Capital | Canberra
Population | 21,515,754 (July 2010 est)
Area | 7,686,850 SQ KM
Official Language | English
Holidays | Australia Day, 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
Currency | Australian dollars (AUD)
Time Zone | North UMT +9.5 / South UMT +10 / West UMT +8 / East UMT +10
Best Time to Visit | Year-round
Connecting with the Culture | Watching the dramatic changing colors of sunrise or sunset over Uluru (Ayers Rock). Exploring the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef. Sampling the world-famous wines of Barossa Valley. Viewing Sydney harbor after climbing to the top of the “coathanger”, Sydney Harbor Bridge. Meeting the native wildlife on Kangaroo Island.
Read | Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, a compelling insight into the social dynamics of early-colonial Australia.
Listen | Paul Kelly’s Songs from the South greatest hits compilation
Watch | Oscar nominated Australia , Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand. Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman
Eat | kangaroo or emu; try the fresh seafood
Drink | ice-cold beer; Australia’s world-renowned wines, in particular shiraz and chardonnay
In a Word | G’day mate!
Characteristics | Bronzed Aussies; dangerous creatures; endless beaches; friendly locals; Outback pubs; sizzling barbecues
Surprises | It isn’t always hot and sunny; it has the oldest continuing culture in the world.
NEWS ABOUT AUSTRALIA
4th Fatal Shark Attack in W. Australia kills man
(HN, 3/26/12) - A popular Western Australian beach remains closed after 33-year-old Peter Kurmann, a well known local businessman, was attacked & killed by a 4-metre shark Saturday morning while diving with his brother 34-year-old Gian (who was unharmed) off Stratham Beach, south of Perth. From the town of Vasse, near Busselton, they had anchored about 1 nautical mile from Port Geographe Marina & were diving for crayfish when he was attacked just after 9:00am (AWST). It's the 4th fatal shark in WA since September; all of them off the continent's SW coast. Bodyboarder Kyle Burden, 21, was killed in Bunker Bay near Dunsborough in September; 64-year-old swimmer Bryn Martin disappeared off Perth's Cottesloe Beach in October (it's presumed he was taken by a shark); 2 weeks later 32-year-old American George Wainwright was killed by a shark off Rottnest Island - prompting authorities to conduct aerial shore shark patrols.
Experts have said there is no evidence shark numbers are increasing, tho they have been believe different species of shark are likely responsible for each fatality. Australia averages little more than 1 fatality a year along an expansive 35,000-kilometre coast, although occurences have become more common in recent decades as more people take part in ocean recreation. The Fisheries Department has launched an investigation, which will include an examination of bite marks on the victim's body to determine the type. (Read more at the WA)