You might believe from what you see in the movies and hear on the news that Australia is a dangerous place full of wild and deadly creatures, reptiles and sharks waiting to eat you on sight, but really, that’s a bit of a beat up. Whilst there are definitely dangerous
You might believe from what you see in the movies and hear on the news that Australia is a dangerous place full of wild and deadly creatures, reptiles and sharks waiting to eat you on sight, but really, that’s a bit of a beat up. Whilst there are definitely dangerous animals in Australia, it is not likely you’ll come across any of them in the wild and definitely not in the cities and towns. Here is some information to help enlighten you about the kind of dangers in Australia and where they are…
You are more likely to come across a snake than any other dangerous animal whilst in Australia. They are spread from one end of the country to the other, however, in towns, it is rare to find them and in the cities pretty much impossible. The time you are most likely to see them is when bushwalking. The thing to remember is that they are more scared of you then you are of them and, with the exception of the Taipan deep in the outback, the snakes of Australia are generally not aggressive. Give them a wide berth and they will disappear pretty quickly. Under no circumstances try and pick one up or even move it with a stick. In all cases find a path around it and just leave it alone. Provoking it will increase your chance of being attacked and also don’t get that little bit closer to the camera to get a “close up” of it, again, you are just going to scare it. Half of the world’s top 10 deadliest snakes reside in Australia, so just stay away from them if you can.
Technically Australia is an island and with such a huge coastline and all that water, eventually you are going to get sharks. Again, things have been blown out of propor
tion here and the chance of a shark attack is minimal. Most cities have shark netting in the water for any areas that are heavily touristed or were once prone to sharks, but most importantly, the majority of sharks near cities have been caught by fishermen.
In far north Queensland, on the Great Barrier Reef, there is a slight increase of sharks purely due to the massive amount of aquatic life there, but still it is not such an increased risk that it should stop
you from swimming. Whilst the sharks in Australia can be quite big, their interaction with humans is quite small. According to government sites, there is only one fatal shark attack in Australia per year and there hasn’t been a fatal attack on Sydney Harbour since 1963. Considering the thousands of people that are in the water around Australia every day, you can see how the risk of any kind shark attack is actually minuscule.
No, sharks shouldn’t stop you swimming in Far North Queensland, but crocodiles should. Saltwater crocs are the deadliest animals you’ll find in Australia. Crocs are pretty much the only animal in Australia that will do you harm on land AND in the water. They are significantly larger and more aggressive than Alligators. Cunning and nigh on impossible to see in the water, these things are truly dangerous. If there are signs that crocs could inhabit the waters, then DON’T swim there.Crocs only inhabit the northern most areas of Australia. This means the far north Queensland coast, all the coastline of the Northern Territory and the northern coast of the Western Australia. They hang around in or near water and are hopeless at going up steep hills or rocks. Keeping this in mind, you are generally safe at the top of steep or rocky river embankments and quite a bit inland from the beach. Again, cities and towns are rarely bothered by crocs, however they can frequent the waters around smaller towns. You are more likely to find them in the more remote areas that are also less likely to be signposted. If you see signs warning they are in the area, township or not, be wary. Don’t camp close by a flat riverbed or beachside in these areas and don’t “hang out” down by the waters edge.In general, there are about 2 croc attacks a year in Australia on humans. This is not a lot, however, in many cases the victims are tourists who don’t pay attention to the local signs and go swimming. “If in doubt, stay out” when it comes swimming and crocs.
Stingers (Jelly Fish)
Jelly Fish are also called “Stingers” in Australia and they appear in ocean waters. They do not appear in fresh water, however you might find them in the brackish water where a fresh water river meets the sea. There are number of stingers in the ocean waters, but like so many other things, they are mainly found in the north of the country. The two main ones are bluebottle and box jellyfish. The bluebottle is common and will cause much pain but is unlikely to kill. The box jellyfish is less common, will cause massive pain and can kill. Most the time any waters inhabited by these guys will be signposted or the region will have a general warning. Like sharks, they are not as common as one is lead to believe, however, unlike sharks, measures can be taken to prevent stings. There are very sexy (not) body stockings that can be worn whilst swimming that can prevent the sting getting to your skin. They are kind of like lycra wet suits and are particularly unflattering, but will keep you safe. You can normally rent them in stinger prone towns and if you go on a boat tour in a stinger area, they will supply you with one. In the event of a sting, put vinegar on it as soon as possible and seek proper medical attention. Some councils put plastic bottles of vinegar on the beach for this reason, don’t confuse them with a free bottle of water and have a big drink!There are other, less common, forms of jellyfish too. Some are as small as your thumb and you won’t even know that you are near them, you will just feel their sting if you come in contact with them. In these cases, do the same as you would for the larger jellyfish, put vinegar on the sting and seek medical attention.Like most the other dangers of Australia, they are out there but it is rare that people are stung by them.
As you can see, most of the really dangerous things in Australia are in the northern waters. Unlike Africa, with Lions and Canada, with Bears, you are unlikely to be attacked by anything on land in Australia. The best thing to do to prevent any kind of attack by a dangerous animal is to pay attention to any signage you may come across in areas you visit. But in reality, the amount of incidents concerning these dangerous creatures are actually quite rare. Any areas that are particularly well touristed, most of the threats have been mitigated as much as possible to make sure tourists are kept safe in order to protect the tourist industry.