Monthly Archives: April 2012

Flinders University, Murdoch University… Steve Irwin University?

Australia has 39 public and 2 private universities. Most are very modern universities with a surprisingly short history. This means many universities are named after important historical figures. Let’s go through and see what gives them their namesakes.

The less darker Australian version.

University of Melbourne – I’m really dissapointed that this never became the University of Batmania. The city of Melbourne was founded by John Batman. Batmania was one such nickname that Melbourne had before it was officially named Melbourne.

Flinders University – Where would Australia be without Matthew Flinders? Well, it probably wouldn’t be called Australia. The Captain was the first to circumnavigate Australia and to popularize the term “Australia”. He was imprisoned for over six years by the French upon his return to England.

Bond University – James Bond? Not quite. This university was named after the businessman Alan Bond. He is known for his involvement with the Australian yacht team that won the 1983 America’s Cup. The 131-year streak buster is a sports record.

Charles Darwin University – With the capital of a territory and this university, it’s easy to think Charles Darwin was Australian. The famous Brit just had a lovely band of admirers. He is best known for originating the theory of evolution in his book On the Origin of Species. Interestingly enough, it was the presence of the Australian marsupial kangaroo and platypus that almost convinced him of two separate Creators.

Macquarie University – Named after Lachlan Macquarie, a former Governor of New South Wales. The Scotsman was dubbed “The Father of Australia” for his role in transforming New South Wales from a penal colony into a free settlement.

Charles Sturt University – Charles Sturt was an early English explorer of Australia. Along with being part of the original explorers of Sydney, he searched the Red Centre for an inland sea. I’m sure he was dissapointed.

Not Captain Cook.

James Cook University – Named after perhaps the most interesting man on this list. He is the first European to reach contact with the eastern coast of Australia (as well as Hawaii). Australians have dubbed the term  taking a look to be to “take a Captain Cook”. He met his end at the hands (or should I say spears?) of angry natives in Hawaii. He is portrayed in The Pirates of the Caribbean. I just made that last part up.

Curtin University – Named after John Curtin. Mr. Curtin is best known as being the Prime Minister during World War II. General MacArthur once stated that Curtin was “one of the greatest of the wartime statesmen”.

Deakin University – Named after the nation’s second Prime Minister. Alfred Deakin played a major role in the irrigation of this dry continent. He is actually a University of Melbourne alumnus. That would be cool if he were a Deakin alumnus.

I wouldn't print this picture.

Edith Cowan University – Australia’s answer to Susan B. Anthony. She was the nation’s first woman elected to parliament. Edith was actively involved with women and children’s welfare groups. That woman you saw on the Australian 50 dollar note was none other than Mrs. Cowan.

Griffith University – Named after Sir Samuel Griffith. Griffith was the Premier of Queensland as well as principal author of the Constitution of Australia. The Queensland Criminal Code he drafted in 1899 remains largely unchanged to this day. He is a University of Sydney alumnus.

La Trobe University – Named after Charles La Trobe, who was the first Lieutenant-Governer of the colony of Victoria. Much of La Trobe’s legacy stems from the various inner city parks and gardens that La Trobe reserved throughout Victoria.

Monash University – The civil engineered turned WW1 Commander. Sir John Monash at one time was commanding the largest group of corps on the Western Front. Monash was said to be more effective the higher he rose in the military ranks. He received his Master of Science as well as Doctorate at the University of Melbourne.

Swinburne University of Technology – Named after an Australian engineer and politicians. It’s no wonder that this university is named after George Swinburne. He founded the institution. His greatest accomplishment as politician was his role in the passage of a water bill that helped stave the severity of droughts.

She has her own time period named after.

Victoria University – Named after the state of Victoria which was named after Queen Victoria. She was so important that an entire era of time was named after. Her reign as Queen lasted 63 years. How many years of queening did you ever do?

Murdoch University – Named after Sir Walter Murdoch. Murdoch is honoured for his prominence in Australian academic circles. When he was told that the government of Western Australia would name it’s second university after him, he said “it better a good one!” He wouldn’t be dissapointed as Murdoch University is ranked worldwide in many fields.

Steve Irwin University – There hasn’t been a university named after the famous Crocodile Hunter. Yet. Unless Julia Gillard blows it, expect a university with her namesake in the future. I’m sure Australian of the Year Geoffrey Rush will have his own film school one day. Maybe even Perth-native (and Batman’s nemesis) Heath Ledger.



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The Capital in the Bush: Canberra

France has Paris. Japan has Tokyo. Britain has London. Australia has… The Bush Capital?Ask any foreigner what Australia’s capital is. It’s not Sydney. It’s not Melbourne. Many have never even heard of Canberra. The inland Capital Territory is located roughly between Sydney and Melbourne. Chosen as a compromise between the two major cities.

Parliament House

This planned government city centre is affluent and young. The unemployment rate is miniscule and the education level is high. But what gives Canberra it’s charm also has it’s detractions. Due to being inland, the weather is colder. As much disdain Australians have for “pollies” (politicians) they dislike the cold even more. Temperatures can hit below freezing overnight.

If you didn’t catch it, that isn’t a real tourism video. Albeit dry, the humour about the city exists. There’s even a recent debate over the appropriateness of Canberra bashing. So the city must be the worst place to live, right? Not quite. As far as quality of life, a survey of world city mayors rated the city as offering the 26th highest quality of living in the world. The city was also ranked in the 2011 Mercer’s Best Cities in Personal Safety.

Australian National University

The Times Higher Education as well as the Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings both ranked Australia National University as the best university in Australia along with being a world leader in research. The University of Canberra is located here and Australian Catholic University has a campus as well. The Canberra Deep Space Commission has even worked with NASA to develop the next Mars lander.

"Come to Canberra. Now with ski slopes!" Circa 1973

What Canberra lacks in coastline, the city more than makes up for in cultural attractions. The Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum and the National Gallery are all here. If you absolutely have to get your outdoors on, a daytrip to the beach and a ski trip to Snowy Mountains are entirely possible. Canberra celebrates it’s Centenary in 2013. I promise there’s more to see than pollies!

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The Do’s (and Don’ts) of Australia

The DO’s:

An Australian student commuting to class

Be adventurous – In some areas of study it is possible to take an  exam, surf and ski all in the same day. Be spontaneous. Say “yes” to everything. The eastern coast is chock full of amazing sights. If the finances are there, an even more amazing time can be had venturing over to Perth, Adelaide or Darwin. You can’t truly say you saw Australia if you’ve only seen what was in your backyard.

These are no fun

Heed warning signs
 – You’re not being cute by swimming next to a crocodile sign. Wild animal signs are a recurring theme in Australia. If you see a “stingers” sign then be wary. If you’re at the Top End of Australia, just go ahead and stay 100 metres from any body of water.

Intern/volunteer – Australia was rated the best destination in the world to volunteer in. Being generous and productive in a study abroad trip looks great. What looks even better is getting a well placed internship in your field of study. Nothing shows as much thick skin and determination as gaining professional experience in a far off land. Here are some good volunteer opportunities and internship openings.

Hang out with Australians – Everyone is naturally attracted to hanging out with others similar to them. But Australians speak English. You can understand (most) of them. You have no excuse not to befriend the locals. Take Matt McConaughey’s quote of success that he stems from “stepping out of his comfort zone”. I suggest ditching the people you came with. Go join some university clubs that don’t have the word “international” in them. Live with Australians. You might even pick up an Australian girlfriend/boyfriend along the way. 

Wear sunscreen – Forgetting sunscreen is a big no no Down Under. Due to a hole in the Ozone, Australia is exposed to much more sun radiation. One may look at folks from the Jersey Shore for fashion advice but this style doesn’t age well here. Even famed rugged Australians like Paul Hogan have seen better years spent years due to the frequency of Australian sunbathing. Mom is right on this one. You don’t want to get skin cancer because you decided to skimp on the sunscreen.

Have cash – This is not going to be a cheap semester. Don’t hole yourself up in an attempt to save that cash. Take out a loan or apply for financial aid if you have to. Apply for scholarships before you go. Get a job while there. Working while studying builds character and responsibility. You can work up to 40 hours every two weeks while a student. It will really define the work hard/play hard dynamic to living Down Under. You’ll really regret that time you missed out on the daytrip to Kangaroo Island because you didn’t have a few hundred dollars to spare.

Be active – It goes without saying that Australia has nice weather. So why are you inside your dorm? Walk around. Go for a run. Better yet, join a rugby or soccer team. The Australian universities usually have gyms. You should be busy at all hours of the day if your not in class or studying. Getting in shape is a great way to be ready for those hikes you planned on. It’s also a positive way to meet locals. As one (very) busy person once said, “I’ll sleep when I die.”

Authentic Australian food

Eat authentic Australian food – No matter how far you venture you’ll always have the craving for a 3 am “Mackas” (McDonalds in Australian) run. I’m a hypocrite on this one because if they had Chipotle that would be all I ate. Don’t make these cravings affect a taste for adventure. One of my favorite aspects of foreign travel is the various affordable ethnic food stops. Better yet, save money and cook food yourself. You can even buy kangaroo meat at the store and have a barbie out back. That may be an entirely stereotypical way to eat in Australia but they’ll appreciate the effort.

Consider a Work Holiday Visa – One of Australia’s biggest attractions is the Work Holiday program. Only a select few countries in the world offer Americans a Work Holiday program (Canadians have a much larger choice). Once your student visa runs it’s course, get a Work Holiday Visa and work for up to 6 months at a job of your choice. You can work for up to a year total. You might, just might see most of Australia if you spent a few years here.

The DON’Ts:

Do nothing. Say yes to everything. As long as you’re going to class this is the time to say yes to everything! There are no don’ts. Well maybe except for dropping out of school, getting deported, going broke, swimming with Great Whites, but you get the point.


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