History - AustralianAustralian CultureAustralian IdentityAustralian animalsCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other CountriesAustralian Prehistory

Australian Environmental Issues

A true-blue battler

Box jellyfish
How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

So you wrestle crocs...

Unfairly judged in killing off the thylacine?

The wise little gnomes of Australia

Victors of the great Emu war

Shaping everything from how Australians speak to how they salute

Funnel Web spider
Yyou'll never leave your ugg boots outside

Most herbivores don't grow a spine until they are the size of an elephant. Not so the roo.

Kill less people than cows

Shark attack Australia
How to ensure you don't go by the name of Bob

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Keg of muscle

The mainland's largest marsupial carnevore

Mythical creatures
Yowies and dropbears; some say they are myths but those who are not afraid to talk have shared their stories






Louie the Fly

Lords of the Fly

"I am especially pleased that the Congress is being held in Australia because of the special importance of flies in Australian cultural life, from the first explorers experience with bushflies to the great aussie salute." Dr David Yeates

The Kangaroo is usually held up as the animal that represents the essence of Australia. However in terms of influencing Australian culture, the Kangaroo is no match for the fly.

In terms of speech, it has been said that the Australian accent is a product of Australians breathing through their noses for fear that flies might blow into their mouths. This really isn’t a desirable when there are dead animals or big turds in the area where he fly may have recently enjoyed a hearty meal. Consequently, whereas speaking through clenched teeth may be seen as a sign of restrained anger in some countries, in Australia it might just be a logical adaption to environmental considerations.

Flies have also inspired a new style of body language. Known as the "Australian Salute", Australians have turned flicking away a fly into an art form. Farmers use the salute to convey a regal presence, almost as if they are a billionaire waving his hands to stop his staff bothering him. So dignified does it look, some farmers even salute when flies aren't even bothering them. On the beach, elegant ladies may salute with a flick of the fingers. This can be quite sexy as it can draw a male's attention to the sensuous nature of her hands. In fact, one of Australia's proudest moments occurred in 1954 when the Queen first visited Australia. Menaced by flies, she adopted the salute and so won great applause at home and abroad. Onlookers felt that after years of dealing with Convict taunts, the Queen's acceptance of a local custom proved that Australia had finally come of age.

Flies have also had a big influence on the shape of Australian fashion. Until the invention of the Ugg Boot in the 60s, Australia's marquee fashion item was the Cork Hat. Sadly, just as the firearm signalled the end of the Samurai, so too did the invention of Aeroguard (insect repellent) signalled the end of the great fashion accessory. Now if people want to avoid the flies, they just spray on a chemical. Race tracks around Australia are the last great bastions of the traditional way. As elegant females are reluctant to spoil their perfume with Aeroguard, they wear creative hats to prevent the most unladylike sight of a fly crawling up their nose. Some of these hats include netting or veils; almost like a bride waiting to get married. Other hats use a variety of colours or feathers that encourage flies to stay away from the face. So effectively do these hats accentuate the beauty of a lady, that flies continue searching for something more appetising.

Flies have also influenced Australian cuisine. Due to the difficulty in keeping flies off meat, Australia's colonial pioneers never made beef jerky, salamies or sausages as did the colonial pioneers of America and South Africa. Instead, they reduced the risk of flystrike by preserving meat in oil, fat and salty brines.

Considering that flies have done so much to help Australians develop a unique culture, it is only fitting that Australians have done a lot to help the fly. The first gift to flies was the elimination of the Tasmanian Devil from mainland Australia. Without the great scavenger cleaning the land of decaying meat, flies had bountiful nesting places to lay their eggs.

But the biggest gift to the fly occurred in 1788 when colonialists introduced the cow. Unlike the small dehydrated poos of native animals, cow poos are big, wet, and sloppy. For flies, the poos have become an endless banquet. Indeed, their prophets have come.

Questions to think about

Eat flies

The United Nations has promoted the consumption of insects as a solution to world hunger and malnutrition. For some South American cultures, are already ahead of the game with a traditional practice of eating flies. Using nets, masses of flies are caught, mashed up into a paste and made into brown pancakes. Potentially the same could be done in Australia. Of course, it is difficult to imagine a fly pancake ever finding its way onto the menu of a fast food chain like McDonalds. Perhaps flies could instead be processed into fish food for aquaculture.

Create a plan for a fly farm including food for flies, methods of capture and processing.


Create a cartoon fly

Louie the Fly was the marketing mascot of the Mortein brand of fly spray. He was an underdog with a cheeky grin; a larrikin "straight from the rubbish tip to you."

Into the family home, Louie would come and then stomp around in his carefree way. Then a lovely lady would get out a can of Mortein and in a very friendly way say: "goodbye Louie". Poor little Louie would then choke to death.

Since he first appeared in 1957, Louie has won the hearts of countless Australians. Sadly, marketing boffins in the 90s decided that they should not be encouraging people to have a good attitude to something they need to kill. Louie as a marketing idea was briefly killed off. R.I.P

Draw a cartoon fly
Give the fly a name
What accent will the fly speak with?
Write something about the fly's character

Invasive ferals


Carp and Trout
A tale of two ferals

New hope for Cane Toads
The many unknown predators of the toad

A fence almost 2,000 km long to keep rabbits out of WA? Sounds like a great idea! If it doesn't work, we'll build another one!

The Willow
How a change in its status from asset to weed led to fish kills with blackwater and blue-green algae outbreaks

To bait dingos?
Should the health of the ecosystem be considered or just the kennel club registration?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Environmental values

Environmental problems
How money and ideology shapes environmental "science."

Australia's Stockholm Syndrome with gum trees.

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Climate change in Australia
Australia was once covered in rainforest. Could it be again?

The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?




Australian environmental science is defined by an ideology that is not unlike a prison warden. There, the scientists are not seeing themselves as part of the ecosystem, but as masters over it; protecting the rights of the species that they say have rights and killing those that they say do not…but inevitably killing both.

"It was always seen as desirable to remove or cull the introduced species. We also need to ask whether it was possible to do so, how it should be done, whether it could have unintended consequences and what it would cost? I don't think anyone really asked those questions." Physicist John Reid - 2012