Sunday, January 6, 2013

Australian wildlife and its hazards

In this continent there are creatures about that you will not find anywhere else. It has to do with the very long isolation of the place from the rest of the world
Before we came here we were warned by many people that some of these animals can be very dangerous.
Our experiences after over 3 months and being on the road for 4000 kilometers:
  • wallaby: Saw over 50 in one go in Mission Beach. Then some more vaguely in the bushes and at least 100 of them dead along the road.
  • kangaroo: Saw 2 in the far distance, not long ago 2 from about 50 meters and less that 10 dead along the road. At a certain point I started thinking that there were no kangaroos at all in Australia. Everyone kept telling us that we would see them there and then, it simply never happened.
  • snakes: less than 5.
  • big spiders: we have found none under any toilet seat.
  • wombat: this friendly bear/pig-like animal we only saw one, and again it was a traffic victim
  • koala: only on road signs
  • emu: none
  • cassowary: one in Mission Beach
  • mozzies (mosquitos): lots, with a good repellent or a smelly glowing coil not a big problem
  • sandflies: these insects are too small to be seen. You only notice them when your ankles and hands start to itch. Repellent helps, but mostly you are too late.
  • ticks: nobody warned us for them. I unfortunately had one and had to take a very high dosis of antibiotics for 28 days. As a consequence I got sunburnt. So badly that my nose and ears were completely red and painful and I even bought garden gloves (no bike shop around) to protect my burnt hands from the sun. Too painful to have them in the sunlight.
  • flies: nowhere in the world they are more persistent than here. Sometimes I tried to count the flies on the back of Eveline's shirt when cycling. I couldn't, over 50! The bastards can fly very fast too, the can zig zag in front of your eyes and saty with you while you're riding over 20 k/hr. They like to sit in your ear, on your nose, on your glasses, zigzag in front of your eyes. Unbearable. So we wave. Not to much avail. I once knotted a handkerchief on the front of my bike helmet, so that it was swinging before my face. Helped a little and made me squint.
    We confirm that Ozzies are very friendly. But we're not sure if all this waving is saying hello. Waving flies it'll be on many occasions.
  • possums: no problem. They only want your food. Can be very persistent as well.
  • platypus (the otter like animal with the duck bill): none, though we once were at small river where they surely were to be seen (!).
  • magpies: again nobody warned us for them, though these are the only animals that really attacked us. Many times. Fortunately the breeding season is over and they leave us alone. As a matter of fact they can sit and sing in a very nice and friendly gargling voice. As if they are talking for themselves. We like the sound.
  • other birds: not dangerous at all. Very many varieties and making a hell of a lot noise at dawn.

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