I live in Australia. Most people in the world do not. Either they know well enough to keep away, or they do not live long. Australia is as exciting a place to live as any I know. You see, from day to day you can’t even guess which way you might die that day.
In summer it can be the fire that gets you. Wild bushfires, towering high over the sunburnt landscape, roaring along faster than you can drive, fuelled by Eucalyptus oil and the raging wind. Some days it’s the snakes. Australia has a collection of very deadly snakes. Some places in the world, if you are bitten by a snake, you have uncertainty – was the snake poisonous or not? Fortunately in Melbourne, we don’t really have that uncertainty – practically every snake around is poisonous. Knowing for certain that it was poisonous is a real comfort after being bitten.
Then there are the spiders. We have the redback spider, which is basically just a black widow coloured red. These are traditionally found in places like toilet seats at the dead of night. Surprisingly, most spiders here aren’t poisonous. For example, huntsman spiders are big, black and furry, and sometimes kept as pets. They are only dangerous if they crawl across your windscreen when you are driving.
But if you go into the water to avoid the land animals, you are really in trouble. There are sharp-toothed sharks and crocs who’d like to dine on you, and poisonous creatures galore – from tiny transparent killer jellyfish to the excruciatingly painful stone fish, which hides on the sea floor, disguised as a stone, but with poison-delivering spines, just waiting for you to step on them.
But if you manage to survive those, incredibly there are even more dangerous creatures in Australia. Horses, cows, dogs, and honey bees are even more dangerous than those other animals. In Australia, horses manage to kill as many people a year as snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles and killer jellyfish combined.
And it’s not even the animals that are the worst of the problems for Australians. Australia is populated by convicts. Convicts that kill each other daily – whether by stabbing each other in a fit of rage, or by the more socially acceptable means of crashing into each other in cars, two tons of machinery with equal and opposite momentum crumpling around the convicts.
When you get to the end of the day in Australia, you feel thankful to still be alive against the odds.
That’s what I like about Australia.