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Man Spends 50 Years Visiting Every Country in the World

Calling Albert Podell ‘well traveled’ would be an understatement. 78-year-old Podell, a former Playboy editor, can truly say that he’s seen it all, after spending half a century visiting every country in the world. He’s encountered pretty much everything on his travels, right from guerillas in Yemen, to flying-crab attacks in Algeria, and police interrogations in Cuba. He has chased water buffaloes, broken his bones, and eaten all kinds of weird stuff. He’s been robbed, arrested, and almost lynched!

Podell was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age. “Aged six, I started to collect postage stamps, and where the other kids specialised in certain countries, I wanted a stamp from every country in the world,” he told Daily Mail. “Getting a passport stamp from every one may have been inspired by that.”

“Those little coloured bits of perforated paper also instilled in me a fascination with travel because I wanted to see the lands where all the objects, people, and places depicted on those stamps came from.” So he resolved early on that “there was more to life than hanging around in one city forever.”

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Game of Drones – Australia’s Awesome Underground Drone Racing League

Drone racing is a mushrooming trend in Australia, catering to a growing band of enthusiasts looking to fulfill their need for speed. The races, organised by underground ‘leagues’, generally take place in rundown warehouses, farms, and go-kart tracks in the fringe suburbs of various cities.

The relatively unknown sport is called FPV (first person racing). Participants spend countless hours custom building their quadcopters, fitting them with onboard cameras and ‘blinging’ them up with LED lights. During the actual events, racers don special goggles – sometimes held together with gaffer tape – to give them a drone’s-eye view as they steer their machines around the course. So it’s a lot like video gaming, except players get to control a real device instead of a virtual one.

“It’s addictive. It’s like playing a video game,” says drone racer Darren French, who has clocked over 60 kmph. “It’s fast. The more you do it, the more you want to fly.”

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Mother Still Breastfeeds Six-Year-Old Daughter, Plans to Do So Until She Is Ten

Six-year-old Amina Al Musa is a seemingly normal child: She goes to school and loves playing hide-and-seek. But her after-school snack is so unconventional that it has attracted media attention across the world. Amina happens to be breastfed by her mother every single day, and the little girl seems to love it!

Extended breastfeeding is highly unusual in today’s world, which is why Amina’s case is making headlines. At age 52, her mother – belly dancing expert and human rights activist Maha Al Musa – is one of the oldest women in the world to be breastfeeding. Although she’s garnering a lot of interest and some criticism, Maha says that she’s only responding to her daughter’s natural desire.

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Australian Town Completely Covered in Cobwebs after Millions of Spiders Rain from the Sky

Earlier this month, the residents of Goulburn – a small town in Australia’s Southern Tablelands – were spooked to discover their properties blanketed by millions of tiny spiders and mounds of their silky threads. The spiders had apparently rained down from the sky, silken thread and all, a phenomenon known as “Angel Rain”.

“Anyone else experiencing this Angel Hair or maybe aka millions of spiders falling from the sky right now?” wrote resident Ian Watson on the Goulburn Community Forum Facebook page. “I’m 10 minutes out of town, and you can clearly see hundreds of little spiders floating along with their webs and my home is covered in them. Someone call a scientist!”

That sounds positively frightful, but experts say that arachnid rains are actually a natural phenomenon, and not as uncommon as you’d think. It is referred to as ‘spider rain’ or ‘angel hair’ in scientific circles, and is actually a form of spider transportation called ‘ballooning’.

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Being Stung by the Gympie Gympie Tree Is the Worst Kind of Pain You Can Imagine

‘Gympie-Gympie’ is hardly the name you’d expect for a stinging-tree. It looks quite harmless too, but in reality, the Gympie-Gympie is one of the most venomous plants in the world. Commonly found in the rainforest areas of north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia, it is known to grow up to one to two meters in height.

In fact, the Gympie-Gympie sting is so dangerous that it has been known to kill dogs, horses and humans alike. If you’re lucky enough to survive, you  only feel excruciating pain that can last several months and reoccur for years. Even a dry specimen can inflict pain, almost a hundred years after being picked!

With the exception of its roots, every single part of the deadly tree – its heart shaped leaves, its stem and its pink/purple fruit – is covered with tiny stinging hairs shaped like hypodermic needles. You only need to lightly touch the plant to get stung, after which the hair penetrates the body and releases a painful toxin called moroidin. Sometimes, merely being in the presence of the plant and breathing the hair that it sheds into the air can cause itching, rashes, sneezing and terrible nosebleeds.

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Bizarre Open-Air Urinals Spark Criticism in Australia

After nearly a decade of trying to manage public urination in a busy nightclub strip, Australia’s Gold Coast City Council finally hit upon an idea – temporary outdoor urinals. The loos are primarily aimed at drunken men who tend to relieve themselves in front of businesses and in alleyways. But the ingenious solution has sparked disgust among locals, who find the urinals ugly and offensive.

According to councillor Lex Bell, these urinals are the only way to manage the problem of public urination that has plagued Cavill Mall and Orchid Avenue in Surfer’s Paradise, southeastern Queensland. Authorities simply do not have the manpower to fine all the people who urinate in public in these areas and don’t have the authority to arrest them.

“We cannot arrest such people – we don’t have the power, so the thought was if we put urinals in places where the inebriated people have to stagger past, they may well use them. When people are staggering from nightclubs, they won’t seek out public toilets – even if they are there,” he explained.

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Photo: Twitter
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The Wandering Stormtrooper – Man Walks 5,600 Miles across Australia in Iconic Star Wars Suit

For over a year, 47-year-old Scott Loxley has been walking across Australia dressed as a Stormtrooper. He started the quest on Nov 2 last year, with a goal of covering 15,000 kilometers on foot, non-stop, with no support crew. His unique journey has taken him from Melbourne to Tasmania, through the debilitating Nullarbor Plain, and up the west coast to Bourne, leading up to Darwin. He’s walked a whopping 9,000 kilometers so far, and with 6,000 more to go, he has no intentions of stopping.

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Two Australian Friends Turn Their Van into Free Laundry Service for the Homeless

Fresh, clean laundry is one of the most comforting things in life, but unfortunately not everyone has access to it. A couple of engineering students from Brisbane are trying to change that. They’ve started Orange Sky Laundry – Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless.

20-year-old Lucas Patchett and his friend Nicholas Marchesi were inspired to start the service during an overseas trip. When they got back in July, they decided to stop talking about it and just do it. So they got an old van fitted out with two donated industrial washing machines and two dryers, which can wash and dry 20 kilograms of laundry in an hour.

Getting the machines to fit in the van wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but they managed it pretty well. “The architect who helped us said: ‘they’ll probably fit’, but we found we needed to build a platform above the wheel arches – it wasn’t very scientific but we ended up banging the wheel arches out a bit and taking some panels off. We squeezed them in,” said Lucas.

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Australian Cafe Charges Different Prices for Coffee Depending on How Nice You Ask for It

The Seven Mile Beach Kiosk Café in Gerroa, New South Wales, doesn’t just serve its customers good coffee, but also a lesson in politeness. In order to reinforce the importance of being nice, the café’s owners are actually charging people different rates for coffee, depending on how they ask for it.

Just so this doesn’t confuse their customers, they’ve put up a sign outside the café explaining their innovative pricing policy. According to the sign, merely asking for “A coffee” will set you back by $5.00. But saying, “A coffee, please” will bring the price down to $4.50. And if you want to go the whole mile, you could say “Good morning, a coffee please.” Then they’ll only charge you $4.00.

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The Whispering Wall of the Barossa Reservoir and Its Amazing Parabola Sound Effect

When the Whispering Wall was built over a 100 years ago, no one had a clue about its amazing acoustic properties. The concrete dam was constructed by about 400 workers over the South Parra River in Barossa Valley between 1899 and 1902. The dam holds back the 4,515-mega liter Barossa reservoir that supplies water to several areas in southern Australia. The Whispering Wall has always been famous – the 9 storey structure was the first arch dam to be constructed in the region and at one point, the highest in all of Australia. But little did the builders know about the hidden properties of the engineering marvel they had created.

Because the dam is a hard and curved surface, any sound made on one end travels completely unobstructed to the other end. So you could have a perfectly normal conversation with someone standing on the opposite end of the dam (about 450 ft. away), as though they were right next to you! The voices can be heard quite clearly due to a phenomenon known as the parabola effect. The wall is so perfectly curved that it forms one sector of a circle. And the sound waves just bounce in a series of straight jumps all the way to the other end.

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Goanna Pulling – Playing Tug of War with Your Neck

If you’re as ignorant as I am, you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself “what the heck is a goanna?” It’s a lizard species, but don’t worry, no animals are hurt in the unusual sport known as goanna pulling.

Goanna Pulling is basically tug of war with a bizarre twist – instead of their hands, competitors must use their heads to pull each other over the line and win the game. The rules are pretty simple: two people go (literally) head to head on the goanna pulling pad. They get down on all four, with their bellies touching the board and their heads held high. This position makes participants look a lot like goanna lizards, hence the name of the game, in case you were wondering. The two opponents each place their palms behind  a white line traced on the board, and a referee puts a large leather belt around their heads. As soon as he give the signal, the two contestants must use their upper body strength -their neck muscles especially – to pull the other guy past the line and win the game.

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Giant Gippsland – The World’s Largest and Most Extraordinary Earthworms

What’s 31 inches long, one inch thick, has no legs, and slithers through the ground? No, it’s not a snake, it’s an earthworm! The Giant Gippsland, found in Gippsland in south-eastern Australia, is the world’s largest species of earthworms. Fully stretched, it can measure up to two meters in length.

These slithering giants are surprisingly gentle creatures. They are quite hard to spot, spending most of their lives deep underground. Higher water content in the soil helps them breathe better. Their burrows can be as deep as 3 to 5 feet below the surface. Sometimes, heavy rainfall forces them to emerge out of the dirt. You might find also find their burrows in places where there’s been a landslip.

They are quite fragile – reckless handling can crush and kill them. Only a particular type of moist soil is suitable for their survival. If you happen to walk over their water-filled burrows, they will respond to the vibration of your footsteps. They start to crawl about and make squelchy noises that are quite easy to hear. So even though the Gippsland Giants are pretty rare, you’ll know when they are around.

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Australian Family Set New Guinness Record with 502,165 Christmas Light Installation

We love it when the holidays are around the corner; there are just so many odd stories to talk about! Our first Christmas story this season is here: an Australian family who put up over half a million Christmas lights in their Canberra home and set a new Guinness World Record.

This isn’t the first time father-of-three David Richards and his family have done this. In 2011 they set the record after putting up 331,038 lights. Last year a New-York family beat them with a whopping 346,283. The Richards wanted their title back so badly that this year they’ve installed 502,165 lights – that’s 31 miles of wire. They also have a glowing reindeer and loud music to boot.

Some of the Richards’ neighbours are very upset and haven’t spoken to the family since 2011. But most of them love the dazzle and come to visit from several miles away. David says, “I have always loved Christmas. Having the Christmas lights with the community coming in and sharing it is a time when you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess.”

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What the Quack? Australia’s Amazing Flying Duck Orchid

Just like the Monkey Orchid we posted about a few weeks ago gets its name from its remarkable resemblance to a smiling monkey, the Flying Duck Orchid got its name for looking like a tiny duck with its head and beak held high and wings swept back.

If you’ve never been to the Australian wilderness, chances are you’ve never seem a Caleana major , or Flying Duck Orchid before. That’s because despite numerous attempts to grow it anywhere else, this amazing-looking flower refuses to propagate in captivity. Apparently, that’s because its roots have a symbiotic relationship with the vegetative part of a fungus which can only be found in the wild country of eastern and southern Australia. The fungus protects the flower from infections, and without its presence, it never lasts for very long. But even if you travel to Australia to see the Flying Duck Orchid in its natural habitat, you have to look really carefully to spot it. At up to 50 centimeters in height, it’s definitely not the smallest flower in the world, but its red-and-purple coloring helps it blend so well in its wild surroundings that it becomes almost invisible.

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Your Money Is No Good Here – Australian Cafe Invites Customers to Pay for Coffee with Kisses

Metro St. James, a French-themed cafe in Sydney, Australia, has been open for only three months but it’s gaining popularity fast thanks to an ingenious promotional offer that allows customers to pay for their coffee with kisses.

It’s no joke. During the month of June, people who choose to drink their coffee at Metro St. James between 9 and 11 am get the chance to pay for their order in kisses. “We’re bringing romance back! Take your partner to the café from 9-11am in June and surprise them with a kiss when you order your coffee. We’re not accepting your money, just your kisses,” the cafe’s Facebook page reads. But while the staff isn’t available for kissing, you don’t necessarily have to be a couple to take advantage of this original promotion. If you’re brave enough, you can just pick a random stranger from the streets, or an office buddy you’ve always had a crush on, all that matters is the kiss look genuine. In Metro’s cute promotional video, one of the waiters says: “We’ll watch you. It has to be a real kiss … a true kiss. I can see if it is a fake kiss. I am kind of a specialist.” So no cheating!

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