Gnomesville: an unusual roadside community of thousands of garden gnomes

In the Ferguson Valley of country Western Australia there lives a thriving community of gnomes, in a gnome village called Gnomesville. And no. I’m not joking. Garden gnomes are a classic symbol of kitschy yard decorations around the world, but most people are content to have just a couple of the little creatures living in their yards. But Gnomesville, a collection of thousands of the weird little statuettes set up on a roundabout, is definitely something different. The community of silent gnomes actually began as a whimsical protest some 20…

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Cape Bruny: the second oldest lighthouse in Australia

The Cape Bruny Lighthouse, that towers 114m, is an inactive lighthouse located at the southern tip of Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia. First lit in March 1838 and eventually decommissioned on 6 August 1996, It is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia. The project was commissioned by Governor George Arthur in 1835 after a series of shipwrecks south of Bruny Island. Cape Bruny, and in general southern coastlines, were feared by many early navigators and Tasmania had over 400 shipwrecks around its wild coastlines. The catastrophic wreck of the convict transport…

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Beechworth Cemetery and Chinese burning towers

The discovery of gold at Ballarat in 1851 sparked Victoria’s famous gold rush of the 1850s. This led to the probably most significant event in the evolution of the state of Victoria, Australia: the mass migration of people from across the globe to the region hoping to become rich. It’s believed that at the peak of the gold rush, 6,000 miners arrived in the region each week, including many Chinese nationals who converged on Beechworth seeking fortune around the late 1850s. As the population in Beechworth (then surveyed as Mayday…

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Why one Australian Island celebrates thanksgiving

Norfolk Island is tiny, both in size and population. It is an Australian territory hundreds of miles from the mainland, that hosts fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. It has nice blue waters, unique flora, including famed Norfolk pine also displayed on their flag, and a curious story about its origin: the island was in fact populated by the descendants of mutineers from the British ship HMS Bounty. The British mutineers and several captive Tahitians had fled to nearby Pitcairn Island in 1790, and by 1856, their descendants moved there, to the…

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The Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool – Australia

Located within a sheltered bay on the coast of Western Australia, theb Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve appears at first glance to be a regular rock-strewn beach, though the rocks look kind of odd. Those rocks are not actually rocks. Rather, they are active colonies of one of the first life forms on our planet. They are called “stromatolites”, and they are made by a single-celled organism know as “cyanobacteria”. Previously known as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria exist since about 3500 million years ago, well before the existence of any other…

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Z Ward: a perfectly preserved abandoned criminal asylum in South Australia.

In the sleepy suburb of Glenside, Adelaide, South Australia, rests a building long abandoned and protected from trespassers by a wall far taller than it first appears, the only complete Ha-Ha Wall in Australia. The wall doesn’t look too high from the outside but, once over it, it is soon discovered that on the other side, a deeper moat hinders any escape. The building is known as Z Ward, and it was for years closed off to the public, even though recently, access to the building was allowed to the…

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The unsolved mystery of Madagascar, the gold ship vanished in 1853

The frigate Madagascar left Melbourne for London on this day, August 12, 1853 with more than 150 passengers and its crew…but also nearly three tons of gold on board. It was never seen again. The Madagascar was a sturdy British merchant vessel built in 1837, used for carrying soldiers to India as well as passengers looking for an exotic vacation on the Indian sub-continent. However, by the 1850s, Victoria was in the grip of a gold rush and the ship found it had a new role in its life: instead…

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Musk Sticks: the classic Australian candy looks like pink toothpaste and smells like old ladies at the bus stop.

While many Australians and New Zealanders love this vintage candy for nostalgic reasons, others detest its shocking perfume flavor. In fact, the so called Musk Sticks have been likened to “the smell of old ladies at the bus stop“, and they are made with real synthetic musk essence… These musk-flavoured candy are fairy-pink cylinders that resemble extruded toothpaste. They’re made mostly of musk essence, gelatin, and icing sugar, which gives them a semi-soft and powdery, fondant-like feel. Their dissolvable quality also means they can be “twisted on your tongue into…

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Dustyesky: the leading genuine fake Russian choir in Southern Hemisphere

The little Australian village of Mullumbimby is one of the last places on Earth you would expect to find a men’s choir singing their hearts out about the Motherland and the Red Army in Russian like they knew the language….but that’s what makes Dustyesky so special. Mullumbimby is a small, subtropical town near Byron Bay in Australia’s northern New South Wales, and it was mostly known for its timber industry. However, thanks to the success of the 28 men making up hit choir Dustyesky it’s also become known for its…

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How Australia was born

Back in the the 1770s and 1780s, living conditions in the United Kingdom were literally catastrophic. The Industrial Revolution meant that many workers had been replaced by machines, and small farmers had been forced off their land as the rich and powerful used the Enclosure Acts to expand their agricultural holdings. Of course, there was no welfare state, so huge numbers of people just lived in poverty and squalor and, as a result, without work or food for their families, many turned to crime. Thus that prisons across the country…

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Paronella park: a castle hand built by a Spanish dreamer in the Australian tropical jungle.

In Queensland, Australia, lies an old castle built by a Spanish immigrant that, for a while, had one problem after another. Abandoned for several years, it has now become one of the most popular tourist sites in Queensland. Its story began when a young native of Catalonia, Spain, José Paronella, moved to a nearby town and became a baker. He discovered it was much harder than he had imagined, and, when he saw an advertisement for work in Australia, he took a chance and arrived in Sydney in 1913 at…

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#February 28, 1874: the curious case of the “baronet” from Wagga Wagga

Arthur Orton, who became known as the Tichborne Claimant, was found guilty of perjury on this day, February 28, 1874, after the longest trial in English history. The bizarre case, which gripped and fascinated all society, involved the son of a butcher in London’s East End, a missing English aristocrat, and the claims of a butcher from Wagga Wagga, Australia. But let’s start from the beginning. The Tichbornes were a prominent wealthy Catholic family whose stately home stood in rolling Hampshire farmland. In 1854, Roger Tichborne, heir to the family…

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20# An Australian white Christmas…

A dessert called White Christmas is an Australian holiday classic. It’s easy to make and a delicious kid’s treat (but not only). It keeps really well, making it a tasty dessert to make in advance for when guest pop over. It is a mixture of raisins, glacé cherries, desiccated coconut, icing sugar, milk powder and Rice Crispies, with hydrogenated coconut oil (such as the brand Copha, that I have only seen sold in Australia) as the binding ingredient. The hydrogenated oil is melted and combined with the dry ingredients. Then…

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The true story of Trim, the adventurous cat belonging to navigator Matthew Flinders

Outside Sydney’s Mitchell Library stands a statue of Matthew Flinders, the celebrated English navigator and cartographer who helped map Australia, declared it a continent, and was influential in giving it its current name. In addition, on a window ledge behind the statue stands a bronze figurine of his faithful cat, Trim, who accompanied the seafarer on many of his adventures. Eyes wide open and a front paw raised, he is sculpted alert, as if waiting to pounce on a pigeon. A plaque in front of the statue explains the cat…

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Port Arthur Penal Colony – the Australian “prison of Silence”

Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, Australia. Port Arthur is one of most significant heritage areas of the country and now an open-air museum. The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of 11 remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European…

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The charm of the SS Ayrfield, the ship-wreck transformed into a floating mangrove forest

Once cargo freighter and now a floating forest, the SS Ayrfield is a beautifully broken-down wreck, locked in Australia’s Homebush Bay probably for eternity. Once a center of industry, Homebush Bay was unfortunately contaminated with toxic waste and is now a commercial and residential suburb of Sydney. Before the 2000 Olympic Games, this place was a ship breaking zone, and the dozens of shipwrecks that still remain here, slowly rusting in its waters, are a constant reminder of its history. Once used to transport coal, oil, and war supplies, the…

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A curfew has been introduced in Australia for “nuisance” cats.

Mount Barker council in Adelaide, Australia, says it will curb “delinquent” behaviour by the region’s cats and they need to stop roaming the streets by night. The council has vowed to crack down on the “nuisance behaviour” of local cats, passing new regulations to limit the number of felines per property and forcing owners to keep their pets inside at night. So, residents of Mount Barker will face penalties if their cats are found roaming the streets at night after the local council passed tough new regulations. The new by-laws…

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Newman’s Nursery Ruins

Nestled in a valley on top of a hill there are the suggestive ruins of a 19th-century plant nursery. Founded by Carl and Margaretha Newman in 1854, Newman’s Nursery was once home to rare and exotic varieties of flowers, trees, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the family’s 17 children. Yes, really 17! By the 1880s, the nursery had become a huge success and was considered a prime showpiece of the area: at its peak, it covered 500 acres, with 90 acres of fruit trees including 500,000 apples, cherries, and…

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Farina: South Australian ghost town

Lost in the vast land of outback South Australia, 650 kilometres (400 miles) to the north of Adelaide on the edge of the desert and along the old route of the Ghan railway, there are traces left behind from a forgotten community. Farina is a former farming and mining community became a ghost town, complete with a cemetery that explains how harsh life in town must have been. Originally called The Gums or Government Gums, the town of Farina was settled in 1878 by optimistic farmers hoping that rain follows…

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Frog Cakes, the cute amphibian treats and South Australian icons.

Here we are: Australia is home to more than 200 magnificent species of frogs, including one really delicious, comprised almost entirely of sugar! The frog cake is a sweet treat in the shape of a crouched frog, so beloved in its native Adelaide that it was recently deemed a South Australian Heritage Icon. At its heart, the frog has two pieces of sponge cake joined by a thin layer of jam and topped with a scoop of buttercream. To transform this pastry into a frog, bakers coat everything with green…

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The body on the beach: the mystery of Taman Shud case

On 1 December 1948 at 6:30 am, the body of an unidentified man was man was discovered on Somerton beach near Glenelg, about 11 kilometres southwest of Adelaide, South Australia. The man was found lying in the sand, with his head resting against the seawall, with his legs extended and his feet crossed. He dead from unknown causes, and as investigators delved deeper into the corpse’s demise they came up with more questions than answers, leaving an unsolved case involving poetry and Cold War codes that remains a mystery until…

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A Day Out: the Rundle Mall pigs of Adelaide, Australia

People passing through Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, Australia, may be perplexed to see four pigs hogging the pedestrian walkway. From the look, these four life-size bronze pigs, they are having a great day out at shopping center: one has his snout in a rubbish bin with a crumpled milk carton, orange peel, a half-eaten banana, apple core and a left-over sandwich. Another happily sits spread on the pavement, while still another comes running to join the fun. After their launch on 3 July 1999 led the Adelaide City Council and the…

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A mysterious visitor leave toys on the grave of a two-year-old boy died more than 100 years ago.

Graveyard mystery haunts a town after teddy bears keep being left next to the tombstone of a two-year-old boy who died 134 years ago. No one knows who is behind it. This is a recent story, indeed reported a few days ago by Daily Mail. A haunting episode has left a small town baffled as a mysterious individual continues to leave toys on the grave of a two-years-old boy who died more than 100 years ago. Teddy bears and toy trucks are among the toys that have been left near…

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Helensburg Glowworm Tunnel~

After a hard shift on June 13, 1895 coal miner Robert Hales was walking home through the relatively short 80m Helensburgh Tunnel south of Sydney when a steam train appeared behind him. He ran, but not fast enough and his body was cleft in two with the halves found some distance apart. Some say his ghost still haunts the tunnel and can be seen running from the darkness as if trying to flee! Of course, this is just one of the legendary tales surrounding the abandoned railway tunnels on the…

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