Australia: Far Away and Unknown

A child wearing a pair of flip-flops that are much too big.
Australia shown in red, with Southeast Asia to the north.
Father hugging his daughter on a vacation in Falls Creek, Victoria.
Ski slope in Perisher Valley, New South Wales.
Brisbane city skyline and Brisbane River.
Brisbane City Hall with a clock tower and palm trees.
Kid wearing sandals and parents wearing flip-flops.
Map of Australia. Individual states and territories are shown in different colors. Zoom in to read names of cities.

Apart from Southeast Asia and many Pacific Islands, Australia is located far away from the rest of the world. This remoteness combined with a fairly small population rendered Australia relatively globally insignificant for a long time in its history. However, as growth in international transportation and communication has picked up speed, Australia’s relevance has increased, and today the country plays an active role on the world stage in everything from sports to politics.

Ski resorts

Still though, with Australia being so geographically remote, many people in the rest of the world know very little about the country. Few people know, for example, that Australia has mountains over two thousand meters high, where snow regularly falls in the winter. Most of these mountains are located only a few hours’ drive from Melbourne and Canberra, making skiing readily available to a large part of the country’s population.

Beyond the winter seasons and the ski slopes, as most people know, Australia has more temperate or warm climates than anything else. In Brisbane, for instance, the weather is so warm and attitudes so relaxed that some people, at times, can be seen walking the streets or playing lawn bowl barefoot. The sight of naked feet in these environments does raise some eyebrows, though, especially on Australians who originate south of Brisbane, where year-round t-shirt weather is not the norm.

July is winter

Continuing on the topic of climate and weather, another thing that is sometimes overlooked about Australia is that June, July and August are winter months. This inverted order of the seasons compared to countries in the northern hemisphere has to do with Australia’s location in the southern hemisphere and how the Earth tilts relative to the sun.

So, tips to tourists who want to fit in Down Under would be to recognize January as summer, wear flip-flops or shoes when walking around town and acknowledge that Australia is a great winter sport nation.