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Eastern Grey Kangaroos
Flag of Australia (converted).svg

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Indigenous Australians inhabited the continent for about 65,000 years prior to European discovery with the arrival of Dutch explorers in the early 17th century, who named it New Holland. In 1770, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the time of an 1850s gold rush, most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories.

Being the oldest, flattest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi). A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. Its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications, banking, and manufacturing.

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AHS Centaur following her conversion to hospital ship. The Red Cross designation "47" can be seen on the bow

Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur was a hospital ship active during World War II, which was attacked and sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1943. Of the 332 medical personnel and crew aboard, 268 died. Centaur served in both civilian and military capabilities and during her career was involved in towing a damaged Japanese whale-chaser and recovering German survivors of the engagement between HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran. Following her early-1943 conversion to a hospital ship, Centaur served with the Second Australian Imperial Force. Before dawn on 14 May 1943, while on her second voyage, Centaur was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine off North Stradbroke Island, Queensland. The majority of the 332 aboard died in the attack and the 64 survivors waited 36 hours for rescued. The attack resulted in public outrage as it was considered to be a war crime. Protests were made by the Australian and British governments to Japan and efforts were made to discover the people responsible so they could be tried at a war crimes tribunal. Despite this, it was not until 1979 that the attacking submarine, I-177, was identified. Efforts to locate the final resting place of the ship have been made but, with the exception of a false identification made in 1995 and standing until 2003, the location of Centaur is still unknown, as is the reason for the attack.

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Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera).

The Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera) is a very common, Australian ground-dwelling frog, of the family Myobatrachidae. It ranges from south-eastern Australia, from Adelaide to Melbourne, up the eastern coast to Brisbane. It also inhabits a majority of Tasmania. It is a small frog (3 centimetres), of brown or grey colour of various shades. It has extremely variable markings, with great variety usually found within confined populations

Photo credit: LiquidGhoul


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Kangaroo meat at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne

Kangaroo meat is mostly produced in Australia from wild animals and in 2010 was exported to over 55 countries worldwide. Read more...


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