We know Australia for their sport, fascinating and unusual animals, streams of actors like Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, the Hemsworth brothers (to name a few) and even some great artists like Sia. But you probably didn't know that they are responsible for some really useful (and cool) inventions. From Google Maps and wifi to Speedos and box wine, they Aussies are actually quite the innovative bunch.
Here are some interesting Aussie inventions (with a cool rating of 1 to 5. 5 being super cool):
1. The refrigerator
Cool factor: A very cool 5 (excuse the pun)
In 1861, a certain James Harrison of Geelong, Victoria invented the first ice-making machine. The story goes that he worked as an apprentice at his grandfather's printing shop where he was inspired by the evaporating fluid that left the metal of the printing press much colder. His invention, though made in 1855 went through a series of unsuccessful trials, until it was improved into what is now known as the refrigerator. Who knew?!
2. The inflatable airplane escape slide
Cool factor: 5 (Insanely cool)
Sometimes innovation comes from seeing or doing something over and over at work until one day you ask a question that starts with 'I wonder what would happen if...?" That's exactly what happened to Jack Grant, an employee of Qantas Airways. In 1965, asked the question: 'What would happen if we designed a way to carry passengers to safety'. Grant went on to develop one of the airline industry's most important safety features – the inflatable escape slide. We bet the passengers on board US flight 1549, where Captain Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger's made his noteworthy emergency landing on the Hudson River, were eternally grateful for his invention. We all are.
3. Black box flight recorder
Cool factor: 4
Another incredibly important aviation invention, the flight recorder for airplanes (aka the black box) was invented round about the same time a tribe in New South Wales invented the boomerang, in the 1950s. This may seem random but it's not. Both these inventions are designed to return to sender. We know that in the case of airlines, the information stored in a black box (invented by Australian scientist, David Warren in 1953) is crucial.
Cool factor: 5 (Obviously!)
Can you believe that wireless internet (Wi-fi) is over 22 years old?! It was in 1996 when an engineer, John O'Sullivan led a team at a company called CSIRO into creating a method of creating a fast and reliable Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), which was later approved in the US and went on to win O'Sullivan awards and make CSIRO A LOT of money (more than $420 million). Now even coffee shops are rated on the availability of wi-fi!
Cool factor: 3.5
This is a tricky one to rate. Especially in the age of Evernote and other fancy digital note-taking things. From a writer perspective, it's one of the best inventions though many will argue that it's extinct and bad for the planet (blah blah). Nothing feels quite as wonderful as putting ink to paper and having the convenience of a notebook to take notes on – and make doodles on in boring work meetings. Nonetheless... a Tasmanian stationery shop owner, J.A. Birchall came up with this invention in 1902 when he thought it would be more efficient to glue together stacks of halved sheets of paper, supported by a cardboard. The scribblers are eternally grateful.
So, to explore the land that has shared so much with the world, why not visit Qantas.com and plan your "hop" Down Under.