Cultural facts about Australia
* Swimming - In 1838 it was declared illegal to swim at public beaches during the day! This law was enforced until 1902.
* The secret ballot was first used in Victoria and South Australia following the granting of responsible government. Other states introduced secret ballots as follows: 1856 - Victoria & South Australia 1858 - New South Wales & Tasmania 1859 - Queensland 1893 - Western Australia. The secret ballot was referred to as 'kangaroo voting'. World wide, secret voting is often referred to as the 'Australian ballot.
* Female vote - Australia was the second country to give women the vote.
* In 1932, Francis De Groot, a retired cavalry officer, managed to get himself selected as part of the honour guard at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When the ribbon was about to be cut, he galloped forward on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword, declaring the bridge open in the name of 'the decent citizens of New South Wales'. The ribbon was then tied back together and the ceremony continued. De Groot was carried off to a mental hospital, declared insane and later fined for the replacement cost of one ribbon.
* Independence for WA- In April 1933, 68 per cent of West Australians voted in favour of seceding from the Commonwealth of Australia. However, they needed permission from the British Parliament before they could officially become a new country. Meanwhile, Australia's Federal Parliament was arguing that Britain should not interfere in Australian politics. The end result was that Britain never made a decision. Consequently, Western Australian remained part of the Commonwealth.
* In 1954, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob later became the Prime Minister of Australia.
*Sir John Robertson, five times premier of New South Wales, was said to have drank a pint of rum every morning for 35 years. Later said: 'none of the men who have left footprints in this country have been cold water men.'
* Prime Minister Harold Holt went for a swim at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea on 17th December 1967, and was never seen again. The event has been referred to as 'the swim that needed no towel'.
* Until 1984, Australia's National anthem was "God save the Queen/King."
* Cartoonists - A cartoon is a drawing that makes a satirical, witty, or humorous point. On 17 July 1924, the world's first society of cartoonists, the Black and White Artists' Society, was formed in Sydney.
* Yowie sighting - In 1987, the Alice Springs police station received a call from a frightened family. The family had stopped for a cup of tea after a morning of rabbit hunting. Then a huge ape like creature, two meters tall and covered in hair, leapt out of an empty water tank and began walking towards them. The family fled to their truck and the creature ran after them before disappearing into the bush. The man, Frank Burns believed it was a man however the women, Phyllis Kenny, told the press she could tell the difference between man and beast and this was definitely a beast. The following day police searched the area and found a man, 203 centimetres tall weighing a estimated 127-159 kg (or about two Oprah Winfreys) sitting naked by the roadside. The man was then taken to a local mental hospital.
*Australia day - January 26, Australia day, is the anniversary of ships arriving in Sydney carrying a load of Convicts.
*Australia was the 3rd country, after the US and Russia, to launch a satellite into orbit. It was for the British, using a 'Blue Streak' rocket
*A census taken in 1828 found that half the population of NSW were Convicts, and that former Convicts made up nearly half of the free population.
*It is estimated that by the time transportation ended in 1868, 40 per cent of Australia's English-speaking population were of Convicts descent.
*In 2007, it was estimated that 22 per cent of living Australians had a Convict ancestor.
*Convicts were not sent to Australia for serious crimes. Serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or impersonating an Egyptian were given the death sentence in England.
*Crimes punishable by transportation included recommending that politicians get paid, starting a union, stealing fish from a river or pond, embezzlement, receiving or buying stolen goods, setting fire to underwood, petty theft, or being suspected of supporting Irish terrorism.
* Alcohol- It has been reported that the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per head of population than any other community in the history of mankind.
* Police force - Australia's first police force was a band of 12 of the most well behaved Convicts.
* Mass moonings - In 1832, 300 female Convicts at the Cascade Female Factory mooned the Governor of Tasmania during a chapel service. It was said that in a "rare moment of collusion with the Convict women, the ladies in the Governor's party could not control their laughter."
*The Australian Lyre Bird is the world's best imitator; able to mimic the calls of 15 different species of birds in their locality and string the calls into a melody. Also been known to mimic the sound mobile phones.
*The echidna is such a unique animal that it is classified in a special class of mammals known as monotremes, which it shares only with the platypus. The echidna lays eggs like a duck but suckles its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. For no apparent reason, it may decide to conserve energy by dropping its body temperature to 4 degrees and remain at that temperature from 4 to 120 days. Lab experiments have shown that the echidna is more intelligent that a cat and it has been seen using its spikes, feet and beaks to climb up crevices like a mountaineer edging up a rock chimney.