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Saturday, March 30, 2013

MUGA Day #6: Australia

G'day.  Woke up to #410, True by Spandau Ballet.  Executive Club breakfast.  #402, Traveling Wilburys singing Handle with Care.  Haven't seen them for some time.  They are led by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.  They recorded two albums between 1988 and 1990, except Orbison passed away before the second one was released.  Harrison was largely responsible for getting this group going, and their name refers to "we'll bury 'em," recording typos.

I'm killing time because it's raining.  #401, a fabulous video of Amii Stewart's Knock on Wood.  Well, I can read the Sunday paper and follow-up on some correspondence.  If nothing else, I'll walk to the Sydney Opera House in the rain, for I'm not that far away and badly need some exercise.  #385, Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of My Heart.  It's a shame I won't be here for the end, as in 24 hours I leave for Bangkok.

#374, Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry.  Anyway, Australia, as large as it is, is the tiniest of continents, a bit smaller than Brazil. It is also the flattest and driest.  Some oddities:

  • Until 1902 it was illegal to swim at public beaches.  
  • In 1954 Bob Hawke is noted by Guinness for drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.  He went on to become Prime Minister (left).  
  • Sir John Robertson, drank a pint of rum every morning for 35 years.  He served five terms as Premier of New South Wales.
  • More land is occupied by pubs than by mines.
  • Australians spend more money on gambling than any other nation.  With 1% of the world population, the country has 20% of the poker machines.
  • 22% of Australians have a convict ancestor.  On the plus side, only non-serious criminals were sent here
  • Kangaroos can go for months without drinking any water.
  • The box jellyfish has killed more people in the country than sharks, crocodiles and everything else combined.  I hope it's a different species from the one that stings Waikiki tourists a couple of days a month.
  • Cockroaches have been around for around 350 million years.  So has the Queensland lungfish.

  • The first aborigines came to Australia 50,000 years ago, beating Captain James Cook by about that many years.  About 1% of the population today is aborigine.  The first Aboriginal elected to their Parliament, Neville Bonner (left).  Read his story.
  • 40% of those living here are migrants or first generation children.
  • Sydney is known as "Sin City," not because of current sin, but because it was formed by convicts.
  • The term "selling coal to Newcastle" as foolhardy now makes sense again today, for while the original in the UK does today ship in coal (because it ran out), the Australian Newcastle now is the largest coal exporter in the world.
  • Adelaide, a state capital has a lot of churches, partially because it is the only one not receiving any convicts.  Perth, it is said, has currently monopolized the convict tradition, where they now work in parliament and are businessmen.
  • children in the U.S. ship off their parents to Florida to retire, Queensland has become the equivalent in Australia.
  • Tasmania is one of the largest supplier of licit opiate products (think cocaine and opium).  The right, not Afghanistan.
  • "Waltzing Matilda" is German for "carrying a backpack."  The tune has origins in Scotland.  It's the unofficial national anthem of Australia.
  • The name Australia comes from the Latin Terra Australis Incognito, which means Unknown Southern Land.
  • Americans are referred to as "Seppos," an abbreviation for "Septic Tank,"  which rhymes with "Yank."
  • Australia was founded by convicts and has a homicide rate of 1.8 per 100,000.  The U.S. by religious zealots, where our homicide rate today is four times higher.  In Vietnam, American soldiers fired seven times as many bullets/person as Australians.
  • The average world population density is 117 people/square mile--Macao 69,000, USA 76 and Australia 6.
  • There are 16 rabbits per person.  It was worse in the 1920's with 10 billion, all coming from 24 imported in 1859 by Thomas Austin (left).  They have caused immense ecological devastation and can't be exterminated.
  • Kangaroos were so named when white settlers asked Aborigines what they were, who responded with "Kanguru," which means, "I don't know."
Click here to speak Australian.  #360, Paul McCartney, Band on the Run.

Well, the sun came out, so here is the obligatory photo of the Opera House, with the Bridge in the background:


#323, Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi.  She'd never make the first cut in American Idol, but made 19 record albums.

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