12 Fun Facts About Australia

Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Australia. Well, unless you’re Australian.

  1. There are about a million feral camels in central parts of Australia.
  2. Because Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t stop bickering over which city should be the capital of Australia, neither of them received the title. Instead, a new capital was built between them. Canberra is the capital of Australia.
  3. Voting in Australia is compulsory.
  4. Australian schools have a no hat/no play policy. Schoolchildren must wear a hat to protect them from the fierce sun or they have to sit in the shade during recess.
  5. The koala is a marsupial, not a bear. Stop saying “koala bears”.
  6. Australia is just slightly smaller than the U.S., but has only about 23 million people. The U.S. has 313 million.
  7. Australians call the English poms or pommies, from the initials POME on convicts’ uniforms, which stood for “Prisoner of Mother England.”
  8. 90% of Australians live along the coast.
  9. In 1894, Australia was the second country in the world to grant women the right to vote. New Zealand was the first.
  10. Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Chris Hemsworth, Guy Pearce, Toni Collette, Simon Baker, Anthony LaPaglia, Eric Bana, Portia de Rossi, Ryan Kwanten, Olivia Newton-John, Kylie Minogue, and Elle Macpherson are Australian.
  11. Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside of Greece.
  12. Cotton candy is called fairy floss in Australia and all candies are referred to as lollies.

Do you know of any fun or little known facts about Australia?


12 responses

  • That’s a lot of camels LOL I love that they call cotton candy Fairy floss. That made me giggle :) oh and I did know that Portia de Rossi was Australian! Are you going to see Les Mis in Dec?? Speaking of actors from down under :) the black and white version from the 1930s is my very fave second ONLY to stage. I’m looking forward to Dec though … needless to say!

  • I love that they call it fairy floss too!

    I’ve read Les Mis, seen several movie adaptions, and haven’t liked any of them. But I love the musical! I think it captures the heart of the novel best even though it leaves so much out. I’m really looking forward to the new movie with Hugh Jackman.

  • Having lived there long, long, long ago, I did know most of these. I knew most of people on #10. I did not know that about cotton candy. My grand daughter would like that because she is into all things fairy…

    • Visitors will know much of these as well. For Americans that have never traveled to Oz, the ones I find most persistent are the references to koalas as bears and that Sydney is the capital, which is understandable given its Australia’s most famous city. Thanks for your comments, Ivan!

      • And they will always mispronounce Canberra… Did you get to go to Canberra while there? Great city great layout… but I’m sure it is a lot bigger and crowded now. The fact that it was planned and the layout makes it unique and I believe very beautiful…

    • Really? Which one? I bet the POME one. For the longest I knew Aussies called the English poms or pommies, but I had no idea where that came from.

  • The POME/POHM thing is a myth. Pom/pommie is most often thought to derive from “pomegranate”, an old Aussie slang word for “immigrant” (“pomegranate” traditionally being pronounced as “POM-ee-grant”).
    An alternative explanation comes from an earlier Aussie slang word for immigrant: “Jimmy Grant”. Aussies changed this from Jimmy Grant to pomegranate for the English, owing to the delightful red colour their skin turned in the harsh Australian sun.

    The first recorded usage of “pom” for the English was in 1912, so way after Australia was used as a continental prison. And in any case their is no evidence that English prisoners ever had POME or POHM printed on their uniforms; if there was anything printed on them, it is likely to have been an arrow, which was used on prison uniforms in Britain until 1922 (to denote that the uniform was property of the crown).


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