Down Under Showcase Day 29: Meet Ellen Cross, AUZ and NZ Facts of the Day



Down Under Author Showcase Day 29

Welcome, Ellen Cross

309989_188625004621870_123604597_n (2)


Only a few days left and a couple more authors to welcome!  Today our featured writer is author Ellen Cross from north eastern Australia.   I don’t know where she finds the time to write…why?  Check out her bio along with her books and lovely giveaway!  Ellen Cross’ contest ends February 6 instead of the  31st to give more people time to enter.


Now on to our facts of the  day.

Australia Fact of the Day – The Wave Rock of Hyden!

‘Wave Rock of Hyden’ is a natural rock formation resembles a tall breaking Ocean wave which is 46 ft in height and around 360 ft long. It lies about 3 kilometers east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km (184 mi) east-southeast of Perth, Western Australia. It is a part of 395 acre natural reserve of Hyden Wildlife Park.

About Wave Rock of Hyden…Wave Rock AUS

It consists of 2.63 billion year old Biotite K feldspar.

Wave Rock of Hyden is a perfect example of ‘Flared Slope’,
Wave rock of Hyden has become a tourist spot with over 140,000 visitors per year.

wave rock 2What is Flared slope?

Flared slopes like Wave Rock are particularly well developed in granitic landforms of south-western and southern Australia.

Do you know where our own US rock formation called The Wave is located?


New Zealand Facts of the Day!

Split Apple Rock of The Tasman Bay!_Split-Apple-Rock NZ

Split Apple Rock is a geological rock formation in The Tasman Bay off the northern coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Made of granite, it is in the shape of an apple which has been cut in half. It is a popular tourist attraction in the waters of the Tasman Sea approximately 50 metres off the coast between Kaiteriteri and Marahau.

The rock sits in shallow water at low tide and is accessible by wading. It is also a point of interest for the many tourist boats and pleasure craft which operate along the shores of the Abel Tasman National Park.

The cleft to produce two sides of the ‘apple’ was a natural occurrence. It is unknown when this happened and therefore the cleaving of the rock has attracted mythological explanations

Down Under Day 28: Welcome, Cecil Wilde, and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day!



 Down Under Author Showcase Day 28

Welcome, Cecil Wilde!

Our Down Under Author Showcase is almost over, but not our discoveries of wonderful new authors (at least to this review group).  Cecil Wilde is our featured author today and our review of Defying Convention follows Cecil’s author page.  It’s one of our highly recommended reads so be sure to make its acquaintance today, along with Cecil’s other stories and novels.  As always, don’t forget to enter Cecil’s giveaway and locate the Scavenger Hunt word of the day!

AUS flag over countryAustralia Fact of the Day!

Since Cecil makes a mention of spiders (hmm, where does that happen?), let’s take a closer look at one common spider in Australia!

There are 1500 species of Australian spiders and the average person swallows three spiders a year. The most infamous spiders mentioned in Australian literature, including a few of the stories by our Down Under Authors (can you name which ones?) are: Redback Spider, and Sydney Funnel-web Spider.

Redback Spiders (Latrodectus hasselti) are very common in Australia. They are even kind of popular: one Australian beer is named after them.

Redbacks can be found everywhere in Australia, especially in the densely populated urban areas. They thrive in the warmer regions. Look for them on verandas, in sheds, in storage yards, on industrial sites and inside houses. They also hide in hollow logs, wood or junk piles etc.

Small insects make up the bulk diet of Redback Spiders, but they sometimes kill and eat much bigger prey, even small lizards if they get tangled up in the sticky web. They also steal wrapped up food items from each other’s webs if they can.

How dangerous is the Redback Spider?

Redbacks are responsible for the vast majority of serious spider bites in Australia. However, they are not considered dangerous. Only the bite of a female Redback Spider is toxic (the males are too small to bite anyway).

To get bitten you have to actually stick your hand into the web of a spider, they rarely leave their nest. The fangs of the Redback Spider are tiny. Even if you do manage to get bitten the bite is likely ineffective. In addition the Redback Spider venom is a very slow acting toxin, and most people don’t show any reaction to it (except it itches like crazy).

Possible symptoms in those who do react are pain (can become severe), localised sweating at the bite site, and later on more sweating, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting.  A simple ice pack is the best first aid. In most cases it’s all that’s required as very few people actually develop these symptoms (about 6% of those bitten, to be precise).

Honest, if you go and see a doctor here and tell them a Redback spider bit you, they’ll probably just tell you to go home and put ice on it.  The Redback Spider is related to the venomous Black Widow Spider commonly found here in the US and looks very similar.

The only difference is the red back, or rather the very distinctive red dorsal stripe (instead of the hour glass) that you can see in the picture.

Cultural Impact outside of Arachnophobia? Per Wikipedia (I know, I know) Slim Newton drew popular attention to redbacks with his song “The Redback on the Toilet Seat”, which won the Golden Guitar at the first Country Music Awards of Australia in 1973. A sculpture of an impossibly large redback  (I personally like The Big Poo better), one of Australia’s big things, was built in 1996 at Eight Mile Plains, Queensland. The Angels 1991 album Red Back Fever takes its name from the spider. Matildaredback-beer-online-1369633780 Bay Brewing Company produces a wheat beer called Redback,with the distinctive red stripe as the logo. The redback appears in the name and emblem of the South Australia cricket team. The Airborne Redback, an Australian ultralight trike, was also named after the spider. Redback Boots is an Australian workboot manufacturing company, which uses the spider in its name and logo

kiwi and NZ countryNew Zealand Fact of the  Day!

Let’s keep going with arachnids and the New Zealand spider Hollywood made famous!  That would be the Avondale Spider, ok it’s sort of an immigrant from Australia. The large harmless spider found around the Avondale area of Auckland is an Australian huntsman spider. This spider found its way to New Zealand in the early 1920s, with the first specimen found in 1924. It probably came in imported wood used for railway sleepers. (What the heck is a railway sleeper?) It has not spread very far from Avondale, so it has received the popular name of Avondale Spider. In South Australia this species is quite common, and people encourage them to live in their houses to keep the pest insect population down.220px-Huntsman-spider-in-hand

In 1989/90, 374 Avondale spiders were sent to Hollywood to star in the Steven Spielberg movie Arachnophobia. This spider is harmless to humans, but it looks fearsome and therefore suited its movie role as a “killer spider”. The film made use of 374 live Avondale spiders, from New Zealand, which were picked for their large size, unusually social lifestyle, and yes, are essentially harmless to actors, uh humans. They were guided around the set by the use of heat and cold, but the large “general” and “queen” were articulated models.  Look it’s Bob (that’s what they called the largest mechanical spider in the movie)!Avondale spider

The first reaction of most people on finding Avondale spiders is usually horror. The spiders move very fast when disturbed (as do people when frightened!). Mature spiders with legs outstretched can measure up to 200 mm across (8”).

The mature males are frequent visitors inside houses in the months January to March when they are looking for a female to mate with. Females are capable of laying up to 200 green eggs in an oval-shaped, white papery-looking egg sac about 25 mm long (1”) by 12 mm wide (1/2”). Females guard their egg sac, and after 4-6 weeks open this up to enable the spiderlings to hatch. They will look after the spiderlings for a few more months until they disperse. Spiderlings will feed communally if the prey is too big for them to manage on their own.

Avondale spiders live in colonies with their extended family and friends; no other spider in New Zealand has this lifestyle.


Down Under Day 27-Welcome, Barry Lowe, AUS and NZ Facts of the Day



Welcome, Barry Lowe!

Our countdown continues and today our featured author on our Down Under Author Showcase is Barry Lowe.  Barry Lowe is a prolific Australian writer with a penchant for hilarious titles and thought provoking plot lines.  Be sure to search out the wonderful interview he gave us along with his bio, books and giveaway!

For the rest of the week, each author’s contests will continue into February to give everyone ample chance to locate the authors and listen to the stories they have to tell.


Now onto our Australian and New Zealand facts of the day.  I’ve learned about cube-shaped wombat poop and wild Australian camels,  subterranean glowworms who turn their cavernous ceilings into glowing night skies and red dirt deserts among the driest places on earth.  What have been your favorites facts so far?  Have you been able to answer the questions I have posed along the way?  Hmmmm.  Maybe you might want to backtrack and pick them up.  Figure them out…..maybe there’s  another contest still to come?

How I am enjoying this journey!

Australian Fact of the Day – It’s all About The Trees!

In the US we are proud of our trees, from the oldest in our great Redwood forests to the beauty of our flowering Magnolias in the south.  Here are some facts about the trees and forests in Australia!Valley of the Giants

Australia’s tallest trees can be found in the south-west of Western Australia in the Valley of the Giants. Giant tuart, karri, and rich red jarrah which live for up to 500 years can be found here. The 1000 kilometre (621 mile) Bibbulmun Track traverses a variety of jarrah, marri, wandoo, karri and tingle forests as well as internationally significant wetlands.tree top walk 2

The cool temperate rainforest of the World Heritage-listed Tasmanian wilderness contains some of the oldest trees on the planet including the rare Huon Pine.

The majestic Wollemi pine is a remnant from a 200 million year-old landscape, when Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica were joined together as the supercontinent Gondwana. It was thought to have been extinct for millions of years, until rediscovered by a bushwalker in 1994. Fewer than 100 trees exist in the wild, growing in the deep rainforest gorges of the Greater Blue Mountains.Wollemi pine

That first photo should resemble one you would take if you visited a certain park in Northern California. Which park would that be and why?



New Zealand Facts of the Day – forests of New Zealand

New Zealand’s high rainfall and many sunshine hours give the country a lush and diverse flora–with 80 percent of the trees, ferns, and flowering plants being native.

From the kauri forests of the far north to the mountain beech forests and alpine tussock of the Southern Alps, you’ll find fascinating plants and trees in every region. You’ll be awed by the majestic evergreen native forests that include rimu, totara, many varieties of beech, and the largest native tree of them all, the giant kauri.

Waipoua is home to Tane Mahuta, king of the forest and the largest remaining kauri tree in the country. The 1,500 year old Tane Mahuta is 51.5 m (168 feet) tall, with a girth of 13.77 m(45 ft).
Tane Mahutatane-mahuta-223 -see picture at right.
The forests of Waipoua are vitally important refuges for threatened wildlife. The endangered North Island kokako and the North Island brown kiwi both live here. More abundant are the kukupa/kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon), fantail, pied tit, tui, grey warbler, shining cuckoo and kingfisher. Another distinctive creature is the large and very handsome kauri snail, a carnivore kauri snailwhich feeds mainly on earthworms, slugs and soft-bodied insects.

A lasting reminder of the once-thriving kauri industry are the kauri dams. Kauri driving dams were built by loggers to drive large quantities of kauri logs downstream from remote areas. While they played a major role in the destruction of the forest, they were also impressive engineering feats, built without drawings or detailed calculations, yet able to withstand the pressure of tonnes of water and kauri logs which were swept through with tremendous force when the dam was tripped.

kauri-forest-565In the Kauaeranga Valley on the Coromandel, kauri was logged extensively for over 50 years with more than 60 dams built. In 1970 remaining areas of surviving forest were deemed protected as part of the Coromandel Forest Park.

The Kaiaraara Dam on Great Barrier Island (40 m wide and 14 m high), is one of the largest of 3,000 kauri dams built in New Zealand in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Down Under Day 26: Happy Australia Day! Meet Nic Starr and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day





Happy Australia Day!

Does that sight above look familiar? Yes, you would think you were looking at a 4th of July celebration.  Instead that’s the Australia Day celebration in Perth. What is Australia Day, you ask? Australia Day, January 26, is the biggest day of celebration in the country and is observed as a public holiday in all states and territories.

On Australia Day, Australians come together as a nation celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what everyone has achieved and what they can be proud of in Australia.

Australia Day, 26 January, is 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 (you can read a comprehensive history of the evolution of Australia Day here).

Though January 26th marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: the diverse society and landscape, its remarkable achievements and its future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s history, and to consider how all can make Australia an even better place in future.

On Australia Day, over half of the nation’s population of 21 million attend either an organised community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating the national day. Many more spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

It’s the Australian equivalent of our 4th of July.  Let’s celebrate with them, raise your glasses, give them a clink and say all together now  “Happy Australia Day!”

Here in the US, Australia Day is celebrated as well. The U.S. Australian embassy has organized a party; G’DAY USA, an Australian diplomacy program in the United States has barbecues, cricket, and dinners lined up across the country; and Australian Nexus, an online hub for Australians in the United Kingdom, has barbecues and art shows, among other events, lined up.  So raise a glass of Fosters, mate, and wish all the Australians, here and at home, a wonderful Australia Day!

Welcome, Nic Starr

 Happy Australia Day!  We’re heading into our last week of our Down Under Author Showcase.  Today’s featured author is Nic Starr.  Author of many M/M romance novels, Nic has a special guest blog today in keeping with the fact that its Australia Day! Please check that out, along with Nic Starr’s bio and giveaway!  And don’t forget to find the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the Day!australia-physical-map

Fun Facts about Australia Day – Australia Facts of the Day!

Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January every year, marked by most Australians with a day off due to the national public holiday, along with parties, going to the beach and attending fireworks displays.
But do you really know what Australia Day really symbolises? We have compiled a list of some fun and interesting facts about Australia Day and our history that you may not have already known!Australia Day celebration

• The first recorded Australia Day celebrations were held on January 26, 1808 to mark twenty years since Captain Arthur Phillip raised the flag at Sydney Cove.

• Lachlan Macquarie was the first Australian Governor to hold the first “official” Australia Day celebrations in 1818, to mark thirty years of European settlement. The celebrations included a thirty gun salute and a ball at Government House.

• Australia Day was called “Foundation Day” in the early part of the nineteenth century, and was typically marked by sporting events including horse racing and boat races.

• The first colony to declare Australia Day as a public holiday was New South Wales in 1838, on the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Cove landing.

• By 1888 nearly all of the colonies had declared a public holiday to celebrate Australia Day, but it wasn’t until the 1940’s that January 26th was agreed upon by all states as the proper day to celebrate.

• The two animals featured on the Australian coat of arms are the Emu and the Kangaroo – the reason for this being that neither animal can walk backwards, but instead can always go forwards, symbolising Australia’s desire to do the same.

New Zealand Facts of the Daykiwi and NZ country

Does New Zealand have an equivalent to Australia Day and the 4th of July?  Yes, it does.  It’s Waitangi Day.

Every year on 6 February, New Zealand marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In that year, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs signed what is often considered to be New Zealand’s founding document. The day was first officially commemorated in 1934, and it has been a public holiday since 1974.

For some people, Waitangi Day is a holiday; for many, and especially for Māori, it is the occasion for reflecting on the Treaty. Since the 1970s the style and mood of the commemorations on Waitangi Day have been influenced by the increasingly heated debate surrounding the place of the Treaty in modern New Zealand.

Waitangi Day is recognised as New Zealand’s national day, but the long-standing tensions associated with it are always likely to surface in one form or another. The date is an important marker in the country’s history. Recognition of the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document will continue to encourage leaders, communities and individuals to mark the day in new ways.waitangi_treaty_grounds_te_pito_whenua

So while it’s not yet Waitangi Day, let’s put a note on our calendars for a special upcoming celebration.  Raise a glass of wonderful New Zealand wine, enjoy a movie, perhaps, one of the Lord of the Rings or  Whale Rider (a favorite also of mine) and celebrate with them.





Day 24 of STRW Down Under Showcase-Welcome, Lily Velden and our AUS/NZ Facts of the Day



Welcome, Lily Velden


Wayward Ink Publications!


We’re closing in on our last week of our Down Under Author Showcase, and its been so rewarding to see readers discover new authors and books along the way. And we still have another week to go.  We are finishing out this week with author Lily Velden who is also the owner of Wayward Ink Publications, a Down Under press.

So in addition to all of Lily Velden’s wonderful books, check out Wayward Ink as well!  How can you not love a press that has an anthology called Bollocks! Wayward  Ink is offering up a wonderful contest for all to enter.  Look for the link for Wayward Press as well as the link to Lily Velden’s giveaway! Yes, two giveaways instead of one, plus the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the day!

AUS flag over countryNow on to our Australia and New Zealand Facts of the Day!

Australia Fact of the Day

Unusual and interesting facts about Australia include Australia’s only armed rebellion, the “Eureka Stockade” took place in the Ballarat Goldfields in 1854. The goldfield workers (known as ‘diggers’) were opposed to the government miners’ licences. The rebellion became a significant event in the reforming of unfair laws, the developing of democracy in Australia, and the formation of the Australian identity and a fundamental principle of Aussie ‘mateship’. The Anzac soldiers of World War 1 went on to adopt the term ‘diggers’ and Australian soldiers have been known as ‘diggers’ since.interesting-facts-eureka-rebellion

See more here!

What author gave us the recipe for Anzac biscuits? Do you remember?



kiwi and NZ countryNew Zealand’s Interesting Facts of the Day 

“Lord of the Rings” was filmed entirely in New Zealand.  It’s director?  Sir Peter Robert Jackson is a New Zealand film director, producer and screenwriter living in Wellingon, NZ.The Lord of the Rings


New Zealand is part of the Pacific Rim of Fire. Mount Ruapehu, situated in the middle of North Island, is the most active volcano on mainland.New Zealand Mountain



Down Under Day 23- Welcome, Penny Brandon, NZ/AUS Facts of the Day



Welcome, Penny Brandon!

It’s Day 23 of our Down Under Author Showcase and we’re heading towards the end.    Our featured author today is Penny Brandon.  It’s through a scene  about an Australian Christmas that I got my first taste of the holiday viewed through an Australian colored lens, so its wonderful that Penny Brandon gives us another perspective on this holiday.  Don’t forget to check out all Penny Brandon’s stories, her bio, and enter her giveaway of the day!

I hope you all are having as much fun as I am with the Australian and New Zealand facts of the day.  If you think about it, drop me a line and let me know which were your favorites.

Thanks to Wayward Ink Publishing, we are adding another contest to the already full pot,  check out your chances to win more gift cards on the Down Under Author Showcase page.  Look for Wayward Ink Publishing and enter via the Rafflecopter link provided.

Now onto our facts of the day for Australia and New Zealand…



Australia Fact(s) of the Day!

In land area, Australia is estimated to be 7,692,024 square Kilometers and the sixth largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States of America and Brazil. It has, however, a relatively small population.Australia globe

Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the smallest, flattest continent on Earth. It lies between 10° and 39° South latitude. The highest point on the mainland, Mount Kosciuszko, is only 2,228 metres.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Its fertile areas are well-watered, however, and these are used very effectively to help feed the world. Sheep and cattle graze in dry country, but care must be taken with the soil. Some grazing land became desert when the long cycles that influence rainfall in Australia turned to drought.


New Zealand Fact(s) of the Day!

New Zealand is home to the world’s smallest dolphin, the Hectors Dolphin, the rarest sea lion, the Hookers Sea Lion, theHooker's Sealion largest flightless parrot, the kakapo, the oldest reptile, the tuatara, the heaviest insect, a weta, the biggest earth-worms, the smallest bats, some of the oldest trees, and many of the rarest birds, insects, and plants in the world.

Down Under Day 21: Welcome, Isabelle Rowan, and our AUS/NZ Facts of the Day



Welcome, Isabelle Rowan!

Isabelle Rowan’s book, A Note in the Margin, was my first introduction to Australia by way of a M/M author.  This novel is Australian with every bit of its heart and mind.   From the Australian Christmas to the venues in and around Melbourne, I learned as I read, wept and cried tears of joy.  It’s still one of my all time favorite stories to rec.  So please stop by Isabelle Rowan’s page, learn about all her stories, and about the author herself!  And guess what Isabelle Rowan is giving away for her contest! Yep, A Note in the Margin.    

And because she is from Melbourne, that’s where our Australia fact of the day looks in on:

Australia Fact of the Day – City of Melbourne!

Interesting & Fun Facts About Melbourne:Melbourne City

  • Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria, Australia.
    Melbourne is located in south-east Australia.
    A person from Melbourne is called a Melburnian.
    ‘The Story of the Ned Kelly Gang’, made in Melbourne in 1906, recognized as the first feature film of the world, running to five reels.
    About 90 tons of dog poo is left on the streets of Melbourne every day.
    According to the RSPCA, Melbourne is the “Fox Capital” of the western world, with 6-23 foxes every square kilometer in the metropolitan area.
    melbourneBefore Melbourne came to be known as the ‘City of Melbourn’e, it was called Batmania, Bearbrass, Bearport, Bareheap and Bearbury.  (I personally love Bearbrass or Bareheap!)
    Melbourne’s famous beer, Foster’s Lager, was actually produced by two Americans. – See more at:
    Luna Park, in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of St Kilda, is the oldest amusement park in the world under private management.Melbourne-Skyline
    Melbourne had the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world.
    The expression ‘call girl’ that is used for a prostitute, was invented in Melbourne. – See more at Melbourne Lifestyles

New Zealand Fact of the Day

New Zealand is made up of two primary isles, North Isle and South Isle, with further outlying isles known as the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Isle, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands.  The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland. auckland

Original Maori name for New Zealand: Aotearoa
Original Maori name for Auckland: Tamaki Makaurau

New Zealand has over 4.5 million inhabitants, of which 1/3 lives in Auckland. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and is also known as “the city of sails”. It has Auckland-new-zealandmore boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.


auckland spire

Down Under Day 19: Author Tony Griffin, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day!



Welcome, Toni Griffin!

It’s Day 19 of our Down Under Author Showcase and our featured writer today is Toni Griffin!  Toni lives in Darwin and write a number of supernatural romance series, including shifters!  Toni is also involved in a new publishing company along with Angel Martinez, Freddie McKay and Silvia Violet in Mischief Corner Books which put out one of my favorite holiday anthologies in 2014, Chestnuts Roasting, including a story from Toni Griffin!

Visit Toni Griffin’s page which  follows shortly, learn about Toni, her books and writing and don’t forget to enter her giveaway contest and find the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the Day.

Australia Fact of the Day!

Today’s Down Under Australia  fact will be about Darwin, Toni’s home town!Darwin map

Darwin is the capital of Northern Territory is a multicultural city famous for its huge thunderstorms, beautiful sunsets,mindell beach marketsDarwin_2324 colourful Mindil Beach Markets and excellent barramundi fishing. Places to see include the Northern Territory Parliament House, Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, Darwin Entertainment Centre and Botanic Gardens. Outside are Charles Darwin National Park, Crocodylus Park, Territory Wildlife Park and Berry Springs Nature Park.

Who was Darwin named after?  Charles Darwin, the man came up with the concept of natural selection and evolution.  darwin

Find out more about Darwin here!




New Zealand Fact of the Day!

Since I chose a city for Australia, let’s take a closer look at New Zealand’s Christchurch.

Christchurch is New Zealand‘s second-largest city (question: can you name the first?) and the gateway to the South Island. christchurch cathedral new-zealand_zpse7b0c64dSumner Bay, Christchurch NZBordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps. Christchurch, New Zealand is interwoven by two rivers linking parks, gardens and avenues. Bordered by the Port Hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps as a majestic backdrop. The award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens feature one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants found in New Zealand,

In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake. Much of the central city with its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed.  This event was a major element in a book from one of our Down Under Authors.  Do you know which one? It’s still in the process of rebuilding, but the heart and soul of New Zealand remains the great people who live there. tram1

Down Under Day 16: Meet Meredith Shayne, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day and Contest Info!



Welcome, Meredith Shayne!


Author Meredith Shayne is our Down Under Author of the Day.  Originally from Australia, Meredith now resides in New Zealand, so she’s Down Under times two!  For more about Meredith Shayne, her bio, her books, her interview, and, of course, her giveaway, visit her page coming up shortly.

Now for our Down Under Facts of the Day!

New Zealand Fact of the Day:kiwi and NZ country

Unlike Australia,  there are no dangerous plants or animals of any kind in New Zealand (excluding sharks that is)! The more common ones can create discomfort rather than pain or illness. If you’re tramping or hiking in New Zealand take a few simple precautions and any problems will be minor.  How minor?  Well, according to the official New Zealand animal page, the New Zealand Kea is mentioned.  Why? Check out the Kea!

Kea parrot i New Zealand

This is the New Zealand parrot, found in southern alpine regions of the South Island. This bird is not so much dangerous as a nuisance. It is quite cheeky and will attack your personal belongings if you leave them unattended. However, the biggest damage they cause is to cars. They have a particular taste for the rubber on windscreens, mirrors and car doors and can be quite destructive. They are not a threat to humans, however.

For more information about New Zealand’s wildlife, visit here!





AUS flag over countryAustralia Fact of the Day!

AUSTRALIA IS INFAMOUS FOR its dangerous animals, unlike New Zealand. With more deadly snakes than any other country worldwide ( 8 of the 10 most deadly snakes are found here), it isn’t surprising.  Think about the scenes in some of the stories from our  Australian authors,  Can you remember where and in which story some of these animals are mentioned?  I can.

Though sharks, spiders, and snakes get the majority of bad press, it is actually an awesome array of predators and venomous critters that have earned Australia its fearsome reputation.

Top 30 dangerous animals in Australia (This list was developed by the Australian Museum in Sydney. Museum staff rated animals out of 10 based on the threat they pose, combined with the likelihood of encountering one.)  For more information and pictures, visit Australia Geographic!

Danger rating: 10/10

1. Box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri)box-jellyfish_482_600x450

Danger rating: 9/10

2. Honey bee (Apis mellifera)
3. Irukandji (Carukia barnesi)

Danger rating: 8/10

4. Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
5. Eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
6. Saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
7. Sydney funnel web spider (Atrax robustus)

Danger rating: 7/10

8. Blue-ringed octopus (Genus Hapalochlaena)
9. Coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)
10.Common death adder (Acanthopis antarticus)
11. Cone shells (Conus sp.)
12. Dugite or spotted brown snake (Pseudonaja affinis)
13. Mulga snake (Pseudechis australis)
14. Red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
15. Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
16. Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus)
17. Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) (low, yes, low on the list)
18. Yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platurus)

Danger rating: 6/10

19. Bluebottle (Physalia physalis)
20. Common lionfish (Pterois volitans)
21. Collett’s snake (Pseudechis colletti)
22. Highland copperhead (Austrelaps ramsayi) not the same as ours!
23. Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)
24. Redback spider (Lactodectus hasselti)
25. Reef stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa)
26. Smooth toadfish (Tetractenos glaber)
27. Blue-bellied black snake (Pseudechis guttatus)

Danger rating: 5/10

28. Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus)
29. Bull ant (Myrmercia pilosula)
30. Giant centipede (Ethmostigmus rubripes)


I’m having fun delivering these facts to you all, learning tons as I go.  How about you?  What has been the most interesting, unexpected fact from New Zealand and Australia to date?


While exploring our Down Under Authors and their books this month, don’t forget to visit the Down Under Author Showcase Page on the menu for Bottom Drawer Publications contest and link!


Now on to Meredith Shayne!  Have you read Cutting Out yet?

Down Under Day 13: Welcome, Beany Sparks, NZ/AUS Facts of the Day and Contest Details!



Its Down Under Day 13 and our featured writer today is Australian Author Beany Sparks!   Beany Sparks Author page follows this one.  Check out all  of Beany’s books, her interview and thoughts on writing!  Don’t miss out on her giveaway contest and search out her Scavenger Hunt word somewhere on her page.

Because Beany Sparks is from Western Australia, I thought it would be fun to have our Australia Fun Facts focus on Western Australia and Perth!

Australia Fact of the Day:

Perth is the most isolated capitol city in the world. The closest city, Adelaide, is 1,387 miles away.

The largest rock in the world is Western Australia’s Mount Augustus. Measuring 5 miles long and 2 miles wide.

Early astronaughts dubbed Perth as ‘The City of Lights’ since it’s bright lights stood out on our planet earth.

The largest city park in the world is King’s Park (1,003 acres) in Perth.thKings Park 1

The oldest living things on earth, our friendly organisms, stromatolites, also call Western Australia home.



New Zealand Fact of the Day:

World’s Largest and Heaviest Insect Calls New Zealand Home!

The Giant Weta is a large grasshopper type insect found only in New Zealand.  There are eleven species of Giant weta, all of which are examples of island gigantism.   Check out the many YouTube videos on the man who recently found the largest Weta to day.  New Zealand Weta