Happy Australia Day! (That’s the “anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788,” in case you didn’t know.) 2013’s Australian of the year is Ida Buttrose, founder of Cleo Magazine and president of Alzheimer’s Australia.

Former copy girl, journalist, famous lisper, editor-extraordinaire. The woman who, as editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly, liked to catch the bus to work because bus trips were an excellent time to read and touch up nail polish.

The lady – because she is a real lady – whose brains and strength of character saw her become the first female appointment to the News Ltd board (she said she ”often felt lonely”). The single working mother who rejoiced when retail trading hours were extended in 1984 because it had been such a terrible rush, cramming all that kid-ferrying and shopping into short Saturday mornings.

This year’s Young Australian award (is it an award? A title? A job? Someone Australian please jump into the comments and fill us in) went to Akram Azimi, a former refugee from Afghanistan; the Local Hero award belonged to “indigenous community leader Shane Phillips,” who works to improve relationships between the police and Aboriginal groups. Ron Allum, a submarine designer, is this year’s Senior Australian. What a lovely bunch of Australians; presumably they will all be preserved in amber or form a super-tribunal that roams the Australian countryside, dealing out justice to whomever they meet.

Of course, in all this talk about our most T-Rex-head-shaped of continents, let us not forget that there exists a wondrous underground city named Coober Pedy (!!!) in South Australia. Because of the intense summer heat, Coober Pedy’s wise inhabitants have chosen to bury their city in the cool black earth. Their cave-houses have “walk-in-wardrobes, bedrooms, storage areas and fantastic kitchens. Narrow vertical shafts serve the purpose of ventilation and maintain temperature and humidity perfectly.” Coober Pedy has not only an underground church but also underground opal mines, because Australia is riddled with beautiful and mysterious things. Every day should be Australia Day.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]