An outdoors man? I am not. Australia has a wildly different set of animals of which I am not accustomed. These are a few of the creatures I have crossed paths with and their story.
The camel is not native to Australia, it was actually introduced by explorers who used them to carry supplies as they trekked deserts and plains of the interior. After they finally gave up exploring they let the camels go under the impression that nothing will survive this dry terrain. Lo and behold, the camel is perfectly outfitted to survive in the Outback.
The camel is a funny animal. They have multiple stomachs and chew food more than once. This charming fellow has already swallowed his lunch once and is now regurgitating it back up to get some more nutritional goodness. Mmmm, delightful
About the size of my pinky finger, this bastard is known as the Golden Orb Spider and is found everywhere you plan on walking. Their web is the strongest of spider webs you will find anywhere, having been known to catch small birds, bats and short tourists. They tie up their web from one tree to the next, crossing the path of walking trails and 4WD tracks. Allegedly, they are not poisonous to humans, but they are annoying to walk into.
I have a wide lens on my camera which is great for taking wide angle photos. What I lack in zoom, I make up for with a fast f/stop. Anyway, it really doesn't do me any good to have this wide lens when looking for wildlife. A perfect example is this game I've created with the photo above called "Where's Euro?" It's my clever take on the Where's Waldo collection of books and your job is to locate the two Euro Kangaroos that are in the picture.
I'll give you a hint: they are looking right at you. Keep reading for the answer.
This scared animal is a Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, an amazingly beautiful creature that doesn't like my camera. They are very skittish and fast, that is to say much faster than me as they hop around the rocky hillsides of the Flinders Ranges, free from the worry of sprained ankles and broken toes. All that most tourists ever see of this animal is the business end and that is what I got today, nothing but business.
Actually, if you look at literature from local businesses there are a lot of photos of Yellow Foots, but you find there are not a lot of good photos of them. They are rather elusive, or perhaps I'm just too loud.
Driving around in the Flinders we saw at least 2 dozen Emu's. They are tall and awkward, something I relate to well. I also bet they aren't very good at basketball...
Yes, kangaroos are funny in that, similar to a deer back in the states, they run away at the faintest noise or sign of a human, then after about 50 yards they stop running to look back at what exactly it is they were running from. Short term memory? Perhaps. More likely they are posing for the camera. Again, this doesn't help me much as I have a wide lens on my camera at the moment.
What is the difference between a Euro and a Kangaroo? The way I understand it, a Euro is a type of Kangaroo, as are wallaby's. Euros however have hair instead of fur. They also live in rocky hills, not the plains. You will also find their hind legs are much bulkier and stronger than the Kangaroo's. Interesting, eh?
This ugly bastard is a Red Back spider, one of the many poisonous spiders of Australia. They call it a red back but R.E.D. B.A.C.K really stands for Really Excruciatingly Dangerous Bite and Anyone Could be Killed.
If you come across a red back spider don't get within a inch of it to take its picture, rather you should firmly press your foot on its ugly red back. Then you can get a toothpick and impale its murderous red backed body. If you have a lighter or matches to hand, then place the impaled spider corpse in the lawn out front and start it on fire. This will send a warning to all other Red Backs not to come near.
Why are these arachnids so bad? Their bite has been known to put a grown man on his back, sort of. Actually, they are more a problem to the very young and very old and very canine. If you do get stung, and you'll know if you do, then get to a hospital fast. Hospitals do have a pretty regular supply of anti venom, or so they claim.
You can also bet that after I got a close up view of this spider, the spider got a close view of the bottom of my foot.
Please join me for some more appreciation of the wildlife of Australia with Wild Life Out Back, Part 2. The Sequel!
First Impressions of Melbourne