Moving to Australia
Ahh, Australia, just the name conjurs up images of kangaroos, koala bears and Crocodile Dundee. But this country is more than just cute animals and irascible croc hunters -- and if you're moving
to the country, that becomes abundantly clearly.
Australia’s original inhabitants were the Aboriginal people, who are believed to be the world's oldest civilization and migrated to Australia from Southeast Asia over 50,000 years ago. Following Captain James Cooks' arrival in Botany Bay in 1770, the first Europeans began to settle here in January 1788. In the same year, a prison colony was established in New South Wales, and as more and more Europeans set up home in Australia. This European population began to drive the Aborigines from their original land. In the early 20th century laws were adopted to separate this ancient culture by limiting their work options and living territories. The 1960's brought legislation that gave all Aboriginals full citizen status, even though it was only in 1972 that restricted rights to their own land were returned to them.
Australia is divided into six states and two territories, each with its' individual parliament and identified by unique flags. With the union of the six UK colonies in 1901, Australia became a federated nation.
Geography and Climate
Located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean, Australia is the smallest of the world’s continents. It is also very flat, with the lowest elevation of any continent in the world. Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales is the highest point in Australia, at 2,228 meters above sea level. The makeup of the Australian landscape is very diverse, from sandy deserts; rivers and forests to mountains and rocks with wonderful geological formations created over thousands of years.
Australian weather changes significantly from region to region, due to the vast size of this country. The tropical region in the north experiences typical wet and dry season characteristics; cyclone alerts and bushfires are not uncommon during these periods. The dry, desert region in the center is hot in the day without much rainfall. A fair amount of rain falls in the temperate regions in the south.
People and Culture
Australia's population of approximately 20.8 million people (2007) is heavily concentrated along the coastal region in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Australia offers a mix of Indigenous music and arts, a great passion for thrill-seeking and active sports and leisure time around the BBQ that create a broad mixture of influences that form a lively tapestry of the Australian lifestyle. The local's colloquial language, also known as 'strine', is an integral part of their spoken English. To a visitor's ear, the quirky expressions often raise an eyebrow or two.
Major exports of agricultural and mineral products stimulate Australia's western-style capitalist economy. While experiencing many sharp business cycles in the past, a recent shift to a more conservative fiscal policy and solid business reforms has helped Australia to build and maintain budget surplus since 2002. Drought and import demands have upped the trade deficit in recent years, however, during 2006 this situation was improved.
Australia's industries range from large mining companies to sheep farming, raised for their meat and wool, and a surging tourism trade due to the remarkable landscapes and scenery on offer to visitors.
Job opportunities in retail, commerce, construction, hospitality, vary in different cities. The Australian Government encourages high-skilled professionals from abroad to come and settle in the big cities. If you are qualified in one of the specific trades that are sought after by the Government, a visa should be granted relatively easily.
Motor vehicles, cycling, buses, train or planes are all ready available transportation options for getting around this vast country. The transportation infrastructure is well developed, giving easy access to most parts of the country. Given the vast distances between many parts of the country and the challenging weather within the central Outback region, air travel is the preferred means to move across the country.
The efficient urban links and highway networks carry the bulk of freight and passenger vehicles. Construction and maintenance plans for Rail and road are in the works. Aviation is safe and provides environmentally sound air traffic control management; most exports from Australia use the airfreight services, which provide favorable rates that compete with the rest of the world. Maritime transport is essential to the Australian economy, since a very high percent of imports and exports are carried by sea.
Famous People and Places
Off the east coast of the Queensland mainland is the Great Barrier Reef, which is remarkable in size, with the total combined area equaling that of the United Kingdom and Ireland. This remarkable natural wonder shows off world famous coral reefs, and swimming in its' waters are sharks and tropical fish, the threatened with extinction dugong ('sea cow') and large green turtle. Its' vast area contains more than 1,000 islands and has developed over millions of years. The earth's evolutionary history and ecological and biological developments can be tracked in its' structure. In 1981 this awe-inspiring site was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The Sydney Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973. Situated on Bennelong Point, it reaches out into the harbor. Danish architect Jorn Utzon entered his revolutionary design concept into a competition conducted by New South Wales Government, and won in January 1957. The roof of the building reminds one of a ship at full sail and gives a dramatic impression. During its construction, this unique building went through many financial and interior design crises; the costly venture was completed in 1973.
Dame Nellie Melba was a world-renowned soprano in her lifetime. Her outstanding career spanned 38 years, and began in Brussels where she made her debut in 1887. She achieved world acclaim in the famous opera houses of the world, and was idolized in her native Australia.
Canberra is Australia's capital city and the region has been home to the Ngunnawal people for over 21,000 years. Here sits the federal government, and attracts tourists from within and abroad to its' cultural centers and landmarks.
Sydney is the capital of the New South Wales State, one of the most populous states in Australia. You can enjoy world-class shopping, fusion foods, visual and performing arts, wonderful beaches and a vibrant night life. The spectacular skyline of the harbor area boasts two unique wonders, that of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Sydney showcased its’ wide appeal to the world in the summer of 2000 when it hosted the Olympic Games.
Melbourne is the cosmopolitan capital of Victoria State and cultural capital of Australia. Major multicultural and world sports events are hosted in this high-class city; The Melbourne Cup horserace, the Australian Tennis Open and the Qantas Australia Formula One Grand Prix.
The Big Icon craze in Australia showcases such icons as The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour New South Wales. At 5 meters high by 11 meters long it stands out afar. This is the first of Australia's "Big Icons".
The Didgeridoo is an ancient Aboriginal ceremonial instrument made generally out of Eucalyptus branch. Its' hollow center is caused by termites eating through it, and to play this instrument requires learning the technique of breathing through your nose and out through your mouth simultaneously.