What? Movin2newzealand, the world famous blog, is visiting Australia?!
When I told a Kiwi friend we were going to Australia for a week, he looked at me for a few long seconds.
“It’s not a bad place,” he began slowly, “except there are so many damn Aussies there.”
That seems to be the consensus of most New Zealanders.
I had always been hesitant to step foot in Australia—so many deadly things there. Things that bite you, sting you, poison you and even eat you. Also the pithy advice of “if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you,” doesn’t always apply particularly for some snakes and crocodiles. They will seek you out, or in the case of salties, the deadly saltwater crocodiles, wait for you and ambush you biting and dragging you underwater to a watery death.
Here’s a brief, but by no means exhaustive, list of some of the deadly animals (plants and other risks would require a separate section) in Australia. As you can see, you aren’t really safe either on the land or in the water.
Snakes—yes, lots of snakes (140 species), and poisonous snakes, some of the deadliest in the world. This includes 7 of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world, and 20 of the top 25, including such notables as the eastern brown snake, western brown snake, mainland tiger snake, inland taipan (highly toxic venom has the potential to kill an adult within 45 minutes, coastal taipan (can cause death within 30 minutes), mulga snake, lowlands copperhead, small-eyed snake, common death adder, and the red-bellied black snake.
Sea snakes—yes, snakes in the water too, many of which are venomous and can kill.
Deadly spiders—including the funnel-web spiders, redback spider, mouse spider, trap door spider, white-tailed spider and the Australian tarantula.
Poisonous jellyfish—Irukandjo jellyfish (only a centimeter in size with tentacles one meter long, potentially lethal), box jellyfish (each animal is estimated to contain enough venom to kill 60 adults) and, of course, the more mundane Portuguese Man o’ War.
Poisonous stonefish—look like stones in the water, but when stepped on, barbs can inject venom.
Blue-ringed octopus—only 5-8” long, contains enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes.
Cone snail—yes, a simple colorful shell up to 6” long that you might pick up on a beach or from the ocean bottom, the animal inside injects a paralytic neurotoxin which can be fatal.
Sharks—all kinds, of the 400 species of shark in the world, 180 species occur in Australian waters including the great white shark of Jaws fame. In one New South Wales community in Australia in recent months, two people have been killed, two others seriously injured and more than a dozen surfers knocked off their boards by great whites.
Emus and cassowaries—these large birds can kick, bite and potentially kill people.
Platypus—has a bite that allegedly produces so much pain that the only treatment for it is to permanently sever the nerve endings around the affected area.
Megabats—while these aren’t deadly, there is something unnerving about bats called flying foxes with wingspans of more than three feet.
Crocodiles—the saltwater crocodiles (the largest reptile on earth weighing up to 1000 kg) are aggressive, territorial and plentiful across the northern part of Australia. Despite being called ‘saltwater’, they also live in freshwater rivers, pools, ponds and lakes far inland. They kill several people each year. Precautions, along with the obvious ‘don’t go in the water’, include such things as don’t walk along the water’s edge, don’t stand on logs near the water (crocodiles can jump!), and don’t return to the same spot near water ever day or on a regular basis (crocodiles remember and will be waiting).
With these facts swimming and slithering through my head, we headed for Australia. Of course, we’d be going to Melbourne at least for the first few days, a modern metropolis where the risk of encountering any of these creatures was minimal, and where I was more likely to be hit by a tram at the Bourke Street Mall or crushed under a load of melons at the famed Queen Victoria Market.
On the way to the inner city, the taxi driver told us about the famed hook turn I would have to negotiate when I rented a car in Melbourne. Basically, it’s making a right turn from the far left hand lane. Huh? Sounds exciting, doesnt it? At certain intersections, you pull into the far left lane and turn on your right turn indicator. Then you wait. After your light has changed to red, and the other light has turned to green, you cut across the traffic and turn right.
I liked Melbourne at least on my three days there. And what’s not to like. It has been ranked the world’s most livable city for the past two years in a row. It is vibrant and alive. The downtown area is a hub of activity. I was particularly impressed with the inner city transportation. Free trams ply the inner city; bike lanes are everywhere. But it seems everyone in Melbourne must be eating constantly. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many restuarants and cafes.
But after three days in Melbourne, we were ready to hit the road—
(to be continued)