No, I am not going to write about kangaroos.
I am not that cheap. Everybody who wants to write funny stories about Australia writes about kangaroos. I refuse to stoop that low. They are too easy a target, too cheap a shot. I will, however, write about koala bears. I may not be cheap, but I have my limits. Koala bears sell.
Just to show how thin the line between humor and reality is at times I have put an asterisk before items that really, actually and truly did happen. In the words of fellow human being and somewhat inferior humor writer Dave Barry – “This is true, I am not making this up.” (Mr. Barry, through slick and highly questionable means, now owns the copyright to this statement.)
In Australia there are many loathsome creatures to watch out for as they are highly feared. In some areas it is the Australians themselves, but I’ll get to that in another article. It’s almost as though God intentionally put the most dangerous animals together in one place thinking that man would not find them there. (Except for the polar bear. God was wise enough to hide them in the North Pole where it took man a bit longer to find them. As far as I know there are no polar bears in Australia, although what I know doesn’t go that far. No abominable snowmen either, although I have seen a few characters in Queensland who make me wonder.)
Of course, there are the usual crocodiles and poisonous snakes and spiders, but they’ve been done to the point of bah-oring. What I really want to warn you about are the little rascals you least expect who sneak up on you like door-to-door salesmen in a bad economy.
*One of these are turtles. Yes, turtles. I can tell you first hand that in Australia, they are the size of Sumo wrestlers. I happened to be swimming back to the beach one day when I saw the wake of something coming towards me. At first I thought “Shark!” and my reaction was to wet my wet suit. When the thing passed under me, however, I saw that it was nothing more than a giant turtle. Luckily giant turtles don’t have a taste for scuba divers but are now known as one of the many animals in Australia who get a kick out of scaring the living crap out of swimmers.
Another denizen of Down Under is the notorious green-headed, green-butted ant. It has, as you can gather from the green-headed, green-butted name, a green head and a green butt and what has not been mentioned previously, a brown midsection. This green-headed, green-butted, brown-midsectioned beasty will for the duration of the rest of this article be shortened to GHGBA to save me and the editor valuable time. Now GHGBAs are funny looking enough to begin with, but on top of that they have a nasty bite which is especially saved for those who make fun of them (which is why I waited until I got home to write this). Couple that with the fact that in some areas they are as common as grass, and, you guessed it, live in the grass, and that folks spells Trouble with a capital ‘T’, which effectively changes the insect’s name to GHGBAT.
Did you notice that I haven’t mentioned kangaroos once yet?
One of the tiniest but meanest creatures in Australia are sand fleas. Sand fleas are especially evil things, worthy of a Stephen King novel. They are unseeable, unstoppable AND THEY THRIVE ON HUMAN BLOOD!!!!! Did I mention that they bite? Did I mention that the bites ITCH LIKE HELL? How do you fight off something that you can’t see? I compare the horror to a bad grade B movie. You know, the ones where the invisible vampire sucks you dry like the IRS in April. When one thinks of a country entirely surrounded on all sides by warm, swimable beaches, it is a veritable sin for this to be ruined by such an evil presence as invisible but very real sand fleas. God must hate anyone having too good a time in paradise.
*For scuba divers, of which I am unfortunately a part of the group, there are Wobegons. They are sharks of the harmless variety (or so they say.) They are also known as ‘Sleeping Sharks’ because they lie around on the bottom of the sea like couch potatoes without televisions. This they did, that is, until my diving buddy accidentally kicked one and it went swimming off. Not that I’m complaining, but honestly, this destroys my concept of sharkhood since I always thought that any self-respecting shark would at least bite a diver’s leg off for interrupting his siesta. While these sharks are real tough looking, as they have hides that look like camouflaged Desert Storm uniforms, the truth is, they are real wussies, but I thought I’d throw these creatures into this article just to see if you’re paying attention.
Kukaburras are loud birds that sound like chimpanzees with an irritating case of hemorrhoids. They sound like the entire jungle backdrop of a Tarzan movie. Strangely, all of this noise comes out of short, squat bodies no bigger than pigeons, but then again, bull horns ain’t all that big either. Now, although they don’t sting, bite, or otherwise endanger the average camper, they are annoying as hell. If you are ever unlucky enough to have one next to your tent or cabin, you’ll wish like hell you’d opted for a room at the local hostel, bedbugs or no bedbugs.
Still haven’t mentioned kangaroos.
Of course, one creature one never thinks to fear is the humble koala bear, but in whispers at night when no tourists are about, the natives speak fearfully of….KILLER KOALAS!!!!!! I have no earthly clue why the true nature of these animals has never been leaked to the press. Advertised as being cute, shy, loveable animals has created a gullible, vulnerable and ultimately unsuspecting public. While they aren’t even bears, once you’ve encountered them in the wild, you can see where the koala picked up the latter half of its name.
See, I didn’t once mention kangaroos.