Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Australia Day

(I’ve pulled some facts from a news article, just to entertain us all)

So it’s the Australia Day weekend.  Yippee!  That means hot weather, bbqs, sunburn and cricket.  It was rather fortuitous that the First Fleet arrived during summer.  If they’d arrived in the middle of winter, then Australia Day would be something entirely different.

Australia Day falls on the 26th of January each year and marks the anniversary of the landing of a group of ships from England (The First Fleet), sent to set up a penal colony.  After 252 days at sea, the group of eleven ships carrying more than 1000 people (750 of whom were convicts) arrived at what we now know as Sydney.  It was January 26, 1788.

The First Fleet Convicts
According to the first census of 1788 as reported by Governor Phillip to Lord Sydney, the white population of the colony was 1,030 and the colony also consisted of 7 horses, 29 sheep, 74 swine, 6 rabbits, and 7 cattle. 

Fact One: The first police force in Australia was made up of the best-behaved convicts when, in 1789, the Night Watch and the Row Boat Guard were appointed by Governor Arthur Phillip.

I’m not sure how these people celebrated the first Australia Day – perhaps they slaughtered one of the sheep to celebrate – but I do know that those people were extremely brave.  (And they should’ve never brought the damn rabbits!)

Now 227 years later we still celebrate by slaughtering sheep.  Lamb chops are one of our favourite foods to consume on Australia Day.  I’ll probably make a nice coleslaw and a tossed salad to go with it.

Watch Youtube Clip:  STRAYA 

Fact Two: Mt Kosciuszko, at 2228m, is Australia’s highest mountain. But the Mt Kosciuszko we know today is not the peak originally called Mt Kosciuszko. The Year Book Australia 1910 explains: “Various measurements of the peak originally called by that name showed it to be slightly lower than its neighbour, Mount Townsend, and the names were thereupon transposed by the New South Wales Lands Department, so that Mount Kosciusko still remains the highest peak of Australia”.

Australians celebrate our national day with a lot of fun.  It usually involves swimming in some form, cooking meat on an open grill and flying our flag with pride.  These days you can find hats, shirts, bikinis, thongs (shoes people - thongs are shoes!!), shorts, sunglasses, earrings and all manner of clothing plastered with the Australian flag (and all made in China).  We chuck on the suncream and the zinc cream, and head outdoors, listening to the radio play all our favourite Aussie artists.

In my younger days (ie before kids) we would head for the river in Perth.  We would stake out our pozzie (slang for position) on the grass and spend the day playing cricket and swimming in the river.  At sundown, a fireworks spectacular goes off from barges centred in the river – so we would lie back on our blankets and enjoy.

Last year (ie with kids) I spent the day on the beach in a gorgeous place called Dunsborough.  The shallow inlet allowed the kids to swim and play on the beach all day.  I lazed around in the beach tent, only arising to paddle out on the kayak to watch the fish swim by.

Fact Three: The world’s first “flash mob” occurred at a Tasmanian prison in 1832 when 300 women convicts stood as one and bared their buttocks at the visiting Governor during an assembly. The convicts at the Cascades Female Factory collectively spun around, lifted their skirts and slapped their bottoms at the Governor, Sir John Franklin, his wife and the reverend William Bedford “making a not very musical noise’’.

Cottesloe Beach - The Havana Thong Challenge
Am I a proud Aussie?  You betcha!  I hauled out my giant flag a couple of days ago and stuck it on a stick out the front of my house.  Come Monday I’ll be listening to Midnight Oil, AC/DC and Kylie. 

In my novel Safe In His Arms, Casey celebrates Australia Day by heading to Cottesloe Beach (see pic to see how beautiful this is).  This is a popular hang out with the young crowd, although the cops will be cracking down on drinking, since it’s illegal to drink on the beach.

However, my newest novel (Shawn’s Law, coming March 6th) focuses on a different aspect of Australia.  After writing Safe I needed some cheering up from all that darkness.  So I wrote a comedy.  Usually I like to portray Perth as a beautiful place to visit with wonderful beaches and lovely people (because this isn’t lying), but for Shawn’s Law I decided to freak out the tourists.  As I started the novel, I idly wondered how many Australian animals I could get to attack my MC before the end of the book.

Turns out that I couldn’t get all the animals, but I managed to get some good ones in. **wink**

Fact Four:
The humble platypus has venom strong enough to kill a small dog. The poison is delivered via small spurs on their back legs. In one case report, a 57-year-old man who grabbed one of the small mammals while fishing said the pain was “so bad I started to become incoherent”

Fact Five: Of the world’s deadliest snakes, numbers 1 to 11 come from Australia, and 20 of the top 25. The inland taipan is the world’s deadliest snake at No. 1.

So I hope you enjoy Shawn’s Law.  It’s a story of how the unluckiest man in Perth (Shawn) got lucky by falling love with Harley.  And of course, how could it be a Renae Kaye novel without some great secondary characters.  And two dogs named Benny. Doesn’t every book have two dogs named Benny?

Fact Six: The dingo fence, which stretches from the Great Australian Bight in South Australia to central Queensland, is the longest fence in the world (5530km). It is about twice as long as the Great Wall of China.

And while I’m reading all these facts about Australia, I really didn’t need to know this last one:

Fact Seven: Australia has notoriously slow internet download speeds. According to NetIndex, in 2014 we were ranked 58th in the world, slower than Kazakhstan, Madagascar and Vanuatu.

So happy Australia Day to you all.  If you can decipher the following terms and phrases, then you are True Blue.

Check out this site for some more aussie humour:

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye


  1. Great post! I learned so much from all those facts. And cutest picture of a platypus ever!