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Australians Born In October
This month's Australian birthdays include the man who led the largest Australian protest against the Viet Nam War. Also born in October is a man who played a fundamental role in developing the atomic bomb. You'll also find ARIA and Logie winners, actors, and athletes. For those no longer with us, it's a way to remember them too. October Australian birthdays include:
Although Halloween ( 31st October) is not a typical event Aussies celebrate, it has been growing in popularity. No doubt because kids discovered they get to have candy.
We Get Mail
Wrong Side Driving
In an email from Ray M, he said "No matter how many yanks you give the drum, when they build cars, they keep putting the wheel on the wrong bloody side." I hear this kind of thing a lot.
First, let me say in defence of the yanks that right-hand driving did not start in America.
In the 1700's Russia traffic kept to the right. In the French Revolution in 1792 all traffic was ordered to stay to the right. Countries or allies occupied by Napoleon (Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain) adopted right-hand traffic as a result. Over time other countries have adopted the right-hand driving.
Halloween is for all
I received an email from Jason who asked, "Why do you have Halloween cards on your website? That's an American holiday, not Australian."
A lot of people believe that Halloween is an American celebration. The truth is that it's been around for over 2000 years celebrated by the Celts as Samhain, when the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. History.com has an excellent article that explains it in a way that's easy to understand.
United States Changes
During the American colonial days, the French colonies kept to the right and all the other colonies kept to the left. It wasn't until after 1813 that the USA formalized driving on the right. Today all US states and territories except the US Virgin Islands drive on the right.
Australia Drives on the Left
The decision on which side of the road to use was made in the early 19th century by Governor Lachlan Macquarie following the British practice. New Zealand drives on the left too, also owing to its British colonial heritage.
More to the Story
If you do any research on this subject you'll find that it is believed as early as ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, the right-left issue was related to the fact that most soldiers / travellers wielded their swords in their right hand. So they would stay to the left side of the road prepared, if necessary, to fight oncoming enemies on their right.
So Ray, it looks like the French, not the Americans may be responsible for the move to driving on the right. Wiki has an excellent article with everything you wanted to know about it.
Did you know
We have a list of countries in Which Side of the Road Do You Drive On? You might be surprised.
The 1846 potato famine caused Irish immigrants to flee Ireland. They brought with them their traditions. So it was natural that Americans were influenced by the Irish and the English Halloween traditions. Over time Americans began to dress up in costumes too. The tradition of trick or treat is thought to date back to early All Souls' Day (All Hallows Eve) parades in England. So Halloween is not just an American celebration, it's for anyone that likes to dress up (kids AND adults) and likes eating candy.
Highest Mountain or Not?
Tony B. wrote me that "Australia's highest mountain is on Heard Island. The crest is on Mawson Peak on the active volcano Big Ben.
Well Tony, that's not quite right. The highest mountain in the Australian mainland is Mt. Kosciuszko at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft).
Heard Island is an external territory and not the mainland. Yes, I hear you saying mainland or not, Mawson Peak is still Australia's biggest at 2,745 metres (9,006 ft).
Sorry, but if you include external territories like Heard Island, then to be fair you should include Mt. McClintock in the Britannia Range in the Australian Antarctic Territory which is 3,490 metres (11,450 ft) as the highest Australian mountain.
Before we get too carried away, we should remember that Everest in Nepal/Tibet is 8,850 metres (29.035 ft). Now that's really big. See our page Highest and Biggest in Australia.