Friends in Australia

“Friends in Australia,” Friend, Jan. 1971, 48

Friends in Australia

Australia is an island continent between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Including the island of Tasmania, it is the smallest of the world’s seven continents and is the only one occupied entirely by one nation. It is often referred to by people living in the northern hemisphere as “The Land Down Under.”

Strange animals abound in Australia. For instance, there are creatures that carry their young in pouches, such as the kangaroo, the cuddly koala bear, and the shadowy Tasmanian wolf. Such animals are known as marsupials and there are at least 150 different ones in that island continent.

Another strange variety of animals there is called monotreme, a mammal that lays eggs like birds. The platypus and two kinds of spiny anteaters are monotremes.

Australians are great sports lovers. Even the grammar school children are required to play sports. They spend hours every week achieving physical strength and skill, playing cricket, tennis, or rugby. They excel in swimming.

Although there are many cities and towns, about half of Australia is a large half-empty continent. Some families live “outback” hundreds of miles from anyone else on cattle ranches called “stations.” The children are taught by a school of the air. Each “station” has a shortwave two-way radio so teachers can talk with the children during and after the regular school lessons. Each radio has a special call number and the teacher asks questions of the children according to their call numbers. When there is illness in the family, a doctor uses this radio system to prescribe treatment. When children living outback at a cattle station reach their teens, they usually leave home and go into a city to a boarding school.

Latter-day Saint children in Australia attend Primary on Saturday mornings. They are taken there by their parents and often even the fathers stay to teach a class or to work on the meetinghouse lawn. The children in the Dellica family travel twenty-five miles each way on a slow milk train to attend their Primary in Kalgoorlie each Saturday morning.

Illustrated by Jerry Harston