A sunburnt country…
Although I currently live in the USA, my homeland is Australia and it is a place I love. January 26th is when we celebrate Australia Day so I thought I would write about that great southern land.
“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!”
An excerpt from “My Country” written by Dorethea MacKellar (published in 1908)
Australia can be a harsh place of searing heat and drought, along with what we call bush fires (forest fires) and dust storms, then at the same time we can be hit by floods that can cover vast areas! Every now and then we even suffer from things like locust, mosquito and mice plagues!
Along with the natural elements we also have a multitude of animals that are highly poisonous to contend with including:
5 out of the top 10 most venomous land snakes in the world: Death Adder, Tiger Snake, Taipan, Eastern Brown Snake and the number one in the world the Inland Taipan, plus the most venomous from the sea the Belchers Sea Snake!
5 out of the top 10 most venomous spiders in the world: Sac Spider, Wolf Spider, Red Back Spider, Mouse Spider and our most dangerous the Funnel Web which is No. 4 in the top 10.
There are also a curious array of other poisonous nasties including the Blue Ring Octopus, the dreaded Box Jellyfish, Scorpion Fish, Stone Fish and Stingrays.
Then we have other creatures that will just simply eat you!:
Australia has all the major man-eating Sharks circling our shores including the Great White, Tiger Shark, Bull Shark and Whitetip Shark.
Plus massive Estuarine Crocodiles (the “Salty”) that lurk in the waters of Northern Australia!
So why on earth do we live in the land down under?
Well despite all this Australia is one of the most diverse and beautiful countries in the world (and not that many people get killed by our creatures….apart from tourists and the occasional surfer)! Plus we have Vegemite, the best sport in the World in Australian Rules Football (tough, fast, high-flying and no girly padding or helmets) and we are the home of the legendary AC/DC! Enough said! Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!
Australia is a massive island continent, with lush tropical rainforests in the north, magnificent beaches surrounding our coastline, fertile farmland and native forests in the East, South and South West, wine country in many states and then the deserts and arid land that makes up our vast outback. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world; 70% of it is either arid or semi arid land. The majority of our 22 million multicultural people cling to the fertile East Coast with almost half that population living in 3 cities – Sydney 4.5 million, Melbourne 4 million and Brisbane 2 million.
To give you some idea of the vast distances between our cities it takes up to 10 hours to drive from Melbourne to Sydney, 11 hours from Sydney to Brisbane. Then if you want to go right across the country to the Western most city of Perth it would take at least 42 hours of non stop driving from Sydney! Or say from Melbourne in the South to Darwin in the North it would take about 44 hours!
As a counter to all our nasty (but beautiful creatures in their own way), we have a unique native animal population of Marsupials found nowhere else like the Kangaroo, Wallaby, Koala, Wombat, Quokka and Bandicoot, plus the Tasmanian Devil and Quoll which are carnivorous Marsupials. Oh and who could forget two of the more bizarre creatures out there the Echidna (Spikey Anteater) and Platypus (alas it is cute but the males have venomous spurs!)! There are even giant flightless birds (Emu and Cassowary), plus all the marine animals people love including Whales, Dolphins, Seals and Dugongs (like a Manatee).
I have been lucky over the years to have travelled widely in Australia, yet I have still only scratched the surface of this vast land and could spend a lifetime exploring it. Here is a snapshot of some of my travels over the years that will give you a great idea of Australia’s diversity and rugged beauty.
Beaches & Rugged Coastlines
So let’s all enjoy a meat pie and a beer and sing Advance Australia Fair!!!