- Not to be confused with Austria (neither nation appreciates it).
Australia is a strange nation located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. To this day, mapmakers can't decide whether the land mass is the world's smallest continent or if it's the world's biggest island. The nation is sometimes grouped together in the "continent" Oceania with East Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, parts of Indonesia, and New Zealand. In the United Nations, Australia is in the group "Western European and Others". Whichever anybody decides, it's still there.
The Australian landscape comes in three main varieties: Martian (red/orange desert as seen on postcards), Bush (name says it all) and Suburbia (which is massive and threatening the other two, as seen on Aussie soap operas) Australian agriculture is currently succeeding in converting much of the former Bush into more Martian style desert.
 18th and 19th centuries
Originally populated by various indigenous tribes, known collectively as Aboriginals, Australia was "discovered" by the British (shortly after its discovery by both the Portuguese and Dutch) and was incorporated into its grand empire. However, nobody could really decide what to do with it, as they couldn't find a use for it within the Empire (due to the lack of usable materials and the harsh terrain for agriculture), until someone had the bright idea of turning it into a penal colony for all of the Empire's convicts. They dumped them there and, after they served their sentence, they were left to their own devices. The favourite hobby of the British officers, free settlers and ex-cons included terrorising the natives (also known as genocide). In these days, while the entire continent was ruled by the British, the country remained divided into several large colonies for no particularly good reason.
Several prominent figures in Australian history arose in the late 19th century. These included Ned Kelly, a bank robber and police-murderer, Breaker Morant, a convicted war criminal executed for shooting POWs, and an unnamed ballroom dancing champion who committed suicide rather than being caught stealing a sheep. For some reason all of these men are remembered as national heroes, and are regularly the subject of movies and songs.
After gold was discovered there in the 1850s, people finally had a legitimate reason to live in Australia. The freed convicts were joined by the fresh settlers drawn to the gold rush. Many of these settlers were Asian, leading to a proud tradition of "Dey took are jerbs!" which is still a strong element in Australian politics even today.
 20th and 21st centuries
Eventually the cries of "Dey took are jerbs" became sufficiently strong that various academics proposed uniting the colonies on the continent under a single flag. Australia became a country in 1901 in a somewhat bloodless manner compared to the United States, although it wasn't until 1986 that the government was completely severed from Britain. They also neglected to tell Elizabeth the Second, however, who remains Queen of Australia - seriously. That's why you're supposed to read through legal documents.
One of the first acts of the newly formed Parliament was the "White Australia Policy", which would stop the Chinese from taking thayre jerbs ONCE AND FOR ALL. Aside from a brief respite under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the 1970's, Australia's immigration policy has progressed little. Immigrants who do not have all of their legal papers will be imprisoned without charge offshore for at least two years without trial. Especially if they came by boat.
Until World War I, nothing of interest, note, or fascination occurred. World War I saw Australian troops forced to join the battle lines of the war, as the British still had control over Australian foreign policy. The ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) were made famous by their engagement at Gallipoli, where Winston Churchill sent large numbers of them to a futile death in order to convince the Ottoman Empire to join the war against Britain. For some reason the day that the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli and got shot at is remembered as a national holiday.
Australia also entered World War II (voluntarily this time), and fought mostly on the Pacific front against the Japanese. Most of mainland Australia remained unmolested, although they did briefly lose a few island territories to the north. The Japanese navy occasionally sent submarines in a half-hearted attempt to harass a few of Australia's seaports; Sydney Harbour was the site of a minor naval engagement (not a marriage, a battle!). However, Australia's relatively isolated position has left it quite safe from invasions ever since the first British one.
Broad Australian (Strine, Straylin) is generally spoken through the nose. Swearwords are used frequently, and if you're referred to as a bugger or a bastard, it's not necessarily offensive. 'Stralians frequently raise the tone of their voice towards the end of the sentence, as if they're asking a question. It's the only major English dialect to have retained "good day" (g'day) as a common greeting.
Australians speak a form of English closer to the British end of the spectrum. Well, their dictionaries use "-our" instead of "-or" and "-ise" instead of "-ize", anyway. The Australian public in general is totally incapable of spelling, so it's hard to tell.
Australians use all sorts of ridiculous slang/dialect, including extremely complicated metaphors, continuous references to food, and loads of stuff they just made up... but only when tourists are around. However, there are so many unusual plants and animals about that Aussie generally have to refer to them by odd names anyway.
And of course plenty of other languages are spoken by Aborigines and immigrants. Italian, Greek, Arabic and Chinese are widely spoken.
Australia is about 60% religious, but less than half of them actually give a shit. A few fundamentalist christian churches (such as Hillsong and the Exclusive Brethren) and some old-school Catholics hold a little political power and occasionally make grabs for more, but this doesn't really influence the people in any way. The vast majority of Australians don't give a shit what your religion is, unless it's Islam.
Australia has been a good friend to the United States of America since World War II, when they made them an ally and protector. They were somewhat concerned with the growing military power of Asia, hence their reason for getting on the U.S.'s good books. That, and the fact that not many people in Australia speak Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese. Since then the two nations have been quite cozy -- for instance, when Australia refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol and became heavily involved in the invasion of Iraq.
Australian politics is dominated by two parties, the Australian Labor Party (who can't spell) and the right-center Liberal Party of Australia (who can spell but don't own a dictionary). As a result of having two such closely aligned parties Australian elections are decided by a game of two-up. There are some important policy differences between the two parties though. Whereas the ALP believes that asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat should be imprisoned outside Australia (in East Timor), the Liberal Party believes that asylum seekers arriving by boat should be imprisoned outside Australia (in Nauru). However, this difference evaporated in August 2012, where both parties agreed to "just ditch them somewhere where we don't have to look at them and the media can't get footage". Another prominent difference is in regard to the war in Afghanistan. The ALP believes that Australia should have around 1800 soldiers in Afghanistan, whereas the Liberal Party believes that number should be something more like 1850.
Minor political parties in Australia fare moderately well in the polls; better than the ones in America, but not as well as those in Europe and neighbouring New Zealand. The House of Representatives usually contains about 5% independent or minor members, while the Senate is more like 10-15%. Australian minor parties can end up holding the "balance of power" in the Senate-where a party wanting to pass a bill must negotiate with minor parties in order for the bill to pass. This can give minor parties a large amount of power—at least compared to the number of votes they won. When the new Senate came in July 2008 Nick Xenophon essentially become the balance of power in the Senate, as he is the only non-aligned senator. Whilst the Prime Minister holds the executive power, no legislation can pass without either the opposition, or failing that, Senator Xenophon's vote, thereby making him the de facto most powerful man in Australian politics.
After the 2010 elections, neither major party could claim a majority in the lower house, resulting in a hung parliament. This led to four independent Members of Parliament engaging in intense negotiations with the main parties over which one would hand over the most cash, and ask the least questions about where it was going.
Most of Australia is hot, red, and dry. In fact, the only way an Australian can tell if they've died and gone to hell is that the beer is colder. Along the coast, the weather is determined by an enormous number of variables, including the temperature of the surrounding oceans, wind direction, the buildup of high and low pressure systems and the whims of Mighty Thor, meaning that the weather alternates between droughts and floods. When it is not dry, parts of the country larger than France and Germany combined can become flooded, as it most recently has.
All the major cities are along the coast. There is absolutely nothing of interest in the middle of the country, save for that big rock all the tourists flock to. Most locals wonder what the fuss is about, maybe someday we'll know.
Australia is a land full of unique, venomous, and otherwise deadly animals with big, sharp, pointy teeth. There are, however, not many venomous snakes; they were all killed by the spiders. That is unless one counts 5 out of the 10 most venomous snakes in the world including the top 3. Some of the sheep are harmless. But you can't blame the animals -- the land itself is inimical, and they've evolved an ingrained nastiness just to survive. In other words, they're a lot like New Yorkers.
- Kangaroo; a great big two-legged rabbit thing. A single pair of them
walked hoppedfloated all the way from Noah's Ark and spread across Australia. Considered a pest by Australians. Also considered delicious.
- Wallaby; looks just like Kangaroo but much smaller.
- Platypus; (plural: Platyπ). Mammals which lay eggs, are venomous and have a bill like a duck. Rejected by the Intelligent Design QA Committee.
- Echidna; Close relative of the Platypus which also lays eggs. Looks like a porcupine, but its spines are shorter, fatter, and deadlier. Eats ants, which makes it the bravest animal on the continent.
- Dingo; a rabid dog that eats babies.
- Koala; small grey and white tree-dwelling creatures that spend 23 hours a day sleeping. They spend the remaining hour of the day — usually around 2 in the morning — sitting in trees outside people's windows making a noise similar to a motorbike trying to start on an empty tank. It is illegal to throw things at them. The species is ravaged by Koala chlamydia, which did not get into them from humans. Probably.
- Drop bear; close relative to the koala. It is carnivorous, and kills its prey by jumping out of trees onto smaller creatures. It is renowned for its tendency to prey upon tourists and backpackers.
- Tasmanian Devil; often seen whirling about in a whirlwind of dust while growling viciously. They have a language which consists of screaming and biting each other on the face. The species is at risk of going extinct because one of them developed tumours on its face which could be transmitted when individuals bit each other, and they bite each other a lot.
 Lizards and other scaley things
- Goanna; a giant lizard thing. Famous for making people shit themselves when they see it.
- Saltwater Crocodile; a huge type of crocodile and an excellent reason for not swimming in muddy rivers.
- Snakes; Fewer than you'd expect (most of them have been killed by the spiders). Contrary to the bogus reports of foreign scaremongers, most Australian snakes are harmless, but just to be on the safe side, do watch out for the Inland taipan, the Eastern brown snake, the Dubois's sea snake, the Yellow bellied sea snake, the Horned sea snake, the Coastal taipan, the Peninsula tiger snake, the Western tiger snake, the Mainland tiger snake, the Elegant sea snake and the Chapel island tiger snake, as these are all ever-so-slightly lethal.
 Dinosaurs with feathers
- Galah; a large, noisy, pink-bellied parrot that is too stupid to live. Scientists are still baffled as to how it's managed to survive.
- Cassowary; lives in the rainforests and eats fruit. However, it is the world's third-largest bird, which knocks down trees with its head and kicks people to death for fun. The world's clearest piece of evidence for the dinosaur-bird relationship.
- Magpies; attack people for their shiny things. Have a particular hatred of bicycles, causing Australian cyclists to wear spikes on their helmets in the hope of impaling one. The government offers a bounty for them.
- The Australian Raven; an extremely large corvid. Despite its massive size and wickedly sharp talons and beak, it is a massive wimp, and all the other Australian birds regularly beat it up for its lunch money. Eats carrion and garbage. Often found in schoolyards just after lunchtime.
- The Indian Mynah; a feral bird which comes from, um, India. Although small, it is a horrible little bastard which scares off the other birds and steals their nests.
- The Australia Miner; differs from the Indian only by being a different colour and native to Australia. Despite behaving in exactly the same way as the Indian, it is tolerated because it's native (see also; Australian immigration policy).
 Fishies in the sea
- Stingrays; Once common in Australian waters, stingrays have been declared an enemy of the people by the Australian government ever since one of them killed Steve Irwin. It is illegal to let them live.
- Great White Shark; A docile creature which lives on a diet of surfboards, but sometimes accidentally ingests the surfers riding them.
- Mantis Shrimp; Winner of several undersea boxing tournaments, this little guy is capable punching so hard he creates cavitations.
 Horrible deadly crawly things
- Redback Spider; often found on toilet seats, waiting for fresh victims to bite.
- Funnel-web Spider; A species of trapdoor spider with its genes for aggressiveness turned up to 11. It does not care how big the thing that just disturbed its web is; it will jump out and go for anything that steps too close to the trapdoor. The deadliest spider in Australia (to humans).
- Box Jelly; one of the many animals in Australia that will kill you. With the Box Jelly, they're barely the size of your pinkie finger nail, so there's really no way to avoid them; even if you stay out of the water, there's no guarantee.
- Cone Snails; An underwater creature that lives in an extremely pretty shell. Known for squirting poison into the eyes of tourists who stupidly picked them up.
- Ants; If you step on an anthill in Australia, please call your lawyer immediately and arrange a last will and testament. Do it quickly. Especially if you're wearing sandals.
- Blue Ringed Octopi; Kill you via respiratory paralysis in only a few minutes. Look very large in pictures, but they are actually only the size of your thumbnail
- Bees, in a cruel ironic twist, indigenous bees are stingless, and Europeans introduced the stinging sort.
 Introduced species
Australian customs is rightly concerned about these because of their massive impact on the environment.
- Humans - since their arrival thousands of years ago, have contributed to desertification and extinction. The white variety has proven more virulent than the black fella, but Aborigines have done their share of damage too.
- Dingoes - Yep, imported too, but pre-European.
- Rabbits, have bred like, you know.
- Cane toads - can't be eaten by anything and breed like rabbits.
- Mice and rats - everywhere, but unintentional.
- Cats- munching their way through the smaller marsupials.
- Prickly pears
- Sheep, cattle and horses
- Foxes, for English country gentlemen to hunt.
In the cities, many more civilised pursuits such as opera, sporting contests, theatre, and gay Mardi Gras may be found to keep the populace occupied. In the rural areas, the inhabitants must make their own fun in a manner slyly alluded to by the famous Australian song Tie me kangaroo down, sport.
As showcased by popular Australian exports such as Priscilla and Dame Edna Everage, some Australian men are known to entertain themselves by dressing in women's clothing. Many of the men who enjoy this activity gather annually in Sydney for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the largest LGBT pride festival in the world.
Boat racing is also popular and the Henley-on-Todd Regatta is considered Australia's premier river race event. Australia's premier sporting event - the Melbourne Cup horse race - turns every Australian citizen into an instant expert on horse racing, despite their complete lack of interest in horse racing for the other 364 days of the year.
Australians are also completely obsessed with sport. In fact, they even refer to each other as "sport" sometimes. Cricket, footy (which generally refers to rugby or Aussie rules), American football, racing, Volleyball, surfing, anything really (apart from soccer, which like Canada, the USA and NZ has never been that important to Aussies). You will never find a fat Australian, because they've all got rock-hard bodies from the sports they play. Australia has not left the commonwealth nations, because if they did, they would no longer be allowed to play in the Commonwealth Games.
Australians also enjoy lecturing people on sun protection, proper electrical installation, and driving at the correct speed limit. On Australian TV, every third commercial is a public service announcement. Apparently this is entertainment in their culture.
Australia is also home to the wildly popular actor and talented singer, Russell Crowe. Australia is deeply proud to call him their favourite son (unless he does something wrong, then he's a Kiwi). The relevance of barbeques (barbies) to Australian culture is much exaggerated. The role of drinking isn't.
- Rupert Murdoch
- Yellowcake - tasty snack for your pet nuclear reactor
- Rolf Harris
- Kevin 'Bloody' Wilson
- INXS, Midnight Oil, Men at Work, AC/DC
- Dame Edna
- Pauline Hanson
- Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
- David Thorne
- Ken Ham
- Lots of different coloured rocks and dusty things.
- Crocodile Dundee
- White people.
- Huge floating rafts of vegetation, the biggest one named "Tasmania"
- Nicole Kidman - born in Hawaii unlike that one
- Julia Gillard - born in Wales but an icon for local rangas.
- Mel Gibson - born in New York, non-gay Aussies claimed him as their own son until he went all weird with the Catholic sect thing and drunkard outbursts.
- Russell Crowe - often referred to, proudly, as "Australia's semen", born in New Zealand but enthusiastically embraced by all stripes of Australian society.
- Septic Tank (Yank) culture.
- English language (sort of)
- slacktivist - The Long March of the Koalas.
- ↑ Ok. So they actually used the Yank spelling to distinguish themselves from the Labour Party in the mother country.
- ↑ But are more liberal than their coalition partners the National Party.
- ↑ There is some story going about that a person called the Governor-General is the executive, although nobody has ever seen him. There are even more fanciful rumours that this person is in fact female, again nobody has ever seen them to confirm this.
- ↑ No word on whether Satan and his minions can spell and use words better than Australia's politicians, though.
- ↑ http://australianmuseum.net.au/Drop-Bear
- ↑ Les Mis, we're so sorry.
- ↑ ...like throw a phone, or a punch.