Intermezzo – Some facts about the Southern Hemisphere and Australia in particular

Living at the other side of the equator has some strange facts to discover…

Here the sun never shines in the south.
But at a compass the north and south stay the same.

The more north we travel, the warmer it gets.
The more south, the colder.

Winter in Europe, means summer in Sydney.
All seasons go in reverse, but only for the locations under the Tropic of Capricorn.
Above it, there are roughly two different seasons, a wet and a dry. Nonetheless, Aboriginal people distinguish six different types.

Christmas falls here in summertime.

The water in the toilet flows clockwise over here and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

While you cross the tropic of Cancer, we cross the Tropic of Capricorn.

Almost everybody calls Ilse here Ilsa, because our [u], is always interpreted as an [ah].
Or they often call her Elsie…

We have the Polar Star, here it becomes the Southern Cross.
In the Northern Hemisphere we speak of the Aurora Borealis, while here in the South it becomes the Aurora Australis.

This is the driest and flattest country on earth.
If you should place Australia in the Northern Hemisphere it would be located around the Sahara Desert Region in Africa.
The highest peak over here is Mt Kosciuszko, only 2228m high and the deepest point Lake Eyre, some 15m below the sea level. This comes because the lack of many recent earth forces around here. Most of the formations are some 160 up to 500 million years of age, meaning they missed the ‘recent’ ice ages and much of the plate tectonics from the more recent ages. Therefore erosion has done a great job over here during time.

Many animals that live here are nowhere else to be seen… The kangaroo, the emu, the koala and Tasmanian devil are mostly well known, but you have for example also the platypus, the echidna, the possum, the quoll, the wombat, wallabies, euros and dingoes.
And there are myriads of reptiles and insects to determine… Most common are ants, termites, flies and mosquitos. Here it are also the ants and termites that regenerate the country and get rid of all kind of natural waste around. With billions they clean up this immense country.
Inland and along the coastline some of the most poisonous or fearful animals live, ranging from spiders, snakes (like the taipan), the saltie and box jellyfishes. So you always have to be aware of your surroundings.

The Australian country is frequently visited by major natural disasters, the most important are floods, bush fires and cyclones. In 1979 a huge Cyclone – Tracy – ruined most of Darwin.
This year some major bush fires ruined areas we visited a couple of weeks earlier, like Freycinet Park in Tasmania, Coonabarabran in New South Wales, parts of the Alpine Park in Victoria, …
And at the moment parts of Queensland are heavily flooded.
Nevertheless this doesn’t keep people from living there. They just learned to live with and cope with such disasters.
Darwin in the Wet season is also known for some spectacular lightening storms… The beauty of a raging nature!

Australia has not much recorded history – it roughly start from the 18th century, when Captain James Cook landed on the continent.
Some of the Aboriginal people are said to live here for up to 40000 or even 50000 years.
Nowadays most of the Aboriginal people live in certain specified areas, with the highest concentration in the Northern Territories – some 30%. The matter of which country belongs to whom and what the specifications are is still matter of many discussions. This system here is as complicated as our Belgian political environment.

The nature here is simply stunning. There goes a little joke… We in Europe have a church on every corner, while they in Australia have a gorge in every park.

Australian houses are quite often totally self-sufficient, because the remote character and hardly any has a central heating system. They mostly use a fireplace or campfires (that’s a thing they’re really fond of)
They often use ‘green’ hydro-electric power supplies, which results in many dam lakes around the country.

This is just a grip of some things that are different…