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  • Stevie Bee

Australia by the numbers

Updated: Jan 2

Anything that has a name has a number. As part of my ongoing series, By The Numbers, this time I look at Australia.


Australia was named Australia by the explorer Matthew Finders on a map of the continent he drafted between 1798 and 1804. Unfortunately, we don’t have a day and month for when he wrote ‘Australia’. And we can’t have a stab in the dark and pick one of the years between 1798 and 1804. We could use the day of Federation, when the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901, but that’s a century after it was named Australia. And Australians don’t mark January 1 as a national day anyway. We do mark Captain Arthur Phillip’s landing in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788 as the birthdate of the nation, even though it would have been known as New Holland at that time. (Interestingly New Holland is 26, 8. Two 26s! That would be a lot of karma!) Let’s use January 26, 1788 as the birthdate.

The number 26 translates to Partnerships

This number vibrates to a unique kind of power, based on compassion and unselfishness, with the ability to help others but not always the Self. The 26 is full of contradictions: it warns of dangers, disappointments and failure, especially regarding the ambitions due to bad advice, association with others, and unhappy partnerships of all kinds. It would be wise for Australia to avoid partnerships and pursue its path alone, not heeding even the well-intentioned advice of others, but follow only what feels right — the intuition — although that should be carefully examined for flaws before acting. It is also wise to keep the nation’s finances stable, keep funds in reserve, and not behave in an extravagant or reckless manner nor invest in other nations’ ideas. Rather, Australia is best advised to invest in its own future, while always being generous towards others — especially those in need (is this an example of us favouring the underdog?) — but also ensuring it builds a solid foundation for the future. See The 4 and the 8.

That's good advice, not heeded often enough. Stand on our own two feet. Be generous with those less fortunate. Build a strong foundation.

The name ‘Australia’ adds up to the number 22, its keywords being Submission • Caution

It is symbolised as “a good person (or, in this case, entity), blinded by the folly of others, with a knapsack on his or her back, full of errors.” No defence is offered against a ferocious tiger about to attack. We are warned to be aware of illusion and delusion, of living in a fool’s paradise, much like a dreamer of dreams who awakens only when surrounded by danger, often when it’s too late. It warns of mistakes in judgement, of placing faith in those who aren’t trustworthy. To dilute its influence, we are advised to exercise caution and be watchful at all times. And not to forget our own power to change things. When this responsibility is recognised, practised and finally mastered, the 22 can be in control of events, no longer blinded by the folly of others, and able to see ideas achieved and dreams realised.

The number 22 is known as a master number, often mistakenly believed to promise mastership without effort. Receiving the gift of a master number does not confer instant success as a birthright. Rather, when one masters the challenge of the number then one gains mastership.

The 22 reduces to a 4, which is expressed through invention and knowledge; freedom; individualism; originality; inventiveness; tolerance; unconventional behaviour; sudden, unexpected events; and genius. (Read more about the 4 and the 4–8 combination, in particular, here.)

Australia is quite an inventive nation. Here are just a few Australian inventions, in no particular order.

  • Black box flight recorder

  • Spray-on skin for treating burns

  • Electronic heart pacemaker

  • Google Maps

  • Medical application of penicillin

  • Polymer bank notes

  • Cochlear implant (bionic ear)

  • Electric drill

  • Winged keel (yachts)

  • Permaculture

  • Wi-Fi technology

  • Ultrasound scanner

  • Plastic spectacle lenses

  • Inflatable escape slide and raft (for planes)

  • Permanent-crease clothing

  • Frazier (deep focus) lens

  • Triton Workcentre (work bench)

  • Racecam (TV broadcasting)

  • Tank-bred tuna system

There’s a whole lot more listed on Wikipedia. And here and here.

That’s an impressive list. However, there’s a problem.

When it comes to marketing and developing those inventions and innovations, we’re pretty lousy. We lack true entrepreneurship, true risk-taking. We don’t seem to mind someone else doing the development work, and ultimately reaping more of the rewards. As the decades have rolled by, the burdens we’ve been carrying have weighed us down further as we accumulate more weight. For example, banks would rather lend to prospective home buyers than small- to medium-sized businesses who might want to innovate, because there’s less risk. Capital has become tired and lazy. Inventors and innovators are left chasing venture capital in California and elsewhere because no one local will invest in them. We don’t believe in ourselves enough.

There are also the burdens carried in that “sack full of errors”. We’re blinded by the folly of others; and then add that to the sack. We go into wars anytime we’re asked — when have we ever said ‘no’? We throw caution to the wind and fail to reflect on what might be in our own best interests. The Lucky Country tag (“the fool’s paradise”? “a dreamer of dreams”?) has left us complacent. Australia’s foreign policy fits snugly with US policy. Whenever the US is about to launch a war, who’s willing and able? Australia is. We’ll carry the burden. We did at the behest of the British in both world wars. Again, at the behest of the US, we put our hands up for wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. And we side almost entirely with the US on UN votes.

For decades we’ve languished under the Tall Poppy Syndrome with its obsession for tearing down successful people. Could it be we don’t take our inventions to the next level by backing them financially because it means the inventors might be successful? Or, are we just content to carry our sack full of errors? Too ready to place our faith in others? They know best?

If Australia were to exercise caution, weigh things up and keep a watchful eye out at all times, we could begin to control or direct events swirling about us. We are inventive, but thanks to our generally laidback, no-worries, she’ll-be-right attitude, we let those inventions go.

And the burdens extend across the land. Australia is home to a myriad of introduced weeds and feral animals, many of them now in plague proportions, destroying and suffocating native species. Had Australia's first settlers had an understanding of what Australia meant, they might have adopted a different approach to the land and its Indigenous people. The 22 carries with it the admonition to submit (to a higher will) and to be cautious, which if applied to white settlement would have meant respect for the Indigenous people and their way of life and their way of viewing the land. Perhaps those settlers would not have been so eager to simply transplant the English way to the Great Southern Land.

The takeaway

When we believe in ourselves and value ourselves enough, when we learn not to take on any and everything, when we learn to say ‘no’ to outside interference and influence, we might just remember our own power to change things and realise our own dreams.

Australia is an inventive nation, but thanks to our generally laidback, no-worries, she’ll-be-right attitude, we often let those inventions go. And forget we have power and can do it ourselves.

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