In 1770, during the reign of King George III, Captain James Cook sailed off in the bark Endeavour in order to discover new lands, to procure further wealth and prosperity for the British Empire and to bring back some nice mangoes.
After looking over Noo Zealand, Cook decided its spectacular scenery looked too much like the set of a Peter Jackson film, so he turned left and bumped into Orstralia.
When I was a kiddy in school I was taught that James Cook discovered Orstralia. The fact that some lovely Dutch chaps had sailed this way some hundred or so years earlier was glossed over. As was the more interesting but forgettable truth that the country had already been occupied by humans for the previous forty thousand years. So, in fact James Cook ‘discovered' Orstralia in precisely the same way that I ‘discovered' how delicious Baskin Robbins Pralines and Cream is.
Soon after this, a group of upstarts in America made King George more than usually miffed so he said, "Bugger you lot then, I'll find somewhere else to tax." Inconveniently though, the Pound Sterling wasn't available yet in Orstralia which meant he had to send some God-fearing, tax-paying white people out here to make some. He couldn't get any takers voluntarily, perhaps because they'd all seen Crocodile Dundee, so he transported imprisoned criminals who had no say in the matter.
Thus began the penal colony of New South Wales. Word soon spread about the vast country of unmatched beauty, fertile plains and really bonza surfing. So free British settlers also sailed out to seek a new life in this wild untamed land. Many prostitutes migrated south too, but this was because they were poorly educated, couldn't spell, and totally misunderstood what a penal settlement was.
Life went on as you'd expect in a newly invaded colony. Farms and businesses were established and flourished, venereal diseases became rampant, indigenous people were slaughtered and furry toy koalas spread around the world.
Historical highlights include the gold rush of the 1850's which saw folks from all over the world come to stake their claims. From this arose our marvelous traditions of bushrangering and racial intolerance. Then there was the Eureka Stockade. This uprising showed how the Orstralian sentiment of a ‘fair go for all' and the even more popular ‘rack off Copper!" were already in evidence. This stand against police corruption was short-lived however. The weather being so lovely they reckoned ‘no worries' and sorted it all out over a couple of coldies at the Ballarat Beer Garden instead.
In January 1901 the southern colonies joined together to form the Federation of Orstralia. To celebrate this they purpose-built our charming capital city, Canberra, on a drought-ridden sheep paddock in the middle of bloody nowhere. They also had to purpose-build Lake Burley Griffin on the banks of which the city was to stand, and the hundreds of miles of highway to get to the mindlessly situated place.
Soon after this we were called to arms in the Great War. This perhaps was when we were first really unified as a nation. When our ally Great Britain unceremoniously left our boys to be massacred on the impenetrable Turkish shores of Anzac Cove, we were truly unified, mainly against Great Britain. The passion and determination with which the Ashes test cricket series is conducted is a testament to just how long we can hold a grudge.
Soon after the Wall Street crash of 1929, the depression hit Orstralia too and things got tough here as they did throughout the world. But in 1935 a brown salty paste made from brewer's yeast was re-named Vegemite and our fledgling nation's fortunes rose once again.
The rest of the twentieth century was taken up with raising sheep, fighting a few more wars, building an odd shaped opera house on the shores of Sydney Harbour and desperately trying to convince Paul Hogan to move permanently to Hollywood.
These days, Orstralia is a modern industrialised country that boasts all of life's luxuries and conveniences, yet it is still a dangerous land. We are home to some of the planet's most venomous creatures like the funnel-web spider, the blue-ringed octopus and the Tuckshop Ladies' Tennis Club. I recommend you give all of these a huge swerve.
Orstralia: A land of lush coastal rainforests, endless golden beaches, stark wondrous deserts and magnificent mountain ranges. A land populated with the descendants of petty thieves and harlots. A land where the beer is lethal and the women more so. If any of that appeals to you, by all means get yourself a visa (because without one you'll be mistaken for a refugee and incarcerated at an offshore facility) and drop on by for a great Orstralian barbecue. I'll pop out now for extra ice.