1. Former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke is in the 1954 Guinness Book of World Records for drinking 2.5 pints of beer in just 11 seconds.
2. Astonishingly Australia “lost” another of their prime ministers. Harold Holt went for a dip in the sea, near Melbourne in 1967, and was never seen again. Appropriately he has a swimming pool named after him.
3. If you find yourself thinking that your favourite chocolate bars don’t taste as good in Oz, you’re right. Only five per cent vegetable oil is used in making the chocolate – far less than in the UK or the US.
4. Australia has more beaches than any other nation, exceeding 10,000 in total.
5. The Snowy Mountains receive more snow than the Swiss Alps.
6. Of the 10 most deadly snakes in the world, Australia is only home to… seven. Deaths are rare, but hospitals stock up on anti-venom just in case.
7. In 1961 a man was arrested on Bondi Beach for wearing Speedos. He was released after it was decided that no “personal hair” could be seen.
8. Australia is sometimes called “the lucky country”. Unfortunately for Aussies, the phrase was coined in 1964 by journalist Donald Horne to criticise the country for thriving on pure luck, as opposed to hard work or skill.
9. It’s generally thought that “kangaroo” translates as “I don’t understand”, an Aboriginal response to an Englishman’s request to know the strange hopping creature’s name. And, yes, male roos do box.
10. The Principality of Hutt River is an independent sovereign state located north of Perth (WA) and ruled by His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I. The micro-nation of 20 residents has its own currency and has attempted to secede from Australia. It also once declared war on Oz. For two days.
11. The legend of the drop bear – a vicious species of koala that attacks people by dropping on them from the trees above – was invented purely to mess with American soldiers.
12. For a society built on the remains of a penal colony, Oz has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
13. Indigenous Australians practice the world’s oldest continually maintained culture – it’s somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 years old.
14. Australian citizens have to vote in federal elections by law. Failure to do so incurs a fine. About five per cent of eligible citizens still don’t vote. do not vote.
15. The Aussie accent is thought to be a derivative of Irish and Cockney. Combine that with the numerous “Strayan” slang words and you might find yourself asking “do you speaka my language?” Quick heads up. They call flip flops, “thongs” Down Under.
16. On the first Australian cricket team to compete internationally, the Aboriginal players outnumbered Europeans 19 to three.
17. The Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest coral reef and the world’s largest living thing – extends over 2,000km and can be seen from space.
18. It doesn’t spin into a tornado when it moves, but the Tasmanian devil is dangerous in its own right. The native Aussie carnivore has the strongest bite of any living mammal – out-gnawing creatures more than double its size.
19. If you need to diss an Aussie, try calling them “un-Australian”. Seemingly far more offensive than any swear words, use the word and watch excessively-patriotic Aussies writhe in agony as if stabbed.
20. The name Australia comes from the Latin Terra Australis Incognito, which means the Unknown Southern Land.
21. There are two types of crocodile in Australia: freshwater “freshie” crocs, that are not considered dangerous to humans, and the larger saltwater “saltie” crocs, which are. Try not to get them mixed up.
22. Brits are called “Poms” in Australia. Some say it is because POHM (Prisoner of His/Her Majesty) was stamped on English convicts’ clothes. Others claim it stands for pomegranate, referring to the pasty skin colour of the English. Others still say it stands for Prisoner of the Motherland, ‘cos convicts love a bit of irony.
23. The official colours of Australian sporting teams, green and gold, represent the forests, gum trees and wattle bushes, with gold evoking beaches, grain harvests, sheep fleece and mineral wealth.
24. Actor-thug Russell Crowe was actually born in New Zealand, but identifies more with Oz. That said, if he does something stupid, he’s a Kiwi. If he does something “awesome,” he’s an Aussie. Crowded House and legendary race horse Phar Lap are other Kiwis often claimed by Aussies.
25. At least 550 place names Down Under refer to the kangaroo in some way.
26. In Coober Pedy (SA), White Cliffs (NSW) and various Outback settlements, it gets so hot that people live underground.
27. The platypus — a venomous, egg-laying, duck-billed, amphibious mammal — is so unique to Oz that when botanist Joseph Banks first presented its pelt in the UK, his audience believed he had sewn the bill of a duck onto a rat pelt to trick them.
28. Sheep in Australia outnumber humans by a modest 130 million.
29. There are four types of Boomerangs associated with Indigenous Australian culture, but only one of the four will actually return to the thrower.
30. Waltzing Matilda is more popular than the official national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. It’s a banjo-driven song about a bushman committing suicide (for the record, Matilda is his bag).
31. The emu and the kangaroo are immortalised on the Australian emblem because neither can walk backwards, which is seen as symbolically important.
32. There are 166 shark species in Australian waters, but only the bull shark, the tiger shark and the great white shark are a considerable threat to humans.
33. Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) is a serious condition Down Under. Victims of TPS suffer from overgrown egos and must be cut down to size.
34. Good news: Australia produces over 90 per cent of all precious opals. Bad news: according to old wives’ tales, it is bad luck to wear an opal unless it is your birthstone.
35. It’s difficult to find an Aussie who doesn’t love legendary pub-rock band AC/DC. It is equally hard to find anyone who doesn’t call them “acca-dacca”.
36. For a country whose name means a demur “southern land” in Latin, Australia has its fair share of oddly-named places. Cases in point: Tittybong (VIC), Yorkeys Knob (QLD), Fannie Bay (NT) and Mt Buggery (QLD) to name a few.
37. Despite the array of venomous and sharp-toothed Aussie creatures, more Australian deaths are caused by horses than sharks, crocs, snakes, and spiders combined.
38. From world champion tuna fish tossing in Port Lincoln (SA) to the Darwin Beer Can Regatta (where they build boats out of beer cans), Oz is certainly a land of weird festivals. Honestly, who thought up the Wife Carrying Championships (NSW)?
39. In 2006 Aussie TV icon Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while filming a documentary called “Ocean’s Deadliest”. The stingray, ironically, was not a part of the filming as Irwin had deemed it not deadly enough.
40. Australians often refer to Americans as “Seppos”. This is an abbreviation for “Septic Tank” which is rhyming slang for “Yank”.
41. If you are ever attacked by a shark, punching it on the nose is unlikely to stop it eating you. Go for the gills and eyes.
42. Despite suggestions that Aussies’ sporting prowess is down to a “never say die” attitude, a good climate, rubbish TV and, er, practice at running from the cops, the biggest factor is actually cash. After winning zero golds at the 1976 Olympics, the very well-funded Australian Institute of Sport was created.
43. Aussie Rules Football, or AFL, was invented in 1858 as a way for cricketers to keep fit during the winter.
44. Ever wondered why Aussie wines say they’ve been produced using fish? It’s got nothing to do with how cheap the vino is. Fish extract is used with certain varieties, like verdelho, to make the wine clearer. Australia’s strict laws mean producers have to mention it on the label, unlike in other countries.
45. Canberra was made capital in 1927 after 150 years of bitching between Sydney and Melbourne. The site was chosen on the basis it was within NSW, but over 100 miles from Sydney.
46. Sydney gets about 50 per cent more annual rainfall than Manchester.
47. Contrary to popular belief, the film Wolf Creek, set in WA’s Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, is not based on true events. It is, however, inspired by backpacker murderer Ivan Milat, who killed at least seven hitchhikers in NSW during the 90s.
48. Terra nullius, the legal argument that Australia was uninhabited before the Brits arrived, was only overturned in 1992.
49. Aussies must refer to Nicole Kidman as “our Nicole”.
50. The existence of Australia was reported by dozens of Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and English explorers over several centuries before Captain Cook “discovered” it.