Fun Facts about Australia


It’s time for another installment of Fun Facts about Australia so that when YOU come to the gala (don’t forget – Saturday October 18 at the Westin) you’ll be “in the know” about our featured country. As you read, you can also learn some Aussie phrases, which are capitalized, with American English translations in parentheses.

“How did Australia get its name, anyway?” Glad you asked.  The name “Australia” comes from the Latin term Terra Australis meaning “land of the south”. Often  known as Terra Australis Incognita, i.e. “the unknown land of the South”, it was the name given long ago to the unknown continent believed to exist south of the equator.

Do people have kangaroos and koalas in their backyards?”  As a general rule, no. If you live in a city or town it’s not likely you’ll see koalas or kangaroos, but if you live in the BUSH (country) or perhaps on a farm you are much more likely to have wild kangaroos or wallabies (close relatives of kangaroos) around. Kangaroos are common in the OUTBACK (very rural areas).  Koalas are shy and live entirely on eucalyptus leaves, so rarely have any reason to come out of their trees. It’s hard to see them in the wild.

Can you recommend some good Australian movies?”  There are many.

If you want to get an idea of the vastness of the Australian bush and outback amid interesting stories, you can watch any of the following movies (in no particular order):

Mad Max (1979)  starring a young Mel Gibson (who is Australian, by the way).

Crocodile Dundee(1986) of course is the movie many Americans associate with the “real” Australia.  What’s the most “real” about this movie is the landscape and the “OVER THE TOP” (exaggerated) silly story.

Rabbit Proof Fence(2002) details the true story of two Aborigianal girls sent to learn “white people’s ways,” trying to get back to their homeland.

Walkabout” (1971) is a drama set in the Australian desert.

“The Man From Snowy River” (1982) is based on a famous Australian poem by the same name.

“The Adventures of Priscillia Queen of the Desert” (1994) is an over-the-top musical story of three drag queens who tour the Australian bush.

 “The Dish” (2000) is based on the true story of the satellite dish positioned in Australia to capture footage of the first-ever moonwalk in 1969.

The following movies are included as a “best of” in Australian film:

“Dead Calm” (1989) based on the book and starring a young Nicole Kidman

Strictly Ballroom” (1992) a drama/spoof of ballroom dance competitions

“The Castle” (1999) a comedy/drama about a family forced to move to make room for an airport extention.

“Muriel’s Wedding” (1994) a comedy/drama about a lonely girl who wants to get married.

“Romper Stomper” (1992) a crime drama follows the exploits of a neo-Nazi group.  Features a young Russell Crowe.

“Chopper” (2000) based on the autobiography of a criminal.

“Gallipoli” (1981) war film based on the real-life Gallipoli Campaign of WWI

“Ned Kelly” (2003) Stars Health Ledger.  About the real-life BUSHRANGER (outlaw) Ned Kelly who lived in the 1800s.


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