As the red sands of the desert dunes rise to meet the crisp blue of the clear skies above, a number of animals unique to this part of the world scurry to find shade, scuttle to their hiding dens or simply soak up the glorious sunshine. The deep cultural influences of an ancient people, indigenous to this land, permeate so many aspects of this country that they resonate deeply within the smiling faces, age-old trees and rolling sand dunes. This is a land where breath-taking beauty, complex cultures and precious heritage converge. This is Fantastic Australia.
The distinctive culture of Australia is based on a complex mix of indigenous Aborigines, who occupied this land for centuries; coupled with the prisoners brought to a penal colony in Australia from England and other countries in Europe during the 1700’s and 1800’s. Then, in 1851, gold was discovered, and men and women from all over the globe flooded into Australia in search of riches. This gold rush lasted two decades, but the foreigners stayed put. As prisoners, Aborigines and migrants occupied the land together, they soon integrated their lives, cultures and families to various degrees. Today, more than a quarter of all Australian residents were born elsewhere and more than 220 different languages are spoken by Australian residents. English remains the official language..
Gwoya Jungarai, born in 1895, used on the 8 pence
and half a crown Australian
stamps in 1950
Particularly noteworthy is the Aborigines and their influence on the Australian culture. Ancient tribes testified to their life, customs and beliefs in the form of rock art and bark paintings. These images act as a narrative, informing the ‘reader’ of a life left far behind. Within the Aboriginal culture, the people developed more than 200 different languages, and each had a culture unique to their particular tribe. Today, there are more than 400 distinct Aboriginal groups. There are three main cultural areas that these ones inhabit today – Northern, Southern and Central Australia. The Central Australian Aborigines are the least dense in terms of population numbers, since this area simply does not have the natural resources required to sustain a large population of people living off the land. Those Aboriginal people in southern South Australia are known as Nunga, while the Northern peoples are called Anangu. The Aborigine people invented the iconic boomerang, which is a curved stick that returns to the thrower once spun high into the air. They also invented a number of stone tools, which they used for grinding and cutting. What is interesting about the invention of these tools is that it took many more years before other indigenous cultures around the world started to use them, showing the innovation and forward-thinking abilities of this Australian people.
In addition to its fascinating culture, Australia is renowned for its exquisite wildlife and plant species. The fauna and flora is both abundant and, often, unique; creating a rewarding spectacle for locals and visitors alike. The bird species alone are breath-taking. Approximately half of all bird species of birds (of which there is a total of about 800 different types) are unique to Australia. The southern coast is home to an inordinate number of marine species, up to 80% of which are indigenous to Australia. The plants, flowers and trees are no exception to this continent’s abundance and variety. Of the more than 25 000 different species of plants here, about half are naturally found in Western Australia alone. Although Australia is the world’s flattest continent, the landscapes it has etched out are, without a doubt, more than a little impressive. Such natural beauty, variety and abundance have earned Australia favour amongst millions of tourists, who travel here each year to appreciate such splendour.
There are number of important exports that support the Australian economy. One of the main exports is opals. In fact, Australia provides 99% of the black opals and 95% of the precious opals found anywhere in the world. In addition, Australia exports gold, Merino sheep and cattle. Australia remains one of the world’s top 20 economies and one of the largest importers and exporters on the planet. The service sector represents about 68% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The local currency is the Australian Dollar.
The Koala, official fauna symbol of Queensland,
As sports enthusiasts around the world will know, Australians are particularly sports-oriented. They perform on the international level for many of these sports, not least of all rugby and cricket. Their teams compete at the highest levels and are internationally supported and renowned. Other very popular sports include Australian Rules football (also known as Ozzie Rules), basketball, surfing, golf, tennis, swimming, athletics, cycling and horse racing.
In terms of being a world-class holiday hotspot, Australia has earned its respected reputation. This country boasts almost every type of activity, landscape, ambience and adventure imaginable. Australian summers are hot, while winters are temperate to cool. So, even in off-peak seasons, this is the ideal holiday destination for surfers, honeymooners, families or backpackers. Because of the commercial destinations (such as Sydney), Australia also boasts a bustling business tourism sector.
Beautiful beaches, mysterious expanses of desert and dense, humid forests converge in one of the world’s most diverse destinations. This is also the ideal destination for those wanting to immerse themselves in different languages, cultures and customs, since it is, in itself, so very diverse. Indeed, Australia exudes a magic and intrigue all its own, and shares this willingly with all who visit this island, country and continent.
Here is the official Australian Government website: http://australia.gov.au
Here is the official Australian Tourism website: http://www.australia.com