Australia is an island nation that consists of six states and two territories. The style of government is a constitutional monarchy and the Queen of England is the head of the constitutional monarchy. The Governor General is the Queen's representative in Australia, but in reality only acts in a watchdog capacity. The country is actually governed by a Prime Minister.
The reason that the kangaroo and the emu appear on the coat of arms is that they are the only two animals in Australia that can't take a backward step. They therefore symbolise the fact that Australia is always advancing.
Arvo - is the Australian abbreviation for afternoon.
Esky - refers to a container that is used to keep drinks or something cold. Frequently used when you go to a BBQ or a party. (Also known as a cooler in USA)
Footy - is the abbreviation for football. In Australia it doesn't refer to soccer but to Australian Rules Football or Rugby League.
G'day - (= Good day) this is the common greeting when you meet someone that you know.
Mate - is the Australian word we use for 'friend'. It is usually used to refer to male friends and not female friends.
Onya - Well done.
A cold one - is the slang term for a beer.
Cuppa - refers to a cup of tea.
Sydney Harbour Bridge - is the famous bridge that appears in most photos of Sydney. It joins the northern and the southern parts of the city. It is world famous for the fireworks every New Year's Eve.
Sydney Opera House - is a theatre that was constructed by a Danish man - Jan Utzon. It has a brilliant view of Sydney Harbour. It is possible to see all types of performances at The Opera House - from rock concerts to operas.
Uluru - is the largest monolith in the world. It is located in the desert in the centre of Australia. It is owned by the Aboriginal people (the native inhabitants of Australia) and considered to be a very sacred site for them.
The Great Barrier Reef - is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is located off the north-east coast of Australia. It is a coral reef that measures 2,600 kms. The astronauts are able to see The Great Barrier Reef from space.
Animals of Australia
Kangaroo - is the most famous native Australian animal and is found in all parts of the country. They can range in height from 1 metre to 2 metres and the babies live in their mother's pouch. It is the symbol of the national airline - Qantas.
Koala - is a marsupial that lives in the eucalyptus trees in Australia. They only eat eucalyptus leaves and because of the calming effect of these leaves, koalas are generally very slow moving.
Wombat - is a shot-legged marsupial about 1 metre in length with a short tail. They live in the south of the country and on the island of Tasmania. They live in burrows under the ground and are herbivores.
Echidna - is a small animal covered in spines (used for protection) and only eats ants and termites. Despite having spines it is a very shy animal and not aggressive at all. It is no bigger than a small dog.
Platypus - is a strange little animal that looks like a mix of a duck and an otter. It is very shy and lives in the rivers in the country areas. If you see one of these in the wild you should consider yourself very lucky.
Tasmanian Devil - is the animal made famous in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. It can only be found on the island of Tasmania and while it is a relatively shy animal it will attack if cornered. The strange sound that they make is probably the scariest thing about them.
Birds of Australia
Emu - is the largest bird in Australia and like the ostrich, it cannot fly. Interestingly, it is the male emu that raises the chicks and not the female. When fully grown they weigh 30-55 kgs and are greyish/brownish in colour. The babies are black and yellow striped.
Kookaburra - is a medium sized bird with very distinctive colours. When it sings it actually laughs and is very popular because it kills snakes. They always sing just before it is about to rain.
Cockatoo - is a wild bird with a comb on its head that comes in a range of colours. It has been domesticated and now is a popular pet for many people. With perseverance they can be taught to speak.
Budgerigar - is in fact a wild bird in Australia but they are famous around the world now as a pet that many people have. They come in a range of colours and in the country it is usual to see them in flocks of hundreds.
Magpie - is a black and white bird that is found in all parts of the country. They have a distinctive 'warble' and are scavengers. You need to be careful during 'nesting season' as they are very protective and will 'swoop' on you if you venture into their territory.
Cricket - is the national sport of Australia and is the most popular sport during the summer. One of the most famous Australians - Sir Donald Bradman - was a cricketer and regarded as the best cricketer ever. They are the current world champions in both test match cricket (five day match) and one-day cricket. Cricket is very popular in other Commonwealth countries like England, South Africa, India and New Zealand.
Australian Rules Football - is the most popular winter sport and is played in all parts of the country. It is a very fast paced and athletic sport and it is common to have crowds of up to 80,000 at a match. This sport is not played in any other country in the world. The ball is shaped similar to a rugby ball and is played with hand and foot.
Rugby Union - is also a popular winter sport and the national team is called The Wallabies. The international matches draw large crowds every year with the most important being the matches against New Zealand, with whom we have a very intense rivalry.
Netball - is by far the most popular female sport in Australia and is played by women of all ages. It is an extremely fast paced and very skilful sport and like cricket it is most popular in the countries of the Commonwealth. Whilst Australia are the current world champions their intense rivalry with New Zealand has meant that both countries have held this title in recent years.
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