Tomorrow is Australia Day in my adopted country. Despite my strong ties with England, I have spent most of my life here and I shall be celebrating along with everyone else. The national day of Australia commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation of British sovereignty over what was then called New Holland.
The first fleet was eleven ships that sailed from Britain in May 1787 with about fifteen hundred people aboard, half of whom were convicts. They were sent to establish the first colony here, using the convicts as labour. It was also a way of freeing up the prisons; an early example of outsourcing problems.
|First Fleet re-enactment, Sydney Harbour 1988|
January 26, is a national public holiday marked by public exhibitions of fireworks, concerts and tournament-level drinking. Not for everyone though; it is of course controversial to some Australians. (Some in the aboriginal population refer to it as Invasion Day.)
|photograph: JWC Adams|
Now many people in the world can’t even find the place on a map; they get us mixed up with Austria. How much do you know. What’s your AQ? (Australia Quotient).
Here’s a quick quiz to find out:
1. An easy one to start with: What is the capital of Australia?
2. Australia is often referred to as “The Land …”
(a) That Time Forgot
(b) of a thousand blowflies
(c) Down Under
(d) next to Germany
3. What is this building?
|photograph: Phil Whitehouse|
(a) the national parliament
(b) the state of the art nuclear facility at Mount Buggery
(c) the Sydney Opera House
(d) the house where the von Trapps lived
4.) Which journey is it possible to drive in less than a day?
a) Iron Knob to Humpty Doo
b) Salzburg to Canberra
c) Sydney to Melbourne
d) Burrumbuttock to Nowhere Else
5) What is this a picture of?
|photograph: Brandy Frisky|
a) a kangaroo
b) a koala bear
c) a wombat
d) a bull ant
6.). In 1954 a gentleman by the name of Bob Hawke set a world record by sculling two and a half pints of beer in 11 seconds. He later became … what?
(a) the Australian Cultural Attaché to Paris
(b) a famous artist
(c) the Prime Minister of Australia
(d) Archbishop of Sydney
7). What is this?
|photograph: tristan b|
(a) toast covered in sump oil
(b) toast covered in bicycle grease
(c) toast covered with a black sticky food spread made of the gooey waste from the brewing process that is a staple for every Australian child at breakfast
(d) … people eat that?
8. Which two animals appear on the Australian coat of arms?
(a) the shark and red back spider
(b) the box jellyfish and deadly taipan snake
(c) the kangaroo and the emu
(d) the crocodile and the blue ringed octopus
9. What is Australia’s system of government?
(a) a republic
(b) a benign dictatorship
(c) a constitutional monarchy
10. What is a pie floater?
(a) ice cream scoop in a glass of coke
(b) a dead cow floating down a stream during the monsoon floods in far north Queensland
(c) a meat pie floating in green pea soup;
(d) a round inflation device used in public swimming pools and so-called because it looks like a pie
Before we get to the answers, here’s a video of a typical Australian ‘barbie’ (barbecue), which you’ll find just about everywhere in Oz on Australia Day.
All the answers were (c).
There is no nuclear facility at Mount Buggery. But there is a Mount Buggery. In fact, there’s two, both in Victoria. One lies on the end of a ridgeline known as the Crosscut Saw between Mount Speculation and Mount Howitt, the other is on the Buffalo River.
Question 4, in case you were wondering, you can’t drive from Burrumbuttcok to Nowhere Else, because the Tasman Sea is in the way. And Iron Knob to Humpty Doo is a journey of about 1700 miles, so it will take you around thirty two hours of driving.
The picture in (5) is a wombat, a curious animal which is like a cross between a pit bull and a badger. I’d give you half a point if you said bull ant. If you come to Australia and see the ants here, you’ll know what I mean.
In question 7, (c) is technically correct but I’ll accept (a) (b) or (d). It’s called Vegemite. It’s an acquired taste.
Question 8, the kangaroo and the emu are the only two wildlife in Australia that will not poison you or eat you, which is why we have them on our coat of arms.
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I’ll leave you with a picture of a pie floater. Happy Australia Day!