When I headed to Australia three weeks ago on holiday, I was under no illusions as to how huge it is. A few bits of research showed that a journey “just up” the Eastern Coastline could take three or four days – and there is a time difference of three hours between Perth in Western Aus and the most eastern point of the country in Byron Bay, New South Wales (NSW). We’re only five hours away from New York!
But what I didn’t realise was what a fascinating place it is. A lot of people assume or might have read that it is a fairly new country – discovered just nearly 250 years ago by good ol’ Captain Cook, when he landed on the East Coast after a long voyage on behalf of Britain. And then there are all the tales of prisoners being shipped over from Europe. It all happened… but it’s all RECENT history. In actual fact, Oz was discovered way before, by many other people – the first being the Aborigines, who settled there.
So here are some of the interesting things I have learned about Aus in the last few weeks, mostly thanks to great travel writers and their references. Enjoy!
So first up, as mentioned, while most people recognise Aussie history as starting from 1770, when the country was ‘discovered’ by the infamous own Captain Cook, scientists believe that the first people to arrive on the island did so as far back as between 45 – 60,000 years ago – a big difference from a mere 242 years!
And seeing as Australia is an island – the only island to also be its own continent – these folk would have had to cross the sea to get there. But the first RECORDED sea/ocean crossing didn’t come for 30,000 years after they are thought to have settled in Aus… Which means these incredibly adaptable people were building their own versions of boats 30K years before anyone else! THIRTY THOUSAND YEARS. Amazing!
But sadly, it is STILL unknown as to what possessed a group of people, from presumably Papua New Guinea or Indonesia, to cross a stretch of water at least 70 miles wide – especially since they had no idea there would be a land mass in the far off distance.
Unless it happened by accident with one or two fishermen types floating out to sea, in which case how did they end up populating an entire country with hundreds of thousands of people by the time us Brits came along? Not just any country, but the sixth largest in the world! A place where 80% of organisms that live and breed in there exist NOWHERE else in the world.
And finally (for now) – and this blew my mind, along with a few others too… In the UK, acccording to records in the last ten years, we have on average about 632 people per square mile across the country. America only has, in comparison, 76. The world contains, again on average, 117 people per square mile. Got that? Process it all for a second… that is a pretty big difference between us and the world. Or even us and America.
Now imagine this… The world record holder (at the time of this all being recorded obvs) was Macau, who could boast an a whopping average of 69,000 people per square mile. 69K compared to the USA’s 76!
And where do Australia fall in this? They have SIX.
Yes, Australia averages just SIX people per square mile.