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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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The Iconic Floating Forest of Sydney

There are a lot of shipwrecks in Sydney’s Homebush Bay, near the Olympic village, but none quite like the SS Ayrfield, also known as “The Floating Forest” for the lush mangrove vegetation that now covers its rusty hull.

The SS Ayrfield (originally launched as SS Corrimal), was a collier ship built in England in 1911 and used by the Commonwealth Government during World War II to transport supplies to American troops in the Pacific. It was sold in 1950 and operated as a collier on the sixty-miler run between Newcastle and Sydney, until 1972 when the ship’s registration was canceled and it was sent to its final resting place, Homebush Bay. Before the 2000 Olympic Games, this place was a ship breaking zone, and the dozens of shipwrecks that still remain here are a constant reminder of its history. Some say there’s a certain creepiness about the Homebush Bay ship graveyard, but that is lessened by the unique look of the SS Ayrfield, which locals often refer to as the Floating Forest. A bunch of full-grown mangrove trees now call this rusty partly-submerged piece of metal home, creating a new and unique attraction that draws in photographers from all over the world.

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Bathing in Pepto-Bismol – Australia’s Pink Lake

Would you believe it if someone told you Pepto Bismal isn’t manufactured from chemicals, but sourced from the water of a natural lake? It isn’t true, but you certainly might you certainly might be tempted to believe it after seeing pictures of the Lake Hillier, a bright, bubble gum pink body of water located on the edge of Recherche Archipelago’s largest island, in Australia. The salt water lake is so striking that airplane passengers passing over Middle Island often get out of their seats just to get a glimpse of it.

The earliest records mentioning the existence of Lake Hillier are the journals of Matthew Flinders, a British navigator and hydrographer. In 1802, Flinders had to climb Middle Island’s highest peak to survey the surrounding waters and came across the remarkable pink lake. Hillier has been pretty much untouched by human hand for a long time, except for a few years when a salt extraction operation was set up in the area. The pink lake isn’t just stunningly beautiful, but a also a natural mystery scientists have been unable to unravel. So far, no explanation has ever been found for its unique hue. Some theories state that the color could result from a dye created by the organisms living in the lake – Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria. Another speculation is that the pink color might be  attributed to the presence of red halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts. No one knows for sure, but that bright pink definitely is definitely no illusion. When the water is collected in a container, it retains its pinkish tinge. Although the waters are shallow and have been deemed safe to swim in, most tourists are reluctant to go in for a dip in what looks like a delicious strawberry milk shake.

 

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Australian Shop Charges Visitors $5 Just for Looking

Tired of having people walk into her gluten free produce store looking around and asking questions only to leave empty-handed and buy similar products somewhere else, a business owner from Brisbane, Australia, put up a sign announcing would-be shoppers they will be charged a $5 fee for “just looking”.

A photo of the notice in the window of Celiac Supplies went viral on popular social news site Reddit, this week. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but reporters from the Australian Associated Press tracked down the owner of “Brisbane’s only glutenfree and wheatfree store” who confirmed the measure was for real. Apparently Georgina felt forced to take radical action after spending several hours each week giving advice to people only to see them walk out empty handed and buying the same kind of products from local supermarkets or online shops. “I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” she told AAP. “I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.” Her frustration is also fueled by the fact that in most cases her prices match those of larger supermarkets, but people still prefer to shop elsewhere thinking they’d find them cheaper. As you can imagine, her $5 “just looking” tax has turned some potential customers away, but Georgina says a few have actually paid up.

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Coober Pedy – Australia’s Underground Town

Coober Pedy is a small town that’s one of a kind – for being down under in the Land Down Under. Yes, it’s the world’s only underground town, and it’s in Australia.

Located in South Australia, known for being the driest state on the driest continent on Earth, the town of Coober Pedy was established in 1915, when opal was first discovered in the region and miners started settling in. The temperature and weather conditions were so harsh that the miners began digging their homes into the hillsides. All they wanted was to find some respite from the scorching sun, but in the process they ended up creating a small town for themselves. To this day, the people of Coober Pedy prefer to build their houses under the ground. Summers are harsh around here, with temperatures easily rising over 40 degrees Celsius. Air conditioning is a necessity, not a luxury, if you choose to live above ground. But the scenario is completely different in the underground homes of Coober Pedy. The temperature remains at a cool, constant 24 degrees and the humidity doesn’t go beyond 20%. Winters can be rather cold, but people are willing to make that kind of compromise.

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Australian City to Host Real-Life Zombie First Person Shooter Game

If you’ve ever dreamed of starring in your own zombie shooting video game, like Left4Dead or Resident Evil, your wish is about to come true as “Patient 0“, the world’s first “fully immersive live action real life, multiplayer, first person shooter, role-playing game” is about to take place in Melbourne, Australia.

It’s no secret that we’re living in a golden age of zombies. From movies to video games and even real life events, the undead are everywhere these days, so it came as no surprise when entrepreneurs started creating all kinds of events centered around the walking corpses. So far we’ve had a zombie training camp, zombie obstacle race and even a zombie-infested mall challenge, so it’s pretty clear this kind of event is becoming very popular. A group of enterprising young Australians has now decided to take things to a whole new level and announced they are working on a real-life first person shooter game for people who wish they could just get off the couch and play their favorite zombie shooter in real life.

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Couple Claim They Are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene

A couple who claim they are reincarnations of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene have recently set up camp in Queensland’s Bible Belt, joined by 30 – 40 followers.

Australian cult watchers are concerned about a new organization known as Divine Truth, led by Alan John Miller and Mary Suzanne Luck, who claim they are Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. According to The Courier Mail, the two rely on donations made by their followers in order to sustain themselves, and authorities fear they could be taking advantage of the vulnerable.

Mr. Miller, 47, was born in Luxton, South Australia, and is the father of two children from a past marriage, which ended when he began remembering details from his past life. He seems to believe this is his 22nd life and that he has the amount of divine love in his heart accumulated in 22 life cycles. Now he and his soul mate, 32-year-old Mary Magdalene, real name Mary Suzanne Luck, are reunited and have created their very own little cult, in Wilkesdale. Miller first bought 16 hectares of land in the area, and his followers soon followed his example just to be close to their charismatic spiritual leader.

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Australian Man Marries His Dog

Joseph Guiso has surprised his family and friends when he decided to tie the knot with his best friend, a 5-year-old labrador retriever.

The young Australian, from Toowoomba, describes himself as a “religious guy” and says he could no longer stand to live with his four-legged mate outside of wedlock. The couple decided to go through with the wedding while they were walking by one of the city parks. Joe saw another couple getting married and told his lab Honey “that could be us”. Since she didn’t say anything, her owner took it as a “yes” so he made arrangements to have their own wedding right there in Laurel Bank Park.

Thirty of the couple’s 30 friends were present at the emotional event, and of them even played the role of priest. After reading his touching vow (“You’re my best friend and you make every part of my day better”), Joseph Guiso sealed the deal with a kiss right on Honey’s wet snout. Now that’s puppy love for ya!

Guiso also assured onlookers that “it’s not sexual. It’s just pure love.”

After a German dude married his pet cat, a few months ago, something like this was to be expected.

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Tree-Cycle – The Recycled Christmas Tree of The Rocks

Made up of 100 recycled bicycle parts, Tree-cycle is one of the most original Christmas trees this year.

For the past two years, Sydney’s The Rocks area has featured a mind-blowing Christmas tree made of recycled materials. In 2008, the chosen medium was chairs, 2009 was the year of recycled bottles, and this year organizers went for bicycle parts. The seven-meter-tall tree was constructed using the bicycle parts provided by a group called CMA Recycling, and took a total of eight weeks to design and build.

The Tree-cycle Christmas installation can be admired until December 28, when i will be taken apart. Once dismantled, the bicycle parts will be recycled once again, by CMA Recycling.

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The Bikini Track Sprint – A Horse Race for Women

An Australian horse race arena has caused great controversy when it announced it will be hosting an annual horse  race for women dressed only in bikinis.

When they came up with the idea of a women’s horse race, the guys at The Gold Coast Turf Club in Queensland, Australia probably thought something like “if guys come to the race track to see horses run, just imagine how many of them will come to see beautiful women dressed in skimpy bikinis  do the exact same thing.” The Bikini Track Sprint is scheduled to take place on December 4, with over 150 girls racing for the prize of 5,000 Australian dollars.

Believe it or not, in a poll conducted by a local tourism website, just 27% percent of voter said they find his kind of event degrading for women, while the other 73% were perfectly alright with it. Even the members of Women in Racing, a Gold-Coast group that promotes racing, said they can think of better ways of marketing races, but they’ll back anything that has something to do with racing.

The chairman of The Gold Coast Turf Club agrees there will be a few raised eyebrows at the event, but that the club will do everything in its power to attract really competitive girls and give the audience a real race.

The Bikini Track Sprint isn’t really an original idea. The American horse track Hollywood Park, in California has been organizing similar events for quite some time, and their success probably inspired the Australian race track to come up with their very own horse race for beautiful women in bikinis.

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