Is Australia actually a diverse country?

Good reasons for Australia

Fascinating: the animal world

The fauna on the Australian continent is incomparable and diverse. Such untouched nature can hardly be found in Europe anymore! That's why everyone is touched when they see a kangaroo in the wild for the first time or discover a koala bear in the thicket of a tall tree. But even strange lizards, colorful bird species and amazingly large insects will quickly make you feel like you've stepped into another world.

Loose: the Australian laid back mentality

Australians are known for their friendly, easy-going manner and relaxed lifestyle. Maybe it's because of the almost always sunny weather and the close proximity to the ocean in many places? Either way: Let yourself be infected by the good mood of the Aussies and their optimism and find friends for life - on the other side of the globe!

Surprising: school can be fun!

For most young people in Germany, dropping out of school is at best a necessary evil. You meet your friends, and one or the other school subject is also very nice. In Australia you will experience right from the first day of school that school can be really fun! You enter a modern building where everyone shows by wearing their school uniform that they like to belong. The subjects are practically oriented and are really interesting thanks to modern equipment and media support. The teachers maintain a personal, cordial relationship with their students. Going to high school in Australia will turn your view of school upside down!

Discover the many likeable faces of Australia

The country and its regions - six states and two territories.

For many, it is surprising how big Australia is. Although it is the smallest continent on earth, it is still the sixth largest country! That makes it bigger than all European countries put together. With two people per square kilometer, Australia has the lowest population density in the world. Australia is made up of six states and two territories.

Lots going on in Victoria

The state of Victoria is located in the southeast of the continent, its capital is the metropolis of Melbourne. Countless sights and events make the city on the south coast a tourist magnet. Most of the more than five million inhabitants live in this area, so that the second smallest state has the second highest population density in the country. In addition to endless sandy beaches, Victoria also has historic gold rush settlements to offer. Although the world's largest lignite deposits are located here, mining plays a rather subordinate role. Little penguins live on Phillip Island and waddle en masse from their homes into the sea every morning to spend the day fishing. A unique natural spectacle that is attended by 3.5 million people every year. By the way: The actor Liam Hemsworth grew up on Phillip Island.

Opposites attract: New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

North of Victoria lies New South Wales, a state of contrasts. James Cook moored here in 1770, and since the landscape reminded him of South Wales, the area was named after it. New South Wales is the most populous state in the country and, with Sydney, has one of the most important metropolises in the world. The city of five million is located on the east coast of the Pacific, more precisely on the natural harbor of Port Jackson. Even if you only visit Sydney for a short time, the world-famous, signature Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge should be seen. The two beaches Bondi Beach and Manly Beach are particularly popular with surfers. To the west of the city stretch the Blue Mountains, a popular destination for hikers. Further inland is Australia's capital, Canberra, somewhat inconspicuous and off the beaten track. This is a planned city that has not grown over time, but was created on the drawing board. The city does not belong to New South Wales, but forms its own state as an enclave: Australian Capital Territory. By making Canberra the capital at the beginning of the 20th century, conflicts between the rival cities of Sydney and Melbourne were avoided. In addition, New South Wales has a ski area, the highest mountain on mainland Australia and Australia's second largest river, the Murray River.

Fascinating underwater world and spectacular beaches: Queensland

Northeastern Queensland combines some of the country's most impressive sights, especially the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, which extends over 2,300 kilometers parallel to the coast. Thousands of species of corals, fish and sponges live here, as do most of the world's sea turtles, manatees and whales. A snorkeling or diving excursion in the Great Barrier Reef is an unforgettable experience for any interested visitor to Australia. Also worth seeing is Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Here visitors can expect colorful sand formations and dunes, crystal clear lakes and the island's typical dingoes, a kind of wild dog. In the tropical rainforests you can admire the Wallaman waterfall, the highest single waterfall in Australia at almost 300 meters. Brisbane, the capital of the Sunshine State Queensland, is a rather young city in which half of the Queenslanders live and pursue the wide range of leisure activities. Brisbane is also popular with exchange students, as there are many attractive high schools in the area.

Untouched nature in South Australia

South Australia is west of Victoria. The water-rich south has a Mediterranean climate and is characterized by wine-growing areas, while the dry interior has deserts with salt lakes to offer. In between there are picturesque mountain ranges. This shows once again how rich in contrast Australia is! Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, looks rather manageable despite its population of around 1.3 million, but it is all the better known for its festival culture. Music fans can pursue their passion here all year round, but important sporting events also take place here regularly. Along the Limestone Coast, exchange students can visit stalactite caves or the beautiful town of Mount Gambier with its volcano, the strange sinking holes and, above all, the Blue Lake, which lives up to its name. South Australia is the only Australian region to have been built up by free settlers, something which the South Australians attach great importance to. You can also find traces of German everywhere: the small town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills is particularly worth a visit if you get homesick for cuckoo clocks and German folk music. Kangaroo Island also has to be mentioned, because sea lions, koalas, platypus and of course kangaroos cavort here. The island can be reached by short flight from Adelaide.

Home of Ayers Rock: Northern Territory

The sparsely populated Northern Territory lies exactly above South Australia - just 0.18 inhabitants per square kilometer, about a third of the population being Aborigines - the highest proportion in the Australian comparison. Large parts of the area consist of flat or table land. In addition to cattle breeding and some mineral resources, the territory lives mainly from tourism, because the landmark of Australia can be found on this property: the Uluru or Ayers Rock, a characteristic rock formation that rises from the lowlands and shines reddish-red depending on the position of the sun seems. The mountain is sacred to the local Aborigines. But other sights such as Kings Canyon or Kakadu National Park also attract many tourists. Alice Springs, the only city worth mentioning in the "Red Center", may not be an architectural or eventful highlight of a trip to Australia, but it is the starting point for many amazing sights in the outback.

Go West: Perth and Western Australia

The state of Western Australia makes up the entire west of the continent. In contrast to the more touristy east, the area is still quite untouched by the great rush, although Western Australia also has a diverse landscape, attractive diving areas and animal observation sites to offer. Dolphins and sea turtles can be viewed in their natural habitat. A special phenomenon are the stromatolites at Shark Bay, stone deposits of bacteria. Most of these rock finds are dead fossils many millions of years old, but the strain of bacteria at Shark Bay is still alive due to a lack of natural enemies. Quirky rock formations also form the Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park. The Pink Lakes are also worth a trip - but you can only marvel at the shimmering shades of pink from the plane. Western Australias capital is Perth and can score with attractive green areas, some of which are native bushland. Sailing fans and those interested in culture also get their money's worth in the largest city in the west of the continent. A day trip to Rottnest Island is also worthwhile - here you can watch the cute quokkas.

Tasmania - island of nature parks and home of the "Tasmanian Devil"

The island of Tasmania, probably the most idiosyncratic and unspoilt state in Australia, is 240 kilometers south of Victoria. More than a third of its area are national parks, which, especially in the west, are mostly mountainous. Because of this, and because of the strong westerly winds, it is much cooler and rougher here than in the mostly sunny east of the island. There are many scenic highlights, just like areas in which no one has set foot to this day. If there are many endemic animal and plant species to be found on the Australian mainland, this is all the more true for Tasmania: over two hundred plants are found exclusively here, just like the famous Tasmanian devil. Almost all of the bird species that live here cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In the capital Hobart, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is particularly worth seeing, because here, among other things, the few traces of the Tasmanian natives who were exterminated by Europeans are kept.

Australia's landscapes, flora and fauna are so overwhelmingly diverse that a few sentences are not even enough. Nevertheless, we want to try here to give an impression of the fantastic flora and fauna of the Red Continent.

The coastal areas consist almost all around of fertile tracts of land in which wine and other agricultural products are grown. Most cities are also near the sea. Inland you can expect rainforests, steppe-like grasslands and sandy deserts, mostly on flat plains. There are only a few mountain ranges, especially the Great Deviding Range in the east of the continent. By far the largest coral reef on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, can also be counted as one of Australia's amazing landscapes - albeit underground. Everywhere there are extraordinary stone formations, impressive waterfalls or mystical forests to discover - the variety is simply endless.

Over 90 percent of all Australian plant species occur exclusively here; so they are endemic. In the rainforests, lianas and ancient ferns create a jungle feeling, and in the coastal areas different tree and shrub species form huge mangrove forests, an ecosystem that is typical of tropical wetlands and adapted to strong tides. There are also eucalyptus forests that emit bluish fumes near Sydney, giving the Blue Mountains their name.

Kangaroos, koalas and emus - these are probably the most famous representatives of the Australian fauna. But there are other fascinating creatures that can only be found on the red continent. These include, for example, the bizarre platypus, the only egg-laying mammals in the world that still exist. They live on embankments and feed on worms and other small aquatic animals. Typical Australian marsupials include the wombats, kangaroos and perhaps the cutest animal in the world - the koala bear. They are all characterized by the fact that they give birth to their young very early and carry them around with them until they are able to survive on their own. Also of interest are the marine animals off the coast of Australia, for example the dugong, a strange-looking, vegetarian marine mammal. But there are also countless species of birds, reptiles and insects in Australia, some of which, especially spiders and snakes, are not safe for inexperienced tourists.

Gold rush mood and spirit of discovery

History, politics, economics

50,000 to 60,000 years ago, people who immigrated from what is now Indonesia first settled on the continent of Australia. Based on genetic studies, some researchers assume that there have been repeated waves of immigration from India, New Guinea and the Philippines. Nowadays the peoples who lived mainly on the east coast, but also in the Red Center, are summarized with the term Aborigines or Aboriginal People. However, this should not hide the fact that there were and are considerable differences between the indigenous tribes. In 1606 the Portuguese Louis Vaez de Torres was the first European to discover the continent. Although other seafarers set foot on Australian soil, it did not seem to occur to any of them to claim ownership of the region until James Cook anchored near present-day Sydney in 1770 and took eastern Australia for the British Crown. Shortly afterwards, the first of several dark chapters in the history of the settlement of Australia by Europeans began: In 1788, English convicts were deported there for the first time. It was only through the - more or less voluntary - help of the indigenous people that they were able to support themselves. Some tribes contracted diseases and almost died out. During these first decades colonies were founded and the land was taken over by the Europeans, which contradicted the Aboriginal understanding of man and nature. When gold was found in 1850, more and more Europeans, Americans and Chinese immigrated to enrich themselves with Australian mineral resources. The colonies were gradually given responsibility for themselves, but were ruled by England. In 1901, shortly after the first major strikes of the labor movement, the colonies formed an Australian confederation. In 1931 Australia joined the Commonwealth of Nations and fought alongside Great Britain in the world wars. In the 1960s and 70s, the Aborigines, oppressed by immigrants, gained influence and, among other things, fought for the right to vote and the abolition of discriminatory laws. In addition, other immigrants from all over the world ensured an economic upswing. Australia moved into global focus when Sydney successfully hosted the Olympic Games in 2000.

Aboriginal culture is probably the oldest culture still cultivated in the world today. Strictly speaking, there are many different cultures, because the term Aboriginals includes several language groups that, depending on the region, have different customs, living and eating habits. For a long time, fish were bred on the coasts and permanent houses were inhabited. Other tribes went to sea or lived inland along the rivers as hunting nomads. What they have in common, however, is on the one hand the lack of writing and on the other hand the conception of how the world came into being: Creation beings created the world a long time ago, in the dream time, and entrusted the land to the people they created. The term dream time also describes a kind of parallel universe that unites past, present and future. Morals, life decisions, relationships - all of this is determined by the rules and guidelines of the dream time for the Aborigines. In the center of this spiritual idea there is no divine being, but the land, nature. Aborigines perceive people as part of their environment, not as the "crowning glory of creation". This self-image and the fact that the Aboriginals had no written language was exploited by the European colonialists. They took over fertile lands, displaced and suppressed the Aborigines for centuries. Only recently have the rites and rights of the indigenous peoples been given more importance again - also for economic reasons, because the handicrafts of the Aborigines are popular with Australian tourists and ensure a livelihood for many.Unfortunately, not all of them manage the balancing act of embedding their old way of life in modern, European-influenced Australia. But the government and various organizations are committed to improving the self-efficacy and quality of life of the Aboriginal people.

In addition to the Aboriginal culture, the lifestyle in Australia is now also shaped by many others, especially the British. Queen Elizabeth the Second is the Australian head of state and English is by far the most common language. There is left-hand traffic, and exchange students will recognize the influence of the British mainland even at mealtimes. Due to the large number of immigrants from Asia, the USA and various European countries, there is a great multicultural diversity, especially in the larger cities.

Tip 1: It is common for the Australian natives that after their death all traces, for example their clothes or valuables, are destroyed. You should therefore not take photos of traditional Aborigines without their permission.

Tip 2: Avoid speaking to people of European descent about Australia's history as a convict colony. Who wants to be confronted with the fact that their own ancestors were possibly serious criminals? German exchange students in particular can tell a song about how uncomfortable it is to be asked about certain chapters of history.

Tip 3: Another taboo subject is the difficult relationship with the indigenous peoples of Australia. On the one hand, their ancestors suffered a great deal of suffering from European settlers in the past, and they are still disadvantaged in many ways today. On the other hand, some of the aboriginal customs still practiced are incompatible with Australian law and common moral standards. The problems are complex and the fronts are partially hardened. Outsiders should not presume to judge it or even to give tips on how to deal with one another.

Unlimited possibilities

Leisure is very important here!

The leisure opportunities are innumerable and varied in such a multifaceted country. Australians like to spend time in nature. Depending on the region, camping trips and hikes through the most varied of landscapes are possible. In the coastal areas there is often one attractive beach after the other - water rats, divers and surfers will definitely be happy here. Surfing in particular corresponds to the lifestyle of the young generation. Visiting students should also try it out and enjoy the triumph that you feel when the waves don't knock you off your board for the first time.

The Aussies like to organize barbecues ("Barbies") in their own gardens or on the beach. The main thing is to enjoy a few steaks and burgers with family, friends and neighbors! In addition, many Australians are absolutely crazy about watching sporting events, especially rugby, Australian football and cricket. Thanks to the almost always sunny weather, these and other sports such as golf or hockey can be practiced and followed in the fresh air all year round.

Multicultural on the plate

The food on offer in Australia is as diverse as the multicultural population. In addition to British influences (meat pies, roasted lamb) you can also find Mediterranean and Asian-inspired dishes. Fruits such as bananas, mangoes and avocados thrive on the sunny continent, and traditional Aboriginal foods (seeds, figs, flowers) are now being incorporated into modern cuisine - typical examples of this are the macadamia nut from Australia and the lime leaf. But the Aussie prefers his barbecue: beef, lamb or, on special occasions, kangaroo meat from the grill, in the coastal regions also fish and red snapper. There are also delicious dips and salads.

What you should definitely try is Pavlova, a kind of meringue cake with cream and fruits, which is a national dish in Australia and is very popular. Opinions are divided about Vegemite, the typical Australian spread made from yeast extract and tastes tart and salty like broth.

So far from countries to import from, food and other products are quite expensive in Australia. The prices for milk, bread, vegetables and fruit, for example, are often twice as high as in Germany. Products that are not made in Australia in particular are really expensive: think about this when you are shopping with your host parents and spontaneously feel like eating European sweets. Rents are also higher than in Germany, so that city dwellers tend to have small accommodations and the space for guests is limited. In this respect, it is not uncommon for siblings or possibly two exchange students to share a room with a host family.

January 1st: New Year’s Day
January 26th: Australia Day: The Australian National Day celebrates the arrival of the "First Fleet" on the Australian continent, which took place on this day in 1788. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday is free.
Easter: Good Friday / Saturday: In Australia, not only are Good Friday and Easter Monday public holidays, but also Holy Saturday.
April 25th: ANZAC Day: On this day, the Australians commemorate the soldiers who fell in World War I. Australians, New Zealanders and Tongans lost thousands of men in the Battle of Gallipoli on April 25, 1914. Nowadays, military parades are held on this holiday and are televised.
Queens Birthday: Depending on the state, the day of the year on which the birthday of the Queen, the Australian head of state, is celebrated varies.
25 December: Christmas Day
December 26th: Boxing Day

Language and communication

"G'day mate!" - This is the typical greeting by which you recognize an Aussie. German exchange students are mostly used to American or British English and have to first listen to the Aussie slang. But after a few days you got used to the sentence melody, which also reminds you of questions when making statements, and the many abbreviations. Typical examples are "barbie" for "barbecue" or "Brissie" for "Brisbane".

In addition to English, the many languages ​​of the immigrants and, less often, the languages ​​of the indigenous population are also spoken. A quarter of all Australian residents have a mother tongue other than English. Asian languages ​​such as Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Indonesian are particularly common and can be learned at many high schools.

Fast and safe on the move

Public transport is very good in the larger cities. In Melbourne or Sydney the bus, train and ferry network is so well developed that young people can reach all possible malls, museums, cafés or beaches independently. Cities can also be conquered by bike, but note that helmets are mandatory for everyone.

In the provinces you have to rely on cars, but don't worry: Australian host parents know that exchange students, like other young people, sometimes need a "ride". Incidentally, some national parks and other sights can only be reached with tourist bus tours if you don't feel like a day's hike on foot. But many schools organize trips to the most popular destinations for their internationals. Register for it in good time!

  1. Uluru is sacred to the local Aboriginal people. To climb it is considered a great disrespect. It is better to admire the impressive rock from a safe distance, and please do not take any rocks with you as souvenirs. Because that brings bad luck!
  2. Australia has the largest camel, or more precisely, dromedary population in the world! As desert animals, they were introduced by European settlers and used to expand the rail network.