Australia has a prosperous, Western-style market economy.
The Australian economy is dominated by its services sector (68% of GDP), yet it is the agricultural and mining sectors (8% of GDP combined) that account for 65% of its exports. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, particularly grains and wool, and minerals, including various metals, coal, and natural gas.
Australia’s small business sector is vital to the economy, accounting for 58 per cent of employment growth over the past six years and generating about 30 per cent of Australia’s economic production. There are more than 1.2 million small businesses in Australia employing almost 3.3 million people. Over the past decade, the number of small businesses has grown by an average 3.5 per cent every year.
Australia has become one of the world’s major mining countries.
It ranks first in the production of bauxite (боксит, алюминиевая руда), diamonds, and lead (свинец), and is a leading producer of coal, copper, gold, iron ore, manganese (марганец), nickel, silver, tin (олово), titanium (титан), tungsten (вольфрам), zinc, and zircon (циркон).
The Super Pit in Kalgoorlie, Australia’s largest open cast gold mine
Nearly all the world’s high-quality opals are mined in Australia.
Precious jewelry with Australian opals
(95% of opals are mined in Australia only)
The history of opal as a gemstone started a long time ago. Several thousand year old artefacts made of opal were found in East Africa, and the Romans were very fond of opal. Marcus Antonius, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as Queen Victoria of Britain were opal lovers and collectors.
The Romans established the opal as a gemstone. They obtained their opals through Middle Eastern traders and were of the opinion that the gems came from India. The Latin name ‘opalus’ is derived from the ancient Indian word ‘upala’ which means ‘precious stone’. The Romans appreciated the opal more than any other gemstone because they thought that it combined the beauty of all other precious stones, and they considered it a carrier of good luck.
When Australian opal appeared on the European market, the owners of the mines in different countries promoted the idea that it was not genuine, probably because gems with such brilliance and fire had never been seen before.
In South Australia, precious opal was discovered at Coober Pedy in 1915 by a 14 year old boy who was prospecting for gold with his father. A year later, miners began to come to this place, where sandstorms and scorching sun prevail. They became the first inhabitants of the city, named Coober Pedi. After the First World War and since then there has been a spectacular increase in production.
The distribution of opal is unpredictable and deposits may occur as horizontal veins or as vertical columns up to 25 m deep.
Until recently, Coober Pedy was the largest producer of precious opal worldwide. Due to increased mining activities, however, Coober Pedy has now taken the first place. In 1988, opal to the estimated value of 21.3 million Australian dollars was produced in Coober Pedy.
Types of Opal
White opal has a non-translucent white background and mostly only weak colour play. This is the cheapest type among the opals.
White opals or Milky opals
Crystal opal has a completely translucent background. It is clear enough to allow the light to come through. This property makes it a particularly interesting gemstone, because it changes its appearance depending on the base colour on which it is being worn. This ‘chameleon effect’ can create the illusion of the wearer owning several different pieces of jewelry.
Black opal has a dark background which brings out the colour play particularly well. It is the rarest type of opal and occurs exclusively (99,9%) in Australia.
Boulder opal is being found in reddish, veined ironstone and occurs exclusively in western Queensland. It mostly forms only a thin, irregular layer on the host rock, but it can have strong, brilliant colours.
South Australia produces approximately 90% of the world’s opal. Because opal deposits are constantly decreasing, this gemstone increases continually in value and is generally considered a good investment.
Opal is unique since no other gemstone has such a variety of colour play. Every opal is different and it is impossible to find two identical gems.
Coober Pedy is a cosmopolitan town with a population of 3500 people and over 45 different nationalities in South Australia, 750 km north of Adelaide. The town is known as the opal capital of the world because the most precious opals are mined there. This largest and best known settlement in the opal fields is worth a visit. The area resembles a moon landscape with temperatures of often more than 50°C in the shade and it is very impressive. The inhabitants live mostly in underground dwellings which are often most comfortable. Even the name ‘Coober Pedy’ means ‘white man’s burrow’ in the language of the aborigines or ‘white man in a hole’ and is derived from their expression ‘kupa pity’.
Coober Pedy resembles the moon landscape
(the view from the airplane)
The city of Coober Pedy from a bird’s eye view resembles the moon surface, since this surface is pitted in search of opals. Everywhere, here and there, you can see piles of excavated earth and deep shafts. This area is dangerous for movement.
Signs warning of the danger
Where is the city itself? Under the ground. There are even underground hotels for visitors!
The hush summer temperatures and the dominant industry mean that most residents live in caves bored into the hillsides and work underground in mine shafts. A standard three bedroom cave can be drilled out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to a house on the surface.
The houses in this place are built in sandy soil at a depth of 3-6 meters. The decision of residents to dig underground apartments is dictated by climate conditions: the daytime temperature rises to +50 °C, and at night it falls to +7 °C. The heat and weather conditions forced the citizens to literally go underground. Where the average temperature does not exceed +22 °C, “apartments” were dug, the existence of which can only be found by sticking out here and there ventilation pipes.
The underground bedroom
The underground living room
The underground church
Coober Pedy is probably best known for its unique style of underground living. There is a range of underground accommodation. There are underground homes as well as underground museums, potteries, opal shops, an art gallery and, of course, opal mines.
Manufacturing facilities are concentrated in New South Wales (especially in Sydney and Newcastle) and Victoria (primarily in the Melbourne metropolitan area).
New South Wales is noted for the production of iron and steel, jet aircraft, construction equipment, synthetic fibers, electronic equipment, power cables, and petroleum and petrochemical products.
In Melbourne industrial activity includes the manufacture and assembling of machinery and motor vehicles and the production of food and clothing. Geelong, located near Melbourne, is known for its wool mills and motor works.
Tasmanian industry, assisted by cheap hydroelectric power, includes electrolytic zinc mills, paper mills, and a large confectionery factory.
AUSTRALIA’S FAMOUS BRAND NAMES
Holden: Australia’s own car
Holden is an Australian car manufacturer based in Melbourne. The company was established by James Alexander Holden, who emigrated to South Australia from England in 1852 and in 1856 established J.A Holden & Co, a saddlery (изготовление сёдел и упряжи) business in Adelaide.
Launch of the first Holden in November 1948 by Prime minister Ben Chifley
Evolution in brand car “Holden”
Another popular industry is connected with brewing national beer called Foster’s.
Foster’s Lager (пиво)
Foster’s Lager is an internationally-distributed, Australian brand of beer.
It is brewed under license in 7 countries, namely Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Sweden.
Foster’s Lager uses the slogan “The Amber Nectar” in Australia and the UK and “Australian for Beer” elsewhere overseas.
Foster’s first arrived in the UK with Paul Hogan (actor) proclaiming it tasted ‘like an angel crying on your tongue’.
One more contribution into Australian economy brings agriculture.
Agriculture in Australia a major industry, 400 000 people are employed in agriculture and agriculture-related services, and agriculture accounts for approximately 3% of Australia’s GDP. Until the late 1950s agriculture accounted for up to 80% of Australia’s export earnings, that percentage has fallen with diversification of the economy.
Australia produces a wide variety of crops and livestock (крупный рогатый скот), 80% of all agricultural production is exported.
Major agricultural products
The top ten agricultural products in 2001-2002 by value in Australian dollars were:
1. Cattle and calves
6. Poultry meat
7. Wine grapes
8. Sugar cane
10. Rapeseed (рапс)
The industry earns most of its income from the catch of shellfish (моллюск; ракообразное), lobsters, oysters, shrimp, and scallops (гребешок - двустворчатый моллюск). The fishing fleet also brings in fairly large catches of mullet (кефаль), salmon, and tuna (тунец). Much of the shellfish catch is exported. Some pearls are collected from oysters.
Wool was of key importance to the Australian economy, so much so (в такой степени, что) that the phrase ‘Australia rides on the sheep’s back’ is still a part of the Australian vernacular (местный язык). Wool production is less crucial today, the wool industry shrunk significantly in the 1990s due to low world prices and competition from synthetic fibre.
For about 200 years wool was the mainstay (основа) of Australia’s wealth. In 1835, it replaced seal (тюлень) and whale (кит) products as the country’s major rural export, and retained that position until the mid-1970-s. In 1951 wool accounted for $1266 million, or 65% of Australia’s total exports. Wool production has continued to rise, reaching a peak of 959 000 tonnes in 1988-89.
If Australia’s wealth is based on wool, then the animals that must take most of the credit are the merino (меринос) sheep, which in 1989 made up three-quarters of Australia’s 161 600000-strong flock (поголовье).
These animals formed the basis of Australia’s Merino flock
Originally from North Africa, they were introduced into Spain in the 12th century by Berbers, who were called Merinos, and from whom the sheep’s modern name is derived. Carefully guarded because of their valuable fleeces (овечья шерсть), merinos were for many years found only in Spain and Saxony, where a flock had been built up from animals given to the Elector of Saxony by the King of Spain.
Gradually, however, some animals found their way to other parts of the world. The first merinos to arrive in Australia were from the Сape of Good Hope flock, which was sold in 1797, at a time when two ships from Sydney were in Cape Town buying stock for the colony. In all, 32 merinos were acquired, but only 13 animals managed to survive the return journey to Sydney, where they were sold to prominent landowners. These animals, together with eight more purchased in 1804, formed the basis of Australia’s merino flock.
Thanks to merino sheep a new job called ‘a shearer’ appeared that was typical for Australia only.
The champion of Australian shearers was the legendary John Robert Howe, who once held the world records for both blade and machine shearing. He was born in 1855, and was brought up around sheep and woolsheds, where he learned the art of blade shearing. He quickly gained a reputation for being both fast and accurate.
Howe became a full-time shearer in the 1880s. In October 1892, at Alice Downs in Queensland, he established the world hand-shearing record, with 321 ewes (овца) in 7 hours 40 minutes. On his last 11 days at the shed he was reported shearing 149, 264, 131, 249, 257, 258, 262, 267 and 321 sheep, plus 190 lambs and 30 rams (баран). Between Monday morning of one week and Monday evening of the next he claimed a grand total of 1758 animals. Twelve years later, on 16 July 1904, Howe shore, with the shearing machine, 337 sheep in 8 hours, thus adding to all his other achievement the machine shearing record. Howe died on 21 July 1920, aged 59, leaving behind him many records.
Howe’s hand-shearing record remained unbroken until 30 September 1950 when W. E. Keick shore 326 merinos in an eight-hour day, in Queensland.
Shearing the rams (Tom Roberts)
Although Australia’s economy no longer “rides the sheep’s back” as it did a century ago, wool from the nation’s 120 million sheep makes up 2.6 percent of the country’s total exports.
The History of the European wild rabbits in Australia
The most hated animal in Australia
Domestic rabbits were first introduced into Australia with the first fleet. They were imported on many subsequent occasions but did not become feral (дикий) except in Tasmania. It was after Thomas Austin brought 24 wild rabbits from England in 1859 and released them on his property “Barwon Downs” in southern Victoria that the rabbit became established on the mainland. Austin received the credit (or rather, the blame) for the introduction of the rabbit to the mainland. Many other farms released their rabbits into the wild after Austin.
The establishment of the rabbit was initially regarded as a great success for the sporting gentleman. In 1866, only 7 years after its introduction, 14,253 rabbits were shot for sport alone on Austin’s property. This was Australia’s first intimation at the amazing reproductive capability of the rabbit from which the saying “breeding like rabbits” would work its way into the Australian lexicon.
Here is the situation that took place in the middle of the XIX century in Australia:
1859 => 24 rabbits
1866 => 14,253 rabbits
1869 => 2,033,000 rabbits
Sometime in the 1850’s a man was charged at the Colac (Victoria) Police Court with having shot a rabbit, the property of John Robertson of Glen Alvie. He was fined 10 pounds. A few years later, Robertson’s son spent 5000 pounds a year in an attempt to control rabbits. By 1869 it was estimated that 2,033,000 rabbits had been destroyed on his property. This illustrates beautifully what happened so often in different parts of Australia.
Domestic rabbits were initially highly prized and many attempts were made to establish them, until the inevitable invasion of the wild rabbit only a few years later.
The spread of the rabbit across Australia
The rabbit spread from Austin’s property and from other release points in both Victoria and South Australia. The rabbit took 15 years to reach the NSW border, another 15 years to reach Queensland and another 10 to reach Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Numbers were such that the movement of rabbits across the landscape was referred to as “a grey blanket”. The Premier of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes offered a 25,000-pound reward to anyone who could come up with a solution to the rabbit infestation. By 1900 the rabbit was firmly established nationwide.
It was the fastest spread ever recorded of any mammal anywhere in the world.
The spread of the rabbits across Australia
Spreading across Australia may have taken a lot longer if it weren’t for the sportsmen and trappers. The English gentlemen felt quite at content (довольны) being able to shoot as they did `back home’. They could also congratulate themselves as accomplished shooters, shooting at times 1,200 in 3 1/2 hours, a figure unheard of in England. Rabbits were also spread by those whose pastime was game shooting (охота на дичь). These gentlemen took rabbits from shooting farms to establish them in their own regions and so the rabbit was transported around the country as game for sporting purposes.
“As the rabbits proliferated in numbers, the farmers began to bitterly complain, the sportsmen who were delighted, regarded the farmers as universal spoilers of gentlemen’s sport”.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the economic and ecological impact of the rabbit prior. In good seasons there may have been one billion rabbits. As 16 rabbits eat as much as one sheep, this is equivalent to approximately 60 million sheep and the consequent loss of production. The economic impact of present day rabbit populations is not well quantified but is estimated to be in the order of 90 million dollars in lost production and about 20 million spent on control.
The effect on the ecology of Australia was devastating. One eighth of all mammalian species in Australia are now extinct (rabbits are the most significant known factor), and the loss of plant species is unknown even at this time.
The ecology is devastating by rabbits
Rabbits are also responsible for serious erosion problems as they eat native plants which would have retained soil.
An erosion gully in South Australia created by rabbits
Throughout Australia, shooters and trappers (rabbiters) were being hired as rabbits devastated crops and reduced the carrying capacity of the land dramatically. The rabbiters did not attempt to eradicate the rabbit completely as that would leave them without a job. The rabbiters were known to release rabbits whilst travelling to ensure work in that area. The rabbiters allowed the rabbit to procreate (размножаться) by not killing the young and by releasing trapped pregnant does (самки).
Many fences were erected to control the spread of the rabbits, yet these were mostly unsuccessful. Early fences were destroyed by wombats, rabbits, kangaroos, buried by sand drifts and because of the vast lengths of the fences, they were poorly maintained.
Rabbits were sometimes stopped by fences, but there were so many rabbits piled up by the fences, that the rabbits acted as a ladder for others that simply walked over the fence. Rabbits also will climb fences and they have been known to climb trees up to five meters.
The Rabbit-Proof Fence was built in Western Australia to try to control the rabbit population.
The Rabbit-Proof Fence stretches through deserts
Map of the State Barrier Fence
Fence #1(red),#2 (green),#3 (violet)
Fence #1 – starting point
The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia, formerly known as the No. 1 Rabbit-Proof Fence, is a barrier initially constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits out of Western Australian pastoral areas. There are three fences: the original No. 1 Fence, which crosses the state from north to south, the No. 2 Fence which is smaller and goes further to the West, and the smallest one east-west running No. 3 Fence. The Rabbit-Proof Fence (encompassing all three fences) stretched 3,256 kilometers. The cost at the time was $ 680,000.
But do you think the problems with the construction of the fence are over, the rabbits have died without new pastures and the farmers have been able to breathe easy? Not, of course.
First, the rabbits started thinking about how to get over the fence. They learned to dig holes and crawl under it, as well as to look for holes in the net. The rabbits stood on top of each other and used themselves as stepladder and jumped over the fence. The authorities decided to patrol the fence. They even created an entire patrol service that patrolled the fence 365 days a year, repairing it and shooting all the rabbits that appeared on the horizon. The fence does not prevent rabbits from breeding further and by the middle of the last century their population began to approach one billion individuals. Something had to be done urgently.
You won’t believe it, but the Australians even used biological weapons against them: rabbits were artificially infected with the Myxomatosis virus. The virus disease Myxomatosis, which attacks rabbits, was introduced in 1950 and proved an effective control for about 20 years. This has led to a serious reduction in the rabbit population from 600 to 100 million. But quite quickly, rabbits developed a genetic resistance to this virus, and the population of rabbits started to recover. The Australian Government refuses to legalize a vaccine to protect pet rabbits against Myxomatosis, and thousands of pet rabbit owners in Australia suffer losses of their pet rabbits each year. There is no cure for Myxomatosis, and many affected pets are euthanized.
Today the confrontation between people and rabbits is still in the process.
Moreover, the Australian government has imposed draconian fines for any action with rabbits, namely: introducing rabbits into the state, keeping, selling or releasing them.
A poster that reminds you of your responsibility for violating the law
History of the Australian national currency
Many forms of currency were used in the Australian colonies after the arrival of the first European settlers in 1788. In the rough early conditions barter was necessary, and payment in comodities like rum sometimes replaced money transactions. Some of the first official notes used in Australia were Police Fund Notes, issued by the Bank of New South Wales in 1816.
After Federation in 1901, the federal government became responsible for the currency. The Australian Notes Act was passed in 1910. In 1913 the first serries of Australian notes was issued, based on the old British system of twelve pence to a shilling, twenty shillings to a pound.
In 1963 Australia initiated the change to decimal currency. Over 1000 submissions were made about the name of the new currency unit. Prime Minister Robert Menzis wished to name the currency “The Royal”, and other names such as ‘the Austral’, ‘The Oz’, ‘The Boomer’, ‘The Roo’, ‘The Kanga’, ‘The Emu’, ‘The Digger’, ‘Ming’ (the nickname of Menzis) were also proposed. Due to Menzis’ influence, the name “Royal” was settled upon, and trial designs were prepared and printed. The unusual choice of name for the currency proved unpopular, and the “Dollar” was eventually chosen as the name. Decimal currency was introduced on 14 February 1966.
One of the first Australian Royal designs
In 1988 the Reserve Bank of Australia issued a plastic, specifically polypropylene polymer banknote to commemorate the country’s bicentenary of European settlement. These notes contained a transparent ‘window’ with an optically variable image of Captain James Cook as a security feature. Australian currency was the first in the world to use such features.
The revolutionary polymer notes have proven their success since the issue of the first, a commemorative note of $10 denomination.
The first polymer banknote commemorating the bicentenary of European settlement, 1988
The Australian currency
Australia was the first country in the world to have a complete system of bank notes based on plastic (polymer). These notes provide much greater security against counterfeiting (фальшивомонетничество). They also last four times as long as conventional paper (fibrous) notes.
The innovative technology by which the notes are produced is developed entirely in Australia. The polymer notes are cleaner than paper notes and easily recyclable.
Australia’s currency consists of coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denomination; and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar denomination.
Australian $5 note
Sir Henry Parkes, ‘Father of Federation’
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Old and New Parliament House
AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson (1864–1941),
Poet, ballad writer, journalist and horseman.
Dame Mary Gilmore (1865–1962),
Author, journalist, poet, patriot and tireless campaigner against injustice and deprivation
Mary Reibey (1777–1855),
Pioneer business woman with interests in shipping and property
Reverend John Flynn (1880–1951),
Pioneered the world’s first aerial medical service,
known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service
David Unaipon (1872–1967),
Writer, public speaker and inventor.
David Unaipon made significant contributions to science and literature,
and to improvements in the conditions of Aboriginal people
Edith Cowan (1861–1932),
Social worker, politician and feminist.
Edith Cowan is best remembered as the first woman member
of an Australian Parliament
Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931),
World renowned soprano
In her lifetime, Dame Nellie Melba achieved international recognition as a soprano and enjoyed an unrivalled ‘super-star’ status within Australia.
Sir John Monash (1865–1931),
Soldier, engineer and administrator,
one of Australia’s greatest military commanders
Australia’s notes are printed by Note Printing Australia, a Division of the Reserve Bank. Note Printing Australia has so far produced polymer notes for Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Kuwait, Western Samoa, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Many other countries are showing a strong interest in the new technology.
Tourism is one of Australia’s most important industries. It accounts for 5.7 per cent of total employment, contributes $73 billion to consumption per annum and is worth more than 11 per cent of total exports.
Australia has a variety of tourist attractions.
They include wildlife sanctuaries (заповедники), sandy beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Alps, the Kakadu National Park, and numerous points of historical interest.
In spite of the fact, Australia was created as a prison colony by the British, is one of the most popular destinations for recreation and tourism in the world. Australia attracts tourists from all over the world with its huge megacities, large skyscrapers, beautiful climate, beautiful beaches, ocean, and friendly attitude of the country’s residents to tourists. Australia has quite a lot of attractions, species of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else in the world. There are a lot of beautiful places in Australia that differ from the others. The real travelers will love this country for its climate, variety of outdoor activities such as diving, surfing, swimming, mountain biking, and water skiing,– all this is available as the country is washed by seas and oceans. Australia has everything for a good holiday that will be remembered for a long time.
Despite Australia’s geographical distance from the rest of the world and its isolation, however, foreign tourism in Australia is on the rise. The share of foreign tourists is steadily increasing, and the number of tourists from other countries is constantly growing. If in 1981, 500 thousand foreign tourists arrived in Australia, in 1996 the country has already received 4.2 million tourists from abroad, in 2001-5 million, in 2016-8 million, and finally last year (2019), the Australian economy was supported by 10 million foreign tourists which was good news for the economy.
The tourism sector contributes about $ 55 billion a year to the country’s economy, and one in 13 Australians is believed to work in the industry. It’s not just big cities that benefit from the influx of travelers: for every dollar spent by tourists, 43 cents goes to regional areas.
China tops the list of source countries for foreign tourists to Australia – 1.08 million people over the past 12 months. New Zealand ranks the second with an index of 1.03 million.
The biggest spenders were visitors from the United Kingdom ($20 billion), followed by visitors from New Zealand ($15.2 billion), Japan and the United States ($10.1 billion), and China ($9,7 billion).
The Opera House in Sydney Harbour
The open-air petting zoo not far from Sydney
Surfing on Gold Coast
Diving in Great Barrier Reef
Watching the mysterious sand rock Uluru
“Wave” Rock in Western Australia
Main facts about Australia’s traditional industries
1. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of beef. The value of Australia’s beef and veal (телятина) exports totalled $3.8 billion in 2003–04.
2. Australia is the world’s third-largest exporter of dairy products (молочные продукты). In 2003–04 Australia’s exports of dairy products were valued at $2.2 billion.
3. Australia is the world’s largest wool producer and exporter. In 2003–04 Australia’s shorn wool production was 475 000 tonnes and wool exports were valued at nearly $2.8 billion.
4. The major grains and oilseeds (масличные культуры) produced in Australia include wheat, barley, canola, oats and sorghum. Australia is the world’s second-largest wheat exporter and exported 15.2 million tonnes of wheat in 2003–04.
5. Australia’s key cotton export markets include China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand. Australia’s raw cotton exports in 2003–04 were valued at just under $1 billion.
6. Sugar is one of Australia’s major exported crops with exports of around 4 million tonnes in 2003–04, worth around $1 billion.
7. In 2003–04 the gross value of horticulture production (садоводство) was around $6 billion. Major horticultural products include fruits and nuts, vegetables, table grapes, dried vine fruits and nursery products (рассада).
8. Australian fisheries (рыбный промысел) operate in one of the world’s cleanest environments. Seafood production in 2003–04 was around 267 000 tonnes, valued at about $2.1 billion.
9. In 2000–01 the value of turnover of Australia’s forest products was about $15 billion. Australia’s native forest area is around 163 million hectares and around 13 per cent of this is classified as conservation reserve.
10. The Australian food industry had an annual turnover of over $65 billion in 2002–03 and accounted for 46 per cent of total retailing turnover in that year.