Hell, that's not all we've lost. We lost a Prime Minister in 1966. He went swimming at the beach about an hour from Melbourne and never came back. What did we name in his honour? A SWIMMING POOL.
And back in the days when Tasmania was Van Diemen's Land, it was under the control of a guy named Thomas Davey, who was basically the nineteenth century version of Captain Jack Sparrow.
|He even LOOKS a little like Johnny Depp, you guys.|
According to Robert Hughes in his (rather long-winded, but still fascinating) book The Fatal Shore, Davey
"...marked his arrival in Hobart Town in February 1813 by lurching to the ship's gangway, casting an owlish look at his new domain and emptying a bottle of port over his wife's hat. He then took off his coat, remarking that the place was as hot as Hades, and marched uphill to Government House in his shirtsleeves. Nicknamed "Mad Tom" by the settlers, he would later make it his custom to broach a keg of rum outside Government House on royal birthdays and ladle it out to passersby." (2003:369)And Davey is, according to Wikipedia, also known for inventing a cocktail called "Blow my Skull".
I honestly didn't think anything could beat Mad Tom Davey as my favourite bizarre thing in Australian history. But today? Today I was proved wrong.
Because in 1932, Australia went to war. Against emus. AND THE EMUS WON.
Can we just stop and process this for a second? A group of soldiers took a couple of machine guns and went into the desert to kill 20,000-odd birds. And they failed.
|"Boo-ya, bitches". Also, source.|
Plus, this "war" led to some completely amazing quotes:
"The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month." - Dominic Serventy
"If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world...They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop." - Major Meredith
I don't think I really have much in the way of a point. Well. Except for these:
1. What the hell, Australian government?!
2. Those soldiers should be super pleased that they were only dealing with emus and not cassowaries... #velociraptorsofthemodernera
3. HISTORY IS FREAKING AWESOME.