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Australia
Inhabited by the Australian Aborigines for at least 40,000 years the continent was first reached by Dutch and British explorers in the 17th century, finally being "claimed" for Britain by Captain James Cook in 1770.

Captain James Cook
Captain James Cook
The Captain Cook Society



The land remained largely untouched by settlers until Australia replaced the New World as a penal colony after the American War of Independence. The first convicts arrived in 1788 and with them came settlers whose numbers increased dramatically throughout the 19th century, especially after gold was discovered in 1851, an increase in numbers which had disastrous effects for the Aboriginal inhabitants.

Nobel Prize Winners


Chemistry
The chemist Sir John W. Cornforth was born in Sydney in 1917. He became a British citizen and in 1975 shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with the Swiss scientist Vladimir Prelog for his work on enzymes.

Sir John W. Cornforth



Physics
The physicist Sir Lawrence Bragg was born as William Lawrence Bragg in Adelaide in 1890. The son of the English physicist Sir William Bragg they shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915 for their work on the atomic structure of crystals. At the age of 25 he was the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Prize and they were one of only 5 fathers and sons to have received the award.

Sir Lawrence Bragg



Physiology or Medicine
Sir Howard Florey was born in Adelaide in 1898. He emigrated to England where in 1945 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the Scottish scientist Sir Alexander Fleming and the German-born Sir Ernst Boris Chain for their work on the discovery and production of penicillin. He died in Oxford, England in 1968.




World Heritage Sites


Australia
In 1997 the Heard and McDonald Islands were designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Due to their location over 4,000 kilometres south-west of Perth and 1,700 kilometres north of the Antarctic, they are so remote that they contain no alien plant or animal life and have suffered no human impact.



Lying halfway between Australia and the Antarctic, Macquarie Island was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997. The volcanic activity on the island has made it the only place in the world where rocks from the earth's mantle have been exposed above sea level.



Eleven sites of the thousands used by the British Empire to house convicts transported to the continent in the 18th and 19th centuries were designated a World Heritage Site as the Australian Convict Sites in 2010.



New South Wales
In 1981 the Willandra Lakes Region was designated a World Heritage Site. The site contains fossils and evidence of human settlement on the continent dating from 45-60,000 years ago.



Lying off the coast of New South Wales, the Lord Howe Island Group was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982.



The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves) contain many endangered rainforest species and were designated a World Heritage Site in 1986.



The Greater Blue Mountains Area was designated a World Heritage Site in 2000.



One of the continents most recognizable buildings, the Sydney Opera House was designated a World Heritage Site in 2007.



Northern Territory
In 1981 the Kakadu National Park was designated a World Heritage Site. The site contains evidence of human habitation for over 40,000 years.



The location for what used to be called Ayers Rock, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.



Queensland
Lying off the coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest collection of coral reefs and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1981.



The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves) contain many endangered rainforest species and were designated a World Heritage Site in 1986.



Stretching along the north-east coast, the tropical rainforests of the Wet Tropics of Queensland were designated a World Heritage Site in 1988.



Lying off the coast of Queensland, Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1992.



In 1994 the Australian Fossil Mammal Site at Riversleigh was, together with the Naracoorte site in New South Wales, designated a World Heritage Site.



Tasmania
The Tasmanian Wilderness was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982 and protects one of the world's last temperate rainforests.



Victoria

In 1994 the Australian Fossil Mammal Site at Naracoorte was, together with the Riversleigh site in Queensland, designated a World Heritage Site.



In 2004 the Royal Exhibition Buildiing and Carleton Gardens in Melbourne were designated a World Heritage Site. Built for international exhibitions in the 1880's they are the first buildings in Australia to be listed.



Western Australia
The most westerly point of the Australian continent, Shark Bay contains the largest seagrass beds in the world and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1991.



Purnululu National Park contains the Bungle Bungle Range and was designated a World Heritage Site in 2003.



The Ningaloo Coast includes one of the world's most extensive near-shore reefs and was designated a World Heritage Site in 2011.




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