Interestingly Weird Facts About Australia

I’m currently in Australia. The land down under is a place of extremes, with lush tropical jungles on one coast and barren desert on another. There are deadly spiders and snakes but also cute koalas and kangaroos. You’ll find some of the most beautiful coral in the world here but also deadly jellyfish and sharks. It’s an interesting country. Just how interesting? Well, here are some fun facts I dug up on Australia before I went:

One third of Australia is desert.

Australia has the lowest precipitation of the world’s inhabited continents.

There are 1,500 species of Australian spiders.

Australia has over 6,000 species of flies, about 4,000 species of ants, and about 350 species of termites.

Australia has the world’s largest population of wild single-hump camels.

There are more than 100 million sheep in Australia.

Australia only has 20 million people.

Australia has the world’s largest cattle ranch. At 30,028 square kilometers, it’s almost the size of Belgium.

90% of Australians live on a coast.

Australians from Queensland are called “banana benders.”

People from Western Australia are called “sand gropers.”

People from New South Wales are called “cockroaches.”

The Australian Alps, or Snowy Mountains as they’re also known, receive more snow than Switzerland.

Melbourne has the second-largest Greek population in the world.

The roof of the Sydney Opera House weighs more than 161,000 tons.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic construction on earth.

Yulara, the Aboriginal name of the Ayers Rock Resort, means “weeping.” (Which, given their history with whites, is not surprising.)

“Kangaroo” means “I don’t understand what you’re saying” in one Aboriginal language.

Eric Bana is Australian.

So is the guy that plays Jason Stackhouse in True Blood.

Australia has the lowest population density in the world—two people per square kilometer.

Australia’s coastline stretches almost 50,000 kilometers and has over 10,000 beaches.

Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent.

Australia produces 95% of the world’s precious opals and 99% of its black opals.

With 25.4 million heads of cattle, Australia is the world’s largest exporter of beef.

There are an estimated 40 million kangaroos in Australia.

Kangaroo is delicious, just don’t overcook it!

Scientists think that Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for more than 50,000 years.

No one is really sure how Aboriginal people came to Australia, but it was most likely via boats from Indonesia.

Aboriginal and Western concepts of time are very different. For Aboriginal people, “now” has just always been.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. The only continent drier is Antarctica.

Australia was founded by English convicts.

Aboriginal people now only make up 1.5% of the population.

There are no Tasmanian full-blooded Aboriginal people left.

It used to be legal to hunt and kill Aboriginal people.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city, with over four million people, while the capital city of Canberra only has around 300,000.

Melbourne has the largest remaining tram public transport system in the world.

Australia is three times larger than the largest island (Greenland) in the world.

The first meeting of the Australian Labor Party was held under a gum tree in Queensland.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) is over eight kilometers in circumference.

Australians call the English “pommies” from the initials POME on convicts’ uniforms, which stood for “Prisoner of Mother England.”

The name “Kylie” comes from the Aboriginal word for boomerang.

In 1967, Prime Minister Harold Holt just disappeared. No one really knows what happened to him, but most people think he drowned while swimming.

The first Australian-born governor general was Jewish.

So was the commander of Australian troops in World War One.

Out of the top 25 deadliest snakes in the world, 20 are found in Australia.

The deadliest jellyfish in the world is found off the Australian coast.

The Sydney funnel-web spider is considered to be the world’s most deadly spider. It can kill you in less than two hours. The only animals without immunity to the funnel-web’s venom are humans and monkeys.

Vegemite is made from yeast extract and is common around Australia. It’s also one of the grossest things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

For more information about Australia, including more facts, figures, things to do, and places to see, read these other articles on my site:

10 Reasons to Visit Australia
Things to See and Do in Australia
How to Travel Oz Cheaply
The Cost of Traveling Oz

  1. Dan

    Australians call Americans seppos: because Americans are Yanks, yanks rhymes with tanks, septic tank is a kind of tank, and Americans are full of s–t

  2. Fabulous list of interesting tidbits, Matt. :-) I’m heading to Australia in January and can’t wait!! I’m a little scared of the snakes, OK, REALLY scared of the snakes, but I’m told my friends dogs will keep them at bay. Here’s hoping!! :-)

    • Jacinta

      I live in australia and the snakes arent that bad, trust me. Ive only ever seen three in the wild before. But that was Only in the dairy( milking cows). But if your staying in the middle of the desert it may be worse, but dont stress yourself. Btw: i live in the very bottom of victoria and thats the biggest dairy farming capital in the world!!

    • Lianna Tuff

      actually, most of the convicts were arrested for petty crimes such as stealing food to feed their families or clothes to stay warm, not murdering people or anything like that. and by the way I love this website :) all the facts are correct to my knowledge and there some things i didn’t even know about my own country :) thanks

  3. Daniel

    Just don’t understand Vegemite — spreadable yeast extract? No! But the Aussies redeem themselves with TimTams. So no hard feelings.

  4. Your fact about the word Kangaroo is incorrect. It’s a long running myth that it means ‘I don’t know’. The word “Kangaroo” means “Horse” in the Begangi language. The word originates from the Guugu Yimithirr language for the animal we know today as the kangaroo. Maybe not as good a story as the one behind the myth I admit.

      • Danny

        Because there was so many languages all over australia back then, most people aren’t sure where kangaroo originally came from (and what it origionally ment) but i believe it does mean ‘i don’t understand’ or something.

    • harvey – The word kangaroo derives from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru, referring to grey kangaroos.[7][8] The name was first recorded as “Kangooroo or Kanguru” on 4 August 1770, by Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook on the banks of the Endeavour River at the site of modern Cooktown, when HM Bark Endeavour was beached for almost seven weeks to repair damage sustained on the Great Barrier Reef.[9] Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the people of the area. – horses in Australia prior to white arrival, that’d be news to just about everyone.

    • NomadicMatt

      I hit a mix of both. I only came back here because I was offered a trip from Tourism Australia but I’m visiting places I haven’t been before.

  5. Danny

    Every source that I found considers, at minimum, New Zealand and Papau New Guinea to be part of the Australian Continent. So, the continent does not have one government. I’m not sure if this affects it’s status as the driest continent, not to mention that you listed this fact twice.

    Mongolia has a population density of 1.75 persons per square kilometer.

    Come on Matt, you’re a backpacker. You know now to trust everything you hear :)

    Corrections aside, it is a fun article. Thanks for compiling and sharing it!

    • NomadicMatt

      New Zealand and Papau New Guinea are not considered part of the Australian continent but they are considered part of Australasia, which is a geographic region. New Zealand isn’t even on the Australian continental shelf.

      • Sarah

        …There is a massive difference.
        Australasia is a region.
        Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are three completely separate countries with three different governments.
        The only similarity is that Australia and New Zealand are both a part of the British Commonwealth. However, each country has their own Prime Minister and Governor General.

  6. Great bunch of info about my homeland Matt. I definitely echo the comments about the convict reminder. I cop it so much here in England, haha. Some common ones are “when was the last time you visited Convict Island?” or “get out of here you filthy shackledragger” lol.

  7. Lot of generalising about Aboriginals here – there were hundreds of separate nations, beliefs, languages and cultures amongst them.

    Also Harold Holt didn’t “disappear,” he went swimming and drowned and his body was never recovered.

    Also, yes, while the original colonies were penal settlements, the vast majority of today’s australians are descended from later free settlers, or people who came over in the gold rushes of the 19th century, or post-WWII immigrants.

  8. I was constantly referred to as a sewage tank by my coworkers while I was living in Oxford. A great way to Yank an Aussies chain is to inform them of the distressing news that it took a Yank to invent Vegemite.

    • harvey

      Vegemite invented by a yank? not according to Wikipedia or common belief… In 1919, prior to the introduction of Vegemite, Sanitarium Health Food Company began manufacturing a version of Vegemite’s biggest competitor Marmite, in New Zealand, and shipping it to Australia. Vegemite was invented in 1922[3] by food technologist Dr. Cyril P. Callister…. Callister was born in Chute, near Ballarat in the Australian state of Victoria on the 16 February 1893….

  9. Claire

    Not a fact, but perhaps something you should know about Uluru (Ayers Rock): Aboriginal people won’t directly ask you not to, but it hurts them deeply when people climb the rock. I was there on Australia Day in 2010 and a man died while climbing it. The people there mourned for weeks. He was healthy but underestimated the intensity of the climb.

    My father in law climbed it and was able to get mobile phone reception while at the top!

    • Kayla

      thats true. :) There is a handful of people who die each year from the intensity of the climb on Ayer’s Rock…

  10. I’ve been to australia, more exactly to Airlie Beach, and it’s been quite a nice trip… what can I say.. the australians are nice people 😉

  11. Australia is nice, but sydney is definitely the best place to visit in australia… i’ve watched an episode in 1000 places to see before you die… very nice

  12. Jane

    I’m Australian and have spent more than 11 months travelling through the outback over the past few years, close to 60’000 km’s. In response to previous posts: Vegemite is an acquired taste, you need to be brought up on it; Tim Tams are heaven; and have only seen one snake in all our camping travels and it slid away. I didn’t know about the Pome fact, interesting. Apart from our wonderful cities and coastal areas, there are some awesome outback driving holidays such as Central Australia, Arnhem Land, Cape York, The Simpson Desert, The Gibb River Road, The Birdsville Track and the Canning Stock Route. Even though you need a 4WD to do these trips it doesn’t stop a lot of International tourists doing it. You see a completely different side of Australia.

  13. Kyra

    Well I’m an Aussie and I love Vegemite <I am esearching Aus and even though I'm Australian this website made me learn tons thank and also it is true bout the Aborigines being here for 50,000 years!!

  14. Patrick

    Australia wasn’t actually founded by convicts as most people think it used to be seperate colonies that were founded by individual people. South Australia for example was never a prison colony it was a free colony for free people the first settlement in Australia was founded by Captain Arthur Phillip who was a navy officer who was also a veteran of the seven years war and the US independence war. Also some guy said vegemite was invented by americans. I should tell you the person to invent vegemite was Australia his name was cyril callister and he was born in Ballarat in Victoria. I have a suspicion this page was made by an American. The final thing i should say is USA was also a prison colony for twice the time Australia was but they tried to cover it up but it has largely failed hence why some Americans are so ignorant and oblivious to there own history as they are more guilty of native oppression than we are.

    • Danny

      The West Australian settlement ( The Swan river settlement) was the last to accept convicts. I don’t know when though.

  15. Hi, this is really interesting, I’m doing an assignment for school and may link back to this.

    shoot with all those snakes and the jellyfish we must be one of the most deadliest places…

    God bless

  16. It’s amazing how scared people are of Australia!

    Yes we have the most venomous creatures on earth:

    – Deadly sea snails- the Cone Shells shoot deadly darts into the small fish they eat. This venom also occasionally kills people if the animal is handled.

    – The Irukandji jellyfish may be the world’s most venomous animal of all, and it is the size of a thumbnail

    – Over half of the 200+ snake species belong to the cobra family Elapidae. All of our dangerous snakes are from that group though less than half are any danger to humans

    – We have the world’s largest crocodiles and also the most aggressive.

    – The funnel web spider complex is distributed down the east coast and some species are among the most dangerous in the world

    – The beautiful blue ringed octopus complex shared with SE Asia have a nasty bite when handled, causing respiratory paralysis in minutes.


    Remember that although there are so many dangerous things getting about the chances of a nasty brush with any of them is very low. In a bad year we have 2-3 people killed by crocodiles and sharks, and it is about as slim as the chance of getting on the wrong end of a snake or spider and not surviving.

    The only animals that will actually attack a person in the true sense of the word are crocodiles and sharks, though unless you are in the water with a big croc I wouldn’t be too worried.

    All of our other dangerous animals only respond in defense- you actually have to be worrying them for a response. That includes all of our venomous species. The idea that snakes and spiders attack is absolute crap.

    On the bright side, we don’t have bears, lions and so on…

    Drop bears – that’s anther issue altogether…

  17. Mike

    “Seppos”, “Lebbos”, “Abbo”, “Curry-Muncher”. Ahh yes, unfortunately bigotry is another thing that is that we Aussies tend to be very proud of.

    I’ve been in Australia most of my life but have spent quite a bit of time in Asia, North America and Europe as well, and it’s a bit embarrassing to say that we’re about 30 years behind the rest of the world in this area.

    Australia is a great country, but like everywhere in the world, it’s a good idea to be aware of the good, and the bad before visiting.

  18. Irene

    Your fact about who first discovered Australia is incorrect. It was the Dutch who first discovered the west coast of Australia in the 1600’s were the Dutch from Netherlands. First by willem janszoon then by dirk hartog. Abel Tasman another Dutch sailor sailed to Tasmania then through to New Zealand.
    The first Englishman to see Australia was William damper in 1699. Captain cook sailed around the eastern part of Australia and mapped out that part and claimed the lands to be part of England. The Dutch didn’t bother to do this and hence the English always claimed they discovered it first.

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