I’ve spent a lot of time travelling overseas and have found, for the most part, people from other countries have a pretty limited view of Australia. ‘Beaches,’ ‘the outback,’ ‘kangaroos,’ and ‘the Hemsworth brothers’ are pretty much top of the list when you ask someone from overseas what they think of when they hear the word ‘Australia.’
But Australia has given the world a hell of a lot more than hot movie stars (not that I’m bagging the Hemsworth brothers—I would never speak ill of Chris, ask anyone!) Anyway, here is a list of ten bits of Aussie awesomeness that have changed the world for the better:
Yes, it is rather ironic considering how crappy the internet service is here in Aus to think that WiFi technology was actually first developed here back in 1992 by John Sullivan and the CSIRO. But it’s true, and the technology is now used by more than a billion people worldwide.
They’re one of the most iconic bands of the 20th century with their songs becoming worldwide rock anthems as popular today as they were back in the ‘70s. And it all started here in Melbourne.
Confession time: this one’s not entirely ours as it was first developed by Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen. But it was in Sydney, with the help of an Australian team, that the program grew from its infancy to the one that would be purchased by Google.
Side note: we have a long tradition of claiming things and people as ‘Australian’ when it’s not strictly true. Who am I to mess with history?
The Cochlear Implant
In contrast, this innovation is as Aussie as flies at a barbie.
Still considered one of the biggest advances in bionic technology, the cochlear implant has brought hearing to more than 180,000 deaf and partially deaf people worldwide and was first developed by Professor Graeme Clark in the 1970s.
Everyone knows the story of Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin by accident, but what they perhaps don’t know is that it was Australian Howard Florey and his research partner Ernst Chain who isolated the bacteria and turned it into the practical medication that has been used to save millions of lives ever since. Fleming, Florey and Chain all shared in the 1945 Nobel Prize for the discovery and medical application of penicillin.
Notepads may be largely redundant in today’s society of tablets and smartphones, but for over a hundred years they gave us a handy way to write down shopping lists, take phone messages, and, well, take notes. And it was first invented in Australia in 1902 by Tasmanian J.A. Birchall, who had the stunningly simple idea of gluing pieces of paper together.
The Secret Ballot
Imagine going to vote in an election and having your preference publicly displayed. That was how things worked until Henry Chapman invented the first secret ballot system in Melbourne in 1855. It soon became practiced across the rest of the country and was adopted around the world as ‘The Australian Ballot.’
The Moon Landing
But it was America who went to the moon, you say? You’d be right, of course. But the broadcast of the moonwalk was a joint effort between the radio telescopes at Goldstone in California, Parkes in NSW and Honeysuckle Creek in Canberra. More than two hours of the moonwalk footage was transmitted from Parkes.
The Black Box Flight Recorder
Invented in 1958 by Dr David Warren who was motivated to design the device after losing his own father in a plane crash in 1934. Interestingly, the device is not actually black but bright orange so it’s easier to spot in a plane wreckage.
The Macadamia Nut
While Australia is known for its unique flora, there aren’t a lot of edible plants native to the country. One delicious exception is the macadamia tree, which produces the macadamia nut. Many people believe these trees are native to Hawaii, but that’s a LIE—macadamia seeds were imported to Hawaii and other Pacific island nations from Australia in the 1830s.
With their rich, creamy taste macadamias are delicious whether you eat them raw, roasted, in cookies, coated in chocolate…mmm chocolate… basically, you can eat them any which way and it’s all delicious. In fact, many consider the macadamia to be the world’s finest nut.
You’re welcome, world!
So there you have it—just ten examples of Australian awesomeness that have made the world a better place!