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Pros and cons of traveling to Australia - but isn't it scary and dangerous?


  • when one talks to those who live in Europe about Australia they generally have 2 main objections:
    • it is dangerous - there are venomous snakes, spiders, jellyfish, etc.
    • it is too far - well it does take about 24hrs flying time from Europe but these are generally broken into half and its manageable
      • as a result, you should allow a minimum of 3-4 weeks for a holiday

Is it really dangerous?

there are dangerous animals but you can risk manage them

  • yes, Australia does have most of the most venomous snakes in the world - but they are generally only a problem if you try to catch them or you step on them
    • if you only walk on wide paths where you can see where you are walking, yes you may come across a snake but they will usually disappear (or you walk around them giving them a wide berth) and you will not get bitten
    • the venomous snakes rarely climb trees and are mostly on the ground - trees and the roofs of houses are for the non-venomous pythons which are mainly in Queensland
    • there are simple first aid measures and antivenoms available if you do get bitten
  • yes, there is a venomous spider (Sydney Funnel Web spider) but bites are rare and they are only in the Sydney region
    • the red back spider is only a potential danger to babies - no one has died from it in the last 70yrs or so
  • yes, there are venomous jellyfish but these are only in the tropics in northern Australia, and only in Oct-Apr
  • yes, there is a venomous small octopus (Blue Ringed Octopus) but bites are extremely rare and I have never seen one in the wild - they are normally hiding in coastal rock pools
  • the only large animals which are likely to go out of there way to attack humans are:
    • crocodiles - these are only in the tropical north
    • perhaps packs of dingos on Fraser Island in Queensland
    • sharks - but these are found every where
  • yes that's right there are NO dangerous predators to attack you in your tent in most parts of Australia (except the tropics)

like most places in the world, the real dangers and annoyances are from the small things

  • mosquitoes can be prevalent in certain places in the summer months mainly and may carry viruses (and in Cairns region, dengue fever), but no malaria
  • there is only one tick which is an annoyance in Australia and that is on the eastern coast and does not seem to transmit disease as do those elsewhere in the world
  • march flies are large biting flies on many beaches especially in summer which can be annoying but are found world wide
  • bush flies can be annoying in the summer months but do not carry disease (unlike house flies)
  • unlike the Mediterranean, Australian sandflies do not carry the incurable diseases such as Leishmania
  • European wasps have made it to Australia and can be very annoying in parts
  • Australian bull ants are very common in warmer months and can give a painful sting
  • more people in Australia die from allergic reactions to bee stings and ant stings than from any other animal bite

it can be LESS DANGEROUS than many other parts of the world!

  • there is no malaria
  • there is no Leishmaniasis (an incurable infection from sandflies)
  • there are no tick-borne viruses such as Lyme disease, etc
  • there is no rabies (and no annoying monkeys)
  • there are no large animals to attack you (other than those mentioned above) such as bears, lions, tigers, elephants, hippopotamus, etc
  • crime rates are relatively low - camping and bush walking are very safe as long as you do not flout wealth, and pick-pocketing is quite rare, and unlike central and south America, kidnapping is practically unheard of in Australia
  • there are no volcanoes to suddenly explode or major earthquakes and tornados are rare - although we do have bush fires and floods at times (and in the tropics, cyclones)
  • you are much less likely to die of heat stroke in Australia than a capital city in Europe in summer
    • Australia is used to heat waves and air conditioning is in almost every house and building and there are ready escapes to mountains, rivers or beaches
    • unlike Europe, most Australian suburban houses are on at least 600sq.m blocks of land and thus there is much less over-crowding and many have swimming pools as additional heat relief options
  • you are much less likely to die from hypothermia in Australia than most other places in winter - it rarely gets below 0degC at sea level areas.
  • did I mention there are NO bears to attack you in Australia?

the weather

  • Australia is a vast continent and as such has various climatic zones from the tropics in the north down to cool temperate regions in the south
  • you do need to consider this when choosing a time of year to go and the part of Australia to have the best time
  • the Australian summer is NOT like the Mediterranean summer!!
    • the Mediterranean summer tends to be very consistent - sunny temperatures over 30degC, overnight minimums 24-25degC
    • the southern parts of Australia in summer has very variable weather conditions thanks to frequent cold fronts
      • whilst there can be many days of sun, temperatures over 30degC, the overnight minimums tend to be a more pleasant 20degC for sleeping (although in heat waves can be much hotter)
      • a cold front can bring several days of cool-cold southerly winds with showers
      • sun has more UV light - you are more likely to get sunburnt!
      • beaches are over-crowded and fully booked out well in advance over the summer school holidays - Xmas to end of January - best to avoid this period
      • the best times are probably from mid-Feb to March - the weather is generally warmer but not usually blistering hot, and the water is at its warmest (~20degC)
      • Tasmania is a good option in summer
    • the tropical northern parts of Australia in summer are “monsoonal” - very high rainfalls, hot, humid and with frequent cyclones so best avoided Dec-Mar in particular - you can't swim there that time anyway due to the jellyfish, while the mosquitos will get you as well and they carry Dengue Fever at that time
    • central Australia is extremely hot in summer - you could die without water and shade if your car breaks down - summer is NOT the time to be going!
  • Winter in Australia (Jun-Aug):
    • in the southern states in Winter, there are almost no flies, mosquitoes, other insects, spiders, or snakes active - so you can camp without insect protection and have a camp fire!
      • snow skiing may be an option if there are good snow falls in the alpine areas
    • for the best beach weather and a fantastic time with great coastal scenery and things to do, head north to Townsville area in Qld or similar latitudes in Western Australia

Australians and Australian culture you need to know

  • most parts of Australia are extremely multi-cultural and tolerant (particularly Melbourne, much less so in Queensland)
  • Australians are generally very friendly in the streets and sometimes on public transport and often love small talk with strangers
    • perhaps this is part of the reason they like camping so much as they get to meet a lot of people for a short period of time with no long term sequelae
    • of course, Australians often call everyone “mate” as in “G'day mate” and this can make non-Australians visiting feel more welcome and relaxed
    • many prefer their privacy and personal space in public though and will avoid eye contact to send a message they do not want to interact at all
  • most Australians prefer to be lay back and informal
    • they often walk bare foot
    • wear informal dress code such as thongs (flip flops not the undie type)
    • reflected in Aussie slang and the shortening of words eg. “arvo” instead of afternoon “brekkie” instead of breakfast
  • most Australians are respectful
    • workplace cultures
    • frequently use “thank you” “pardon” “sorry” “please”
    • aggressive complaining is particularly frowned upon as is arrogant, self-entitled behaviours
  • most Australians are punctual and expect to make appointments - even to see friends
    • an exception to this is parties when the ladies in particular tend to turn up late as part of their social planning, but otherwise being late is regarded as rudeness
  • most Australians like their personal space - so keep your distance unless circumstances indicate otherwise
    • being too close can make many uncomfortable and if meeting someone for the 1st time, hug and kisses are generally a no-no but rather a hand shake or “How are you going?” “nice to meet you”
    • hugging is fine if you know each other and know hugs are OK - especially for women - men tend to prefer shaking hands rather than hugging each other - unless they have developed a hugging culture in that relationship
  • in general, relationships tend to be slow going developments, both genders are considered equal, and consent is very important
  • if invited to an event:
    • you must respond either way - not responding is considered rude!
    • if the invite is “BYO” this means you MUST bring your own drinks - alcohol in Australia is VERY EXPENSIVE due to high taxes
      • that said Australians love their beer and wines in particular and there is a prominent drinking culture and friends will often just go out for drinks at a bar, or to coffee at a cafe (Melbournians in particular are fussy and have high expectations of the quality of their coffee)
    • you may be asked to “bring a plate” this means you need to bring a prepared meal to share such as a finger foods, salad or pasta dish, meat for a BBQ, or otherwise
    • dinners generally start at 6 or 7pm and restaurants tend to close by 9.30-10pm!
    • If you are going to be late, especially to a dinner party, let the host know!
    • Australians eat a very wide range of cultural foods thanks to their multi-cultural society and there are excellent restaurants and Uber Eats which cater for this wide demand
    • outdoor BBQs (“barbie”) are common in the warmer months - and many parks have these and they are often free to use (just clean them before and after use)
    • when people move into a new accommodation, they will often invite their friends around for a “housewarming party”
  • Australians are generally very environmentally conscious and look after their parks and encourage camping and outdoor activities and littering is plain rude and lazy
    • many camp grounds do not have rubbish bins and you are expected to bring your rubbish home with you and dispose of it appropriately - don't be a “bogan” and leave it on the ground for others to pick up after you!
    • if hiking, follow the “Leave No Trace” principles and you must not toilet close to streams!
    • many camp grounds have “drop toilets” - keep the lid down when finished and don't throw anything down there except toilet paper - NO “flushable wipes”!
    • some camp grounds have flush toilets using septic systems - don't throw anything down there except toilet paper - NO “flushable wipes”!
    • do NOT feed or disturb wildlife - and don't kill them - even snakes are protected species - in rare instances in urban areas, call a snake catcher to re-locate them.
    • do not chop down trees for firewood or even use fallen trees unless permitted - these are often homes for wildlife and part of the ecosystem
    • be considerate of others - loud noise after 10pm is generally disrespectful unless this is an expected circumstance such as New Years Eve, etc
  • there are many public holidays and cultural festivals
    • in general, Australians spend Christmas Day with their families
    • the 26th Dec is called Boxing Day and in Melbourne is the 1st day of an international cricket “test” game for others, shopping sales are popular
    • fireworks are extremely popular on New Years Eve (even in the suburbs where locals may have acquired them perhaps illegally and setting them off is actually illegal but common)
    • 26th January is the controversial “Australia Day” marking the arrival of the British colonists - aka “Invasion Day” by the indigenous peoples
    • there are many outdoor multi-day music festivals in rural areas in the warmer months
  • Australians LOVE watching sport especially Australian Rules Football (AFL “footy”) and cricket, but also rugby, “soccer”, horse racing, and other sports
    • it is not common for 80,000-100,000 spectators to turn up for a football game at Melbourne's MCG and many Australians will constantly talk about footy in the winter months
    • running naked onto the ground, displaying violence and even swearing is NOT permitted at games - you may be evicted! You cannot bring your own alcohol to a game!
  • Australians do not usually discuss politics or religion except in certain circumstances - so usually best not to bring them up, especially at work - talk about sport instead!
australia/dangers.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/18 00:53 by gary1

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