So, in order to make sure I’m doing my due diligence ahead of our trip (and to honour those of you who’ve requested we look at the downside of Oz), I’ll now be highlighting some of the top killers in Australia.
Everyone’s heard of the Tazmanian Devil
(a la Taz, from the Looney Tunes), however my recent research has uncovered a spate of Tazmanian Devil attacks across the continent of Australia. Apparently, one of the Tazmanian devil’s primal instincts is tree climbing, which causes it to hide at the top of staircases, inside people’s homes. There have been over 300 cases in the last 11 months of people falling down the stairs after being startled by one of these unexpected marsupials.
Kangaroo “kickings” are one of the leading causes of injury for teenage and adult Australians so far in 2015. Although no deaths have yet been attributed to one of these “kickings”, the increased number of attacks are raising red flags among biologists specializing in macropus giganteus. So far, of the 71 reported attacks, not a single one has been on a person under 14. In fact, around Christmas 2014, a kangaroo entered a crowd of children, and sought out the teenage babysitter, kicking her to the ground. Although there was no lasting injury, all present were extremely shaken. This of course begs the question, why they don’t target children? Of course neither Dan nor myself (though very youthful looking) are under 14 – this is something we’ll have to watch out for!
Of course, no list of Australian dangers would be complete without a acknowledging the Great White Shark. Although made popular by TV programs like Shark Week, movies like Jaws and even humanized by humorous meme campaigns
, the great white is actually responsible for most ocean related injuries and deaths in Australia. Statistically speaking, 1 in every 4 Australians who live within a 30km range of the ocean will have an encounter with a Great White this year alone
. Of those, 33% will be attacked and of those, nearly all will succumb to their injuries. We really will have to reconsider swimming as a favourite pastime.
Surfer gangs have been an ongoing threat since the mid-1960s. Although things calmed down somewhat in the 80s and 90s, there has been an increase in violent outbursts since 2005. The 2005 World Junior Surf Competition saw a major upset, in which the entire Aussie team was disqualified due to a computer glitch which added 10 years to each of their ages. This was allegedly attributed to a Finnish hacker, which favoured the Finnish surfing team – who incidentally, went on to win that year. Since that time, turf wars have escalated, collateral damage in otherwise quiet tourist towns has become a leading cause of insurance claims and gang members have been recruited out of younger and younger grades at school (even as young as grade 4). Residents of most coastal communities are encouraged to stay inside after dark hours.
Finally, movies like Anaconda and Arachnaphobia have demonstrated Hollywood’s perception of spiders and snakes, however research shows, they don’t even scratch the surface. Most Australians have their homes fumigated for insects twice per year, leading to a HUGE rise is what is being called “super-spiders
“. Apparently, previously lethal spiders are not just growing in size and growing immune to the poisons used in fumigation, but are building the poison into their DNA and combining it with their own venom to become even more dangerous to humans. Great. Just great.
Finally, the second greatest cause of death in Australia (behind the obvious: skin cancer) is unexpectedly at-home-heat-exhaustion. Air conditioning, though popular in North America has not yet caught on down under. As a result, every year, thousands of people die in their homes of heat exhaustion. In 2014 alone, 211 551 people across the country of all ages succumbed to this plague-like problem. Numerous importers have tried to bring various air condition units and technologies into the country, but the Department of Technology and Culture has repeatedly blocked, saying that the invention is a threat to Australia’s national identity. I guess I’ll be smuggling mine in.
In conclusion – there are undoubtedly a great many threats to face in our new home – however, we are not deterred.
My thanks to CBC Radio’s This is That, for the inspiration for this entry.