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About Australia
Australia is a land of contrasts - topographical, cultural, physical, meterological and visual. About 40,000 years ago, the Aborigines were the first to settle. They lived as hunters and gatherers for this entire time, living with a close link to nature, although backburning and other poor agricultural techniques have since been realised to have caused significant deforestation, salinification of the soil and elimination of much of the natural diversity of the landscape. Such a poor ability to interact with nature, despite it being so important, helps explain why much of Australia is now unsuitable for sustaining life. Interestingly, this provides one of the few examples of where the native population damaged the land more than later waves of settlers.
Their way of living developed into a complex culture based on oral tradition and intricate social bounds, which was almost destroyed by the second wave of settlers, who were able to populate the land with much more success. Australia is a nation in its own right, it is also a technically a continent, with large differences between regions. It has a reputation as a land of leisure, with sun, sea and an enviable 'Crocodile Dundee' outdoor lifestyle, but this is just a very narrow conception of a continent.
The reality however, is that most people work all day, and then spend the weekend running around trying to pack life into the 2 days on the weekend. Only the homeless and tourists have time to sit around on the beach, or laze away days watching sport on TV.
One of the states is the island state Tasmania of which one fifth is World Heritage area. Each state has its own national parks with their specific character where you can indulge in bush-walking or maybe even rock-climbing. When you’re interested in the miracles of water-world, you can’t miss out on the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast, the main reason for many travellers to visit Cairns. The Wet Tropics of Queensland comprise dense rainforests and foaming waterfalls. Rare species of animals can be spotted in the famous Kakadu National Park as well as ancient aboriginal art. These old drawings can also be seen in the Namadgi National Park.
Good places to set off for exploration of the great outdoors are big cities such as Canberra, Darwin, Adelaide and Perth, that all have interesting sights and a good cultural atmosphere as well. Of course, Australia is surrounded by sea, so good swimming and surfing beaches are more rule than exception, generally these beaches will be full of only tourists, especially during the week. So fun can be had watching people who haven't heard of sunscreen yet turning into lobsters, or getting trapped in the surf. North of Brisbane, is the Sunshine Coast one of the many stretches of coast where you can find excellent beaches, South of Brisbane is the better known Gold Coast, famous for being home to Australias equivalent of trailer park people and teenagers who can't afford a holiday somewhere better. Don’t forget the smaller historically interesting Alice Springs, or William Creek [the most isolated town in Australia] that will lead you right to the famous Ayers Rock.
Deserts, rainforests, big cities….and just when you thought you’d caught a glimpse of the versatile character of this fascinating continent, you forgotten about Melbourne and the excellent skiing opportunities in the Alpine National Park.
It is believed that the first settlers of Australia reached the continent some 65,000 years ago.  The first settlers of Australia, ancestors of today's Aborigines, came from Asia by way of New Guinea.  Over 750,000 Aborigines occupied the Australian continent before the arrival of the first white ancestry in 1788 ("Australia").
Before the United Kingdom made it's claim to Australia in 1788, there were several European explores that searched for the "Unknown Southern Land".  In the late 1500's several Spanish and Portuguese explorers set sail for the undiscovered continent thought to exist south of Asia.  However, all of their voyages ended with the discovery of New Guinea, an island located North of today's Queensland ("Australia").  In 1606, a Spanish explorer named Luis Vaez de Torres proved the previous explorers findings to be incorrect as he sailed around the land of New Guinea establishing it as an island rather than the vast continent that everyone was in search of ("Australia").  Throughout the remainder of the 1600's and early 1700's there would be several attempts at finding this mysterious southern land.  During this time, Dutch explorer, Abel Janszoon Tasman would stumble upon the island which is today called Tazmania in his honor ("Australia").  However, it was not until 1770 that James Cook of the British Navy became the first European to sight and explore the east coast of Australia's New South Wales (Australia's).  
Several years would go by before Britain would come to occupy the land of Australia.  With the end of the Revolutionary War and the United States independence from Great Britain in 1783, the British needed to find a new place to transport the countries overflow of convicts.  In 1786, Britain decided to establish prison colonies on the coast of New South Wales.  On January 18, 1788, a group of 570 male and 160 female convicts arrived on Australia's east coast in a place that is now known as the city of Sydney (Australia's).  This marks the first white settlement of the vast continent of Australia (Australia's).
Religion usually serves a fundamental role in a national world view. The church has remained separated from the state, and also from the mainstream of ideas and culture in general. Australians, if active in religion, commonly affiliate with the Christian-based religions. Only about 25% of Australians consider religion to be "very important," in comparison to 58% of Americans. Twelve percent do not practice religion. Of those who do actively partake in religious practices, 25% practice Anglican religion, 25% Roman Catholicism, and 25% other Protestant religions. Fewer than 1% of those who practice consider themselves Jewish. The small number of people who consider religion to be important conveys a nation of little spiritual focus, and perhaps a diversely structured set of thoughts and life views (Rickard 110-132).
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