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anniejs May 4th, 2005 11:17 PM

It's my understanding that ticks can be a problem while bushwalking, but I'm not sure how much. All the advice I've found says to avoid "known tick areas," but they don't tell you where those are. Basically I will be sticking to a few well-known trails in the Blue Mountains and then visiting the rainforest up north, from May 20-June 3.

That's fall/winter right? In the US in Illinois, ticks aren't particularly active in the fall. But as Australia is warmer, even in Sydney, I have no idea what the tick season is there or if there really is one. In light of the places I'm going and the time of my visit, should I be worried? If yes, I'll be packing long pants and heavier shoes. If no, I'll be leaving the heavy shoes at home and taking the hiking sandals that I'd prefer to take.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

pat_woolford May 5th, 2005 12:00 AM

Ticks can be a deadly menace to pets in both coastal NSW and Qld - spring through to autumn (fall). Humans are also bitten, its quite easy to discover one on yourself as you'll feel a bump, usually somewhere on scalp, and if its a normal size tick you'll see it if its on other parts of body. But this is not always the case - happened to be visiting "home" in Sydney's northern beaches when there was a plague of miniscule ticks - had at least 80 bites and couldn't see the tick nymph at all. These were the worst bites ever, hideously itchy and painful at the same time - some lasted at least 8 weeks. This was hardly a "known tick area" - it was my Mum's back lawn. About a thousand times worse than a mozzie or sandfly bite. Up here in rainforesty Cairns have never been bitten, but we do have to be careful with our dogs, particularly around Atherton Tableland area. Am not sure about tick situation in Blue Mtns, Alan would be able to help you there.

Neil_Oz May 5th, 2005 01:20 AM

We lived in the Blue Mountains for 7 years and took frequent walks with nary a tick (even on our golden labrador, who galumphed through the undergrowth in every direction in search of decomposing animal remains).

My wife once picked up a tick while walking at Jervis Bay, so I deduced that they're more common on the coast.

On that occasion I discovered that a good way to remove them is to tie a loose knot in a length of thread, tighten it around the tick as close to the victim's skin as possible, and pull the little bugger out. This worked on the one occasion I tried it.

As Pat says, they're most likely to turn up on your head, so the best protection will be a hat. If they land on any other part of you they'll be very obvious and easy to deal with, but I really doubt that it will be an issue in the Blue Mountains. (Over to you, Alan.)

Late thought: ticks in the US carry a nasty called Lyme Disease (?), don't they? I may be wrong, but I think that's not a problem in Australia.

Tassietwister May 6th, 2005 12:54 AM

I bush walk a fair bit and am Australian and have never heard of anyone getting a tick.

My husband always parades his naked self for my inspection whenever he has been out hiking. I thought that was because he is an exhibitionist. Or because he is hopeful? lol

It is the leeches that freak me. Yikes.

pat_woolford May 6th, 2005 03:15 AM

Tassietwister - I came to Sydney from Adelaide as a kid and the first day of school in Sydney's northern beaches there was a teacher casually extracting a tick from a kid's head. I was fascinated, having never heard of a tick, but soon learnt, especially after our young and otherwise healthy pup died a horrible death. We were taught to go over the dog/cat every day plus our own heads - we often had them. Tick poisoning has killed humans as well as making them ill, and you're not aware of their presence unless felt with fingers. I've plucked dozens out of my own kids' heads, before they were old enough to deal with them themselves

pat_woolford May 6th, 2005 03:21 AM

...continued - leeches are a pain, but they're harmless. Once went to an evening "garden" wedding in a leafy suburb of Gosford north of Sydney - half way through the service I happened to look down and half the congregation had leeches waving from their ankles. You should have seen the blood soaked shoes when they were eventually disengaged!

pat_woolford May 6th, 2005 04:00 AM

BTW Neil, your tick extraction method is unique, would have never thought of lassooing them. Having dealt with so many I'd thought I'd honed the technique quite well, and probably have longer finger nails than you - after establishing where tick is quickly pluck as close to flesh as possible, using thumb and first finger nails - the horrible thing will emerge live with head still on and its legs still waving - then burn the thing to death with lit match or cigarette lighter -if you're lucky you'll hear a small, but satisfying "pop" as the revolting thing explodes.

anniejs May 6th, 2005 08:24 PM

Thanks for the replies. The string idea is interesting--I'll take my dental floss along walks just in case. I'm hoping long pants and repellent will keep them at bay if they're around, but I guess I'll just have to chance it. Part of the adventure.

Lyme disease does exist in Australia, according some sites I found, but I get the impression that it's not as big a problem there. What worries me more is the paralysis tick which I believe doesn't exist in the US. Any bug with "paralysis" in their name can't be good, lol. Ah well, I'll just add it my alarmingly long list of things to try not to be bitten/eaten/mauled by.

In the unlikely event that I do die there somehow, at least I'll have died in an <i>interesting</i> way. Rather satisfying thought.


Neil_Oz May 6th, 2005 11:05 PM

I should add that I can't claim credit for inventing the lasso method - the advice came from an official source (can't remember who I called, it was years ago). I really wouldn't be concerned about walking in the Blue Mountains, though. I do remember a story about a terrified Israeli tourist walking in the area who ran up to a ranger to report a &quot;crocodile in a tree&quot;. It turned out to be a goanna, a kind of large and harmless monitor lizard.

LoveItaly May 6th, 2005 11:15 PM

Good grief, I always wanted to go to Australia but after reading about all the strange creatures, bugs, insects etc. I don't think so, LOL.

Or do you Aussie's just tell tall tales to keep the tourist away ;;)

Tassietwister May 7th, 2005 12:49 PM


I even think leeches are good for you if you have a blood clot, but they are my little hysteria trigger :)

That is funny, a wedding with uninvited leeches. I would have been the one in middle running around in circles with arms flailing and screaming so loud 000 received hundreds of emergency calls!

Love Italy

If they keep to the built up area tourists will be fine but if you venture into the woods it is good to know what you could come up against ! *play twilight zone music here*

lol !

Most visitors that have had a fright tend to tell stories about the huntsmen spider because, quite simply, it looks the scary spider part when in fact it is harmless!

So generally speaking it is pretty sure bet you will not encounter much. I grew up in a bushland area, spent half my time as a kid down by the creek so to speak and really have very few scary stories to tell. Though it was always good fun to bring something interesting home with us so our english immigrant mum could get a right scare from our little &quot;friends&quot;

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