Australia

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Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere (that is the bottom half of the world). This is why it is sometimes called the Land Down Under.

Australia is the smallest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent in the world. It is the only country which is also a whole continent. 18.6 million people live here.

The people of Australia are called Australians. Australians call different parts of their country by different names:

· The City

Is any large city and its suburbs. Over 85% of the people live in cities. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra are major cities.

· The Country

Is the area immediately outside the city and usually includes the surrounding smaller towns and farms. Most of what is called "the country" is a stretch of land about 200 kilometres deep around the eastern and southern seaboards of Australia. Upper Beaconsfield, the Great Ocean Road , the Dandenongs, etc are in "the country".

· The Outback

Is the sparsely populated arid interior of Australia. The Australian Outback is both harsh and breathtakingly beautiful. It's like no other place on earth. Coober Pedy, Uluru, etc are in the Outback.

There are 6 states and 2 territories in Australia: Queensland New South Wales South Australia Tasmania Victoria Western Australia Northern Territory Australian Capital Territory

The capital of Australia is Canberra .

Australia has lots of unusual Animals.

Australia has the largest coral reef in the world called the Great Barrier Reef. It is stunning!.

Australians speak English. But we also have our own special words and phrases referred to as Strine.

Australia's favourite song is Waltzing Matilda

Aborigines - The First Australians

The word Aborigine is derived from Latin and means "from the beginning". This is the name given to the native Australians by the Europeans. This is not the name they called themselves. They prefer to call themselves: Koori.

BEFORE 1770

The first human inhabitants of Australia were the Aborigines.

They are a dark-skinned people belonging to the Australoid group who probably came from Asia. Nobody is quite sure how they came to Australia around 60,000 years ago. They may have walked and sailed here from Asia.

The Aborigines were nomadic hunter-gathers. They roamed from place to place. They hunted animals using spears and boomerangs. They also gathered fruits, nuts and yams which they ate.

There were around 300,000 aborigines in about 250 tribal groups before the first white settlers came. Each group had its own territory, traditions, beliefs and language.

They all believed in the Dreamtime which is the center piece of aboriginal culture.

THE FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH SETTLERS

The aborigine people had never seen white people until Captain James Cook landed in Botany Bay in 1770. They were shocked to see these white people in their strange clothes.

When the aborigines first saw the ships of the "First Fleet" enter Botany Bay in 1778 with so many white skinned people they thought they were the spirits of their dead ancestors (after all they were so white). In actual fact these were the first European settlers led by Captain Arthur Phillip.

At first the Aborigines were friendly towards the visitors but were very confused at the way white foreigners behaved: Why did the foreigners walk on aborigine sacred sites and dig up aborigine graves? Why did they boss each other around and beat and hang people? Why did they chop down trees and take food without asking? Why were they mean and selfish towards each other and not sharing?

THE FIRST MISUNDERSTANDING

While exploring around the new settlement Captain Arthur Phillip befriended an old aborigine man. When he returned to camp he met the old man again and gave him some beads and a hatchet. Later that night Captain Phillip discovered the old man taking one of his shovels and slapped the man on his shoulder and pushed him away while pointing to the spade. The old man was very upset and could not understand why his friend was acting this way.

Aborigines share what they have with their friends.

Captain Phillip was very careful not to offend the aborigines but Aborigine and the Settlers cultures were so different! They didn't understand each other.

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