ancient Australia

An Ancient Land and Peoples

The bustling type of globe-trotter would, of course, spend only a few hours in Sydney, because it is a city without a past, although there are some trees near by which were in existence long before many of the abbeys, castles and chateaux of older lands. If one believes in the science of geology there are, however, no older lands in the world than Australia. Cut off by the ocean for untold centuries for, though the last to be settled, Australia is geologically the oldest country – the vegetation of the island -continent has developed from the more primitive forms, while its animals, long since extinct elsewhere, are relics of an age when the earth was younger.

Immeasurable ages before the deeds were done out of which have evolved the mythologies of India, Iran, Egypt, Greece or Scandinavia, the winds were singing their tremendous anthem through the boundless eucalyptus forests the kangaroo and emu, the wallaby, the bandicoot, the phalanger, the ant-eater, the dingo and the flying fox were a society strange and unmolested-and the hills and dales resounded with the weird laughter of the kookaburra and the cockatoo’s shrill shriek.

Compared with the antiquity of Australia, its indigenous animals and its vegetation, other countries of the world, old as may be their geological formations and remote their prehistoric evolution, are but of yesterday. Anomalous though it may appear, in passing from England to America the traveller exchanges ‘an old country’ for one very much older; but when one reaches Australia one treads the soil of a continent incalculably the senior of both. Later in my peregrinations I stood on the oldest land surface of the globe.