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Horizontal Falls. Photo: Australia's North-West

The weird and wonderful things we stumble across on our travels are often the most interesting and memorable things we discover. And there’s no end to the weird things you can find in Australia.

Australian don’t lock their doors

I’ve been spending my time housesitting across Australia so I’ve been living in the local people’s houses. And it’s just bizarre that most people don’t lock their houses when they go out! One lady I house sat for didn’t even own any house keys! I mean it’s great that people are so trusting, but I just can’t get my head round it!

Horizontal Falls, The Kimberley, WA

“But physics wouldn’t allow it!” you may think. And you would be wrong. Western Australia‘s Horizontal Falls are a popular attraction you can even ride a boat through.

The falls are really a narrow opening between two large bodies of water. When the tide changes, the narrow gap forces the water through at an incredible rate, creating a phenomenon that resembles a run-of-the-mill vertical waterfall.

What’s more – there are two horizontal falls. And what do we love more than weird things? Twofer deals, that’s what.

Australian have a weird obsession with Vegemite

Vegemite is an Australian breakfast spread that Aussies are brought up eating. It is the Australian equivalent of British Marmite. It’s part of their everyday diet – you’ll find it in every Aussie home – and you’ll be very hard pressed to find an Aussie who doesn’t love it. It is most commonly eaten on toast with butter, but you can even buy Dairy Milk flavoured Vegemite chocolate bars! Non-Australians are generally not a fan of Vegemite and do not understand this obsession Aussies have with it.

Australianeat kangaroo – their National Emblem!

No other nation in the world eats their National Emblem! Not all Aussies eat kangaroo though – half of them have never tried it and many people don’t agree with eating the animal on their Coat of Arms so refuse to eat it out of respect and patriotism. But a lot of them have eaten it.

Kangaroo was a staple meat for the indigenous Aboriginal Australians prior to European settlement. Nowadays it is not seen as a common meat to eat, but it is available at supermarkets, and many restaurants serve it as a gourmet item. Many tourists will try it when they are here as it is seen as exotic. Kangaroo is a healthy lean meat with a low fat percentage, and Australia exports kangaroo meat to several countries.

Elvis Festival, Parkes, NSW

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Elvis Festival. Photo: Parkes Champion-Post

This will be something you’ve never seen before – hundreds of Elvis Presleys invading a small town for a festival celebrating the crooner. The Parkes Elvis Festival is held every January in the town of Parkes, NSW, and there are somehow more than 200 events held across five days.

Hundreds of fans dress up as Elvis, with varying degrees of success (and apparently at all life stages of the singer – including his latter ‘Fat Elvis’ days). Oh regional Australia – you crazy cats.

Cyclists wear spikes on their helmets

Initially I found this weird that people have spikes coming out of their helmets, but then when I saw and understood why – it made perfect sense. This doesn’t happen all year though. Only for around 4-6 weeks of the year (any time around spring – between July to November) when it is ‘magpie swooping season’. Magpie season can be a scary time to be in Australia! Male magpies and crows can get quite aggressive and protective during the breeding season. They will swoop and even attack people if they go near their nest and are deemed as a threat by the bird. It is done in a defensive manner to protect their nest but it sure is scary – especially as it will probably catch you off guard as you won’t be aware where the nests are!

Lake Hillier, WA

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Lake Hillier. Photo: Visa for Australia

Another natural phenomenon that just looks like it doesn’t exist is Lake Hillier, on Middle Island off the south coast of Western Australia. The lake is bright pink, inspiring thoughts such as, “That’s Photoshopped!” No, it’s not. The pink hue is due to the lake’s salty water and an algae that inhabits the lake.

While it’s not possible to visit Middle Island in person (it’s for research only and off-limits to the public), you can take a scenic helicopter flight over the lake to see its bubblegum colour.

Facts About Australia

Australia has a population of almost 20 million people in a country not much smaller than the contiguous 48 United States. However, the great majority of the population is located in a few major urban centers. The large majority of the population (93%) has a European heritage, primarily English. The predominant language of the country is English with Christianity the largest religion (75%).

The Aborigines are indigenous to Australia and make up 1% of the population. They are thought to have canoed to Australia from Southeast Asia some 30,000 to 50,000 years ago. Scientist established this time frame using radiocarbon dating techniques. The Aborigines believe one's exact birthplace determines your position within a clan or kinship group, and gives you with a secret personal name. They also have a strong devotion of kinship, and believe in walkabout -- the desire to revisit the sacred sites.

Long-term Australian concerns include pollution, particularly depletion of the ozone layer, and management and conservation of coastal areas, especially the Great Barrier Reef. A referendum to change Australia's status, from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to a republic, was defeated in 1999.

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