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  Note: 2   Klasse: 11


Today I’m going to deliver a speech about Australia.

First of all I want to start with the fundamental data about the continent. Australia is a big island to the south of Indonesia which belongs to the continent of Asia.

It is the world´s largest island and smallest continent. With more than 7.6 million sq km, it’s bigger than the USA, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. Nevertheless, Australia has a population of only 16 million people. If there were no cities, there would be two people per sq km.

Land and climate

Now I´ll tell you something about the land and climate of this continent. Australia is, as I told you before, the smallest continent. But it is the flattest and driest as well. The highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko, is only 2,228m high. Australia is so flat because there was no episode of mountain building and the land has been eroded by wind and weather through millions of years.

You can divide Australia into three parts:

the Eastern Highlands which are from Cape York to Melbourne, the Central Basin which used to be flooded by ancient seas and even today contains several big lakes with some just getting filled in wet seasons, and the last part the Western Shield which is a plateau of ancient rock. These rocks are the oldest we know. Many mineral deposits are found there.

Because there is so little rain, many people chose to live where most of the rain is, on the coast.

Australian environments and wildlife

Australia was isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years, which means that many plants and animals have evolved in isolation. Many of them can be found only in Australia. You can find so many different animals and plants because there is desert and rainforest, flat land and high mountains. Tere are some different climates and because of this, there are so many different plants and animals. But there is another reason for many different species in fauna and flora - in Australia there are so few people that they don’t disturb nature very much. There are over 12,000 different plant species and most of the trees are hardwoods like oak, which means that they have hard wood and are growing very slowly.

Australia is known by its marsupials, like the kangaroo, the koala and the Tasmanian devil. There are over 600 species of birds and some of them are flightless, like the emu (Vogelstrauss). Some species are becoming extinct because of hunting or changing climates. Australian people are protesting against destruction of the rainforest and other environmental pollution.

History: from the Aborigines to the European settlement

The Aborigines came to Australia 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Archaeologists found the skeleton of a man who lived about 30,000 years ago and working tools which used about 38,000 years ago. They have found many other ancient Aboriginal sites as well and continue to find more. They are trying to build a picture of the people who lived on this continent in the past.

There were more than 750,000 Aborigines living in Australia when the first Europeans settled in Sydney Cove in 1788. The Aborigines lived in a hundreds of different tribes which had their own language, culture and territory. Aborigines were hunter-gatherers who used their knowledge of the land to gather food and hunt animals. The women gathered roots and berries and the men were responsible for the animal-hunting. Like the Indians, they lived in balance with nature and killed just as much as they needed to live from. They had tools made from materials they found nearby, like stone, which they chipped to make sharp and use as knives.

Nowadays, many Aborigines continue to live in the old manner, even though the majority live in towns and cities.

Now I´ll move on to the European settlers. The first explorers came in 1770. In 1788, Captain Cook landed on the eastern coast and claimed the land for England. The first English settlers were prisoners because the English prisons were overcrowded. They took the land from the Aborigines and that was the beginning of fights, because the Aborigines needed the land for their livelihood. It didn’t take long before the first free settlers came to Australia. The colonies grew and after a while every town had its own government. In 1901, they finally joined together in a federation of states which they called the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Australian people

Most, if not all, Australians are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Just one in a hundred people are Aborigines. For the first 150 years, nearly all immigrants were British or Irish. Even people who had never seen England and whose parents came from the UK spoke of Britain as their home.

That changed after the Second World War, when refugees from Italy or Greece came to Australia in big groups. Between 1945 and 1985 the population of Australia more than doubled. Melbourne, for example, is the biggest Greek city after Athens. Every time new immigrants brought other cultures, religions or ways of cooking, they were added to the Australian way of life.

Australians think of themselves as strong, silent, but friendly people. For them it is very important to help each other and to have good friendships with other Australian people. That is because they think of themselves as stockmen and farmers and they have to help each other in the bush, batting the fires and other dangers.

However, the reality is more complicated. Most Australians live in cities and there is no typical Australian. There is a Vietnamese chef, a Greek builder or a German doctor, as much as a stockman from a cattle station in Queensland. So actually there is no real Australian and it’s a bit the same as in Austria. People from outside the border come to live there and soon feel endemic.

One thing is the same over the whole island: the accent. From north to south and from east to west, the accent is the same. That is unique.


As I told you before, nearly all Australians live in cities and all cities except one, called Canberra, are on the coast. Fewer then one in seven people live in the countryside. That makes Australia one of the most urbanized countries in the world. But each city has its own character.

For example, Sydney is a very fast and expensive, but exciting city with many beaches and much sun, which is highly influenced by the USA. Melbourne is very quiet and British, even though so many Greek people are living there. It’s a city full of parks and gardens. Darwin, for example, still has the atmosphere of a frontier town. So each city has its own character. Australians have made it their aim to own their houses and gardens and so cities in Australia are widespread and the largest of the world.

Growing up in Australia

Many young people live in the suburbs of the large cities in small houses with gardens. People from non-British cultures often live together in big families, with their grandparents and older brothers and sisters responsible for the younger children. For Aborigines the family is very important. It doesn’t matter how distantly related the relatives are. They help each other in a very loyal way in times of need. But nearly all young Australians are the same as young people everywhere else. They decorate their rooms with the posters of their favourite stars, like sports and often play on a local or school sports team and on Sunday they go to church and if the weather is fine, to the beach.


Australians start going to school at the age of six. The following six years they are in primary school, which is run by the state or in a private school which is almost always run by a church. The schoolday is from 9.00 am to 3.30 pm. After primary school there is secondary school which takes another six years. School is mandatory until the age of fifteen. Most children leave school at this age. For students who live far outside a city, there is an institution called School on the Air. This school is conducted over the two-way radios.

Shopping and food

There are a lot of small stores called milkbars which sell food and household goods, but also big supermarkets in which you get everything cheaper. In small towns you have a general store as well.

The cooking was very British, but it has changed since the First World War, when the immigrants came from all over the world. There is a greater range of foodstuffs in the shops now than 50 years ago.

Australians have been introduced to salami from Italy, black olives from Greece, sauerkraut from Germany and many more types of food. They even produce more wine now. Now there are different supermarkets or delicatessen shops from the different nations.

Sport and leisure

Because of the warm climate, the Australian people can spend a lot of their free time outdoors. But televised sports are also extremely popular. They like to play cricket and they are known as a tennis-nation. The Australian Open is the fourth of the Grand Slam Tournaments. But they also like to go to the beach for sailing, surfing, swimming or just laying in the sun. Skiing is very popular in the winter season. But football is the most popular sport played in Australia. By the way, the national hobby is fishing.

Religions, festivals, holidays

There are people of many different religions, like Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews as well as Buddhists. Most of the Australian are Christians. They celebrate Christ and Easter, but in December it is summertime in Australia, so many people go swimming on Christ day.

But they also celebrate other days, like in Melbourne. The Melbourne Cup, a famous horse race, is celebrated as well. There is also a day of called Anzac day, when they remember their first lost battle in Turkey. They like to celebrate.
Culture and the arts

Australian painters had great difficulties when they tried to paint the Australian nature. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the Heidelberg School of Painters managed to paint Australian landscape successfully.

The famous actor Paul Hogan, whom you may know from Crocodile Dundee, is Australian as well.

In 1975, Patrick White got the Nobel Prize for literature.

The traditional poems, songs and rhythms of the Aborigines are very beautiful as well.

Farming and fishing

Farming was the most important industry in Australia and it still produces one-third of the exports, but mining and manufacturing have become more important. Australia exports most of the world´s need of wool, but they also export meat from sheep, cattle, and fruit like bananas, pineapples, oranges and lemons to Japan, Canada and Europe. Fish, tobacco, rice and wine are also goods which are exported.

Manufacturing and mining

During the world wars, it was difficult to import and export goods and so the mining grew, but manufacturing is also very important nowadays. They exported goods like iron, copper, aluminum, opal, gold, lead and so on and imported cars, petroleum and products of it, and office, industrial and electrical equipment. Mining is still necessary in Australia. They even export diamonds from Australia to Japan. The only people who are against this destruction of the nature are the Aborigines.


Australia is a huge country. Perth is as far from Adelaide as London is from Leningrad. That means that transport is important and expensive. The road net is very large and trucks which build roadtrains are crossing the country all the time. Railways cross the great distances as well. Carrying goods by ship is very important, not just for exports but for transport between points within the country. Doctors sometimes have to fly to their patients.


Australia is a parliamentary democracy like Austria, but it is also a federation of states like the EC. There is a federal government and six state governments for the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The federal government is responsible for major things, like tax, immigration and social security, and the state government decides on things like building roads, libraries and housing.

The government is based British and on the American systems and there is a law that all Australians who are over eighteen must vote. At the top of the parliament is the Queen because Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth.

Facing the future

Australia is situated south of Asia, but the lifestyle is very western, like that in Europe. It was called „the lucky country“ and it’s still very lucky, but the Australians have to work a bit more and harder. Unemployment is growing, but they can work against this situation, I think.

Vocabulary and Glossary


erodieren - verwittern

to divide


to be flooded by

überschwemmt sein von













to settle

sich niederlassen






















führen über

two-way radio





Australia is a big island to the south of Indonesia, a country belonging to the continent of Asia.

It is the world´s largest island and smallest continent; more than 7,6 million sq km - bigger than the USA excluding Alaska and Hawaii; only 16 million people

Land and climate

flat, dry, small; no episode of mountain building; land has eroded

three parts: Eastern Highlands, Central Basin, Western Shield - mineral deposits

Australian environments and wildlife

isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years; so many different animals and plants because there is desert and rainforest, flat land and high mountains

History: from the Aborigines to the European settlement

Aborigines came 50,000 to 100,000 years ago; more than 750,000; hunter-gatherers

first European settled at Sydney Cove in 1788; prisoners because English prisons were overcrowded

The Australian people

all Australians are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants; they brought other cultures, and religions which were added to the Australian way of life; very important to have good friendship; from north to south and from east to west, the accent is the same


all cities are on the coast; cities in Australia are widespread and the largest of the world

Growing up in Australia

young people live in the suburbs in a small house with a garden; same as everywhere else


age of six - primary school; day is from 9.00 am to 3.30 pm; secondary school, which takes another six years; School on the Air for students far away in the country

Shopping and food

salami from Italy, black olives from Greece, sauerkraut from Germany and many more; produce more wine now; different supermarkets from the different nations

Sport and leisure

like to play cricket and they are known as a tennis-nation; also like the beach and skiing

Religions, festivals, holidays

Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews as well as Buddhists; They like to celebrate.

Culture and the arts

Farming and fishing

exports most of the world´s need for wool, but also meat from sheep and cattle, fruit like bananas, pineapples, oranges and lemons to Japan, Canada and Europe, fish, tobacco, rice and wine

Manufacturing and mining

mining grew; export goods like iron, copper, alumina, opal, gold, lead; imported cars, petroleum, office, industrial and electrical equipment


Perth is as far from Adelaide as London is from Leningrad. transport is expensive


democracy, but also a federation of states; law that all Australians over eighteen must vote

Facing the future

Australia is situated south of Asia, but the lifestyle is very western, like in Europe. It was called „the lucky country“ and it’s still very lucky, but the Australian have to work a bit more and harder. Unemployment is growing, but they can work against this situation I think.


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