Travels Downunder – A Reminiscence – Part 5

We left our intrepid travellers drinking rainwater and settling in to the rhythm of a more nomadic lifestyle and culture

People often ask about all the dangerous creatures that live in Australia, particularly snakes and spiders. I must admit at the beginning we were pretty wary, especially when on a hike out in the bush, and we tended to look at our feet a lot to make sure we weren’t about to step on something nasty.

Eventually you just get on with life and accept that statistically it’s unlikely to happen to you. There were a few near misses though and on one memorable occasion we had parked in a town and when we got back in the car and were about to drive off my wife pulled her sun visor down and a huge huntsman spider fell in her lap. I really didn’t know my wife could move so fast or scream so loud!! Fortunately although a huntsman can give you a nasty bite which can make you ill it’s very unlikely to kill you.

On another occasion we stopped overnight in the bush, on our own, and I was gathering wood to make a campfire and picked up a large piece of wood only to discover a redback spider with a crop of babies attached to the underside. Now a bite from one of these little beauties can make you very ill and have been known to cause death. I carefully carried the log a very long way from our campsite and placed it gently on the ground and then legged it back to camp. Over the years we saw a great many snakes, some of which were definitely killers, and many other forms of dangerous wildlife including other deadly spiders, crocs, and goannas which have very large sharp claws which if it feels threatened can inflict very nasty injuries. Luckily neither of us ever suffered any harmful injuries but we heard of many instances.

Once, in Tasmania, we picked up a copy of the previous day’s local paper which carried the story of a young man who went out for his early morning run and was bitten by a snake when he was only yards from his house. He tried to crawl home but died before he could get help. And don’t even get me started on the ocean and what lives in it. In the early days I thought nothing of swimming in the ocean but nowadays I’m older and hopefully wiser, so what with sharks, stonefish, and jellyfish and riptides, all of which can kill you, I’m now far more circumspect.