Class 6 – Olympic Countries – Australia

Hello Class 6,

With the London Olympics fast approaching, I was fascinated by your research into Olympic countries and was pleased to be able to read the Australian information from Chelsea, Ryan, Callum, Oliver, Jasmin and a name I wasn't quite able to read (sorry, I'll add the name if I find out later).

I thought I might share some information about Australia in some of the areas you researched, if you are interested. I'll break them up into  subject areas...

HISTORY

Early maps of the world from the 1500s showed the known world but little in the southern Hemisphere (south of the equator). Ships had rounded the southern tip of Africa and seen parts of South America. It was thought there must be a big southern land to balance the land in the northern hemisphere. Here is a 1564 map of the world by Ortelius...

We know some European explorers visited Australia as early as the 1500s but they thought they had found New Guinea. In 1606, a Spanish ship sailed between Australia and New Guinea but didn't seem to realise what they had seen. The first known landing in Australia by Europeans was by a Dutch ship also in 1606. In 1616, a Dutch ship landed on the western shores of Australia and in 1642, another Dutch sailed to Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) before sailing on to New Zealand. The new land had been called New Holland.

Before the coming of James Cook, nothing was known of the east coast of Australia by Europeans. The then Lieutenant James Cook was put in charge of the ship Endeavour and set sail from England in 1768.

I prepared a blog post on another of my blogs for schools in my local area. Recently, the Endeavour replica sailed into Eden's Twofold Bay in Australia. You will find information and photos of the Endeavour replica on the blog as well as links to other of my posts including a 'letter' from Commander Cook to a class in California, a video of the ship departing Eden, and a slideshow of the photos taken.

Here is the link to the post...

James Cook and his Endeavour

GEOGRAPHY

Australia is said to the the world's biggest island and smallest continent. This means anything larger is a continent and anything smaller is an island. From my research,

Australia's area is...   7,686,850 square kilometres   or   2,967,910 square miles

United Kingdom is...  243,610 square kilometres   or  94,060 square miles

This means Australia is over 31 times bigger than the United Kingdom yet only has a population nearing 23 million whereas the United Kingdom has over 62 million people, over 2.5 times Australia's population. We must remember, much of Australia is desert and not suitable for many people to live. Most Australians live along the coastline.

Seas and Oceans

Australia isn't in the Indian Ocean, it's the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean. Look at this map I prepared for you...

From the map, you can see Australia is in three oceans, the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans. It's also the shore of three seas, the Timor Sea between it and Indonesia, the Coral Sea between it and the islands of New Guinea, and the Tasman Sea between it and New Zealand.

I've seen estimates Australia has a coastline 25,760 km or over 16,000 miles long making it the sixth largest whereas the United Kingdom has a coastline of over 14,400 km or nearly 9000 miles making it 12th.

Our Flag and National Anthem

Australia became a nation on January 1,1901. It was no longer a colony of independent states, it was a commonwealth of states. Our national flag was first approved by King Edward VII in 1902.

As you can see, the Australian flag has the Union Jack in its top, left corner.This was used to show our links with the United Kingdom.

The large star underneath the Union Jack is known as the Federation Star. Six points represent the states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia) whereas the final point represents the territories (Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory).

The group of five stars on the right is the Southern Cross. It is visible in our night sky throughout the year and helps me find south when out at night. The constellation is known to astronomers as Crux.

At times, there have been moves to create a new Australian flag but, at this date, no decision has been made.

The National Anthem

When I was a boy, the Australian National Anthem was "God Save the Queen" just as in England. In 1984, the new national anthem became "Advance Australia Fair". Here is a recording I made of a 100 voice choir some time ago...

Australian Natural

Spiders

There certainly are a number of spiders in Australia. Each morning when I walk down a path I am likely to walk into webs strung in the garden. We have some deadly spiders here but most are reasonably harmless. Here are some photos and drawings of spiders and their webs...

This is a drawing of a funnel web spider. It's bite can be fatal but they are rare to see. I have seen them in zoos but only once in the wild.

The redback is also poisonous but it isn't normally a fatal bite. I have seen a number of these in the wild.

This spider is harmless and likes to hang around houses.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I often see these in their webs as I go on hikes. Again it's harmless. A bite might only cause a little skin irritation.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Also seen when hiking, this leaf curling spider brings a leaf into its web, curls it and stays hidden inside. Look carefully and you can see its legs sticking out touching its web lines. When it senses something in the web, it rushes out to grab its prey.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Spider webs can be quite delicate as this one spun between opening fern fronds.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...or this one photographed in the morning dew.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Kangaroos, Koalas and Wallabies

These are some of our cute looking animals but we must remember, in the wild they should be left alone. Wild animals don't like us getting too close.

This is an eastern grey kangaroo I met on one of my walks. He stood about 175 cm (5'9") tall. This type of kangaroo is the most common in my area. The tallest species is the red kangaroo but they live more in arid areas away from the coast.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Suzie is a female koala living at Potoroo Palace, a refuge for injured and orphaned animals.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Last year Suzie gave birth. The peanut-sized baby made its way up and into her pouch where it grew. Below is a link to a video I shot of one of the first times her baby girl made an appearance...

 Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Blinky is a male koala and the father of Suzie's baby. In the wild, the father has nothing to do with raising a baby but at Potoroo Palace, he shares an enclosure with Suzie. You can tell the difference between males and females by looking under their neck. You can see how much white Suzie has compared to Blinky. In many places, koalas are now endangered because of habitat loss and a disease. Breeding programs in zoos are helping.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

While they normally stay in trees and sleep for over 20 hours a day, they sometimes can be seen walking from tree to tree. Here is an animation I created for you from a series of photos...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This little girl is a swamp wallaby. She also lives in Potoroo Palace. She appears to be smiling because she thought I had food for her. Swamp wallabies are very common in my area. I often see them on my walks.

Below is a link to a video of Serena, another swamp wallaby, when she was young...

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE

Sydney Harbour Bridge (its nickname is "The Coathanger") was built between 28 July, 1923 and 19 January, 1932. It was officially opened on 19 March, 1932. Amongst the crowd at the opening was my father. He was 13 at the time.

Before its construction, the only way across the harbour was by ferry. When the bridge opened, it offered rail, tram and car access. There is now also a tunnel under the harbour nearby.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

SPORT

Cricket is without doubt a big sport here. We have a national team, state teams and local teams. There are two cricket pitches across the road from me.

Football to an Aussie can mean one of three major codes. We have soccer (there are two soccer fields across the road), Australian Rules Football (one field across the road) and rugby league.

The sport with the biggest number of players in Australia (mainly girls and women) is netball. In another park their are two courts.

Basketball is also a big sport in Australia with teams set up like in America. There are many other sports played.

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Thank you all for sharing your research into the Olympic countries. I sure you will feel as excited as may class did when the Sydney Olympics started in 2000.

@RossMannell

Teacher, NSW, Australia

** Some information was referenced using Wikipedia.

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