Some People Think Australia Doesn't Exist — Here's Why

Map of Australia
Map of Australia | © Kevin Hale / Flickr
Tom Smith

You would’ve thought that kangaroos, Chris Hemsworth and AC/DC’s classic discography constitutes adequate proof that the country of Australia does indeed exist. But it turns out not everyone is so convinced the land Down Under is real.

Loved by over 40s

The conspiracy theory that Australia doesn’t exist has gone viral over the past week, breathing new life into an old meme that has circulated on the internet since Napster and MySpace were still a thing. It was way back in 2006 that the Flat Earth Society exposed an “imaginary land” enforced by “really secret government agents”, and the conspiracy has raised its head again this month, causing great surprise, amusement and outrage among the 25 million people who’ve been told that the place they live is totally make-believe.

The author of the theory is a Swedish Facebook user named Shelley Floryd, whose exposé attracted more than 20,000 social media shares. Shelley called out “one of the biggest hoaxes ever created”, which is an extraordinary statement in itself—if the fabrication of the sixth-largest nation on Earth isn’t the biggest hoax ever created, the No.1 ruse must be an absolute whopper.

The kangaroo is native to Australia

The basic theory is that Britain invented the convict colony of Australia as an excuse to execute tens of thousands of prisoners—162,000, to be precise—under the guise of transporting them to this faraway territory. Today, everyone is in on the prank, right down to the airline pilots ferrying tourists to decoy islands and the actors playing the part, like some real-life version of The Truman Show.

“All things you call ‘proof’ are actually well fabricated lies and documents made by the leading governments of the world. Your Australian friends? They’re all actors and computer generated personas, part of the plot to trick the world,” wrote Shelley, in what could possibly be the most trailblazing geographical discovery since Aristotle proved the Earth was round.

“If you think you’ve ever been to Australia, you’re terribly wrong. The plane pilots are all in on this, and have in all actuality only flown you to islands close nearby–or in some cases, parts of South America, where they have cleared space and hired actors to act out as real Australians.”

A Qantas Dreamliner, the flag carrier of the country

Floryd has removed the original post from Facebook, maybe because federal agents wanted to silence the truth, or perhaps because of the thousands of abusive comments by Australian commenters who didn’t quite get the zany Swedish sense of humour. Either way, the Australia myth is a common theme Shelley posts for her 10,000-plus Facebook followers, including these incontrovertible and not-at-all doctored maps of the Pacific region.

Australia isn’t the only part of the world that the interwebs has unearthed as a hoax. Apparently Finland is a figment of the imagination designed to fulfil sushi export quotas from Japan to Russia. The Italian region of Molise and its 300,000 residents is a fake, too. Then there’s the Brazilian state of Acre, which is either occupied by dinosaurs or doesn’t exist at all.

The planet is just lucky that the good people of the internet are setting the record straight.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.