Australia is a land of contrasts, as you’ll soon see, among myriad other things. From its weird animals and strange food to its innovative engineering and modern cities, here are all the Australia facts (with sources!) for you to know.
General Australia Facts for Everyone
Here are some of the basic facts about Australia (population facts, size statistics, etc.):
- Australia (the mainland) is the world’s largest island . . .
- . . . but also the world’s smallest continent..
- Australia is divided into six states: New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia (WA) and two major mainland territories: the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT)..
- The Dingo Fence of south-east Australia is the longest fence in the world, at 5,614 km (3,488 mi); it is also one of the longest structures of any kind.[source]
- Canberra, the capital of Australia, was chosen in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities which both wanted to be the nation’s capital.[source]
- Burning Mountain Nature Reserve is home to Australia’s only naturally burning coal seam which has been burning under the surface for over 5,500 years.[source]
Related Read: Want to learn more about Australia? For an overview, introduction, articles, history, statistics, and much more, check out the Australia Destination Guide.
Interesting Facts about the Australian Flag
- The hex color codes for the flag are #00008B (Blue), #FF0000 (Red), and #FFFFFF (White).[source]
- The Australian flag has an inlaid British Union Jack flag in the top left quarter.
- On the right side of the flag, five stars exist to represent the Southern Cross, one of the most visible constellations in the Southern Hemisphere.
- One other star is located below the Union flag, the Commonwealth Star (also the Federation Star).
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Trivia and Facts about Nature and the Geography of Australia
Take a breath of fresh air with these facts about Australian natural resources, beauty, and geography.
- How wide is Australia from east to west? It is 4000 km wide (2485 mi). To put that in perspective, that’s wider than the calculated flying distance from Lisbon to Moscow (3906 km or 2427 mi), which is almost the entirety of Europe from east to west!
- Australia is divided into three time zones: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST, UTC +10), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST, UTC +9½), and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST, UTC +8).
- Mt. Kosciuszko is Australia’s tallest, at 2,228 m (7,310 ft).
- Kakadu National Park is home to over 5,000 rock art locations from as far back as 20,000 years ago.
- Some of the deadliest creatures in the world call Australia home: box jellyfish, with their poison-tipped tentacles; the blue-ringed octopus, whose venom is so toxic (one of the most poisonous) that it can kill a person in mere minutes; and the taipan snake, with one of the deadliest venoms. Australia even has 6 species of stinging trees, including the Gympie-Gympie tree whose little hairs can cause cardiac arrest in humans.
- Even the duck-billed platypus is venomous, with a spur on its hind foot that can sting humans; it is also an anomaly – an egg-laying mammal!
- Uluru is the world’s largest monolith, at 348 m (1,100 ft) high and over 9 km (5.6 mi) around. It is a sacred place for the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara peoples.
- Daylight saving time is observed in all of Australia except Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia.
- The Great Barrier Reef is Earth’s largest living structure, stretching out 2,300 km (1,429 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 km² (133,000 mi²); located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, it is a coral reef system made up of almost 3,000 individual coral reefs, and it is a UN World Heritage Site.
- Wombat poop is cube-shaped! Their scat’s shape is thought to help keep the droppings in place on precarious locations.[source]
- Wallabies in Tasmania broke into some poppy fields and got high, running around and creating circles by flattening crops.[source]
Personable Facts about the Australian People
- There are 2 Australian Nobel laureates in literature, 1 in economics, and 1 in Peace.[source]
- There are almost 100,000 more women than men in Australia.[source]
- One in ten households has a net worth over $1.6 million, and 1% of households have wealth above $5 million.
- Clifford Coulthard, an elder from the indigenous Adnyamathanha tribe, was searching for a place to urinate when he stumbled on the earliest human settlement in Australia. The site, known as Warratyi, proves there were humans around 49,000 years ago, 10,000 more that what scientists previously thought.[source]
- 60% of weddings in Australia take place on a Saturday.
- Howard Holt was the Australian Prime Minister until December of 1967, when he is thought to have drowned. His body has never been found.[source]
Flavorful Facts About Australian Food
From the yummy to the disgusting, here are a few morsels on the cuisine of Australia.
- Melba toast originates in Australia, named after Dame Nelly Melba, a famous opera singer.
- Australian wine is a major sector in the economy; there are 65 wine regions throughout Australia.[source]
- Barbie is the slang term for an Australian barbecue; it can differ from barbecues elsewhere, however, as it is more akin to grilling; many Australians get their love of grilling outdoors from the indigineous Australians, who have cooked outside for thousands of years.
- Bush tucker is Australian for food (tucker) from the outback (bush); common items may include a rooburger (kangaroo hamburger) and possum-tail soup.
- C. P. Callister, an Australian chemist, used leftovers from beer brewing to create Vegemite in 1922; Vegemite is one of the most popular Australian foods, a dark brown paste used as a spread.
Details About the Cities & Regions of Australia
Random (but exciting!) tidbits about city life and the urban areas of Australia.
- Anna Creek Station is the world’s largest working cattle station (similar to an American ranch) and world’s largest private property; at 6 million acres (24,000 km² or 9,400 mi²), it is thousands of km² larger than the nation of Israel. People training on the ranch do so to become jackaroos (cowboys) and jillaroos (cowgirls).[source]
- Melbourne was once named Batmania after John Batman, a Tasmanian colonist farmer, landed in Port Philip Bay in May 1835.[source]
- Perth is one of the most isolated major cities in the world, closer to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta than its own.[source]
- Coober Pedy is an opal-mining town that gets so hot – about 50° C (122° F) that most of the town has been built underground; if you travel there, you can stay in an underground hostel.
- The Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, has a unique shape of “sails,” which, if they were put together, would form a perfect sphere.[source]
Captivating Facts on Australian History
Australia has had an illustrious past; here are some notable instances from the history of Australia.
- The Aboriginal people of Australia have the oldest continuous culture on Earth, believed to have arrived to the island by boat around 50,000 years ago.
- The Dutch navigator, Willem Janszoon, was the first European to set foot on Australia on 26 February 1606, near the town of Weipa on Cape York.[source]
- More than a century and a half later, in 1770, Captain James Cook chartered Australia’s east coast and claimed it for Britain.
- Britain began to use this new land as a penal colony; 1,500 people, half of them convicts, arrived on 26 January 1788 in Sydney Harbour.
- By the end of this penal transportation in 1868, Britain had sent over 160,000 convicts over to Australia.
- In the late 1800s, 220 Australian socialists sailed from Sydney harbor to start a “New Australia” in the heart of Paraguay, destined to be “a utopia of equality, fairness for workers, and communal living.”[source]
- Australia became independent from the United Kingdom in 1942; however, it remains part of the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II considered their head of state.
Thought-Provoking Details About Transportation & Travel in Australia
Amusing facts about Australian transportation, from roads and highways to rail and public transport.
- There are 812,972 km (505,157 mi) of roads throughout Australia, but only about 45% of them are paved.
- Along with many regional rail networks, two long railroads cross the massive country: The “Indian Pacific” goes east-west between Perth and Sydney, and the “Ghan” goes north-south between Adelaide and Darwin, through the central town of Alice Springs.
- Australia’s Highway 1, at around 14,500 km (9,000 mi), is the longest national highway in the world; Highway 1 is a network of highways that go around the entire country.[source]
- Melbourne’s tram system is the largest urban tramway network in the world with 250 kilometres (160 miles) of track, 493 trams, 24 routes, and 1,763 tram stops as of May 2017.[source]
- The Trans-Australian Railway, which crosses the Nullarbor Plain, includes a 478-km (297-mi) stretch of dead-straight track, the world’s longest.[source]
- Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest golf course – 1,365 km (850 mi) long! It can take players 4 days to finish, and several hours to drive between holes.
- Only 1 in 10 Australians uses public transportation; more people walk to work than take a bus.
Australian Language & Culture Facts
Some delightful facts on the language and culture of Australia.
- Hello in Arrernte: werte (wuhr-dah); hello in Pitjantjatjara: wai palya (wah-ee pahl-yah); hello in Gamilaraay: yaama (yahr-mah).
- Dreamtime is the Aboriginal belief in how the world was created; many indigineous Australians refer to the creation time as “the Dreaming.”
- English has adopted many animal names from the aboriginal languages of Australia: kangaroo, koala, kookaburra, wombat, wallaby, barramundi, and the budgerigar.
- Police in Knox started playing classical music at a shopping center at night in an effort to disband loitering teenagers.[source]
- Some Australian slang:
- Mate: friend, pal.
- G’day: hello.
- Arvo: afternoon.
- Donger: penis.
- Not the full quid: someone not so smart.
Facts About Australia Law & Government
Here are several oddities and trivia about Australian government and the law in Australia.
- Australia became the second country in the world to allow women the right to vote, in 1902, nearly a decade after the first country, its neighbor New Zealand.[source]
- In 1975, the government shut down when the legislature had failed to fund it, deadlocked by a budgetary squabble, and Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the prime minister and the rest of Parliament.[source]
- Voting in Australian elections is compulsory for everyone 18 years of age and over; there is a fine for those who don’t.
- Australia’s first police force was made up of 12 of the best-behaved convicts.[source]
- The former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, once set a world record for downing 1.4 liters (2.5 pints) of beer in 11 seconds. He later mentioned that this event may have helped his political success, “by endearing him to an electorate with a strong beer culture.”[source]
Australian Technology Facts
Take a look at some Australian facts on technology.
- Howard Florey was the man who carried out the first clinical trials of penicillin on the first patient in 1941.[source]
- Two planes once took off from the Royal Australian Air Force base near Walla Walla, collided in midair, but became locked together and were able to land safely.[source]
- Australia has 8 Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine, 2 in physics, and 1 in chemistry.[source]
- Australians were responsible for everyday inventions such as notepads, the Hills Hoist clothesline, the plastic disposable syringe, anti-counterfeiting technology for banknotes, and long-wearing contact lenses.[source]
- Dr. Graeme Clark developed of the world’s first bionic ear.
- The first baby of in-vitro fertilization was born in Melbourne in 1984.
- Dr. David Warren, a scientist from Melbourne, came up with idea for the black box flight recorder.
Originating in Australia
Facts about people, products, and other items of Australian origin.
- The didgeridoo is a long wind instrument developed by the Aboriginal people of Australia; it resembles a long, wooden pipe and is played by blowing it like a horn.[source]
- Many famous stars from the movie industry are from Australia: Baz Luhrmann, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, and Heath Ledger, to name a few.
- Famous writers from Australia include Kate Grenville, Bryce Courtenay, and one of my new favorites, Jane Harper.
- The boomerang was designed by indigenous Australians to be used for hunting.[source]
- The term “selfie” seems to have originated in Australia.[source]
- Dual-flush toilets, which have become ubiquitous in Europe and throughout the world, were first implemented in Australia.[source]
Famous Quotes on Australia from Famous People
“Forgiveness is a funny thing, it warms the hearts and cools the sting.” – Peter Allen
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Australia Facts Citations
 Please note: Some sources were used more than once, so I chose not to link to them each time (I heard Google will only crawl the first 100 links or so, so I didn’t want to add some that would cause problems). Also, some sources might be unlinked because they are written texts (e.g., a state constitution).
 Australian Government Website (australia.gov.au)
 Australian Tourism Website (australia.com)
 Colson, Mary. Australia (Countries Around the World).
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