Strewth! Eight facts about Australia to help you plan your holiday

Charles and Diana visiting Uluru.
Charles and Diana visiting Uluru. Photo credit: Getty

Kiwis know Australia as the home of tourist attractions like Uluru and the Sydney Opera House, as the birthplace of upstanding humans like Steve Smith and Pauline Hanson, and as the country that's mastered the art of claiming New Zealand's best stuff as its own.

But there are many facts about our Tasman neighbour that you might not know - for example, did you know that Uluru is taller than the Auckland Sky Tower?

All going according to plan, the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions between Aotearoa and Aussie will be eased soon and we'll be able to holiday there again.

To help you plan that trip, here are eight fair dinkum facts about Australia:

There's more than just one big rock.

Uluru is the world's largest monolith. Standing 348m, it's 20m taller than Auckland's giant spark plug. But if you're a travelling rockhound, there's another attraction not much more than a stone's throw away from Uluru.

Strewth! Eight facts about Australia to help you plan your holiday
Photo credit: Newshub/Getty

Located in Western Australia, Mount Augustus is approximately double the size of Uluru and is sometimes claimed as the world's largest monolith - but because it is composed of multiple rock types, it is technically not a monolith.

Rainforest? But it's a desert!

Sir David Attenborough once called the Daintree Rainforest "the most extraordinary place on Earth". At 180 million years old, the World Heritage-listed area provided inspiration for the movie Avatar. 

Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest Photo credit: Getty

In it, you can trek through the jungle and discover plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, or fly through the trees on a zip-line for a bird's-eye view. Cruise along the winding waterways of the Daintree River looking for saltwater crocodiles, or head to Cape Tribulation and see where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef.

Go chasing waterfalls

Western Australia's Horizontal Falls are unique in the fact that the waterfall's water doesn't really 'fall'.

Western Australia's Horizontal Falls
Western Australia's Horizontal Falls Photo credit: Getty

Technically, this natural phenomenon is not a waterfall and occurs thanks to some of the largest tidal movements in the world. There are two horizontal waterfalls in the Kimberley region, located at Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago. As the tide rises and falls, a huge volume of water is forced through two narrow cliff passages, creating a variation in ocean level of up to 4m and a unique waterfall effect. 

Pretty in pink

Australia is known for its beaches, but don't overlook the great lakes and rivers. Lake Eyre in South Australia is the country's largest salt lake at 9500 square km and regularly cycles from completely dry to a full basin dependent on rainfall. 

Lake MacDonnell
Lake MacDonnell Photo credit: Lyndon O'Keefe

The Murray River at 2508km is Australia's longest single river, running across three states and bringing lush green landscapes to its surrounds. Australia is also home to extraordinary pink lakes. 

Stuff that glows

Glowing plankton.
Glowing plankton. Photo credit: Getty

In New South Wales' Jervis Bay, the beaches are even more wondrous at night. Due to a natural chemical reaction, the plankton become luminescent and emanate a blue glow. This unusual natural phenomenon is more common in spring and summer months. Jervis Bay is not the only place in Australia you can see this occur, it has also been reported to have been seen in Whitsundays Queensland, Port Lincoln South Australia and Lauderdale Tasmania. 

There are also fireflies in the forests and mangroves along the coast of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The Aussiesaurus

The world's largest dinosaur footprints can be found on the north coast of Broome in Western Australia. 

The footprint is unlikely to have come from Dorothy the Dinosaur
The footprint is unlikely to have come from Dorothy the Dinosaur Photo credit: Getty

At 1.7m long, these fossilised dinosaur footprints are 130 million years old and extend in patches for 80km along the coast. Budding palaeontologists can learn more at the National Dinosaur Museum – a 15-minute drive north of Canberra. 

A boomerang full of boomers

Australia's parliament building is shaped like a boomerang, an object so synonymous with Australian culture that its parliament buildings are designed to be shaped like one.

Australian Parliament Buildings.
Australian Parliament Buildings. Photo credit: Getty

Part of Walter Burley Griffin's vision for Canberra in 1912 was New Parliament House. Highlights of the building include the two huge circular walls composed of granite, which mirror the curves of the hill; the towering 81m flagpole; and in the foyer, 48 columns of illuminated greenish-grey marble create the impression of a eucalyptus forest.

Great whites sharks... really? You're actually promoting this fact?

Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula's east coast in South Australia, is home to some of the world's largest predatory fish - the great white shark.  

"Yeah, g'day."
"Yeah, g'day." Photo credit: Getty

For those feeling brave, a handful of local cage diving operators offer the chance to meet them face-to-face. If the thought of diving doesn't appeal, Adventure Bay Charters has the world's first Aqua sub, meaning travellers can still see sharks up close underwater without getting wet. 

Some Kiwis might pretend to dislike them, but we do love Australians really. What has been your favourite Australian experience or destination? Let us know in the Newshub Travel Facebook group.