January 26 is our national day so as a lead into Australia Day I decided
to re-post this authoritative work about Australia, I trust you will make
full use of it if you visit our beautiful shores.
Let's start with an oxymoron; "An Aussie Gentleman"
DOUGLAS ADAMS' (of Hitchhikers guide fame) VIEW OF AUSTRALIA
It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks
like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep
into the girting (our land is girt by sea, is a line from our National Anthem) sea.
Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but
they still call it the "
frightening theory, but they can't spell either.
The first of the confusing things about
masses and sovereign lands are classified as continent, island, or country,
considered all three.
Typically, it is unique in this.
The second confusing thing about
categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids
on the planet,
9 most poisonous arachnids,
snakes, (not necessarily true Doug... don't forget your stick) possibly because the spiders
have killed them all.
But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful to check inside
boots (before putting them on), under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally
A stick is very useful for this task
Strangely, it tends to be the second class of animals (the Odd) that are more dangerous.
The creature that kills the most people each year is the common Wombat. It is nearly as
ridiculous as its name, and spends its life digging holes in the ground, in which it hides.
During the night it comes out to eat worms and grubs. The wombat kills people in two
First, the animal is indestructible. Digging holes in the hard Australian clay builds muscles
that outclass Olympic weight lifters. At night, they often wander the roads. Semi-trailers
(Road Trains) have hit them at high speed, with all 18 wheels on one side, and this merely
makes them very annoyed. They express this by snorting, glaring, and walking away.
Alas, to smaller cars, the wombat becomes a symmetrical launching pad, with results that
can be imagined, but not adequately described.
The second way the wombat kills people relates to its burrowing behaviour. If a person
happens to put their hand down a Wombat hole, the Wombat will feel the disturbance and
think "Ho! My hole is collapsing!" at which it will brace its muscled legs and push up against
the roof of its burrow with incredible force, to prevent its collapse. Any unfortunate hand
will be crushed, and attempts to withdraw will cause the Wombat to simply push up harder.
The unfortunate will then bleed to death through their crushed hand as the wombat prevents
him from seeking assistance. This is considered the third most embarrassing known way to
die, and Australians don't talk about it much.
At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus, estranged relative of the mammal, which
has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs, detects its aquatic prey in the same way as
the electric eel, and has venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical'
Australian attributes into a single improbable creature.
The last confusing thing about
First, a short history: Some time around 40,000 years ago, some people arrived in boats from
the north. They ate all the available food, and lot of them died. The ones that survived learned
respect for the balance of nature, man's proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders.
They settled in, and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange stories.
Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north.
More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and stupid people in charge.
They tried to plant their crops in autumn (failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons
when moving from the top half of the planet to the bottom), ate all their food, and a lot of them
About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It's interesting to note here
that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter,
since they can lie, cheat, steal, and litigate (marks of a civilised culture they say) whereas all the
Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped
with a stick.
Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on Extended
Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the mind-stretching expanses of
nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person can sit perfectly still and look deep inside
themselves to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking
inside your boots every morning for fatal surprises.
They also picked up the most finely tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift
for making up stories.
Footnote;Douglas does tend to run on a bit, so I’m going to make this a two part post, stay
tuned for the conclusion tomorrow.