25a. Australia The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states and two territories: States

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25a. Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states and two territories:

States: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania

Territories: Northern Territory and Australia Capital Territory.

  • 50,000 years ago – the Aborigines came from Southeast Asia;

  • 1606 – the western coast was discovered by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman;

  • 1770 – Captain James Cook claimed New South Wales as a British colony;

  • 1787s-1866 – Britain started the convict system (sending prisoners to Australia);

  • late 19th century – gold was discovered in Victoria and Western Australia;

  • 1901 – Australia became a British dominion.


  • the smallest continent and the biggest island in the world surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans;

  • deserts with strange rocks: the Great Sandy Desert and the Great Victoria Desert; Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is the largest piece of rock in the world;

  • not many rivers, three great lakes (Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens and Lake Gairdner);

  • many different kinds of climate;

  • strange animals: kangaroo, koala, emu, platypus.

Population: about 21 million (in 2007), 410 000 Aborigines (2.2% – couldn’t vote

until 1962, lost their land, more than 900,000 Aborigines killed by the

British settlers.

Capital: Canberra (Australia Capital Territory)

Other important cities: Sydney (the oldest and largest), Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth

Political system: federal state, member of the Commonwealth

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by governor-general

Economy: natural resources: iron ore, oil, natural gas and coal, uranium,

gold and silver; wool (the greatest producer in the world), wheat,

dairy farming, fishing.



rock: AC/DC (hard rock band), INXS (rock band), Midnight Oil (was a hard rock punk band –

Peter Garrett, a former member of the band is now the Minister for Environment and

Heritage and Arts)

pop: Kylie Minogue, Crowded House (pop rock band)

other: Nick Cave (alternative rock), Tommy Emmanuel (jazz guitarist)

actors: Olivia Newton-John (acted in Grease), Natalie Imbruglia (singer, actress, in Johnny

English), Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchette

directors: Peter Weir – The Truman Show (1998), Master and Commander (2003)

P. J. HOGAN – Peter Pan (2003)

Baz LUHRMAN – Moulin Rouge (2001)

James Clavell (1924-1994) – King Rat (Král krysa)

Thomas Keneally (1935-) – Schindler’s Ark (made into the film Schindler’s List by Spielberg)
Australian Government
Destination Australia
Guide to Australia
Virtual Australia
E-zine about Australian folklore

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