I’ve got a bone to pick with you Australia. I always thought I was pretty tough. I never really pictured myself as one of those girly girls who froze in fear at the mere mention of a spider or a snake. Here’s the thing though Australia; you’re turning me into a wimp.
When I look back, the reason I was never really scared of creepy crawlies in New Zealand is that nothing in my home country is actually dangerous, and of course we like it that way. In New Zealand you won’t find any snakes at all, and the largest (non-poisonous) spider I’ve ever seen was less than a quarter of the size of any spiders you see galloping around here. The first time I even laid eyes on a cockroach was in Hawaii. So yes I’ve lived a very sheltered life as far as bugs and vermin go.
It never registered that I should be wary of spiders, because none of them could kill me. I never jumped at rustling in the bush, because it was likely a neighbors cat. Everything is different across the ditch though. Over here the spiders are mammoth-check out this one that was hanging out on the light when I was house sitting:
I mean come on- that’s not normal right? In order to unlock the front door I had to stand underneath the light and it took me five minutes to work up enough courage to get into the house. I stood there shaking, terrified that the beast would drop down on my head or down the back of my neck.
Here’s another example at the same place:
The first time I house sat at this house the owners left me a note letting me know that they’d seen a red-bellied black snake sunning itself on the path and I should clap my hands when I’m outside to scare it off.
What I don’t understand, is how Australians are so nonchalant about the constant threats to their lives. Living here I have to be on my toes-every spider in the vicinity is a brush with death, and any rustling I hear outside causes me to freeze with fear. I’m yet to see a kangaroo or a koala, although I’ve heard that both of those “cute and cuddly” animals are actually quite vicious as well.
I’ll be visiting the Great Barrier Reef in June, and I’ve done a lot of research on things that could potentially kill me there. Luckily I’m going in winter, as in the summer months I’d have to watch out for Box Jellyfish, which are almost transparent and have an incredibly painful (and potentially lethal) sting. I’d also have to keep an eye out for Irukandji Jellyfish which are smaller although still pack a mean punch-a sting from one of these guys can send an adult to hospital.
I will definitely need to be wary of the Blue Ringed Octopus though, as Australia has the only poisonous octopus in the world (of course). Even scarier is the deceptively harmless-looking Cone Shell, which if picked up will kill without a qualm. From what I’ve researched I think I’ll be relatively safe since both of these suckers usually hang out closer to shore.
My real worry is the Stonefish, which is incredibly hard to spot and if stepped on causes excruciating pain, and the Lion Fish which can kill you with their gigantic lethal spines. My biggest fear though, is the potential for sharks, although I’m more likely to have a heart attack after spotting one than actually be bitten.
Am I being a little ridiculous? Maybe, but when it comes to the many deadly creatures in Australia I think Bill Bryson said it best:
It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel-web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It’s a tough place.
Look I don’t have anything against Australia in fact I think it’s a damn fine country, with damn fine (if occasionally racist) people, I just think that it could do with a few more S’s added into its name to mimic the sound of the many poisonous snakes around here.
Ausssssstralia. Doesn’t that fit a bit better?