Our Pages

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Country

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

~ excerpt from My Country (1904) by Dorothea Mackellar

It’s been brought to my attention that I live in a dangerous place. I’m an Aussie and apparently I don’t pay enough attention to the dangers around me. In a recent conversation with my crit partners someone laughed because I emphatically stated I would NOT be going anywhere near Alligator’s. Someone else mentioned that everything here in Australia could kill me and if faced with an Alligator I just needed to run faster than the person next to me.

I had to think about it a while. I mean, come on, it’s not like the scary stuff is circling my house. Most of the creepies and bities are way out in the bush. At a readers conference in Melbourne two years ago I heard an American author mention that she hears wolves around her house at night. That to me is utterly terrifying.

But it did get me thinking about what might not be people friendly around here. I’ll start with the process of elimination.

Koala - don’t be fooled by their teddy bear appearance and leaf eating habits. Sharp claws and unfriendly.

Kangaroo - another deceptive animal. Cute to look at but read the signs. You don’t want to stand in their way when there is food involved. Dangerous hind claws.

Wombat - Ok, so these little guy (and not so little guys) might simply bite your ankle if you get too close. But they have other skills, hole digging being the main, and the unwary bushwalker needs to watch where he puts his feet unless he wants a broken leg.

Tasmanian Devil - are an endangered carnivorous animal, Tasmania and in zoos. They stand maybe a foot high, their ears flush with red when excited. More scavenger than predator but have a strong jaw to bite through bones and will bite a human if threatened. For all that, I find them kinda cute.

Platypus -- Ooh, a friendly one finally. Oops. Research had revealed this description: egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal, venomous. Get anywhere near the male platypus hind foot and the spur he has there contains a venom that can cause severe pain to humans.

Dingo - as dangerous as any wild dog. Lock up the food stores and keep an eye on your young kids if they are around in a pack. Luckily, there are none around me.

Crocodiles - found in the north of Australia, a place I’m unlikely to go for that reason, and in zoos and reptile parks within driving distance of my house. Did you see that scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee at the edge of the water-hole? Crocodile snaps up its dinner, drags it under the water and tumbles around until the thing in its grip stops moving. That is not going to be my fate. I’m happy in my croc free zone.

Red-bellied black snake
Snakes - I left these till late because I know I will have major problems. Australia has six of the ten most deadly snakes in the world. At the top of our list, in order of medical importance is:

              Brown, Tiger, Taipan, Fierce, Black, Death Adders

But the chances of running into these creatures, and getting bitten inside built up areas is pretty rare. We have a very low snake-bit rate when compared to other countries like India, Vietnam and Mexico.

Spider - So, this is a tough one for me because I’m spider phobic and can't even stand looking at the pictures long enough to add them to my post. The following link (from a pest control company) has a nice long list of dangerous Aussie spiders if you are braver than me. (Reaching for my bug spray)

I could go on and on I’m afraid, but these seem to be the most noteworthy. However, in every new situation you have to consider your personal safety. Even a fluffy white sheep can hurt you if they’re in a bad enough mood. So, just because the wildlife isn’t all warm and cuddly you needn’t remove Australia from your ‘places to travel’ list. Not everything in Aus wants to test its venom out on you. Just make some noise and pay attention to where you put your hands and feet. You’ll be fine just like me.

Till next time. Heather Boyd ~ Lady Wicked


  1. Thanks for the Australian fauna lesson. We have snakes and bears, coyotes and spiders where we live now. Luckily my back yard is fenced, but the spiders are awful.

  2. Oh, Heather. That just sounds scary. LOL. I know it isn't common to find these things in populated areas, same as around here, but still. (Strangely enough, all the scary creatures you've got doesn't dim my desire to visit.)

  3. Thanks for dropping by Anne. Bears and Coyotes roaming at will do not sound good to me. Makes me glad there are none here except in the zoo.

    Catherine - You know, I still don't think Australian animals sound any scarier than American bears, wolves and coyotes. LOL.

  4. We regularly find black widow spiders around or under our house. Just part of living in North Carolina! None of us have been bit, thankfully. I do see the occasional fox, deer or snake around, but we live in a neighborhood and so they don't come around TOO much. Less and less every year, sadly. (Well, not sad about the snakes, actually.) ;)

  5. I never see most of the wild animals in our part of the country. I've heard there are bear and rattle snakes, but I've never seen them. I've never looked for them either. Probably the most dangerous animals around here are deer. They have no concept of looking both ways before crossing the street. Oh! And ticks! My DH had Lyme's Disease this summer. I hate those little blood suckers.

  6. I have leeches too. Not dangerous but you'd think they were by the way some people screech when the hungry little beggars want a little bit of blood. I live in the bush so snakes are a lot closer to home, but you just need to be aware that they are there and act accordingly. We know where our snakes live. We leave them alone and they leave us alone.

  7. I’m pretty lucky. On land, we have wild parrots, iguanas, geckos, a non-poisonous snake, chickens, mongooses, goats, well they can be dangerous if they head-but you and donkey and lots of birds. All of them roam around at will. Now the Atlantic and Caribbean sea are a different matter. We have our usual dolphins, whales in season and other fairly benign water dwellers. But we also have Morey eels, sharks, jelly fish (in season), barracudas and a few other things. Most of them are content to leave two legged creatures alone, until the male variety of the two legged creatures get stupid.

  8. Olivia - less snakes is a really good think IMHO. LOL.

    Samantha and Tahlia - Darn it. Forgot about ticks, but it not so much of a problem where my house is situated. Go to my mothers, however, 15minutes away and I'm always checking heads when we come home.

    Ella - Lets not touch on what's circling Australia shall we. That's my other great fear. Sharks. [shudder] LOL

  9. Great post, Heather! Your country scares the bejesus out of me btw, and I am not easily frightened.

    The stone fish is the most dangerous fish in the world and located right off your shores, girl.

    The box jellyfish is one of the most lethal animals and it's exclusively located in your neck of the woods.

    And Great white sharks! *faints* Egads! Don't go in the water! LOL.

    Love this post, very informative!

  10. Suzie - did I mention that I didnt want to hear about what's out there in the water? Lol The ocean feeds into saltwater lake close to my home and I have seen a shark (fin) go past me. No longer swimming in that lake. LOL I'll settle for the local council chlorine pool and green hair this summer.

  11. As soon as I saw the pic of the dingo I heard Julia Louis-Dreyfuss mimicking Meryl Streep saying "A dingo ate your baby."

    But the pic of the snake will give me nightmares. My skin is crawling right now. :)