Mental Floss

Aussie Good Luck: 6 Australians who caught lucky breaks

Mark Juddery
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Australia is known as the "lucky country." And while statistically Australians aren't any luckier than anyone else, why split hairs? Here are a 6 examples of the Luck of the Aussies.

1. Bernhardt Otto Holtermann: Mining by Candlelight

Many prospectors descended on Australia in the nineteenth century, looking for gold. Nobody, however, did quite as well as German-born miner Bernhardt Holtermann and his business partner, Louis Beyer. Mining by candlelight outside Hill End in October 1872, they struck a gold nugget nearly five feet high, weighing 235 kg (630 pounds), and worth about US$21,000 (a lot of money in those days). At the time it was the world's largest specimen of reef gold. They extracted the rock in one piece, and prepared to pose for photos, as thousands descended to the mountain to see "Holtermann's Nugget." While Holtermann regarded the nugget as his own, his company refused to sell it to him. Instead, the giant nugget was crushed with other quartz, yielding about 93 kg of gold "“ meaning that, even when his luck ran out, he was still a lucky guy.

2. Jack Buntine: Dodging bullets for a smoke

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3. Hugh Jackman: On the strength of a publicity photo

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4. Ian Thorpe: Saved from 9/11, twice

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5. Victoria Friend: 20 minutes from death

It hardly seems right when an accident survivor is described as "lucky", even if they've just lost friends or relatives. But within those parameters, Victoria Friend was extremely lucky. In 1999, Friend survived a light air crash in the New South Wales bush. The same crash killed her fiancé, Geoff Henderson, and left her lying alone for over 40 hours, with multiple fractures and severe burns to 40 percent of her body. After she was eventually rescued, doctors said that her vital organs were shutting down, and that she wouldn't have survived much longer. One doctor estimated that she was a mere 20 minutes from death, and was rescued just in the nick of time. She briefly became a national celebrity, praised for her amazing ability to survive.

6. Steven Bradbury: Happy to skate on thin ice

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