As I meet people from all over America and the world, it's fun addressing some common misconceptions about my homeland. I thought that I'd jot down a few of my favourites so far, and add to the list as it grows.
1. Australia has 22.5 million people, but roughly the same landmass as continental USA. We're the sixth largest country by landmass in the world, but we have less than 4 people per square kilometre (that's a square with sides of roughly 1100 yards for the imperial folk).
2. Despite stereotypes, over 80% of Australians live within 100km of the coast, and the country is one of the most urbanised in the world. This is mostly due to the fact that vast tracts of the country are borderline uninhabitable.
3. We harvest, consume, and export one of our national animals, the kangaroo.
4. Hardly anyone (at least, in my experience) uses the phrase "shrimp on the barbie".
5. The capital is Canberra, a city created because Sydney and Melbourne couldn't agree on which one should be the capital, and compromised with neither.
6. We're possibly the only country that has "misplaced" our national leader. In 1967, Prime Minister Harold Holt went for a swim at the beach and disappeared in heavy surf. The police, army, navy, and air force were all called in for a massive search, but to this day no trace of him as been found. Rumours persist that he was a Chinese spy returning to a submarine off the coast, abducted by a UFO, or running away with a mistress. (In all likelihood, he drowned).
7. We memoralised Holt by naming a swimming pool after him. You can't make this stuff up.