When you think of camels, Australia may not be the first place that comes to mind—but they’re just one of many surprises that await in the land Down Under.
Question: Which one continent has none of the world’s active volcanoes, but all of its feral camels?
The smallest continent in land mass is also just about the biggest on unusual distinctions. Australia is chockablock with singular landscapes, exotic species, and colorful characters. And it boasts some superlatives you might not guess, including that it’s the only continent on earth with no active volcanoes. (Even Antarctica has a few!) Sure, there were volcanoes, but their heyday was in the Cenozoic era. Since the first European arrived, not a single Australian mainland volcano has blown its top. The most recent eruptions were likely to have been on the islands, and even those were several thousand years ago, at least according to the legends of the indigenous people.
What it doesn’t lack for are feral camels. Descended from domesticated camels brought here in the 19th century, these now-wild camels are the servants to no masters, unlike all their one-hump dromedary peers in the rest of the world. And they’re not going away: nine years ago, the number of wild camels had swelled to a million, and by next year, experts predict that will have doubled. They may have been an import, but they’re an Aussie distinction now.
8 Aussie Oddities & Wonders
- Australia is responsible for hurricane naming. An Australian weatherman first named cyclones, typically after politicians he didn’t like, so that the destruction caused by their namesakes made terrible headlines that they couldn’t do anything about. The U.S. Navy picked up on this and later the World Meteorological Organization formalized the tradition of naming.
- The biggest cattle ranch in Australia, Anna Creek Station, is six million acres, which makes it one million acres bigger than the entire nation of Israel.
- At 9,000 miles, Australia’s Highway 1 is by far the world’s longest; you would have to drive non-stop, 24 hours a day, for more than six days to complete it.
- If you went to a different Australian beach every day, it would take 29 years to visit all 10,685 of them.
- The biggest spendable coin on earth is the Australian one million dollar coin. There is only one and it is indeed legal tender. But no one would make change: at last count, it was actually worth $52 million.
- Australia is home to the highest number of the world’s most poisonous spiders—but fear not: it has only had two deaths from spider bites since 1955.
- Australia is so big that one of its towns, Carnegie Station, is five times closer to space (which begins 62 miles up) than it is to the nearest town (which is over 300 miles away).
- Australia is so proud of being unique, its coat of arms features a kangaroo and emu—specifically because they are the only two species of animals which cannot walk backwards, only forwards. (Thus, they represent progress.)
Let the land Down Under capture your imagination when you join us for Ultimate Australia. Enjoy a humorous take on the fearsome crocs of the Outback in this animated film:
This video was first published on BBC.com Travel. Produced by the Dacapo company.