Think you know Australia?
Here we present 20 amazing facts about the country, taking in the Great Barrier Reef, an epic ‘dingo fence’ and a UFO hotspot as we go…
1. Australia has the cleanest air on the planet – science has confirmed it. Data from a government science station at Cape Grim, on Tasmania’s north-west tip, reveals this to be the freshest air on the planet.
2. There are more than 10,000 beaches in Australia, including many that you might find you have all to yourself, especially as there are no privately owned beaches in Australia. If you visited one beach a day, it would take you 27 years to see them all.
There are more than 10,000 beaches in Australia. Above is Lucky Bay in Western Australia
3. Australia has more national parks than any other country on Earth. Across the nation there are more than 600 of them, ranging from the vast wetlands and cliffs of Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu, to thin strips of wild coast such as Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park and Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park. There are even high mountain ranges in New South Wales’ Kosciuszko National Park and Victoria’s Alpine National Park.
4. Australia has the world’s oldest living culture. Research has shown that Aboriginal peoples arrived in Australia at least 60,000 years ago, making this the oldest living culture in the world. It existed long before Stonehenge, predates the Pyramids and is older than the Acropolis. What’s more, this culture can be experienced today, right across the country, from wine and bush-tucker tastings to indigenous snorkelling tours.
5. Some people might find it interesting that it snows in Australia. Not only does it snow – but Australia actually gets more snow than Switzerland does in an average year. The Australian Alps, straddling New South Wales and Victoria, are a mecca for skiing enthusiasts. Perisher, a large resort near Canberra, is the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere.
6. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest ecosystem in the world and the only living organism visible from outer space. It covers 344,400 sq km (132,973 sq miles) in area – that’s bigger than the UK, Switzerland and Holland combined – and extends over 14 degrees of latitude. It comprises 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and 150 inshore mangrove islands.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest ecosystem in the world and the only living organism visible from outer space
Australia actually gets more snow than Switzerland does in an average year. And Perisher (above), a large resort near Canberra, is the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere
7. Australia has over 60 separate wine regions and is home to some of the world’s oldest vines. These regions produce over 100 grape varieties.
8. More than 90 per cent of people in Australia live within 100km (62 miles) of the coast.
9. K’gari (Fraser Island) is the largest sand island in the world and one of the world’s most unusual islands. It’s 123 kilometres (76 miles) long and 22 kilometres (14 miles) wide and harbours rainforest on sand dunes. The island also contains half the world’s perched lakes – permanent lakes formed within dune depressions from rainwater.
K’gari (Fraser Island) is the largest sand island in the world and one of the world’s most unusual islands
10. The Indian Pacific train, which runs from Perth to Sydney, has the longest straight section of train track in the world – 478 kilometres (297 miles). Embark on the journey and pass through spectacular landscapes from the Blue Mountains to the Nullarbor Plain.
11. Over 80 per cent of the animals are unique to Australia.
12. Two and a half kilometres (1.5 miles) of Uluru, in the Northern Territory, is underground – just like an iceberg.
13. Wycliffe Well in the Northern Territory is reportedly one of the top five UFO capitals of the world. UFO sightings have been part of Wycliffe Well’s folklore since World War II and locals stand by the sightings wholeheartedly.
14. Eggs and Bacon Bay is a real place. It’s located in the Huon Valley in Tasmania and named after the eggs and bacon wildflower that coats the shore of the bay there like carpet in early summer.
15. Australia is home to the world’s oldest living rainforest, a forest so spectacular Sir David Attenborough called it ‘the most extraordinary place on Earth’. The creeping vines and emerald canopy of the Daintree Rainforest have been growing for more than 180million years. It’s the world’s oldest tropical rainforest by an impressive 10million years, so it’s no wonder that visitors can feel the ancient energy with every step. Home to native animals and birdlife, the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest offers travellers a real-life Jungle Book experience.
The creeping vines and emerald canopy of the Daintree Rainforest (above) have been growing for more than 180million years. It’s the world’s oldest tropical rainforest
16. There are more kangaroos than people – 50million vs 25million.
17. Australia is two times bigger than India, covering 7,682,300 square km (2,966,152 sq miles).
18. The capital of Australia is Canberra (not Sydney).
19. Australia has a ‘dingo fence’ that’s longer than the Great Wall of China at 5,331km (3,312 miles). It runs through Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia and was built to shield sheep and cattle from dingoes.
20. At 14,500 kilometres (9,010 miles), Australia’s Highway 1 is the world’s longest national highway road.
The capital of Australia is Canberra, above (not Sydney)
Australia has a ‘dingo fence’ (above) that’s longer than the Great Wall of China at 5,331km (3,312 miles)