In the country of antipodes
It just so happened that we traditionally imagine Australia as a country of “antipodes.” You may not remember what the capital of this state is called, what kind of seas, oceans it is washed by, but everyone from childhood learned that this land is located somewhere “below” the globe. So, in relation to us, Australians walk upside down. She is generally full of paradoxes, this Australia. Far and mysterious, inaccessible and unknown. In a word, terra incognita.
To begin with, Australia is the only state in the world that occupies the territory of an entire continent. Here is his passport data: in addition to the Australian mainland, it includes the island of Tasmania and many small islands. The territory is 7.7 million square kilometers, the length of the mainland from north to south is over 3200 kilometers, from west to east – over 4 thousand. The population is more than 15 million people. The capital is Canberra (more than 250 thousand inhabitants).
And with a personal acquaintance, I judge by myself, Australia primarily affects the measured and, so to speak, good-natured course of life. And the fact that here is the opposite. When Russia is winter, Australia is summer. When you cross the road, you look first to the right, and not to the left.
And where else can you see the New Year’s Eve on the beach, in bathing suits? Moreover, this happens at the same time as ours. Where else to go if the country has a summer season all year round? But Santa Claus is a copy of ours. The only difference is that he wanders barefoot in the sand in his Santa Claus coat, sometimes relaxing in a hammock with a glass of champagne. And then again “goes to the people”, entertains according to official duties. Maybe water skiing with a breeze rush. And some in their red coats and with a beard fly off on paragliders.
There is such a New Year tradition in Australia, which everyone loves. It is called Kissing time – “Kissing Time”. Everyone passionately kisses – friends and strangers, which is even more piquant …
Australians usually do not miss the chance to remind the interlocutor that 33 Great Britain can be accommodated in their country. If your hobby is diving, then the Great Barrier Reef awaits you. If surfing is the Gold Coast. And if adventures, encounters with natives, combed crocodiles, jungles and waterfalls are beckoning, head for Darwin and Kakadu Park …
Highest chic – come from convicts
But first, it’s useful to flip through the pages of history. The first Europeans to discover this continent at the beginning of the 17th century were the Dutch sailors Willem Janz (1605) and Abel Tasman (1642), who called it New Holland. Australia, which means South Land, the mainland began to be called only at the beginning of the XIX century, after it was rediscovered by James Cook in 1770, and later annexed to the English crown.
Entering Australian land, the aforementioned Janz hastened to get out of there as soon as possible and wrote in his diary: “There is nothing good in this god-damned country.” The few adventurers who landed there drove into the gloomy drylands, “the cunning and ferocity of the natives” and animals that looked so strange, “as if God began to work on them, but never finished.”
Eucalyptus forests were lifeless, the flowers were odorless, and the birds did not sing. Is it any wonder that the first researchers called Australia “The Land of Nightmares and Despair”. There was no silver, no gold, no spices. James Cook did not even find fresh water and at first decided that the mainland was not suitable for life at all. Therefore, the British decided to send convicts there, away from the mother country.
The colonization of Australia began from the very beginning that in January 1788 the first transport of exiles from Britain arrived at its shores. The forced labor settlement was called Sydney. Among the 700 pioneers were 500 men and 200 women convicted of murder, robbery, smuggling, prostitution and other acts. They were followed by tens of thousands of other poor fellows, who became the true founders of the new country.
The law on the expulsion of criminals was in force until 1840, and by that time many of the exiles had found death in Australia from overwork, clearing thickets under farms and laying the foundations of new cities. However, such a fate did not befall everyone. Some found freedom, managed to learn and even succeed. The less fortunate ones remained in the position of half-slaves in the service of voluntary immigrants who began to arrive here after the ships with convicts.
Australia is a federal state within the British Commonwealth. Under the 1901 constitution, the Australian Union was formerly comprised of English colonies, and now the states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
In 1931, under the Westminster Statute, Australia gained complete independence from the mother country in foreign and domestic affairs. Nevertheless, today the nominal head of the country is the Queen of England, who is represented by the Governor-General, appointed on the recommendation of the Australian government.