Yesterday was Australia Day (because it fell on a Saturday, the public holiday is tomorrow – Australians love long weekends), and was quite hot, so I didn’t want to over-burden the students. For the last half hour, I found a Youtube video called 101 Facts about Australia, which I won’t link to because it isn’t very good. If I’d prepared sooner, I might have found a better one. Among other things, it stated (ha!) that Australia has eight states, and named one of them “Southern Australia”. Actually, there are six states and two major internal territories, and one of them is “South Australia”.
It mentioned Australia’s highest mountain, which the presenter mispronounced (everyone does anyway, but he mis-mispronounced it). He also said, and the caption read, “7,310 ft” (2,228 m). I said “You students from Nepal and China may be amused by how small our mountains are”. One Nepalese student said “That’s almost as high as the Himalayas. They are 8,000.” I said “That’s 7,000 feet, not 7,000 metres”. She seemed to know what feet are in this context.
The major Himalayan mountains are almost 4 times taller than Mt Kosciuszko (Mt Everest is almost exactly 4 times taller) . It gets on lists only because it is the tallest mountain on the continent. Maybe. If the island of New Guinea is considered as part of the continent (which it geologically is), then the highest mountain is Puncak Jaya, in Indonesia’s Papua Province.
And Mt Kosciuszko isn’t the tallest mountain on Australian territory. That’s Mawson Peak (2,745 m), on the desperately remote external territory of Heard Island.
PS Just to confuse things, another state is “Western Australia”, sometimes incorrectly referred to as “West Australia”. “Southern Australia” refers to a wider and slightly vague geographical region which includes southern Western Australia, southern South Australia, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania. “Northern Australia” includes northern Western-Australia (also called “north-west Australia” or “North-West Australia”), the Northern Territory and Queensland.