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The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.

The continent of Australia has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After sporadic visits by European explorers and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the eastern half of the continent was claimed by the British in 1770, and officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown colonies were successively established over the course of the 19th century.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The current population of around 21 million is concentrated mainly in the coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

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Chappell in the early 1970s

Ian Michael Chappell (born 26 September 1943), is a former cricketer who played for South Australia and Australia. He captained Australia between 1971 and 1975 before taking a central role in the breakaway World Series Cricket organisation. Born into a cricketing family—his grandfather and brother also captained Australia—Chappell made a hesitant start to international cricket playing as a right-hand middle-order batsman and spin bowler. He found his niche when promoted to bat at number three. Known as “Chappelli”, he earned a reputation as one of the greatest captains the game has seen. Chappell's blunt verbal manner led to a series of confrontations with opposition players and cricket administrators; the issue of sledging first arose during his tenure as captain and he was a driving force behind the professionalisation of Australian cricket in the 1970s.

John Arlott called him, “a cricketer of effect rather than the graces”. An animated presence at the batting crease, he constantly adjusted his equipment and clothing, and restlessly tapped his bat on the ground as the bowler ran in. Basing his game on a sound defence learned during many hours of childhood lessons, Chappell employed the drive and square cut to full effect. He had an idiosyncratic method of playing back and across to a ball of full length and driving wide of mid on, but his trademark shot was the hook. A specialist slip fielder, he was the fourth player to take one hundred Test catches.

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The Three Sisters from the Katoomba lookout.

The Three Sisters are a famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. They are close to the town of Katoomba and are one of the Blue Mountains' most famous sights, towering above the Jamison Valley. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).

Photo credit: David Iliff


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