31 Weird Facts About Australia That Will Amaze You

Bilby sign Australia

Before my first trip to Australia a few years ago, my concept of the country’s size was wildly ignorant. I’m not sure if it’s a cartographer’s trick, but on a map this dusty continent doesn’t look as big as it really is. It’s this scale that I think surprises many first time visitors to the Land Down Under, so I thought I’d share some facts and figures that will help put Australia into perspective, as well as some other interesting tidbits that will make you rethink the country you thought you knew.

Oz map

Massive Size

1. Australia is the 6th largest country by size, a massive 2.9 million square miles.

2. While it’s huge, the population is only 22.6 million.

3. The closest American state in population is New York, which has 19.6 million people, yet Australia is more than 53 times its size.

4. Texas is the largest state in the continental United States, but the largest state in Australia, Western Australia is more than 3 times its size but Texas has 13 times as many people.

5. You can fly from Perth to Melbourne faster than you can fly from one end of Western Australia to the other.

6. The Great Victoria Desert, just ONE of Australia’s barren areas is larger than the United Kingdom. You could lose an entire country in Australia and never know it.

7. A single cattle ranch in South Australia is larger than the state of Israel.

8. Don’t think Australia gets snow? Well it’s all relative. The area of Australia that is covered by snow in winter is larger than the area of Switzerland.

9. The longest fence in the world is in Australia, and it runs for over 5,530 kilometers.

10. The world’s longest golf course, measuring more than 850 miles long is located in Australia.

11. Australia includes the world’s longest stretch of dead-straight railway track, a 297 mile length.

 

Weird Wildlife

Due to its remarkable isolation over the millennia, Australia enjoys fairly unique fauna. From furry kangaroos to the elusive quokka, they’re a big draw for many tourists. Australia also has more ways to die than perhaps any other country in the world, from spiders to seashells. Yes, seashells.

12. Australia is home to 10 of the world’s 15 most poisonous snakes as well as a disproportionate number of venomous spiders.

13. The mysterious platypus has venom strong enough to can kill a small dog.

14. The box jellyfish is responsible for more deaths in Australian than snakes, sharks and salt water crocodiles.

15. In other news, Australia has sharks, snakes and massive salt water crocodiles.

16. Other dangerous (usually venomous) animals to avoid include the blue ring octopus, the stone fish, funnel web spider and the cassowary; one of the world’s largest birds that when provoked attack with their sharp claws.

17. Marsupials like koalas, quokka and kangaroos can be found nowhere else in the world.

18. The only two mammals in the world that lay eggs are found in Australia, the platypus and echidna.

19. There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia and only 20 million people. That’s 8 sheep for every person.

20. There are over 60 different species (types) of kangaroos.

21. 1 million wild camels roam the Australian deserts. They were originally brought over to help with railroad construction.

 

Quirky People and Places

22. Aboriginal culture is the oldest on Earth. It’s estimated that the continent’s original inhabitants have been in Australia for a staggering 40,000-60,000 years.

23. The largest Greek population in the world beside Athens in Greece can be found in Melbourne Victoria.

24. More than 80 percent of Australians live within 100 kilometers of the coast.

25. Australia has 19 world heritage listed sites including historic townships, cities and landscapes.

26. More than 80% of Australians participate in gambling of some kind.

27. A cult may or may not have tested the first non-governmental nuclear weapon in Western Australia. Australia is so big though no one is completely sure.

28. Australians developed a fake animal to further scare tourists. The drop bear was purported by mainstream institutions including the Australian Museum to drop from trees and attack tourists. There is no drop bear.

29. More than 25% of all Australians were born in another country.

30. Australia is the only continent without an active volcano.

31. Australia has three national Frisbee teams.

Looking through all of these bizarre facts, I find it impossible not to love Australia more than I do. It’s a strange country no doubt, but is more endearing because of and not in spite of these oddities.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

50 Responses

  1. Jen

    Ahh the drop bear! If we didn’t already have enough creatures to scare away the visitors we had to go and create something completely absurd. Considering I have lived here my whole life I didn’t know a few of these facts.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Great, glad I could provide some new info for you!

      Reply
      • frehiwet daniel

        thanks brother… we get more than target n please keep it up,

  2. Monique

    I will show this to my soon to be 9 year old daughter. She can’t decide if she wants to go to Hawaii or Australia for her 10th birthday next year (yes, she gets to choose where she wants to celebrate her 10th birthday!), so this will be helpful! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Ha, well make sure she reads more than this – Australia is an AMAZING place to visit 🙂

      Reply
  3. Liv

    I think it’s funny how, with so many deadly critters, Australians still feel the need to invent the drop bear. You don’t mention the hoop snake though, didn’t anyone tell you about that one?!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      NO, what is that?

      Reply
      • Kragg

        Hoopsnake:- A rare snake found in far northern Queensland and isolated patches of Northern WA. This is a highly venomous snake that feeds primarily on goannas. It is known for its highly irregular motion when pursuing prey, it will stand up on its tail and surge forward grabbing the tip of its tail and form a circle or ‘Hoop’ – hence the name allowing it to travel far faster then the normal slithering. Hoop snakes have been clocked at in excess of 25kms/hour allowing them to catch most small prey items and scarying the bejeezus out of anyone unlucky enough to see one heading for them. Your Aussie mates did you a disservice in not telling you about them but then perhaps you weren’t going to those areas. Its certainly a compelling sight should you be fortunate enough to see one. When note in their ‘hoop’ mode they are hard to distinguish form King Browns and so it is possible you have seen them and not realised, even experienced snake handlers have been known to make errors resulting in some accidental bites.

  4. Jessica

    5. Its also faster to fly from Melbourne to NZ than it is to fly from Melbourne to Perth.
    I lived there for 15 months and only saw two spiders and no snakes. A huntsman and a red back. I swear the huntsman was worse.

    Reply
  5. Mike of Mapless Mike

    Interesting facts! I didn’t really know anything about Australia, but now I do. It’s definitely somewhere I want to go!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks Mike and yup, you need to plan on a visit 🙂

      Reply
  6. Amanda

    Hahaha noooo you gave away the truth about the Drop Bear!

    Reply
  7. Richard

    Australia the continent may not have any volcanoes, but Australia the country has two. Heard Island and McDonald Island are both live volcanoes and both part of Australia. Volcanoes can be very difficult to live with so we keep these two in the Indian Ocean 3800 km south west of WA

    Reply
  8. Megan

    80% of Aussies have gambled? I bet you’re wrong.

    But seriously – awesome post. Love the fact the drop bear got a mention. Can’t wait to see what else you’ve got to write up about your time in Aus. How’s the planning for that trip to Tasmania coming along 😉

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Ha, Thanks Megan! Tasmania is HIGH on my list. Just need to make it a reality.

      Reply
  9. Erik

    Great post Matt!

    Love Australia & the Aussies!

    I really like the site redesign, too.

    Reply
    • Erik

      And you should go to Tasmania- it’s more like New Zealand than the rest of Australia. I spent 7 amazing days there back in 2001.

      Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks so much Erik!

      Reply
  10. John Gates

    You forgot to mention – best beaches (12,000 miles of coastline) – best restaurants, best wine, best cheese, best of everything!! and as we say in sunny Qld, “beautiful one day, perfect the next!! – but if you are a four seasons kind of person, definitely visit Melbourne – you get all four seasons every day!!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Yup, Melbourne is one of my favorite cities anywhere.

      Reply
  11. Danielle Warby

    The Drop Bear is REAL. This kind of misinformation is dangerous and irresponsible. Shame on you.

    Reply
  12. Bram

    Lol, I remember the drop bear! I’ve also heard about the wild haggis roaming the hills of the Australian bush. There were actually people who believed that. Great and entertaining post, Matt. You’ve got to love Oz, right?

    Reply
  13. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    Great list! Looking at the maps of Australia with the other countries laid over really puts things into perspective. I mean the damn thing IS a continent. This goes to show how skewed the majority of maps of the world are. The majority of them being based on the Mercator Projection Map instead of something more accurate to actual land mass like the Peters Projection Map.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      That’s exactly right! It was a major source of my own geographical issues on my first visit. I had very unrealistic expectations of scale and distance.

      Reply
  14. John Emmanuel Cruz

    Great post, Matt. Perfect timing because I will be heading to Australia next month. Really excited about experiencing all these on my trip.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Have fun! It’s an amazing place.

      Reply
      • Houston

        No it’s a bad place my cousin went for a week and came bad with a snake bite

  15. Beth

    Oh the Drop Bear…
    Really don’t see the need for it! Lots of people I know already have no desire to visit Australia with all the other deadly animals they have 🙂

    Reply
  16. Pete

    Number 1 always catches Europeans out! The number of times Euro tourists get stuck in the bush trying to drive from Perth To Sydney in a day!

    Reply
  17. Dom

    Drop bears are real! we have to lock our widows at night or they’ll get in. They don’t hunt people actively but if one sees you it will drop on you but they aren’t that bad. the worst you could get from one of them is a gash from their claws. I can hear them crawling on the roof right now and it doesn’t matter, so long as the doors and windows are locked.

    Reply
  18. Trish Smith

    Sounds wonderful. We can hardly wait. The trip is all the way in Sept. DARN!
    Need to find that drop bear. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  19. Sandy

    this was really helpful thanks ;]

    Reply
  20. William Maxwell

    As a teenager ‘tramping’ up Mt Ruapahue in New Zealand a group us of final year students scared Australia tourists with stories of ‘drop-bears’….. something else Australian that came from NZ?! 🙂 just remembering where ‘pavlova’ came from

    Reply
  21. Paul Brown

    I remember leaving Malaysia on a stop over, after around an hour’s flight, I looked out the window of the aircraft. I said to the guy beside me whats that land down there. He said thats Australia, so I said happy days…… I sat down & put my seatbelt on. 4 hours later we where still flying over Australia to Melbourne. I said to the guy beside me “what F*****g size is this bloody place?” However it is still the most beautiful place I have ever visited. It is Paradise total paradise.

    Reply
  22. Sam

    Not only Melbourne is the Most Livable city in world but Australia is the most Livable coutry in the world.Its an awesome place.It just rocks.Go Aussies!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Love it down under

      Reply
      • TJ

        despite the killer animals, I still really, REALLY want to go!!!

  23. Benji

    I am using these for my school work.

    Reply
  24. bannana girl

    i am australian and i didnt know half of the things on this website were true thanks bro you have out aussied an aussie and yes that is a word check my dictionary its in there next to caking and fabolicious

    Reply
  25. Sara

    Was trying to explain to a mate from the States that distance is relative. How here in Straya, we dont think of a coupla hours drive as long, or that your weekend away trip requires a 10 hour round drive as anything unusual. Just down the road can mean a 5 minute wslk, or an hours drive! I live in the best place in the world, the Blue Mountains in NSW. Only a coupla hours from Sydney on the train! No where in the world like it! The one thing i always notice when i travel, is just how noisy and diverse our wildlife is! As a mate from the UK said ” At least our birds sound like birds, not screaching teradactyls!”?

    Reply
  26. Wayne

    Wonderful – don’t forget Australia has more than 8000 islands (that are named) most are not inhabited of course – enormous coastline much is still very remote

    Reply
  27. Will

    Would just like to touch on No. 28. There are drop bears in remote parts of costal adelaide. I beleave they are closely related to the elusive Bundy Bear.

    Reply
  28. Emy

    Home to 10 of the world’s dealist snakes? Don’t think I’ll be visiting Australia anytime soon.

    Reply
  29. Awele

    Lol…”Australia is home to 10 of the world’s 15 most poisonous snakes as well as a disproportionate number of venomous spiders.” C’mon mate!! Is this supposed to make me come to Australia??? Lmao!!

    Reply
  30. Houston

    It’s a bad place

    Reply
  31. Leanne

    Hi
    I told all of my friends who live in other countries about the drop bears and shared photo’s, one I shared to a vet in America.
    The chances of actually seeing anything deadly are pretty low, just remember not to swim in the water without seeking advice first. The locals will let you know if it’s safe.
    Depending on your driving skills it takes 2 to 3 days to drive to Melbourne from Cairns.
    Western Australia has some of the most pure and unknown beaches in Australia, also you probably won’t see another person on the beach.
    If you do go bushwalking shuffle your feet eery couple of steps or walk heavy so snakes scatter and you will less likely to be bitten.
    Australia is an extremely safe country, but like everywhere in the world things happen.

    Reply
  32. TJ

    I REALLY want to go to Australia… it looks so cool! I am writing a little guide for my future self, so when I am really there, I know what to say, not to say, and lots of other things!!! I have added like, 20 facts from this… website. Thanks, Matt!!!!

    Reply
  33. Nic

    Some facts from an Australian (born here 40 years ago in Sth eastern NSW)
    I love your facts, even I didn’t know all of them.
    I have lived near the beach and bush all my life, I’ve never been bitten by a snake (in fact I usually only see them out in the bush, it’s not like they slide down the streets looking for some human leg to munch on.
    I do see spiders everyday, if you don’t touch them, they won’t touch you,
    I said to a English relative once, who was thinking about visiting, if you’re that scared of them you can just take off your thong and wack them. she was horrified. She thought I walked around wacking them with my underwear.

    Reply

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