Australia's new logo looks like coronavirus stock art

Behold the new logo Australia shall henceforth use in its international branding efforts. It looks like coronavirus stock art and presumably cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

It will directly replace the Australia Unlimited logo, which features two boomerangs forming the shape of Australia, and will primarily be used to represent the country during trade missions and business exchange programs such as Austrade's Landing Pad program.

The decision was made in a report by Australia's Nation Brand Advisory Council, News Corp reported on Wednesday.

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The first known baby koala since the Australian wildfires has been born in a zoo

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Our very first koala of the season has popped out of Mums pouch to say hello! 🐨 Keepers have decided to name her Ash! Ash is the first koala born at the park since the tragic Australian bushfires and is a sign of hope for the future of Australia’s native wildlife. . . . . . . . . . . #thisiscentralcoast #australia #sydneyactivities #fun #thingstodoinsydney #sydney #centralcoast #viral #cute #cuteanimals #newsouthwales #selfisolation #stayhome #animalfriends #australiananimal #koala #elsathekoala #cutekoalas #seeaustralia @australia #koala #koalajoey

A post shared by Australian Reptile Park (@australianreptilepark) on May 26, 2020 at 2:00pm PDT

Koalas are not functionally extinct, although their population has rapidly declined in recent decades; these numbers have gotten worse as wildfires have ravaged the continent of Australia. The International Fund for Animal Welfare and Biolink research group place the koala casualties around 5,000, or 12 percent of their population, since the wildfires began; less conservative estimates place the casualty rate around 30 percent.

But there is a glimmer of hope: for the first time since the wildfires, a baby koala has been seen emerging from a pouch. Baby Ash was born at the Australian Reptile Park, and is believed to be about 5 months old. "Ash represents the start of what we’re hoping to be another successful breeding season," Zookeeper Dan Rumsey told Buzzfeed News. "It was such an incredible moment when we saw Ash poke her head out of her mum’s pouch for the first time!" Read the rest

Mining company destroys sacred Aboriginal cave in Western Australia. They're "sorry."

Multinational mining operation Rio Tinto destroyed an Aboriginal cave north of Perth, Australia last week. Indigenous people lived in the cave as far back as 46,000 years ago. From Reuters/New York Times:

Explosives destroyed two ancient rock shelters, where artefacts discovered included 4,000-year-old plaited human hair with genetic links to the present day traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.

The mining giant, which had been granted state government approval in 2013 to damage or destroy the site under a legal framework that is currently under review, apologised on Sunday.

"We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, and we are sorry for the distress we have caused," Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said in a statement.[...]

"As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge area," Salisbury said.

image: Puutu Kunti Kurrama And Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation Read the rest

Michael Bublé performed a private concert of Christmas songs for a trio of gorillas

The lucky apes — Ganyeka, Yakini and Motaba — currently live at the Werribee Open Range Zoo in Melbourne, Australia. According to PRI, one of the zookeepers discovered that the silverback gorillas responded quite positively to Bublé's dulcet tones:

When we play Michael Bublé's CDs, the boys will instantly start pleasure grumbling and sit nice and calm and relaxed. Our theory is it’s the beautiful low tones that he sings with kind of mimics their pleasure grumble. And they’ve even been shown to hum little food songs when they eat, and we think [Bublé] must really resonate with that sound.

So as long as Bublé was in Australia anyway, they got him to stop by the zoo and surprise the silverbacks with a little private croon.

Canadian singer delights his gorilla superfans with Christmas songs [María Elena Romero / PRI]

Image via NeedPix (Public Domain) and Eva Rinaldi / Flickr (CC 2.) Read the rest

Australia's location corrected

Australia sits on a fast-moving tectonic plate and is drifting north several inches a year. As its GPS coordinates haven't been updated since 1994, the discrepancy has grown to six feet and has begun causing trouble. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the continent's location is being fixed.

On January 1, the Victorian and NSW governments updated the coordinates of every road, property and geographical feature in their states, essentially moving the south-eastern seaboard 1.8 metres north-east overnight. Official government road maps and property boundaries will now line up perfectly with GPS location data.

“The real importance with data is it all lines up. Roads, people's property boundaries all line up,” says Ms Underwood. It will take some time for companies like Google to pick up and implement the new data. But when they do, you will enjoy slightly more accurate satellite navigation.

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Giant pizza 103 meters (338 feet) long raised funds for Australia firefighters

? Yes, that's a 100-meter record-setting Margherita Pizza. A pizza with a purpose. Read the rest

Australia fires: Air-dropping veggies to feed wallabies [NEW VIDEO]

The massive scale and force of the ongoing bushfires in Australia is hard to comprehend. Read the rest

Scottish reporter covering Aussie bush fires gets to meet a drop bear

Animal handlers in Australia played a fabulous prank on a Scottish reporter visiting to cover the bush fires there: a meeting with a terrifying, dangerous drop bear.

""F*ckin' Aussies!" - Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park tricks Scottish reporter into handling dangerous 'drop bear'.

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Australia fires: Carrots and sweet potatoes dropped from the air to feed starving animals

The New South Wales Government is dropping thousands of pounds of carrots and sweet potato from helicopters to feed the endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies that are starving as a result of the massive bushfires across Australia. From the NSW Government:

(According to Environment Minister Matt Kean,) "Initial fire assessments indicate the habitat of several important Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby populations was burnt in the recent bushfires. The wallabies typically survive the fire itself, but are then left stranded with limited natural food as the fire takes out the vegetation around their rocky habitat.

"The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance."

In the last week almost 1000 kilograms of sweet potato and carrot have been sent to 6 different colonies in the Capertee and Wolgan valleys; 1000 kilograms across 5 sites in Yengo National Park; almost 100 kilograms of food and water in the Kangaroo Valley, with similar drops having also taken place in Jenolan, Oxley Wild Rivers and Curracubundi national parks.

Mr Kean said this is the most widespread food drop we have ever done for Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies and will help maintain these colonies and allow them to recover.

"At this stage, we expect to continue providing supplementary food to rock-wallaby populations until sufficient natural food resources and water become available again in the landscape, during post-fire recovery."

image: "Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata)"/NPWS/DPIE

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Watch an Australian firefighter save a baby kangaroo

Millions of animals have been hurt or killed in Australia's devastating months-long fire season, but firefighter Sam Mcglone is able to save at least one of them – a baby kangaroo hiding under a log. Read the rest

Australia is only a horrifying natural death trap so it can balance out the adorableness of the quokka

I've always understood Australia to be a nightmare hellscape full of crazy killer creatures. But that's only because I hadn't heard about the quokka. This teddy bear-sized marsupial lives on the islands off the mainland of Australia, and they're just — I mean — look at this thing!

It's basically a non-cannibalistic Ewok, and apparently they're known for being friendly as hell (also exceptionally horny), earning them the distinction of the "happiest animal in the world." Though it's illegal to touch one, they're allegedly super-down with selfies, too.

I would brave any Australian beast just to be best friends with one of these lil' fellas.

Image via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

Footage of Australian fire crew overwhelmed by flames

Dozens are likely dead in Australia, which is beset by uncontrolled wildfires. Experts believe a third of the koala population on the continent's east coast is already wiped out, and there's no end in sight. Residents are fleeing to the beaches to escape the flames. In the video embedded here from New South Wales Fire + Rescue, a crew sits in their truck, unable to do anything to fight the the blaze as it tears throught the forest toward them, then around them, then away from them.

Here's (NSFW) footage from Tyson Whelan, which he says he took at 10:30 a.m. in Mallacoota, Victoria:

Australia's government appears unmoved. Here's the Prime Minister, talking earlier in wildfire season, about why there would be no change in policy toward carbon emissions: “What we won’t do is engage in reckless and job-destroying and economy-crunching targets which are being sought."

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Australia just had hottest day in recorded history

104º F/40.9º C average across country

Gentleman roasts pork on car during Australia heat crisis

Well, there it is at last, the silver lining to climate change. Turns out it's so hot in Australia, you can totally roast a delicious hunk of meat on top of your car. Read the rest

Just look at these decorated ruckus-causing lunchtime bananas

Just look at them. (Thanks, Marion!) Read the rest

Listen to the original, slower, better (!) version of Men at Work's "Down Under"

This is Men at Work's "Down Under" as it was originally released in 1980 as the B-side to the band's self-released "Keypunch Operator" 7". A year later, the band re-recorded it for their Columbia Records debut Business As Usual. The track flew up the Australian charts and hit number one in the US a few years later as the video (below) became an early MTV staple. I remember it spurring me to look up the meaning of vegemite.

Then in 2010, the band lost a controversial copyright infringement suit brought by record company Larrikin Music who argued that the song's flute riff is copied from the traditional children's song Kookaburra that most people thought to be in the public domain but, apparently, wasn't. (Comparison video at the bottom of this post.)

Anyhoo, while the band was arguably oversharing their reggae inspirations on the original version, I prefer it to the later recording. It has a nice swing to it.

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KISS played a concert on a boat for great white sharks, but none of them showed up

In a move that is so bombastic yet embarrassing that it sounds like something straight out This is Spinal Tapya know what, let's just let ABC Australia fill us in:

[KISS] cancelled its other [Australian] concerts after lead singer Paul Stanley pulled out due to illness.

But a line-up featuring bass guitarist Gene Simmons, lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, and drummer Eric Singer took to the seas as part of an Airbnb promotion designed to promote tourism locations around the world.

The concert was billed as KISS playing to great white sharks — although no sharks actually turned up.

That's it. That's what actually happened. In Australia, of all places. There were reportedly eight people who paid actual currency to watch this stunt on the boat, along with some media people and stray boaters, for a total estimated crowd of maybe 50 people. Watching 3/4 of KISS perform with a terrible sound system. Okay.

The event was hosted by Adventure Bay Charters, a company that apparently promises "shark cage diving" adventures in the waters around Australia. Hence, the concert was supposed to demonstrate the company's ability to attract sharks for the experience using sound waves instead of blood…except that the whole thing failed in that regard.

"KISS cancel Australian tour but show must go on for great white sharks" [Jodie Hamilton, Emma Pedler and Paul Turton / ABC]

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