Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stories from Down Under: HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!

Dear students & readers of this blog,

Most of the times we talk about the UK or the US. This time, we're going to change the subject a little bit, and we are going to learn about one of the most fascinating English-speaking countries in the world: AUSTRALIA.

(For an interactive map of Australia, go to the sidebar, scroll down until the 'Miscellanea' section, and click on 'Interactive map of Australia')

Today, 26 Jan, AUSSIES (as people from Australia are called), celebrate their National Day. To learn about the history of this day, click here.

  • The National Anthem

  • The golden wattle (national flower)

Australia's national floral emblem is the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha Benth.).

When in flower, the golden wattle displays the national colours, green and gold.
As one species of a large genus of flora growing across Australia, the golden wattle is a symbol of unity. Wattle is ideally suited to withstand Australia's droughts, winds and bushfires. The resilience of wattle represents the spirit of the Australian people.

In recent times, the golden wattle has been used as a symbol of remembrance and reflection. On national days of mourning, for example, Australians are invited to wear a sprig of wattle.

The golden wattle has been used in the design of Australian stamps and many awards in the Australian honours system. A single wattle flower is the emblem of the Order of Australia.

  • The National Flag

The Australian National Flag is Australia’s foremost national symbol. It was first flown in 1901 and has become an expression of Australian identity and pride.

The Australian National Flag flies over the federal and state parliaments. The flag is paraded by our defence forces and displayed around the country at sporting events and by service organisations, schools, community groups and private citizens.

The Australian National Flag has three elements on a blue background: the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.

The Union Jack in the upper left corner (or canton) acknowledges the history of British settlement. Below the Union Jack is a white Commonwealth or Federation star. It has seven points representing the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The star is also featured on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.

The Southern Cross is shown on the fly of the flag in white. This constellation of five stars can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia’s geography.

The national colours, green and gold, hold a treasured place in the Australian imagination.

Long associated with Australian sporting achievements, the national colours have strong environmental connections. Gold conjures images of Australia’s beaches, mineral wealth, grain harvests and the fleece of Australian wool. Green evokes the forests, eucalyptus trees and pastures of the Australian landscape.

Green and gold are also the colours of Australia’s national floral emblem – the golden wattle.
  • Coat of Arms: Click on the picture below for more info.

  • The National Gemstone: the opal

Australia's national gemstone is the opal, a stone famous across the world for its brilliant colours. In Indigenous stories, a rainbow created the colours of the opal when it touched the earth.

Opal, also known to Indigenous people as the fire of the desert, is a powerful symbol of Australia's arid interior.

Australia is home to the world's highest quality, precious opal. The most famous is black opal from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. Black opal has a colour play of red, green, blue, violet, magenta or yellow against a dark background.

Let's learn about Australia. Click here for the AUSSIE CLUE CRACKER. Don't miss it! It's fun, and highly educative!


Some famous Aussies are: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Peter Jackson, Russell Crowe (New Zealand-born, but naturalised), Ian you know any others?

Australia on film: AUSTRALIA, by Baz Luhrmann (starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman)


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