As a Brit living in Australia now, the Outback intrigues me. It’s almost unthinkable that the world’s largest cattle station in it is almost the size of an entire country. The Outback isn’t only about desert like vegetation – there are other parts like creeks and canyons and even waterfalls. In spite of the sometimes pretty inhospitable temperatures, there are some deadly creatures living here. I joined an Outback Adventure tour toward the end of last year and thankfully was introduced to the Western Brown Snake. Our leader casually informed us that they have venom that kills and that we should simply watch where we put our feet and to stand dead still if we do meet one.
When we boarded our 4×4 again, he saw me scratching around my neck and said it may be the red back spider. Once again he casually announced that this spider can inflict severe pain to its victims and sometimes death. My horrified expression quickly made him admit he was just teasing. He said that the Outback has lots of creatures that have adapted to the extreme temperatures and weather extremes. Well that was my introduction to the Outback, but I promise to keep you posted about the many fascinating facts about this interest land.
I mentioned in my last post how I had never seen a snake until I ventured out of my safe little city life. Most Australians are the same, we go about our normal life without any fear. Those who live in more rural areas or near bush may have higher experiences, but again they’re not running around all day screaming. The truth is it is not that big an issue. A bit of common sense when in bushland settings is your best friend.
As this article points out, there are roughly 3000 snake bites a year (stop panicking – think population numbers!) of that only between 200-500 need anti-venom, and one or two are fatal. One or two..think how many people die from random acts of stupidity, we need perspective. The main reason people die is lack of treatment, and how many of us are going that far out in the bush. Snakes dislike us more than we dislike them – they will sense us coming way before and move out of our way in general. If you do happen to be walking through bush, they’ll feel your movements, so walk heavy! What may seem strange to some, but is truthfully quite normal in rural areas – certain snakes are actually not discouraged from a property. Pythons are not dangerous to humans, but will attack Brown snakes which are deadly – having a Python is often seen as a safety net. Generally people living in snake prone areas will also have the number for a local snake catcher, and some good general knowledge about snake types.
Australia is a scary place in some regards – a harsh environment that could leave you dead in a short time without preparation. But, the reality of that statement is far from the truth. I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life and, as I like to point out to ny friends, I’m still here!
Most Australians encounter nothing more dangerous than sun-burn or mosquito bites – we live in comfortable cities surrounded by mod-cons to keep nature at bay. In fact, until I travelled to Queensland one year, I had never seen a snake in the wild. When we do go out of our comfort zone we go prepared, you wouldn’t just drive into the desert without sufficient water and supplies, or jump into a lake in the Outback without knowing if there was a crocodile danger. And in the main, most animals are more scared of us than we are of them – they’ll here you coming and disappear.
Preparation and knowledge, like in most things in life, are our companion, when venturing outside our safe environment. There are wonderful websites explaining how to identify poisonous animals and what to do in the unlikely event of a snake or spider bite, how to treat dehydration, safe swimming spots. Most of these I had never read or needed in my blissful ignorant city life. Remember the truly most dangerous animal in Australia is actually- the horse!