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by Cezanne Laidlow

As I sat dumbfounded during the “Australian” round of trivia at the pub, getting scowled at by my teammates for not contributing, I realised that there really is an awful lot I don't know about this country. What struck me most was the situation that unfolded around question three.
MC: Which two native Australian animals are unable to walk backwards?
Every person on my team, bar me: The Emu and the Kangaroo.
Me: The Platypus!

Apparently not. How was I supposed to know? I was all too soon given a lecture by the ‘occa' Australian next to me who had far too many beers and really didn't care too much about the game of trivia unfolding around us.

Turns out old mate next to me, despite his thirst for XXXX Gold, had quite an interesting story to tell. The kangaroo and emu actually form an interesting part of Australian culture, from their natural quirkiness to their important national symbolism. You cannot deny a country's c ulture, history and influence provides you with an insight into the way of life and, well, helps you avoid embarrassing situations at trivia.

Anyway, between sips of beer and peanuts, Bazza, my newly acquired mate explained the Australian coat of arms to me. A coat of arms represents aspects of the country that contain the most influence and meaning. The Aussie coat of arms is an interesting combination: we have our furry friends the emu and the kangaroo, accompanied by some golden wattle, a seven-pointed star and six badges neatly placed together.

Although Bazza was a little hazy on the details, some research led me to the following information. As a focal point, the shield in the middle represents the badge of each of the Australian states. Top left, New South Wales; top middle, Victoria; top right, Queensland; bottom left, South Australia; bottom middle, Western Australia; and bottom right, Tasmania. Sorry Northern Terroritorians, apparently you were not included because the territory only became self administered in 1978.

As a sweetener to the obviously ripped off NT-ers, the star above the shield represents the original six states and allowed a seventh point representing the combined territories and any future states of Australia. The kangaroo and emu support the shield. Their inability to walk backwards signifies Australia's moving forward and an unwillingness to back down. How's that for positive thinking; some might argue a little overconfident. The wattle represents the official national floral emblem, as proclaimed in 1988.

As I sat down at dinner with the same group of friends (minus Bazza, whom I later learnt no one actually knew) a few days later, relaying my newly acquired Aussie knowledge, I was greeted with some surprised grins. I say ‘good on ya' Australia for designing a brilliant coat of arms; and ‘good on ya' Bazza for informing (and entertaining) me..
More Aussie Trivia:


The 13th of February was a historic day for Australia. A day for reflecting on the past and saying sorry. Visit Youtube: http://au.youtube.com/user/v=l1vzHYJvL0c


The Australian citizenship test commenced on 1 October 2007. The Australian citizenship test has been designed to assist people who want to become Australian citizens gain an understanding of Australia's values, traditions, history and national symbols! Questions on the test include the nation's history, its political institutions, economic, cultural and indigenous history. In order to become a citizen, migrants will need to correctly answer at least 12 out of 20 questions, such as how members of parliament are chosen and the year in which European settlement of Australia began.

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Posted by Cezanne Laidlow
02 Apr 2008

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Being a relatively new migrant from South Africa, i found the information in the artical very helpful and entertaining.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Lee Vally on 02 Apr 2008

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