AustraliaThe largest cave south of the equator is The Archway cave west of Sydney. The cave is 725 feet long, 196 feet wide and almost 100 feet high. It is so vast inside that goldminers used it for an impromptu theatre in the mid 1900s. The local miners build a stage in the cave and gathered there for dances and music performances every Saturday night.

The first white men to land in Australia were hardly good advertising for settlement. The ship Batavia founded on Morning Reef in Western Australia in 1629 and stranded the survivors. But something worse was waiting for them in the form of fellow survivor Jeronimous Cornelisz, who systematically tortured and murdered them. Cornelisz and his followers were executed when the ship’s Captain – who had gone in search of aid – returned and saw what had happened.

The word blue has many connotations to Australians. `Bluey” is a typically wry, ironic Australianism – it is only applied to people with red hair. `Humping my bluey’, an Aussie term meaning carrying one’s worldly possessions wrapped in a `swag’ or bundle, referred to the blue blankets used to make a swag;

The amazing Bungle Bungles in Western Australia are huge pillars of sandstone that look like ancient ziggurats. But nature, not man, made these orange and black striped monoliths, situated in Purnululu National Park. The black stripes are caused by lichens growing on the orange sandstone. Known to Aborigines for centuries, the Bungle Bungles were only discovered by modern Australians in the 1980s, when the stunning rock formation was spotted from the air.

The Australian cabbage tree is a kind of palm with large, flat, glossy leaves – much like a cabbage. The leaves were used to make the popular `cabbage tree hat’ that early settlers wore, sewing the leaves together into a broad brimmed shady hat.

The Wollemi Pine, discovered in 1994 growing in a National Park in the Blue Mountains, is the world’s oldest living tree. It flourished in the time of the dinosaurs and was believed to be extinct, but in 1994 a park ranger stumbled upon it in an unexplored canyon. The location remains a secret, but the tree is being propagated at Mount Annan Botanic Garden and the seeds are now on sale.

Fisher’s Ghost is a famous spectre that haunts a creek near Campbelltown in New South Wales. Frederick Fisher was an ex convict who disappeared from his farm in 1826. Another ex convict called George Worrall was hanged for Fisher’s murder.

The ghost first appeared six year after Fisher’s murder, when a man called John Farley claimed to have seen the ghost sitting on a fence when he was returning home one night. There have been many reports of sightings since.

Gail Kavanagh