Dangerous beasts in outdoor Australia

Old Feb 10th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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Dangerous beasts in outdoor Australia

Hi there,
I visited Australia a couple of years ago. Oblivious to any dangers and having researched the trip very little, I had a blissful backpacker holiday and returned home unaware of any of the horrors of the Australian outdoors.

This time around, we are spending 4 weeks in Australia on honeymoon, and most of this independently of any tour group apart from the odd group day trip. We're reading quite extensively for the trip, and of course the scary crocodile/spider/jellyfish stories are there in abundance - Bill Bryson for one is not exactly reassuring.

So, my question is - how much really is to be feared, and are there any precautions we should take? We're not going into the outback, our itinerary covers Sydney (hotel) -> Blue Mountains -> Melbourne ->Gt.Coast Road -> Adelaide (all by motorhome) -> fly to Brisbane -> Whitsundays -> Cairns/Port Douglas/Daintree -> fly home to UK.

If someone were to ask me how to avoid being bombed in Northern Ireland where I currently live, I'd pretty much tell them to make their plans, don't worry, just keep off the Falls Road in Belfast and be aware that Southern Irish rental cars wouldn't be given a warm welcome in certain areas of the city. I guess I'm looking for the same sort of advice about outdoor Australia. We know not to swim without checking its safe, but really we don't want to live a paranoid few weeks where we're afraid to step off the beaten path at all.

And sorry for the particularly dumb tourist question. (C'mon someone out there, admit that you've been wondering about this too!)

AnnaG is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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Hi Anna,

The only advice I can give you of, some worth, to keep you safe whilst driving around the country is simply this, don't swerve to miss a lizard or snake or rabbit just take them out. That may sound crass but the truth is it is better that you survive the encounter than the critter that your trying to miss by swerving. I have had the misfortune to come across a campervan that had been rolled because the person driving it was startled by a lizard and yanked on the steering wheel trying to miss it.
I had to patch up a few kids and adults that day as well as ferry them to the next town.

If you are coming during our winter months then you can forget about snakes as they will be hibernating. Spiders are not very active in the cooler months either the most common spider you will see is the Huntsman and although they are quite large they are usually timid and run away when confronted, they are also not all that venomous so if bitten you will mostly have a sore bite mark and little else.
Redback spiders are another common spider and they are quite venomous, be very warey around old wood piles etc and toilet blocks in caravan parks especially under window ledges.

As far as box jellyfish are concerned the season is pretty well sign posted in the areas affected, if it is jellyfish season then use the motel pool.

I would be very surprised if you will meet anything in your travels that will cause you any concern so relax and enjoy your holiday.


Paul_S is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:40 AM
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G'day Anna,
"No Worries" - remember?
Just take normal precautions like not scooping up leaves etc. to kindle your camp fire.
Don't reach into holes in the ground and between rocks, if you pick up branches that lay on the ground kick them with your boot first etc...

Talking of boots, don't leave your shoes outside overnight, if you have to then place them on top of the car. Some critters may think it's a good shelder for the night

Realy you will have no problems, but always take note of warning signs.
I practically life in the bush for 9 month each year and except for mozzie bites, the odd bite from an ant and bites from sandflies in certain places have never had a problem.
While on the subject, regards snakes:
they generally feel the vibrations from your footsteps and get out of your way.
Should you surprise one then if closer than about one metre stand perfectly still nad it will move away, if further from you then its advisable for you to move away.
If you wear firm shoes and jeans when walking in areas where there maybe snakes you are pretty save even if a snake should strike.
Our snakes have very sort fangs that won't get through your jeans to your skin.

There are about 3000 snake bites reported each year. Only 300 of them need to be treated with antivenine and only 3 - 4 result in death. The people biten most are snake handlers and people who think that they have to 'kill that snake'..........

It's much more dangerous to cross any road.

Relax, take all the stuff you read with a grain of salt and enjoy your trip.

OzMike is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for advice guys,

Just felt I would've really ended up with egg on my face if I'd laughed at all the stories and then walked myself/ourselves into something totally daft.

Paul - good point about the driving/not swerving. I read that there's such an amount of roadkill that some guy in Queensland who has lived rough along the highway for 18 years has been able to pretty much survive on what he scraped off the road. Ugh. (Blame Bill Bryson again if that is a porky).

Mike - thanks for the tips. We're travelling in April, so maybe there's a chance that we'll dare to have a romantic autumn campfire now that I feel confident to go looking for sticks!

AnnaG is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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You could need a fire along the GOR or the Blue Mountains.
I lived in the bush every holiday and w/e as a kid and only got to see my first snake when on holiday to Canada at the age of 29 - and I saw 4 in 3 days. They are very shy anyway and are more afraid of you than the reverse.
Spiders are not a problem and as others have said just don't go putting your hands down holes in the ground or under old logs and the like.
The worst places for spiders are outdoor toilets so try not to touch those and just hang over them instead of sitting.
As for other little critters - well they are just cute and hopefully you will come to love them too.
Have a great time
lizF is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 01:31 PM
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All good advice, but although I understand Paul's advice re: not swerving, equally do not go and run over snakes if you can avoid them safely, or just be careful of getting out of the car - my dad was a country doctor and had a situation where the snake had got into the undercarriage and bit the guy as he got out of the car.
Also if you hear rustling in a bush, do not go and investigate - step away.
As to sharks - recent reports of 2 deaths in Queensland coast line canals - full of bull sharks, so take heed of advice & signs - irrespective of what others may be doing.

Travelnick is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2003, 04:58 PM
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I can completely emphasise with you Anna - I'm in the middle of organising my trip to Vietnam & Cambodia & am a little overwhelmed after reading about all the potential deadly diseases I could catch (malaria, japanese encephalitis, rabies, typhoid etc etc) but which in reality I'm unlikely to get providing I take some precautions. In regards to crocodiles, just be careful up in the daintree not to go swimming in inviting waterholes without checking first with someone whether its safe (although most will have warning signs if there is a possibility of crocodiles). In regards to dangerous spiders the only one I've ever even seen is a redback - a friend got bitten by one & when we rang the ambulance we were told they only bother with anti-venom if the person is elderly or a baby & sure enough, she was perfectly fine.
Have a great trip!
Lucy_of_Oz is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2003, 07:20 PM
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I'm topping this for Anna

I like this discussion better - at least here we don't ( as yet ) have personal attacks.

OzMike is offline  
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