Sunday, 16 May 2010

Queensland - See ya later, mate!

The time has come to say goodbye to Queensland and Australia (for now).  I must admit I've been (mostly) envious of the weather Brisbane has been having since I started this blog.  There's certainly logic behind Queensland's popularity as a holiday destination and as a place to retire.  We always think of things being 'upside down' in Australia and in that respect, the Gold Coast and beaches of Queensland are the equivalent to Spain for British holidaymakers and retirees. 

I've blogged about aspects of Queensland's culture that have appealed to me.  I read no less than three novels by Queensland's writers (I didn't blog about the last novel, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton which, although it was really interesting, was set in England and didn't have anything to say about Australia.)  I also watched movies such as Swimming Upstream and Praise.  I cooked kangaroo meat and went on a nostalgia trip with Savage Garden. 

As usual though, there was so much more that I didn't have time to blog about.  As is becoming a traditional in my final blogpost, I'm going to summarise some of the other things I learned about Queensland.

I learned that Queensland is three times the size of France, but has a similar population to Ireland.  I learned that the state was almost called Cooksland, as some people felt one Australian state named after the British queen (Victoria) might be enough.  Queensland's flag used to contain a portrait of Queen Victoria, but this was changed when Queenslanders complained that it was too difficult to reproduce.  I learned that the crown on Queensland's flag is changed with every new monarch. 

I learned that Brisbane was originally called Edinglassie, a combination of Edinburgh and Glasgow.  I learned that approximately 95,000 Brits live in Brisbane and that a million US soldiers were stationed there during the Second World War, this precarious 'colonisation' being described in the famous phrase 'they're over-paid, over-sexed and over here'.

I learned that thousands of Kanakas, workers from the Pacific Islands were deported from Queensland in the early 20th century, as part of the new nation's White Australia policy.  I learned that the name Moreton Bay was the result of a spelling mistake and should have been called 'Morton Bay'. 

I learned that Australian swans are black and that the term semelparous refers to any creature that only lives long enough to reproduce once.  I learned about Queensland's state bird, the Brolga, which is known for its elaborate mating dances, aspects of which have been reproduced in the dance and culture of the native Australian tribes.  I learned that just 1.5% of Australia's land surface produces 95% of its agricultural yield and that most of this is located in the Darling/Murray basin. 

I learned about Macademia nuts, eskies, XXXX beer and Tim tams.  I learned that you can go helmet diving in Cairns and that it takes 28 and a half hours to travel from Brisbane to Cairns by bus.  I learned about the wizard of Kuranda and the Min Min lights of Boulia.  I learned that the small outback town Quilpie has named most of its streets after birds. 

I learned that Cape York peninsula is about the same size as Belarus, but has a population of 16,000 people. 

I'm sure there's even more to learn about Queensland and I look forward to visiting for real one day :-)

Image credits:

The photo of the Brolga is by flickr user anthonycramp who is from Dulwich, which is a suburb of Adelaide (not just London!).  Thanks Anthony for sharing this with us using the Creative Commons License. 
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