Where is Australia?
Australia is found in the South Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s on the opposite side of the world to Europe. If you’ve ever wondered why people in the UK call Australia ‘down under’, that’s why!
Australia comes from the Latin word ‘Australis,’ meaning southern. So you can see why the land ‘down under’ was given that name.
Because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are opposite to the UK’s. When it is winter in the UK, it is a nice hot summer in Australia. And, since Australia is on the other side of the Earth’s axis, their days are opposite ours too. When people in the UK go to bed at night, alarm clocks are ringing across Australia to get people up and ready for the day.
Australia is technically called the Commonwealth of Australia. It is both a continent and an island. Funnily enough, it’s the biggest island in the world but the smallest continent. With all of its parts — mainland Australia, the island of Tasmania, and a few more small islands — it’s the sixth-largest country in the world.
While you might think Sydney is Australia’s capital, that’s not the case. The capital is Canberra. We know more about Sydney because of the famous Sydney Opera House.
Australia Facts for Students
Australia is a vast and fascinating place with a rich culture and natural environment. Here are some interesting Australian facts for students to help them learn more about this amazing part of the world:
- Australia has a population of 25 million people. That’s just under half the number of people living in the UK, even though Australia is about 32 times larger than the UK.
- The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef at about 1616 miles (2,601 km) in length. It is found off the northeast coast of Australia and is so enormous that you can see it from space. It’s about the size of 70 million football pitches.
- 20 of the top 25 most venomous spiders are from Australia.
- Wombats are Australian animals, and they have a cube-shaped poo. Scientists think that this is, so it doesn’t roll away.
- Australia is the biggest wool producer in the world because it has many sheep farms. It is also the largest exporter of coal in the world.
- Australia is part of the commonwealth of the United Kingdom. It means that the head of state for Australia is the Queen of England!
- The Australian flag has three sections: the Commonwealth Star, the Southern Cross, and the Union Jack.
- Australia is home to the largest cattle station in the world. This cattle station is 34,000 km² (21,126 miles²). It makes it bigger than the entire country of Belgium.
- Australians have invented many things over the years that are crucial to our daily lives. These inventions include lawnmowers with engines, the Black Box on airplanes, smoke alarms, aspirin, the pacemaker, penicillin, the wine cask, electric drills, car radios, the bionic ear, and long-wearing contact lenses.
- Australia is also home to speedy dragonflies. One dragonfly was recorded flying 36 miles per hour (57 km per hour).
- The longest fence in the world is in Australia. This fence is called the Dingo Fence and is 3,436 miles (5,531km) long.
If you enjoyed these Australian facts for students, keep reading to learn more about this fascinating part of the world!
The Geography of Australia
Australia is unique because it is not only one of the world’s biggest countries but the only country to cover an entire continent. While Australia’s land is fertile and hospitable, over a third is desert land. Australia is famous for its outback, a massive desert area. The climate in the outback is extremely hot and dry, so there isn’t a lot of water or vegetation there. For this reason, very few people live in the outback, as it is pretty inhospitable to life.
The climate is much more comfortable in the southwest and southeast of Australia, where most of the country’s cities and farms are located. The land in this part of Australia is much more fertile than the outback, so farms there grow things like wheat and grapes for wine.
In the northeast region of Australia, the land is also super fertile. So you can find dense rainforests where a wide variety of vegetation grows.
The Great Dividing Range is a 3,700 km stretch of mountains that runs down Australia’s eastern and southeastern edge. It is the fifth-longest land-based mountain range in the world. Some areas of the mountain range are more than 300 km wide. It sends water into Australia’s rivers and the Great Artesian Basin.
Australia Facts for Students: The Great Artesian Basin is the largest underground water source in the world.
Australia is also home to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. It is a sacred natural rock that rises from the surrounding desert. It is 335 m tall, which makes it one of the tallest rocks in the world.
Some plants are native to Australia because of their ecosystem and environmental conditions. Australian plants include the kangaroo paw, bottlebrush, and the Australian daisy.
In addition to mainland Australia, there is a wide range of small islands included within the continent of Australia. There are 8,222 islands within the marine borders of Australia. One of Australia’s most famous islands is Tasmania Island. Tasmania Island is located in the south-eastern corner of mainland Australia. It is a large, mountainous island with a very high annual rainfall, which gives it incredibly fertile soil compared to mainland Australia.
Here are some of Australia’s biggest islands. Each of these islands has a surface area larger than 1,000 km² (386.102 miles²):
- Tasmania Island
- Melville Island
- Kangaroo Island
- Groote Eylandt
- Bathurst Island
- Fraser Island
- Flinders Island
- King Island
- Mornington Island
Australia Facts for Students: Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It stretches over 120 km along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia.
Do you want to know more about Australia’s fascinating geography? Here are some Geography Australia facts for students:
- The world map shows Australia is located in Oceania, between the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
- Australia, also known as the Commonwealth of Australia, controls the whole continent, including its small outlying islands. It makes it the world’s 6th largest country in terms of surface area.
- The total surface area of Australia is 7,686,850 km² (2,967,910 sq miles). It is 31.5 times larger than the surface area of the United Kingdom.
- The coastline length of mainland Australia is 35,877 km (22,293 miles).
- There are a total of 758 estuaries in Australia. An Estuary is a partially enclosed, coastal body of water where fresh water from rivers and streams combines with salt water from the ocean. Most of these estuaries can be found in Australia’s subtropical and tropical zones.
- Australia is the only country in the world with control over the largest area of ocean jurisdiction.
- Throughout the entirety of Australia, there are no land borders.
- The western half of Australia is made up of the largest drainage division of the country. It is known as the Western Plateau.
- The Western Plateau is a fairly flat region of Australia. However, this is broken up by several mountain ranges, including the MacDonnell Ranges and the Hamersley Range.
- The Central Lowlands region of Australia is located between the Western Plateau and the Eastern Highlands. The Central Lowlands contain the biggest river systems in Australia: the Lake Eyre Basin, Murray-Darling Basin, and the Great Artesian Basin.
- The Great Barrier Reef can be found off the Eastern Coast of Australia. It is the largest coral reef in the world.
History of Australia
People have lived in Australia for over 60,000 years. The first people who lived there were the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The Aboriginal Australians lived in tribes and spoke about 250 different languages. They invented tools like the boomerang, which we still associate with Australia, and the spear.
The Aboriginal Australians are the oldest living culture in the world. They have also created some amazing art throughout the centuries. It includes carvings, paintings, and depictions of nature. The main Aboriginal arts and crafts types include dot painting, rock painting, and weaving. They typically represent the natural world because Aboriginal Australians have always had a close relationship with the natural landscape.
Dutch explorers landed in Australia in 1606, and British settlers arrived in 1776. So it was when Captain James Cook charted the east coast of Australia in his ship HM Endeavour. He called Eastern Australia ‘New South Wales.’ Now, New South Wales is the name of one of the six states that make up Australia.
In 1788 Britain claimed the first of six colonies. In 1901, those six colonies joined together to form the Commonwealth of Australia. A Commonwealth country has the same King or Queen as Britain, but the monarch only has a ceremonial role.
Nowadays, Australia is governed by a democratically elected government. In 1999, there was a vote in which Australians decided against separating from the UK. However, some people are still discussing separating from the UK.
Australian traditions and lifestyle
Australia Day is on 26 January. It marks the anniversary of the first ships to land in New South Wales in 1788. There are barbecues, festivals, and fireworks.
The warm climate and outdoor spaces mean that people in Australia spend a lot of time outdoors. They love sports like surfing and sailing. They also invented a new sport, which is Australian rules football. This game is like a mix of basketball, rugby, and football.
In Australia, a white Christmas is impossible. It is because its seasons are opposite to those of the UK, so it’s summer in Australia when Christmas is celebrated. So instead, people celebrate with Carols by Candlelight, where they gather outside to sing carols and light candles.
Food in Australia
Currently, the food in Australia is a combination of British cuisine and food with indigenous origins, along with Mediterranean and Asian influences. In addition, Australia is known for its variety of high-quality meat, which it can produce due to its wide range of natural resources.
Seafood is also very popular in Australia. High-quality seafood is easily accessible in Australia, as most people live close to the sea. For this reason, the seafood restaurants in Australia are some of the best in the world.
There is also a range of popular plant and animal foods in Australia known as Bush tuckers. These foods are indigenous to the Australian bush. Some bush tucker plant food examples are finer lemons, Kakadu plums, desert quandong, kutjera, muntries, and riberries. Some examples of bush tucker animal foods are kangaroo and emu meat, as well as the shellfish that live in the saltwater river system of Australia.
A fun fact is that the Aboriginal people of Australia consume wood-eating larvae as part of their traditional diet. These larvae are super high in protein, so Aboriginal people would eat them to build up their muscles and bones.
Animals of Australia
Australia has an incredible ecosystem. It is home to many animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the wild. In addition, there are 516 national parks in Australia, which protect its unique plants and animals.
A large group of Australian mammals is marsupials. These carry their young in pouches until they are fully developed.
There are also lots of insects, reptiles, and amphibians living in Australia. You have to keep a careful eye out for creepy crawlies!
The platypus is semi-aquatic and lives in rivers and streams. It has a bill like a duck and a tail like a beaver, but it has fur-covered webbed feet. To add to the confusing mix of characteristics, it also lays eggs! It is from a group of mammals called monotremes. These are creatures that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.
Kangaroos are marsupial mammals that carry their young in a pouch. They have very powerful hind legs with large feet and a strong tail to help them balance. They are some of the only large animals that move around by hopping.
Kangaroos are herbivores. They eat plants, leaves, and grasses. Groups of kangaroos are called ‘mobs,’ but though this sounds a bit threatening, they are very social creatures.
Kangaroos are very popular Australian animals. They appear on lots of logos and even on some Australian currencies.
Koalas aren’t born! They are marsupials and are related to kangaroos and wombats, who also carry their young in pouches. Koalas are very cute, with big noses and fluffy ears.
These cute creatures are arboreal, which means they live in trees. They can climb easily into the branches with sharp claws to find food. And they need a lot of food — up to one kg of leaves per day. They are normally found in eucalyptus woodlands, where they sleep for up to 20 hours daily.
Echidnas are funny-looking creatures with long snouts. They use it with their long tongue to catch insects to eat. In addition, they are covered in sharp spines called quills, which they use to protect themselves. They can curl up into a ball when they feel scared or threatened. The quills protect them — who would want to bite into a cactus-like creature?
Dingos are the biggest carnivorous mammals in Australia. Dingos live predominantly in Australia’s outback but can be found all over the country. The only place where you won’t find any dingos is in Tasmania. The appearance of a dingo is very similar to a typical domestic dog that you would keep as a pet, with its furry brown coat and bushy tail. They are set apart, however, by their long muzzle, big pointed ears, and super sharp teeth.
As the name suggests, the Tasmanian devil is found on the island of Tasmania off the southern coast of Australia. Unfortunately, the Tasmanian devil is an endangered species, so the number of them in the wild is dwindling.
The Tasmanian devil is a marsupial, and it carries its young in a pouch for up to 4 months after birth. What’s more, the Tasmanian devil is a nocturnal animal with a very timid temperament. In terms of appearance, they have black coats and grow as tall as a small dog. Tasmanian devils are also the largest carnivorous marsupials on Earth and have powerful jaws and teeth for eating meat.
Traveling to Australia
Australia is a very popular place for people to go on holiday. It’s so popular that around 20,000 British people emigrate to Australia yearly. You can see why: it has a warm, sunny climate, lots of beaches, and its main language is English, which is handy for other English speakers. Check out this short list of places in Australia for kids to visit on family holidays.
- Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The Sydney Opera House is an iconic landmark in Australia, but there is much more to see in Sydney, including the Botanical Gardens.
- Melbourne. It is the second-largest city in Australia, and it’s very cool. There are many great restaurants, art galleries, and shops to visit.
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. If you visit the Great Barrier Reef, a great place to go snorkeling and diving, check out Marine Park. You can learn about the Great Barrier Reef and its threats to it.