Range is Australia’s largest mountain range and spans 3,500 km (2,175 mi).

13. Australia’s coat of arms features a kangaroo and emu

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms features a shield with symbols representing Australia’s six states. A kangaroo and emu stand on either side of the shield and the seven-pointed Commonwealth Star sits above the shield. Australia’s national floral emblem, the golden wattle, surrounds the shield’s base.

14. Outnumbered

There are roughly 75 million sheep in Australia, which means that the sheep population outnumbers humans by 3:1.

15. The longest golf course: par none

Spanning two states, the Nullabor Links golf course is comfortably the “longest golf course in the world” at a mind-blowing 1,365 kilometers long! Holes are located at roadhouses and roadside stops in different towns between Kalgoorlie, Western Australia and Ceduna, South Australia. Anyone playing the course should pack a change of clothes; on average it takes around 4-5 days to complete.

16. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system

Great Barrier Reef marine life
Great Barrier Reef marine life

Covering an area of 348,700 km² (133,000 mi²), The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. It’s located off the east coast of the Queensland mainland and comprises around 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.

17. There are around 2,700 spider species in Australia

It’s estimated around 2,700 out of a possible 10,000 spider species live in Oz. Spiders are so common in Australia that most people shake out their shoes before putting them on or look under the toilet seat before sitting down to check for the eight-legged bugs. The largest species in the country is the whistling spider, which has an average leg span of 16 cm (6.3 in). Some of the country’s most common spider species include the huntsmen, orb-weaving, and cellar spiders.

18. Australia gained independence in 1901

In 1901, six colonies (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia) combined to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The country remained a self-governing Dominion in the British Empire until 1942. Despite the years apart, you’ll find that the two countries still have a special relationship. Most people in the UK and Australia use the same slang, watch the same TV shows, and have the same humor. They even have similar accents!

19. Murray River is Australia’s longest river

The Murray River, which flows for 2,375 km (1,476 mi), is Australia’s longest river. It snakes through the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

20. Europeans first visited Australia in 1606

The Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon was the first European to see Australia’s coast. He landed on the western side of the Cape York Peninsula in 1606. In 1770, British explorer James Cook was the first European to land on the east coast.

21. Australia’s first policemen were convicts

In 1789, the Night Watch was formed and became Australia’s first civilian police force. Twelve of the best-behaved convicts were selected for the force and tasked with patrolling Sydney at night. Unsurprisingly, this scheme didn’t carry forward into the 21st century.

22. Most of Australia is covered by the Outback

Australian ouutback
Lone road surrounded by outback

The Australian Outback covers a whopping 70% of the country. You need to be careful where and how you travel in it, though. Our Head of Content, Rebecca, was advised by a friend, “When a car rental service tells you not to drive the car you hired in the outback, DO NOT drive that car in the outback. We tried, then got concerned when the speedometer started to fill up with sand…”.

23. 80% of Australia’s animals are endemic

Australia is famous for its wide range of native animals, from cute koalas and kangaroos to dingos and wombats. The country is also home to the platypus and Echidnas, the only two mammals in the world that lay eggs.

24. Where is everybody?

Despite Australia’s huge size, an estimated 40% of the country is uninhabited. This is because the country gets limited rainfall, and the arid land (the outback) in the center of the country has limited resources.

25. Anzacs built the world’s largest war memorial

Between 1919 and 1932, veteran ANZACS (members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) constructed The Great Ocean Road on the southeastern coast of Australia. The 240 km (149 mi) long highway was dedicated to soldiers killed in the First World War, so the road is often considered the world’s largest war memorial.

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