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Everything You Didn't need to Know About Australia
By Adam Ward
This book was a gift from friend just prior to our six week trip to Oz a couple of years ago. It is a strange sort of book because despite the title there are quite a few things that are not only useful to know but are also quite important while others are interesting or just plain silly.
The author begins by saying that the average Aussie is not actually that interested in Trivia whilst we Brits are obsessed with facts and quizzes and collected piles of useless information and we 'pride ourselves in a smug self satisfied way (our) ability to recount nuggets of useless data.'
My husband and I are typical Brits then as we love quizzes even though we are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the grey cells are giving out as we don't seem to win as often as we use to. We love books of lists and enjoy travelling to places that are quirky or different or have been voted on the top 28 of the New 7 wonders and so on. This is just the kind of weird collection of random 'nuggets of useless date' that we enjoy browsing through and then instantly forgetting most of them!
The front cover is bright and full of Australian iconic images ( Rolf Harris, cricket, prawn Fosters and so on) on a map of the country. Interestingly until the Commonwealth games in 1982 Rolf Harris was almost unknown in his home country and was far more popular her in the UK. He was asked to sing at the opening of the games and he was really very touched to be recognised at last.
On the inner cover we are given a list of fact about the country to give you taste of some of the contents. It is amazing to see that the population of Australia is 19.1 million and London alone has a population of 8,174,100 almost half that of the whole of Australia. It is almost empty inland as almost 80% of the population live on or very near the coast. A huge part of the inland is desert and almost inhabitable and yet some do live in these outback parts in very trying conditions.
Some of the funnier facts I enjoyed include things like there are 125 days/nights of sexual gratification per person - now I don't know whether if two are involved that counts as two people or how he came up with that figure but it gives you an idea of the weirder facts.
Australians love their sports and many of the facts are sport related and you find things like 536,000 spectators watched harness racing or The trotters as the Aussies call them and that was in the year 1999 but more popular than Trotters was Aussie Rules followed by Horse racing.
Did you know that 1000 rugby balls were used at the 2003 Rugby World Cup which seems a staggering number to me - lots of souvenirs available there I would think.
Moving on to the Olympic in Sydney we learn that more countries competed than ever before with over 200 competing at Sydney. There were 47,000 volunteers working at these games covering 5 million man hours of time.
Aussie slang is another one that took me back to when i lived there and it all sounded perfectly normal to me then. More obvious ones are dunny = toilet, drongo = fool, chook = chicken, crook = sick /unwell, don't come the raw prawn = don't lie to me and then many more less salubrious ones my ex husband used to use which I won't go into here. I think the present Foster's adverts are just great and are so typically Aussie humour which is dry and sometimes cruel but on the whole harmless.
We are informed about famous Australians from Nicole Kidman who although she moved to Australia as a youngster was actually born in Hawaii. Russell Crowe born in NZ who once released a single under the name Rus Le Roq! Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbrulglia and Holly Vance, Elle MacPherson to name a few of the woman. Jason Donovan, Allan Border, The Beegees, AC/DC , Don Bradman and many more all get a mention.
The history, the land and the weather so much more are all given their share of attention and of course the unique fauna as well as the deadly ones all have special mention. The spiders that can kill are the redback and the funnel web so be careful when putting your shoes on and look under the dunny seat! Australia also has mosquitoes, sandflies, leeches, ticks, scorpions, FLIES and the spiders but they are not all found in the same parts of the country. The flies are just disgusting and are happy to sit on your nose , mouth or where ever but fortunately they are mainly found in the outback and hence we have the cork hat invention!
Australia has also invented many serious and useful inventions from plastic banknotes which make sense when you think about it. X rays were an Aussie invention, a vaccine to combat skin cancer, the simpliRED HIV test, invitro fertilisation and Broncostat for bronchitis are also Aussie inventions. There are many others but this gives an idea of what Australia has contributed to the world.
The Australians are also responsible for the first refrigerator, way back in 1956 and if you want to learn more then I suggest you take a look on Wikipedia.
The book is written in a chatty sort of style with an element of humour in some of the listings. It is not all silly nonsense as many of the facts are quite serious and others are interesting and some fascinating .
I did find the fact that there didn't seem to be any logic to the facts and how they were presented a bit annoying but the index at the back was handy if you were looking for a particular piece of information.
Apparently there are other books in the series, one on the USA and another on the UK but not sure what they are like as I have only seen mention of them at the back of this book.
This is not a travel book nor is it the sort of book you must read before heading to Australia. It will appeal to those who like quirky facts and have an interest in the country and would make a nice stocking filler.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.