When I think of “Superstitions, Fears & Scary Stories” in relation to Australia, it’s our wildlife that springs to mind. Or at least that seems to be what most people I’ve talked to here immediately think of. A lot of people I’ve discussed Australia with have brought it up – “I hear there are sharks & crocodiles & SPIDERS everywhere!” “Isn’t Australia really dangerous?” “Koalas & kangaroos seem really cute, but what about those snakes?!”
With films like “Crocodile Dundee” and celebrities like Steve Irwin informing the world, these myths & stereotypes don’t surprise me. But I hate to think it’s discouraging people from traveling down under.
I live in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia with a population of roughly 1.7 million people, so deadly animals are pretty rare. Don’t get me wrong, we get shark sightings at the beaches every now and then, crocodiles occasionally attack people up north, I’ve seen red-back spiders in my backyard (usually lurking under fence posts or in the shed) and I’ve come across a snake or two whilst bush walking. But if you’re aware of the dangers, informed about the risks & treatments and take the right precautions you’re sure to be safe, have a great holiday and return home in one piece.
Most beaches are signed if there are dangers in that area such as jellyfish, sharks and crocodiles. Popular, well tread walking trails will be adequately signed about the risks and have plenty of other information (plan B’s in case of bites, emergency help, hotlines, etc…). And deadly spiders are not common in the main cities. For the smaller towns and rural areas, there are precautions you can take, books you can read and plenty of information to be gotten from friendly locals, tourist centres and of course, common sense. I.e. don’t put your hand under the fence edges or other dark spots outside that spiders could lurk in. Don’t swim at a beach with a huge yellow sign warning you that it’s a popular crocodile breeding ground. Don’t get too close to a snake in an attempt to take a picture. And whatever you do, don’t try and pet the kangaroos!