Read these 101 Australian Culture Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Australian tips and hundreds of other topics.
Australian banks vary from state to state, although cards for most banks will be accepted nationally.
The first Australian bank was established in 1817 in Sydney. For many years the number of banks in Australia remained small, staying with one bank for each state and a central Reserve Bank. The recent development of internet-based banking has changed the banking market dramatically in Australia, and now consumers have a number of banking options regardless of what area they live in.
Dissatisfaction with the large banks has led to some communities founding their own banking co-operatives, with the help of middle-sized Bendigo Bank. New immigrants to Austraia may be surprised at the tiny interest returns and multiple fees most banks offer. It is possible to deposit money into an account and return a month later to find it has all been used up in bank fees.
The Indigenous Australian instrument, the didgeridoo, is an Australian emblem worldwide and plays a significant part in traditional northern Australian indigenous music. The specific instruments and style varies between tribes across the vast continent.
As time goes by, indigenous musical traditions are beginning to be used in the mainstream and European music is having an influence on indigenous music. The sound of a didgeridoo is familiar in the Australian mainstream. Some indigenous Australian groups include Yothu Yindi and the Warumpi Band, and each year indigenous Australian music (among other things) is celebrated by the awards event the Deadlys.
Although Australia is a multicultural country, the main religion is still Christianity and Christmas is a major holiday in Australia. It is celebrated with the exchange of presents, and usually a family gathering on the day itself.
The main holiday of Christmas is only one day that is celebrated in this holiday season. Boxing Day is another public holiday Australia-wide, and many sporting events take place on Boxing Day. Boxing Day is also the traditional day for major sales in the big cities. In all, Christmas is a three-day event in Australia, from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, and many Australians take the week between Boxing Day and New Year's Day off.
On the 26 January there is a public holiday for Australia Day which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet bringing white settlers to Australia. This results in a relaxed casual holiday mood being felt throughout the entire country from Christmas Day to late January.
On January 26, 1788, British Captain Arthur Phillip came ashore at Sydney Cove in what is now the historic Rocks area near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This date -- January 26 -- is now commemorated yearly as Australia Day. While it is a day that generates quite a lot of excitement within the country, its celebration is a sore point for some of Australia´s community, who consider that the country's original inhabitants were invaded by the British on that day in 1788.
Australia is the most sparsely populated of the inhabited continents. Although it is home to roughly 20,000,000 people, the country is heavily urbanized. Around 85% of the population lives in cities, about two-thirds of these in the main cities of each state. A lot of Australia's population resides on the east coast, with a smaller number to the south and west, and very small populations in the centre of the continent.
ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and is the name these troops were given in 1915 when Allied Forces were co-ordinating a campaign in Turkey. The troops landed on the beach at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and battled in trenches there for eight months.
Since then, ANZAC is a label that has been used for only a few campaigns but has come to stand for Australian or New Zealand troops. Love of 'Anzac spirit' is one of the few demonstrably patriotic things Australians tend to do. 'Anzac' is a term that is bitter-sweet for most Australians and New Zealanders, as it represents loyalty, spirit and mateship in the face of extreme hardship and imminent, pointless death. Australian WWI reporter Charles Bean summed it up neatly: 'Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valor in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat.'
Strangely enough, the continued remembrance of the 1915 ANZAC troops has led to a special close relationship between Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, filled with mutual respect for valour in war.
Thousands of Australians regularly journey to the coastline to surf some of the world´s best-known breaks. Bell´s Beach in Victoria, the town of Margaret River in Western Australia and Sydney´s Bondi Beach are all world-famous surf breaks, but locals will tell you the lesser-known spots are home to the best waves.
Australians have long been at the top of professional surfing. Mark Occhilupo and Shane Powell rank among the elite men, and Layne Beachley sits atop the women´s world rankings. Nude surfing is a popular novelty event. The sadly now defunct Sydney Fringe Festival Night Nude Surfing Contest was once a yearly favourite at Bondi.
Australia is a big country, and this makes travelling overland a real adventure. Each of the colonies within Australia established their own rail networks before the country was federated. This made for some problems with gauge widths as trains travelled from state to state, although taking trains interstate these days is not difficult.
Australia comes second in the car ownership stakes, and there are almost one million km of roads across the continent. This is a higher amount of road per capita than Europe. Australians are far from afraid of driving, and it is common for people to drive the length and breadth of the country via car rather than train. Buses are a slightly less comfortable road option that appeal to the budget traveller.
The final accessible option of travel within Australia is flight, and the introduction of discount airlines has made this a more commonly taken option within the countries. Travel between the east and the west coasts is still relatively expensive, however, and it can be cheaper to travel from Sydney to Vanuatu than Sydney to Perth.
Shops in main centres are generally open from 9 am to 5 or 6 pm, seven days a week in metropolitan areas , and Monday-Saturday in regional areas. Some 24-hour supermarkets operate in major centres.
Convenience stores are open for longer hours, seven days a week. ATMs and EFTPOS facilities are widely available, with 'cash out' (withdrawal of cash on site) an option in most big stores such as large supermarkets.
The Australian GST (goods & services tax) of 10% applies to most purchases.
Australia, when it comes down to it, is a country that loves its water, whether it be the miles of beautiful beaches or the river systems that run through the country. Many Australians regularly holiday along rivers, enjoying the scenery while boating and fishing.
The dry nature of the country means that many rivers experience a low flow rate for most of the year. The main rivers in Australia include the Murray, which runs from Queensland to South Australia, the Murrumbidgee, which runs through New South Wales and the ACT, and the famous Snowy River, which runs from the Alps in New South Wales down into Victoria.
Every 18 to 30 months, a team of cricketers from either Australia or England jets over to their opposite's country for several weeks of sport. The event is called the Ashes and is central to cricket in either country.
The Ashes began in 1882, when the English team lost on home soil for the first time to Australia. An obituary was published, declaring English cricket dead and that the body would be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia. Shortly after, an English team set off to tour Australia and the English captain, Ivo Bligh (Lord Darnley), declared he would bring the ashes back.
The metaphor was given body by some ladies in Melbourne, who presented Bligh with a small ceramic urn containing ashes. The urn became the symbol of the competition which takes place roughly every two years (with varying gaps, as the summer game is played in alternating hemispheres). The urn itself is not awarded to the winners of the Ashes, but remains in the museum at Lord's. Since 1998, the teams have competed for a Waterford crystal trophy.
The Ashes is Test cricket, consisting of five five-day games. Whichever side wins the most games is the winner. If there is a draw, the trophy remains with the winner of the previous series.
In Australia, miners who were flush with new found wealth from the Ballarat mines were willing to pay a pricely sum for elaborate valentines. Merchants in Australia would send orders of a thousand pounds at a time.
The most extravagant of valentines were made of a satin cushion, perfumed, ornately designed with flowers, coloured shells, and would also have a taxidermied humming bird or bird of paradise adorning it. This was all contained in a neatly decorated box which were considered of high standing, fashionable and most expensive.
Tourism in Australia grew rapidly in the late 20th century, and it now represents one of the most dynamic sectors in the Australian economy, accounting almost 500,000 jobs. Australia had 5.2 million visitors in 2006, and they spent $23 billion. The strong growth in tourism has boosted the development of attractions in each state and territory—amusement and theme parks, zoos, art galleries and museums, certain mines and factories, national parks, historic sites, and wineries. Some of the most popular attractions are Queensland´s spectacular Great Barrier Reef, the theme parks on Queensland's Gold Coast, the Northern Territory´s Kakadu National Park, and the famous beach resorts in the Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney regions.
St. Valentines day is celebrated on the fourteenth of Febuary. It is a day when people give cards, gifts and anything else that means something to their lover, friends, spouse and family. It is very heavily publicised in the press and large shopping centres have big promotions.
The slouch hat is a familiar sight associated with the Army in Australia. Manufactured by the Akubra company, which also manufactures the distinctive Australian bush hats of the company's name, the slouch hat is a double-peaked, wide-brim felt hat that typically has one side of the brim pinned up. This makes it easier to carry a rifle.
The slouch hat was not invented in Australia, although it has a long association with the country. The hats have long been worn by armies around the world, but became standard issue for Australian soldiers in around 1885.
The brim of a slouch hat was once pinned using the rising sun badge or other badge of particular significance, but in modern times the had comes equipped with a hidden hook-and-eye allowing the left side to be hooked up without messing around with pins. Badges still are worn on the upturned brim.
Vegemite is a favourite spread among Australians. It is a concentrated yeast extract. I will quote the jar:
'Vegemite-Australian Born and Bread.
The vegemite story started in 1923 and was made from many essential ingredients.
One of them was Fred Walker, entrepreneur and founder of Fred Walker & Co. After war had delayed supplies of yeast extracts, Fred enlisted the help of Dr. Callister to make a new one. After many attempts they developed a spread that would fit the bill. But what to name it? The company couldn't decide, so they ran a competition. The response was overwhelming and there was only one fair way to decide the winner.
Fred's daughter, Sheilah pulled a name from a hat. That name was "Vegemite", and an Australian icon was born. At the same time Fred Walker joined forces with a Canadian, James Kraft to start a joint venture-the Kraft Walker Cheese Company. We have been making Vegemite in Melbourne since the inception of the Kraft Walker Cheese Company in 1926. And it is from here that we continue to put a rose in every cheek.'
Yeast Extract, Salt, Mineral Salt, Malt Extract, Natural colour(150),
Vegetable Extract, Thiamine,
Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate.
The government of Australia delivers a number of social services throughout the country. Programs of assistance for people who are sick, aged, widowed, or unemployed exist to provide at least a subsistence allowance. Parents may apply for a subsidy for children under 16 years of age. Medical and hospital benefits are paid by the federal government, although private health insurance is also available. The Flying Doctor Service provides medical service for people in remote areas and covers two-thirds of Australia, with physicians operating from bases equipped with radio stations for communicating with distant ranches and settlements. Australia has 455 people for every physician and 112 people for every hospital bed.
Netball has the greatest participation rate of any sport in Australia. Primarily, nations of the British Commonwealth play it, but other nations such as the United States have made an impact internationally in recent years. The Australian women´s netball team has dominated at the international level for some time. Netball is a game played primarily by women, though mixed teams are becoming increasingly popular.
In 1998, the 115 boats competing that year raced headlong into a severe and deadly storm. Winds of up to 78 knots whipped waves to as high as 10 metres. Fifty-five yachtsmen had to be rescued, 50 of them by helicopters braving the gale-force winds. Only 44 of the 115 boats finished the course. Six sailors died.
Every year, thousands of Australians gather in parks and town halls to sing Christmas carols by the light of candles. The tradition is an essential part of Christmas celebrations and is beautiful to see.
It is generally agreed that "Carols by Candlelight" was started in Melbourne, Australia by radio announcer Norman Banks in 1937, after he saw a woman listening to carols alone by candlelight. Banks decided to do something to relieve the loneliness and isolation some feel during the Christmas period. He announced community carol singing for anyone who wanted to join in.
The concept has grown in popularity over the years, and these days a major event is held in each major city's public music house, such as Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Celebrities and renowned singers lead the singing at these events. The recorded programs of these events are broadcast the world over.
Recently two important early works on Australian themes, both on the borderline between fiction and reportage, have come to notice. These are Ralph Rashleigh (1952), probably written in the early 1840s by James Tucker, but belatedly discovered, and Settlers and Convicts (1852), written under the pen name “An Emigrant Mechanic” by Alexander Harris.
Among authors who wrote in the first decades of the 20th century, Henry Hertzberg Lawson is noteworthy as a writer of sketches. Poorly educated, he identified himself with the working people and wrote prolifically about them and their feelings toward Australia. His best work appeared during the 1880s in the weekly newspaper The Bulletin. Humor as well as bitterness is evident in his sketches, which range from sentimental vignettes to strongly realistic studies. Perhaps the volume for which he is best known abroad is While the Billy Boils, published in Travellers' Library in 1927. Miles Franklin (full name Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin; 1879-1954) is best known for her feminist novel My Brilliant Career (1901); an unsparing picture of outback life and a woman writer's beginnings, it was later made into a highly successful film. The finest single work of fiction expressing basic Australian attitudes is Such Is Life (1903) by Joseph Furphy, who used the pen name Tom Collins. Furphy's life was spent as a farmer and driver of bullock teams before the days of the railroad. His book, written in diary form, is a compound of episodic adventures, philosophic and literary opinions, and homely observations about people and conditions in Australia. Katharine Susannah Prichard, whose work began to appear before World War I, interprets Australian life in terms of class struggle. Her best fiction is contained in Working Bullocks (1926), a story of lumbering in western Australia, and Coonardoo (1929), a study of intermarriage.
Australian literature has developed certain well-defined qualities: a love of the vast, empty land, with its unique flora and fauna, a compelling sense of the worth of the common people, and freedom from the bondage of European traditions.
Australian authors have made considerable contributions to world literature. Some of the most famous Peter Carey, whose books include 'Oscar and Lucinda' and 'The True History of the Kelly Gang', Tim Winton, who wrote 'Cloudstreet' among many others, Murray Bail, author of 'Eucalyptus', John Marsden, Robin Klein, Bryce Courtenay, Dorothy Porter, David Malouf, Garry Disher, Helen Garner... the list goes on.
For more information on Australian literature, consult the specific tips throughout this tip site.
While there are some young people in remote rural areas who can only dream of their first trip to the beach, most Australian kids grow up with the sand between their toes and embedded in their swimming costumes. Around age 6, kids get serious about surf safety. Many join junior surf-lifesaving clubs, known as Nippers, and as teenagers spend their summers patrolling the beaches as lifesavers.
Surf lifesaving was established in Australia in 1907. Lifesavers patrol the beach under the direction of a captain, setting out flags on the beach to direct swimmers into safe areas. Since the establishment of the club, the volunteers in their colourful caps have rescued more than 350,000 swimmers.
The Christmas traditions in Australia include Carols by Candlelight in the parks and gardens of most cities and towns, the gathering of family for a major meal on Christmas day and the mailing of Christmas greeting cards to friends, many of whom we have not contacted since the previous Christmas. To facilitate this, Australia Post issues a series of Christmas stamps, allowing the mailing of Christmas cards at reduced rates. Christmas traditions are usually topped off with the cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, on Boxing Day. Many Australians head to the beach on Christmas day and most families indulge in a family game of cricket, badminton, or some other game in the afternoon, to top off a very relaxing day downunder.
A bicameral system of government, which is a system of two parliamentary chambers, exists in each state except Queensland. The British sovereign (Queen Elizabeth II) is represented in each state by a governor. Governmental affairs are handled by a cabinet, the head of which is known as the premier. Within each Australian state, hundreds of local government authorities are responsible for traffic and building regulation; maintenance of streets, bridges, local roads, water and sewerage, parks, libraries, and hospitals; and similar functions. Among these authorities are shire councils, borough councils, and town and city councils. Legislation granting power to local authorities exists in each state.
The unit of currency in Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD). The dollar is divided into 100 cents and coined in 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, and $2 pieces. Notes are plastic and come in varying colours for $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100, which are the most common notes. The Australian dollar has been gaining in strength over its Northern Hemisphere fellows and now around $1.18 Australian equals $1 US in 2009, and $1.76 can buy £1.
The Australian dollar is the sixth most traded currency in the world.
The Commonwealth of Australia comprises six states and two territories. The states and their capitals are New South Wales (Sydney), Victoria (Melbourne), Queensland (Brisbane), South Australia (Adelaide), Western Australia (Perth), and Tasmania (Hobart). The territories and their chief cities are the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) and the Northern Territory ( Darwin).
The school year ends in early December, and recommences at the end of January. As the children are on holiday many working people take all or part of their annual leave entitlement during this period. There are public holidays for Christmas Day, Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Years Day.
Although Australia is a multi-religion country, Christmas is still a major holiday marking the end of the year. Far from being cold and dark, Christmas in Australia comes within 3 days of the longest day of the year. There are long daylight hours and warm temperatures. This can be a real experience for visitors who are used to short days and long cold nights at Christmastime.
You can have any type of weather for your Christmas in Australia except a white Christmas (although snow has been recorded in Hobart on Christmas Day). The traditional Christmas Day involves a barbeque and lots of beer.
Australians are obsessive about sport in all shapes and forms, from extreme sports to more traditional games. If it involves competition, Australia wants to be in it. Australia likes to think of itself as a sporting nation, and in many types of sport this is true.
The main sports supported in the country are Australian Rules Football ('footy', not to be confused with 'soccer' which is the Australian term for English football), Rugby League, tennis, cricket and surf-related sports such as the Iron Man competition. Motor sports are very popular and even golf gets a look in if an Australian is likely to win. While Australians are passionate about their sport, sports fans are mostly noise and violence is not strongly associated with sporting culture.
An early Australian fictional work is Tales of the Colonies (1843) by Charles Rowcroft; but the most frequently reprinted is Geoffrey Hamlyn (1859) by Henry Kingsley, brother of the English novelist Charles Kingsley. Kingsley originated the novel of Australian pastoral life. His main characters are, however, Englishmen who come to Australia for colonial experience and then return to England, as he did. Two fairly prolific early novelists were Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke and Thomas Alexander Browne, the latter of whom wrote under the name of Rolf Boldrewood. Clarke is most famous for his classic story of the convict era, For the Term of His Natural Life (1874), which exploits the horrors of convict life in the heightened realistic manner of Charles Dickens. Browne's reputation rests on Robbery Under Arms (1888), a classic story of bushranging. It may be described as an Australian Western, a narrative about bush life full of vivid adventures.
Australia has no single established church, and its constitution guarantees freedom of worship. The population is predominantly Christian with a number of significant minority groups. The largest single denominations are the Roman Catholic church (26 percent of the population) and Anglican Church Australia (26 percent). Another 24 percent belong to other Christian denominations. Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim worshipers make up a growing portion of the population due to immigration. A significant portion of Australia´s population say they are nonreligious.
Generally perceived as a genteel game with its roots in England, cricket has been responsible for many raucous afternoons in backyards across Australia. England and Canada played the first international cricket match in 1859, but competition did not begin in earnest until the 1870s. In 1877, Australia won its first test against England. That signalled the beginning of a long rivalry for international cricket´s top prize, the Ashes, a trophy held by Australia for the past decade.
Two main categories of international cricket exist — test and one-day cricket. A test is played over five days. If nobody wins after that time, a draw is declared. While the action can appear limited to the uninitiated, test cricket actually is a tactical game of skilful play and riveting mind games. One-day tournaments, a shortened version of tests, started in the 1970s as a way of modernising the game and drawing a wider audience. The premier one-day event is the World Series, recently won by Australia.
The crowning event on any cricket fan´s calendar is the Boxing Day Test Match, held on 26 December each year. Traditionally, friends gather in lounge rooms across Australia to watch the telecast, drink beer and eat Christmas leftovers. Australia´s toughest cricket competition comes from South Africa, India, Pakistan and the West Indies. Recent Australian stars include Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve and Mark Waugh, Ian Healy, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Don Bradman, an Australian batsman in the 1930s and ´40s, generally is considered the best player in the sport´s history and is Australia´s most beloved sporting icon.
The first people to live in Australia, called Aborigines, migrated there about 40,000 years ago. The continent remained relatively unknown by outsiders until the 17th century. The first European settlement by British convicts occurred in 1788 at Botany Bay in southeastern Australia. Australia grew as a group of British colonies during the 19th century, and in 1901 the colonies federated to form a unified independent nation
Christmas is the major event of the Christian calendar and is celebrated in Australia with many church services which commence on Christmas Eve and continue through Christmas Day. Attending Midnight Mass at the local church is one tradition most Christians observe in Australia. Churchgoers can generally discover the theme of the season's sermons either published on board outside churches or sometimes in local papers.
Motor racing Australians love cars, whether it´s tinkering with them, revelling in their destruction at demolition derbies or watching them put through their paces on the racetrack. The F1 (with one round held in Melbourne every year) and Indy Car series favoured overseas maintain a following in Australia, but the V8 Supercar and motorcycle events enjoy the highest profile across the country. The most prestigious event on the V8 racing calendar is the Bathurst 1000, staged in the rural New South Wales town of the same name every October. Racers complete circuits of the steep and spectacular Mount Panorama, averaging around 140 kilometres per hour in their customised V8 sedans. Traditionally, V8 racing has been an ongoing duel between Holden (General Motors) and Ford cars, with spectators often unshakably devoted to one team or the other. Multiple winners at the mountain have included racing legends Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Allan Moffat. Motorcycling, the more global motorsport, has yielded arguably Australia´s greatest sporting champion. In the 500cc class, Mick Doohan has won five consecutive World Championships, with injury preventing him from even more victories.
The history of European-based music in Australia begins with the British settlers, who were influential in initiating public concerts. Today, each major city has a symphony orchestra, affiliated with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Distinguished artists and conductors from many countries regularly tour Australia. Australia has made notable contributions to the world of music through sopranos Nellie Melba and Joan Sutherland, composer-pianist Percy Grainger, and composers Arthur Benjamin, John Henry Antill, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, and Peter Sculthorpe. Classical ballet was brought to Australia by famed native-born dancer and choreographer Sir Robert Helpmann, who was one of the founders of the Australian Ballet.
Australia has a variety of museums. The Australian Museum (1827) in Sydney features notable collections on natural history and anthropology; the National Maritime Museum (1991) is also in Sydney. Other major museums include the Nicholson Museum of Antiquities (1860) in Sydney; the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (1852) in Hobart; and Museum Victoria, incorporating the former National Museum of Victoria (1854) and Science Museum of Victoria (1870), both in Melbourne. Also of note is the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre (1984) in Melbourne, and the science museums Scienceworks in Melbourne, Powerhouse in Sydney and Questacon in Canberra.
"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the evening we will remember them." (From the Anzac Day Service)
In the early hours of April 25, at various Shrines of Remembrance, cenotaphs and war memorials everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, there is a gathering of the men and women who have gone to war and returned, and with their families and friends gather for a dawn service that heralds the start of another Anzac Day.
Anzac, or more properly ANZAC, stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and is a term that was coined for the troops that fought against the Turks in 1915 as part of the First World War. The term was used to describe troops for several campaigns during WWI, and again for troops in Vietnam. Although the term does not strictly apply to all Australian and New Zealand troops, within the two countries it has come to represent all soldiers and Anzac Day is a time to remember all troops who died in war.
Anzac Day derives from the day ANZAC troops landed at Gallipoli in 1915, unknowing of the hardships and blunders they would endure for the next eight months. Although the Gallipoli campaign is widely thought to have been a mistake, the actions of the troops at Gallipoli founded a spirit that continues to inspire Australians to this day.
Australia, island continent located southeast of Asia and forming, with the nearby island of Tasmania, the Commonwealth of Australia, a self-governing member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The continent is bounded on the north by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea, and the Torres Strait; on the east by the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea; on the south by the Bass Strait and the Indian Ocean; and on the west by the Indian Ocean. The commonwealth extends for about 4,000 km (about 2,500 mi) from east to west and for about 3,700 km (about 2,300 mi) from north to south. Its coastline measures some 25,760 km (about 16,010 mi). The area of the commonwealth is 7,682,300 sq km (2,966,200 sq mi), and the area of the continent alone is 7,614,500 sq km (2,939,974 sq mi), making Australia the smallest continent in the world, but the sixth largest country.
The trade union movement, with more than 3 million members, is strongly organized at local, state, and federal levels and is an economic and political power. About 53 percent of all Australian wage and salary workers belong to trade unions, which have a very positive image within the country. Due to a combination of union action and industrial law, workers receive unemployment and sickness benefits, compensation for job-incurred injuries, basic wages and marginal awards, and general social and health benefits. A basic or minimum wage was established by law in 1907.
Golf is as much a religion to many men in Australia as it is anywhere else. They disappear in a weekly pilgrimage to their local courses each weekend to show their reverence, reflect, pray and perhaps hurl the odd club into the water hazard or abuse the ball. Courses litter the Australian landscape like divots in the fairways, and the warm, sunny climate leaves few of them empty. The best-known Australian golfer is Greg Norman, winner of two British Opens and widely considered among the world´s best players. For a long while, he held the No. 1 world ranking. Australian Karrie Webb has perched herself atop the women´s world rankings.
Aussie Rules, Australia´s own brand of football, emerged in 1858, when a group of school-age cricket players in the southern state of Victoria were pursuing a way to keep fit during their off-season. Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar School played the first game of Australian Rules football — known usually as simply 'footy' — that year. The Victorian Football League (VFL), later renamed the Australian Football League (AFL), opened in 1896. For decades the VFL, the sport´s showcase competition, remained the exclusive domain of zealous fans in Victoria, with competitions in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania attracting only a regional following. However, in recent times, especially given the improving fortunes of the West Coast Eagles, the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans, AFL has become a truly national game. The sport´s nickname, "aerial ping-pong", stems from its nature as a game of kicking and catching, of tall muscular players making strong but graceful leaps to catch the ball. The high jumps for possession, called marks, are one of the AFL´s distinguishing features.
Camels have played an intriguing role in Australian history. They were introduced into the country in the late 1880s, and Australian explorers used them extensively inland as packhorses. With the advent of modern transportation, the camels had served their purpose and were released into the wild. Early this century, some of the wild beasts were rounded up and tamed for racing. The early contests were laid-back affairs, staged as part of picnic days in several Outback locations. Even after the first major camel-racing day at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory in 1971, the sport remained an oddity. Today, the stakes are higher, with some races offering prize money between $20,000 and $30,000. The biggest races take place in Boulia, Queensland, and Alice Springs. Money raised at the latter goes to charity.
Australia was once part of the enormous land mass Gondwanaland, which earlier formed part of the supercontinent Pangaea. Much of its geological history is remarkably ancient; the oldest known rock formations date from 3 billion to 4.3 billion years age. The great plateau of western Australia is underlain by a vast, stable shield of Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks, ranging in age from 570 million to 3 billion years old. These form the core of the ancestral continent, which, with Antarctica, had split off from Gondwanaland during the Jurassic Period, less than 200 million years ago, and had begun drifting eastward (see Plate Tectonics). Australia began to assume its modern configuration by the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago, when Antarctica broke away and drifted southward. The thick sedimentary rocks of the Great Dividing Range were deposited in a great north-south trending geosyncline during an interval that spanned most of the Paleozoic Era (570 million to 225 million years ago). Compressive forces buckled these rocks at least twice during the era, forming mountain ranges and chains of volcanoes.
Rugby league is a variation on rugby union first developed in England in 1895. The Australian team, the Kangaroos, first toured England during the 1908-09 season and gained its first win in a test match — the highest level of international competition — just three years later. Since then, Australia has won eight of the 11 rugby-league World Cups and has dominated the game for several decades.
Overseas viewers constantly express surprise at the level of violence in Australian rugby league. Players go head-to-head without the padding worn in American football, often prompting questions about their instinct for self-preservation. The game has a strong following in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, with another base of fans developing in Melbourne. Australia´s main international competitors are England and New Zealand. Current greats of the game include Andrew Ettingshausen, Laurie Daley, Anthony Mundine and just-retired Alfie Langer.
It's important not to get Rugby League and Rugby Union mixed up: fans can get extremely upset. Australia's Rugby Union team is the Wallabies. For more information on Australian Rugby Union, see the corresponding tip on this site.
Australia has a diversified economy. Although the country is one of the world´s leading exporters of agricultural products, manufacturing and mining are also extremely important economically. Gold rushes in the mid-1800s encouraged immigration and exploration of the Outback, and the silver-lead-zinc lode discovered at Broken Hill, New South Wales, in 1883 remains a major source of production. Most of Australia´s mineral production, however, dates from 1960 or later.
Most Australians enjoy or aspire to middle-class suburban lifestyles. This involves owning a house, having a modest-sized income, a family with two to three children, and a group of friends to socialise with regularly. Like any country, Australians have their own unique preferences when it comes to food, popular culture and fashion.
Australians once had a somewhat bland palate but the introduction of new cuisines by new Australians has led to the development of a thriving food culture. Many cuisines can be seen in the major cities, most particularly Melbourne and Sydney. The country also produces most kinds of food, wine, and other beverages in abundance.
Popular culture is dominated by an emphasis on leisure activities and outdoor recreation. Great pleasure is taken in traditional backyard barbecues, bush picnics, and a wide range of organized sports, including soccer, Australian Rules football, cricket, tennis, baseball, basketball, volleyball, netball (a game similar to basketball, played by women), athletics, cycling, boating, swimming, horseback riding, and horse racing. Fishing and gardening are popular activities.
Australians tend to be a bit more relaxed about fashion than Europeans. Fashion generally follows Western styles of dress. Australian fashion was once around 10 years behind its European counterparts, but today trends take around 12-18 months to cross hemispheres. Australians are also known for forging their own couture paths, and Australian dress is distinctive for the lightweight, colorful casual wear that reflects the absence of harsh winters.
Cricket, the ball-and-bat game played chiefly in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, holds an especially important place in Australian culture. The traditionally genteel game was taken to the bosom of the British colony and somehow changed into a game of violent passion.
The game itself is rather dry and it can be difficult for outsiders to understand the passion fans display. Cricket is played by two teams of eleven on a level, closely cut oval pitch measuring about 525 ft (160 m) by about 550 ft (170 m). (The shape of the pitch is the reason Australian Rules football is played on an oval - the football adaptation was invented to keep cricket players fit in winter.) Two 'wickets', formed by three stakes crossed by two 'bails', are placed 66 ft (20.12 m) apart near the middle of the field.At each wicket stands a batsman. When the ball is pitched, the batsman must prevent the ball hitting the wicket and at the same time hit the ball as far as possible to gain runs.
The ball used is a hard, red leather-covered ball. If the fielding team recovers the ball and uses it to knock down the bails of a wicket before the batsman reaches it, the batsman is out. A batsman is also retired if an opposing fielder catches a batted ball on the fly (as in baseball), or for any of several more technical reasons.
A test match can take anywhere up to five days per modern game. In the past, test matches could take months to play out, but the rules were changed when visiting teams kept missing boats home. More exciting are the one-day matches, as players take more risks to make runs.
International tourists often expect to find kangaroos hopping down suburban streets. In reality, the only place to encounter an urban kangaroo is the zoo.
Happily, most Australian cities have a wildlife park within easy reach. These parks are a cross between a zoo and the wild, and usually have a local wildlife focus. Often, a wildlife park will provide facilities to get up close with the animals, so you can have a close encounter with a koala, or feed wallabies and pat a blue-tongue lizard.
Australian ceramics are known world-wide for their ruggedness as well as their sophistication and all the shades in between. The gamut of Australian ceramics ranges from chunky raku to paper thin porcelain and so many other techniques and styles in between.
The styles in Australian ceramic art include natural looking colours and surfaces, new and daring glazes, and particularly playful treatments of the medium such as unglazed sculpture and treatments of Aussie icons. some famous Australian ceramic artists include Pamela Irving, whose cheeky ´Larry the Dog´sculpture graces Melbourne's City Square, Pilar Rojas, Andrea Hylands and Greg Daly.
The system of national defense employed by Australia dates from the integration of the separate colonial forces following the country´s federation in 1901. A small amount of compulsory military service (strictly within Australia) was introduced in 1911. The Royal Australian Navy received its first ships in 1913. Australians were on active service with the Royal Flying Corps in World War I (1914-1918); the Royal Australian Air Force was not established until 1921. Australians twice rejected compulsory military service during World War I, yet volunteered in huge numbers out of proportion to the small population. The first enemy attack on Australian territory was the aerial bombing of Darwin by the Japanese early in World War II (1939-1945). Australian forces have taken part with distinction in the Crimean War (1853-1856), the Sudan campaign (1897-1899), the Boer War (1899-1902), World Wars I and II, the Korean War (1950-1953), the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), the Vietnam War (1959-1975), and the Persian Gulf War (1991). Conscription was reintroduced for home defense during World War II, then in the postwar years until 1960, and again in 1965 to support the Vietnam effort. Public outrage over the Vietnam War caused conscription to be abolished once more in 1972. In 1998 the Australian armed forces totalled 55,200. The army numbered 25,200; the navy, 14,200; and the air force, 15,800. Although small, the armed forces are equipped with modern weapons. With the United States and New Zealand, Australia was a signatory of the ANZUS Treaty (1952) for mutual defense and support in case of attack. When New Zealand refused in the mid-1980s to allow ships capable of nuclear attacks to use its ports, the United States suspended defense obligations with the country. The Australia-United States alliance under ANZUS remains in full force, and Australia also maintains its own defense agreements with New Zealand.
Melbourne Cup: Australia's Richest Horse Racing Event
It is the stuff of which legends are made!
On the first Tuesday of November, at 3.20pm, all Australia comes to a standstill. It is the running of the Melbourne Cup, still Australia's premier horse race with prizemoney of A$3 million (about US$2.1 million depending on the rate of exchange at the time), and Melbourne Cup fever fills the day completely. Unless there are scratchings, 24 horses line up at the barrier at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne for the 3200-metre (3488-yard or 0.518-mile) race which has become a national passion.
Right from opening time, and starting from the previous day even, there is a constant stream of punters coming in a for a flutter on the Cup.
There's hardly anyone who doesn't place a bet on the Melbourne Cup, and the TAB pool runs into several millions of dollars.
Christmas cards are generally exchanged in Australia, always bearing in mind those who are not Christian. Australians, like those in the many countries that celebrate Christmas, use the time of year to send off cards with news of their families and keep in touch with distant acquaintances.
Those not from Australia might wonder whether we have cards with an Australian theme or whether they are all frost, ice and snow. The answer is that general Christmas themes prevail in Australian Christmas card design, including cold-weather themes. Holly, candles, doves etc comprose 23% of the general card output. Traditional Christmas ice scenes comprise 19% . Father Christmas is on 18% of cards. Snow & winter scenes comprise 13% and religious themes take up 10% . Australian scenes and images make up only 6% of Christmas cards. The remaining 11% is made up of 'other', cards which don't readily fit into a group.
Aboriginal people have inhabited Australia for more than 50,000 years. Before Australia was colonised, Aborigines lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers in 250 nations. There is no one 'Aboriginal culture,' but rather a large number of Aboriginal cultures across the vast continent.
At the time of settlement in 1788, the total Aboriginal population was about 300,000. More than 250 distinct languages existed at the beginning of the 19th century, with around 600 dialects. Bilingualism and multilingualism were common characteristics in several hundred Aboriginal groups. These groups—sometimes called tribes—were linguistically defined and territorially based.
Settlement of Australia was devastating to Aboriginal culture. As of June 2006, only 517,200 people identified as indigenous in the Australian Census. 'Indigenous' is the adjective that applies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Squash, like racquetball, is a game for staying fit by racing around an enclosed court trying to hit a ricocheting ball with a light racquet. Australians play it in large numbers on squash courts all around the country.
The game came from Britain to Australia around 1913, when the first courts were built in Melbourne. Since then, it has become a popular, if not major, sport sprinkled with players among the world's elite. World No. 1 Michelle Martin rates among the top players in history, and Australians commonly are ranked in the top 10 among both men and women
Rugby union is a popular winter sport in Australia, and has been played in that country since 1864. Australia supports both amateur and professional teams in the sport.
Internal competitions in rugby union include the Super 14, a multi-region competition. Australia also competes in rugby union internationally, and the national team the Wallabies have twice won the Rugby World Cup.
Australia is an outstanding producer of primary products. The country is self-sufficient in almost all foodstuffs and is a major exporter of wheat, meat, dairy products, and wool. Australia usually produces more than 25 percent of the world's yearly output of wool. The volume of manufacturing grew rapidly between the 1940s and 1970s, and mining became a leading sector in the economy during the 1960s. The value of exports from the mining and manufacturing sectors now exceeds that of the agricultural sector. In 1997 the estimated annual federal budget included $99.3 billion in revenues and $103.8 billion in expenditures. Gross domestic product, which measures the value of all goods and services produced, was $361.7 billion in 1998.
Australia's thriving surf culture is world-renowned. Both the men's and women's world champions, Mark Occhiluppo and Layne Beachley, are Australian. Every day, from dawn until dusk, thousands of Australians paddle out in search of the perfect wave that will carry them to fame and fortune.
While surfers generally are a laid-back lot, certain courtesies must be observed. The worst sin a surfer can commit is dropping in — catching a wave another surfer is riding. Young surfers, known as grommets, also must respect older riders who have surfed the same beach for years and don't take kindly to pushy teenagers
There are four major political parties in Australia: the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Liberal Party of Australia (Liberals), the National Party of Australia (National Party), and the Australian Democrats (Democrats). All are moderate social-democratic parties. Traditionally, the ALP is associated with trade unions, the Liberals are aligned with business interests, the National Party is more conservative, and the Democrats are more progressive, but these differences have become increasingly blurred. As with many western countries, the system is essentially a two-party system, and all major roles have been filled by the ALP and Liberals for many decades.
In several communities in Australia where there are many homes fronting onto quiet bays or canals, a custom has evolved of a large boat or ferry cruising slowly around the area, usually on Christmas Eve, either playing Christmas carols through its public address system or they have a live choir on board that sings the carols accompanied by musicians. The main boat is accompanied by a fleet of private power cruisers with their own lighting display and singers. As it is usually a calm night the reflections of many Christmas lighting decorations add to the atmosphere. The Royal Motor Yacht Club Port Hacking is one such organisation that holds this type of event.
A fine day for a parade
Just after midnight, a storm broke and winds gusting up to 50 miles an hour swept into Sydney. Forty points of rain drenched the harbour city.
But the New Year's Day morning broke clear and fine, and an eight-kilometre procession headed out to Centennial Park, just beyond Paddington, where the federation rites, uniting the erstwhile separate British colonies into one indissoluble federal Commonwealth, was to take place.
On January 1, 2001, in Sydney, the commemoration ceremonies began at Centennial Park at 1pm. At Hyde Park in the heart of the city, a free children's concert started at the same time.
At 3.40pm, planes flew over the city in three waves. At 3.55pm, bells all over the country began to ring.
Check the Centenary of Federation website for activity details and updates.
The writer A. G. Stephens had a reputation as a literary critic, and the Scottish-born educator and anthologist Walter Murdoch was known around the world as an essayist.
Contemporary literary opinion finds expression in the quarterlies Meanjin of Melbourne and Southerly of Sydney, and in the weekly journal of opinion The Bulletin. The latter has been a force in Australian literature for at least seven decades. Australian literature is now a recognized academic subject in educational institutions. The scholarly journal Australian Literary Studies is an adjunct to such courses. In addition, many popular periodicals carry reviews and articles on contemporary publications and literary developments.
Australia maintains contact with the rest of the world by such means as satellite, submarine telegraph cable, radio-telephone, and phototelegraph services. Since 1975 the Australian Telecommunications Commission has been responsible for telecommunications services within Australia; the Australian Postal Commission manages the postal services. In 1998 there were 512 telephone mainlines for every 1,000 people. Government and commercial radio and television systems operate concurrently. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is a statutory authority operating 108 medium-wave and 358 FM radio stations. Commercial stations number 149; unlike the national stations, these carry advertising. Television programs are transmitted within range of 99 percent of the population by the ABC's national television network and by some 45 commercial stations. Australia has about 530 newspapers, some 65 of which are dailies with a combined daily circulation of 5.4 million. The Australian is the national general newspaper; among the other large-circulation metropolitan dailies are the Sydney Morning Herald;The Age and Herald-Sun News Pictorial (both published in Melbourne); Courier-Mail (Brisbane); Advertiser (Adelaide); and West Australian (Perth).
The vast majority of the electricity produced annually in Australia is generated in thermal facilities, the majority of which burn bituminous coal or lignite. This is due to Australia's rich coal, nautral gas and petroleum reserves.
The country also has several hydroelectric plants, notably the major Snowy Mountains Scheme (primarily serving Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney) and a number of smaller facilities in Tasmania. Australian researchers are studying the prospects for solar and wind energy uses.
Those who take their beach-safety skills particularly seriously can enter Iron Man and Iron Woman events. Each summer, superbly fit lifesavers test their endurance in the water and on the sand. Besides facing grueling running and swimming legs, they paddle on surfboards and surf skis, the main tools of lifesaving. A surf ski, a narrow fibreglass craft propelled with a paddle, resembles a shallow kayak. From October to February each year, men and women contest a series of seven events, accumulating points. The events are held on Australia´s best beaches, or occasionally in New Zealand or the United States.
Most of the rich farmland and good ports of Australia are in the east and particularly the southeast, except for the area around Perth in Western Australia. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide are the leading industrial and commercial cities. There has been considerable industrial development in the last two decades of the 20th cent., and the standard of living has remained generally high.
Australia is highly industrialized, and manufactured goods account for most of the gross domestic product. Its chief industries include mining (much of which is accomplished with the aid of Japanese capital), food processing, and the manufacture of industrial and transportation equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, machinery, and motor vehicles. Australia has valuable mineral resources, including coal, iron, bauxite, copper, tin, lead, zinc, and uranium. Some lumbering is done in the east and southeast. The country is self-sufficient in food, and the raising of sheep and cattle and the production of grain have long been staple occupations. Tropical and subtropical produce—citrus fruits, sugarcane, and tropical fruits—are also important, and there are numerous vineyards and dairy and tobacco farms. Australia maintains a favorable balance of trade. Its chief export commodities are metals, minerals, coal, wool (of which it is the world´s largest exporter), beef, mutton, cereals, and manufactured products. The leading imports are manufactured raw materials, capital equipment, and consumer goods. Australia´s economic ties with Asia and the Pacific Rim have become increasingly important.
Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer, therefore the usual Christmas meal is often salads and cold meats, and seafood is very popular. Turkey is a traditional meal, although most families opt to have a simple barbeque with salads due to the heat. Plum pudding, pavlova, fruit salad and cheesecakes are favourite desserts. The Christmas meal is usually taken in the middle of the day, which is the hottest part of the day, with leftovers consumed for the evening meal.
Under Australian tariff policy, protection is afforded essential Australian industries, and preferential treatment is granted to imports from certain Commonwealth countries. Customs duty is levied also for revenue purposes. Some modification of the preferential-treatment policy has been made by Australia, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the mid-1990s, the value of goods imported exceeded the value of exports.
The leading purchasers of Australia's exports are Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia. In addition, new markets are being developed in Asia for Australian wheat and other surplus commodities. Major suppliers of imports are the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, China, and New Zealand. Principal exports included metal ores, coal, gold, nonferrous metals, meat and meat products, textile fibers (mainly wool), petroleum and petroleum products, and cereals. Leading imports were road vehicles and other transportation equipment, machinery, office equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, and textiles. In 1998 imports were valued at $64.7 billion, exports at $55.9 billion. Australia is also an important exporter of agricultural and medical research services, especially to the wider Asian region.
Australia has a variety of museums. The Australian Museum (1827) in Sydney features notable collections on natural history and anthropology; the National Maritime Museum (1991) is also in Sydney. The National Gallery of Victoria (1859) in Melbourne houses excellent exhibits of European and Australian paintings, as do the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1874) in Sydney; the Queensland Art Gallery (1895) in Brisbane; the Art Gallery of South Australia (1881) in Adelaide; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia (1895) in Perth. Also of note are the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (1880) of the Powerhouse Museum and the Nicholson Museum of Antiquities (1860) in Sydney; the Queensland Herbarium (1874); the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (1852) in Hobart; and the Museum of Victoria, incorporating the former National Museum of Victoria (1854) and Science Museum of Victoria (1870), both in Melbourne. Melbourne's renowned Royal Botanic Gardens houses the National Herbarium, a research center with specimens and original documents dating back to the mid-19th century. The Australian National Gallery opened in Canberra in 1982, and the federal capital also will be the site of an ambitious new national museum that is scheduled for completion in 2001.
The National Library of Australia (1960), in Canberra, serves as the library of the nation, the library of the federal parliament, and the national copyright-depository library. In the early 1990s its holdings exceeded 4.7 million volumes. It has extensive collections of both Australiana and general research materials and provides bibliographical and reference services to the federal government departments. The State Library of New South Wales (1826) is the oldest and largest of the state public libraries and contains a noted collection of Australiana. The State Library of Victoria (1854) includes collections on painting, music, and the performing arts. All states maintain public libraries that are, in effect, state reference libraries. Rural areas are well served, except for the most remote locations. However, recent economic conditions have caused cutbacks in spending that reduced many rural services. Each state parliament is served by a library, and important research collections are maintained at the various university libraries. The major scientific libraries are those of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Central Library of which is in Melbourne. Important special libraries are maintained by industrial concerns and by national and state government departments
Australia Day is celebrated every 26 January, but the national holiday is also known as Invasion Day as it marks the day white settlers landed in Sydney. There has been some argument for the national holiday to be moved to a less controversial day.
Like many colonised countries, Australia is a nation that is torn between moving into the future and making amends for the past. It is believed that the first Aborigines started arriving in Australia in 50,000 BC, and the arrival of the British more than 51,000 years later nearly destroyed Aboriginal culture entirely. Indigenous communities throughout Australia still suffer the effects of colonisation and ill-considered early government initiatives.
A move in the right direction was recently made by the Australian government when, on 13 Feburary 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an official apology to Australia's indigenous people. The apology particularly noted the Stolen Generation and the gap in life expectancy and education between indigenous and non-indigenous cultures.
Centenary of Federation
Peals of Bells Ring in
OR five full minutes, and synchronised throughout the land, church bells in all of Australia's cities and major communities pealed on New Year's Day 2001 to mark the start of the country's centenary of federation.
The centenary celebrations continue throughout the year, focusing on Sydney on the first day. It was in Sydney after all, in the city's Centennial Park, that the federation of Australia's six states was formally forged on January 1, 1901.
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve a hundred years ago, as the clock ticked into the 20th century, whistles, gongs, church bells, rattles, pots, pans, accordions and all manner of noise-makers joined the sirens of boats on Sydney Harbour.
It was to be a special day.
The beachside weekender is an Australian tradition. On a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, workers retreat in droves to their own slices of paradise. Families return year in, year out, often seeing their best-kept secrets evolve into booming tourist attractions, such as Byron Bay and Kiama on the east coast.
The ulimate beach retreat, though, is known as Schoolies Week. Every year, impending high-school graduates make pilgrimages to meccas such as the Gold Coast - a strip of 26 patrolled beaches between Sydney and Brisbane - to recover from final exams. A week of beach parties, nightclubs and summer romance ensues
When Australians grow older, they turn to lawn bowls. Or so it seems if you wander long enough down any street in Australia, watching the white-clothed men and women up to age 80 or so head to the local green. The fact is a growing number of young adults play the game, too.
Lawn bowls, like tenpin bowling, begins with rolling a ball along the ground. The comparison stops there, though, because lawn bowls is a far more tactical game where players try to position balls as close as possible to a smaller ball, called the jack. The game requires patience, skill and touch.
Lawn bowls first came to Australia in 1864, when the country's first club formed in Melbourne. Today, more than 2200 bowls clubs are scattered around the country, with more than 500,000 registered players
After World War II ended in 1945, the introduction of new industries and the development of existing ones caused substantial expansion of manufacturing activity in Australia. In 1998 manufacturing contributed 14 percent of the country's yearly gross domestic product. Principal branches of the manufacturing sector by value of production are metals and metal products, food products, transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals and chemical products, textiles and clothing, wood and paper products, and printed materials.
Manufacturing facilities are concentrated in New South Wales (especially in Sydney and Newcastle) and Victoria (primarily in the Melbourne metropolitan area). New South Wales is noted for the production of iron and steel, jet aircraft, construction equipment, synthetic fibers, electronic equipment, power cables, and petroleum and petrochemical products. In Melbourne, industrial activity includes the manufacture and assembly of machinery and motor vehicles and the production of food and clothing. Geelong, located near Melbourne, is known for its wool mills and motor works. South Australia, traditionally a pastoral and agricultural state, after 1950 developed several important manufacturing centers, including Adelaide and Whyalla. Brisbane and Townsville, in Queensland, have significant numbers of factories. Tasmanian industry, assisted by inexpensive hydroelectric power, includes electrolytic zinc mills, paper mills, and a large confectionery factory. Hobart and Launceston are the primary manufacturing centers in Tasmania.
Libraries and Museums
The development of library services after World War II was facilitated by state subsidies to local authorities. The establishment of library schools by the National Library of Australia, the Library of New South Wales, and the State Library of Victoria has raised the level of professional training of librarians. The Library Association of Australia conducts a comprehensive examination and certification system for professional librarians.
Long before the arrival of Europeans, the Australian Aborigines executed elaborate paintings on rock and bark. The value of early paintings by European immigrants lies primarily in their importance as a record of the settlement of the country. Not until the 1880s did the first generation of white Australian artists, unhampered by the restrictions of European discipline, capture the unique Australian scenery, its light, and atmospheric color. This group of painters was known as the Heidelberg School; it included Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, and Sir Arthur Streeton. From the early 1940s the work of Australian artists reflected a gradual transition from the generally accepted traditional school to the modern style. Australian painters of the 20th century included Sir William Dobell, known for his portraits; George Russell Drysdale, noted for depictions of the isolated inhabitants of the interior of the country; and Frederick Ronald Williams, whose landscapes and seascapes were notable for their quality of light. The work of Sidney Nolan, based on themes derived from Australian history and folklore, has achieved world renown, as has that of Arthur Boyd. Modern Aboriginal artists, drawing on traditional styles and themes, found receptive audiences in Europe and North America in the late 20th century.
Australia has an old and proud culture of 'bush poetry', which stemmed from writers during early settlement. Among the earliest poetry published in Australia was First Fruits of Australian Poetry (1819) by Barron Field, an Englishman serving in the Australian judiciary. Other famous Australian poets include Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Dorothea Mackellar, who penned the famous poem 'My Country' ('I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains...').
Early attempts at producing literary works in Australia were rather gentrified, written in the English style for an English audience. A good example is W. C. Wentworth's 'Australasia, an Ode' (1823), which is sadlyimitative. During the next few decades Australian writers began to work within their environment, increasingly finding inspiration in their homeland, with the interpretive nature poetry of Charles Harpur (1813–68) and Henry Kendall (1839–82) and with the novels of Henry Kingsley (brother of Charles Kingsley), who wrote about pioneer life.
The bush ballad, begun by Adam Lindsay Gordon, flowered in the work of Henry Lawson (1867–1922) and A. B. (“Banjo”) Paterson (1864–1941), whose 'Man from Snowy River and Other Verses' (1895) includes the famous song “Waltzing Matilda.” Convict life was depicted in Henry Savery´s Quintus Servinton (1830), but it was not until almost a century after the first prisoners arrived that they received their due, in Marcus Clarke´s classic account of life in a penal colony, 'For the Term of His Natural Life' (1874). Less powerful, but true to life in the bush, were the novels of Rolfe Boldrewood (pseud. of Thomas A. Browne) and James Tucker, whose 'Ralph Rashleigh '(1844) was the first book to focus on Australia´s unique combination of prison life, aborigines, and bushrangers.
Other important 19th-century novelists were Miles Franklin (1879–1954), whose 'My Brilliant Career' (1901) is often designated the first authentically Australian novel, and diarist-novelist Tom Collins (pseud. of Joseph Furphy, 1843–1912). Poets of note include Hugh McCrae (1876–1958) and Dame Mary Gilmore (1865–1962).
Although the theater has flourished in Australia since the earliest days and Australian actors have made brilliant careers at home, in New York City, and on the London stage, dramatists comparable in outlook and skill to the poets and fiction writers have been scarce. Louis Esson is usually cited as the Australian writer who most consistently devoted himself to drama, but many others before and since have also helped to build a theatrical tradition. In 1954Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Ray Lawler, a drama of workers on a sugarcane plantation, with authentic vernacular dialogue, scored a resounding success and was produced in New York City on Broadway (1956) and off-Broadway (1968), and as a film, Season of Passion (1961). Since World War II, important plays by native authors have been produced successfully on the Australian stage; the growing interest in drama paralleled the significant resurgence of Australian filmmaking that began in the late 1970s.
In June 1969, in a bar in New York called the Stonewall, gay men, lesbians and transsexuals barricaded police as a protest against police raids on gay and lesbian bars. This event, resulting in what is now remembered as the Stonewall Riots, is commemorated as International Gay Solidarity Day.
In 1978, in Sydney, more than 1000 marchers were marking International Gay Solidarity Day along Oxford St, southeast of the city centre, when police revoked the march permit and 53 of the marchers were arrested in the riot that ensured. Another 100 people were arrested in later protests.
All charges were later dropped and another march was held the following year, 1979, when the name Mardi Gras was adopted......
Read this entire article 'Gay and Lesbian MadiGras History' in the Articles section of this site
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How to Drive in Australia
Here are basic points to remember when seeking to drive a motorcar in Australia.
Be sure you have a valid driver's licence.
Keep to the left-hand side of the road.
If there's more than one lane in the direction you're going, the leftmost lane is for slower vehicles.
If you need to overtake the vehicle ahead of you, overtake on the right.
Do not cross double centre lines.
Give way to police cars, ambulances and fire trucks whose sirens or flashing lights are activated.
Drive slowly and carefully past stopped school buses.
Follow the speed limits at all times.
At a roundabout, enter the roundabout after ascertaining it is safe to do so. Traffic in a roundabout goes clockwise.
In a multi-lane roundabout, keep right if you intend to turn right..
Activate your left-turn signal when getting ready to exit a roundabout.
When stopped at traffic lights, do not turn left on red unless posted signs allow it.
If you've been drinking don't drive unless you're sure your alcohol reading is no more than .05.
You and your passengers must have seatbelts fastened.
Practise driving on roads with light traffic.
It is easier to drive on highways and freeways where there are no turns to worry about for long stretches at a time.
Have a basic knowledge of local traffic regulations.
One of the finest craftsmen of Australian fiction was Frank Dalby Davison, known primarily for his animal stories. The most distinctive of these, Man-Shy, was published in the United States as Red Heifer (1934). It is a subtly conceived story of a maverick on a Queensland cattle station. He is quite as discerning in his stories of human character, as, for example, in his study of pre-World War II suburban life in Sydney, the novel The White Thorn Tree (1968). Eleanor Dark wrote excellent historical novels, especially The Timeless Land (1941), which is about the founding of Australia; she also wrote novels of contemporary life. Both types of her fiction are distinguished by psychological perception and brilliant descriptions of the landscape........
Read this entire article Fiction 20th Centuary
As the world became increasingly industrialised and the focus of the nation moved to its cities, Australia's writers moved away from pastoral tales. The present century eventually produced greater sophistication and diversity among writers. Probably the most important Australian writer of the early 20th cent. was Henry Handel Richardson (pseud. of Ethel Richardson Robertson), whose autobiographical trilogy, 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney' (1930), presents a compelling portrait of Australian life. Richardson´s reputation was matched at mid-century by Patrick White whose strong, somber novels, Australian in setting yet universal in theme, reveal the author´s ambivalence toward his native land; White received the Nobel Prize in 1973.
Other notable 20th-century novelists are Brian Penton, Leonard Mann, Christina Stead (only one of whose novels is actually set in Australia), Arthur William Upfield (1888–1964), John O´Grady, Morris West, C. J. Koch, Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally, and the aborigine Colin Johnson. After emigrating to Australia in 1950, the English novelist Nevil Shute subsequently produced novels with Australian settings and themes.
boomerang , special form of throwing stick, used mainly by the aborigines of Australia. Other forms of throwing sticks were used by the peoples of ancient Egypt, Ethiopia, and India and by the indigenous peoples of the SW United States. The boomerang is sickle-shaped with arms slightly curved in opposite directions as in a propeller. The trajectory of a boomerang is usually an arc, but in some cases it is a full circle. The boomerang of the Australian aborigines (from whom the name is derived) is made in two types. The smaller boomerang, 12 to 30 in. (30 to 75 cm) long, is used only for sport and is thrown so that it returns to the thrower. The larger war boomerang is 24 to 36 in. (60 to 90 cm) long and does not return; it is used for hunting and warfare.
One winter evening in 1977 a tradition was established in the Blue Mountains, which are only two hours drive from the centre of Sydney, when a group of Irish visitors, experienced a fall of snow. It reminded them of Christmas back home so they asked the management if they could arrange for them to have a traditional Northern hemisphere winter-style festive dinner.
The next night they were served their hot Christmas dinner, complete with all the trimmings, and were so delighted that the group returned again the following year.
In 1980 the Blue Mountains commenced a winter attraction titled A Yulefest Celebration which runs for the months of June, July and August, the coldest months of the year.
Tourists staying overnight enjoy the delicious Yulefest dinners, roaring log fires and might be lucky enough to experience the occasional winter snowfall or a visit from Santa.
This winter entertainment has spread to many parts of Australia as "Christmas in July" where a Christmas style function is held. It takes the form of a lunch or dinner, with all the traditional northern hemisphere Christmas foods, including colourful streamers, party hats and whistles.
THE Melbourne Cup is the jewel in the crown of Australian horse racing.
With its prizemoney of A$3 million, the country's best stayers, as well as racehorses from overseas, are primed for this annual event.
This is a handicap race with weights set according to an individual horse's record. There are strict requirements for getting into the race to ensure that only the best stayers with proven records get into the Cup.
Cup winners are pretty much part of Australia's horse racing legend, and Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in the Victorian capital.
Throughout Australia, offices, clubs and other organisations hold sweeps (where ticketholders are allocated Cup horses at random for the chance of winning the sweeps prize for each of the first three placegetters) and so almost everyone has a stake in the race.
Those who bet at the TAB or with bookies at racecourses throughout the country may have a stronger financial interest in the outcome of the Cup but mostly the average Aussie bets small and hopes for a long-priced win.
The Akubra hat has come to symbolise the Australian bush. Made of felt from the underfur of rabbits, the wide-brimmed hat is the head-cover of choice for many Australians, especially in rural areas. Akubra is the name of the major company that produces the hats but has come to mean any hat of that style. The style of hat was first produced in the early 1870s, the hat gained its current name in 1912. 'Akubra' is believed to be derived from an aboriginal word for 'head covering'. Not to be confused with the Australian Army 'slouch hat', which is made by the same company, the Akubra is worn most commonly by farmers because it is hardy enough to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Overseas visitors almost invariably dislike Vegemite. Though most Australians now consider it the ideal spread for toast, sandwiches or savoury biscuits, they were similarly repelled when the dark, salty yeast extract first appeared at groceries in 1923.
Back then, Vegemite sold so poorly the manufacturers changed its name to Parwill, hoping to replicate the success of similar English spreads. The ploy failed, but, once again called Vegemite, the paste slowly gained popularity.
Then, during World War II, Vegemite was included in Australian soldiers' rations to remind them of home. It became a famous morale booster, assuring its place as Australia's favourite snack.
The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states—New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia—and two territories—the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The external dependencies of Australia are the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island, the Territory of Cocos Islands (also called the Keeling Islands), the Coral Sea Islands Territory, the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Norfolk Island.
Beginning in the 1970s there was a resurgence of the motion picture industry, and films produced in Australia, dealing with Australian themes, such as 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' (1975) by Australian director Peter Weir, attracted audiences throughout the world. Romanticized accounts of life in the Australian bush proved successful at home and overseas, as films such as 'The Man From Snowy River' (1982) and 'Crocodile Dundee' (1986) enjoyed great success. More recently, 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', 'The Dish', 'The Castle' and 'Rabbit-Proof Fence', the opening of Fox Studios in Sydney, and the high profile of Australian actors at the moment continues to place the Australian film industry in high regard internationally.
Australian poetry has become an incricate part of Australian culture. Bush poetry was one of the first ways Australians began to express themselves as a new country.
Famous Australian poets include:
*Banjo Paterson (1864-1941) - 'Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?' (Waltzing Matilda)
*Henry Lawson (1867-1922) - 'Oh, my ways are strange ways and new ways and old ways/ And deep ways and steep ways and high ways and low/ I'm at home and at ease on a track that I know not/ And restless and lost on a road that I know.' (The Wander-Light)
*Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) - 'I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plain' (My Country)
*Judith Wright (1915-2000) - 'I saw the eel wither where he curled/In the last blood-drop of a spent world.' (Drought Year)
There are many marvelous bush poets still writing in Australia, inspired by the treacherous and beautiful landscape of their country.
Under the Australian constitution, industrial controls on labour are divided between the Commonwealth and the states. Federal power is confined to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one state. Compulsory arbitration has been established at a federal and state level. Arbitration and conciliation courts or boards have the power to make awards binding on employer and employee.
Workers are entitled to compensation for job-related injuries by law, and minimum wage laws have been in place in the country since 1907.
In Australia, people say a courageous person has "a heart as big as Phar Lap". The legendary racehorse was powered by a 6.3-kilogram (13.8-pound) heart, which remains enshrined at Australia's National Museum today.
During the Great Depression, 37 wins in 51 starts made Phar Lap the sworn enemy of bookmakers. Someone, suspected to be a bookmaker, tried to shoot him in 1930. Three days later, the horse won the Melbourne Cup, Australia's most prestigious race.
In Australia, the definitive item of clothing is a sturdy oilskin coat called a Driza-bone. The flowing jacket, teamed with a pair of leather R.M. Williams boots, is considered de rigueur attire in the Outback.
The heavy-duty coat actually stems from life on the sea. Before it was invented in the late 19th century, sailors would smear their bodies, clothes and hair with a mixture of oil and grease to ward off cold winds and rain. A Scottish sailor named Edward Le Roy fashioned a coat out of old sails covered in oil, and it evolved into the Driza-bone.
People of European descent make up around 95% of Australia´s citizens. The majority have a British or Irish heritage, but about 18% of the total population have other European origins. People from Asia and the Middle East account for around 4% of the population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up just 1% of the population. Australia welcomes a number of refugees from war-torn and troubled countries, and the diversity of immigrants to Australia makes for a rich, multicultural society.