Many countries have features that are so well known that when you ask about that country, pictures instantly come to mind.
When asked “What is Australia known for?” I have to say three things come to my mind instantly:
- The Great Barrier Reef;
- Sydney Opera House.
Whilst I am sure that Australia is known for many other things, these three topics come to my mind automatically, I do not even have to think.
Kangaroos are only found in Australia and have always had a fascination for those of us in the west. Their odd appearance and the way they carry their young are both sources of fascination. Kangaroos outnumber humans in Australia by two to one. There are 25 million people and 50 million Kangaroos.
There are four species of Kangaroo.
The Red Kangaroo.
They live in New South Wales and males can be between 6 and 7ft tall. They also can weigh around 200 lbs.
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo.
These are the largest group although people think of the Reds normally when they think Kangaroo. They live along the whole eastern side of the country.
The Western Grey Kangaroo.
Is commonly found in the southern part of Western Australia. It is slightly smaller than the Red.
The Antilopine Kangaroo.
These are pretty much the same as Grey’s but live in the northern part of the country.
How Kangaroos Move.
Kangaroos Move by hopping using their strong hind legs. The tail is used a bit like a rudder for steering and to act as a balance. The hop with both legs together although they can kick them one at a time if they want to swim. An interesting fact is that Kangaroos cannot move backwards.
What Kangaroos Eat.
Kangaroos are Herbivores and eat grass, leaves, and ferns mostly. They have been described as pests in the past but recent studies show that they have very little impact on the environment.
Cows are a big culprit when it comes to global warming because they emit methane gas. However, Kangaroos, although eating the same diet do not. Scientists are considering the possibilities of transferring enzymes from Kangaroos to cattle to solve the methane problem.
Kangaroos live in “Mobs” which comprise of around ten to fourteen members. A mob will offer protection to weaker Kangaroos. Larger Kangaroos tend to be dominant and less strong kangaroos will signal their subservience by bending lower when the Kangaroos carry out “sniffing”. They will also quiver as a recognition of the higher status of the larger Kangaroo.
The Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is next in our list of what is Australia known for.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s last coral reef complex. It is so large that it is visible from space. In fact, it is the only living feature on the planet that is visible. The Great Barrier Reef has around 3,000 individual reefs making it up. The current reef is around 20 million years old.
How is Coral Reefs Formed?
Coral reefs are initially formed by just one coral. These multiply and attach themselves to rocks and other objects. After they settle they begin to secrete calcium carbonate on which the Polyp lives. Soon other members of the same species come and attach themselves to the structure and the process repeats.
The coral builds a relationship with algae, which its food, and the reefs you will recognize today is formed. As other types of coral come and settle in the same area, competing with the original coral and through this process a coral reef is formed. As a generation of coral dies so new generations build on top and gradually raise the height of the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is under threat and over the last thirty years it has lost half its cover. Pollution and global warming have produced terrible bleaching of the coral.
The Sydney Opera House.
One of the few architectural pieces that are recognizable by most people in the west is the Sydney Opera House. The building is a modern expressionist design and is built using precast concrete sections which together create a sphere.
They held a competition to get the design of the Opera House. Jørn Utzon from Denmark won the competition, beating 232 other entries, and received just $5,000 for his design. The project to construct the Opera House was initially costed at $7 million but the final price was $102 million.
The project was supposed to take just four years to complete but that too didn’t work out and it took 14 years instead. During the period of construction Paul Robeson technically became the first star to appear at the opera house when he visited the site and climbed on the scaffolding before singing Ol’ Man River to the workers. There were more than 1 million Swedish roof tiles used in its construction.
The Opera House.
Queen Elizabeth II opened the Sydney Opera House on 20th October, 1973. She has been back a further four times. Most recent visit was in 2006. Operating the Opera House is an extraordinary complex thing. Take for example when the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs, they have to maintain the temperature of the temperature of the stage at 22.5 degrees, to make sure the instruments stay in tune.
The Sydney opera House has over 10.9 million visitors each year and is the most popular tourist attraction in Australia. It is home to seven performing arts groups. The combined audience totals 1,5 million every year.
It turns out that what Australia known is for are three very different things. One animal (the Kangaroo), one a huge natural complex, and the final one is a piece of architecture. These three features are all very well-known and viewing any one of them would shout out “Australia” because they are so unique.
Of course there are many other things that Australia is known for, but we think that these three are so very different that they are in a class of their own.
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