In the past month or so I’ve written a few posts about Australia, mainly the humorous side of things in regards to the number of ways our native flora and fauna can kill or at least maim an individual. Some of the comments I’ve received have been full of questions and I’ve realized that not many outside of Oz know a great deal about us.
So the thought came to me that I could do a series of posts addressing some of the most common questions I’ve been asked because once visitors get out of the major cities it becomes very clear they’re not in Kansas anymore. To start things off I thought I would include a map that gives a rough topographical picture of the terrain and we’ll go from there. I’m from Queensland which is on the East coast of Australia and I live in Mackay which is right on the start of the Great Barrier Reef and moving into the Tropical area of the state.
We may not have flying monkeys in Oz but we do have flying foxes and possums, kangaroos that box and a variety of snakes that would have sent the serpent in Eden running for its life, along with a variety of other creatures. On top of that as a country our landscape is incredibly diverse, covering the Snowy Mountains, The Red Centre, Rainforests and Mangroves so it is hard for those outside of Australia to have an accurate idea of what to expect when visiting.
Over the next few installments I’ll talk about some of the most popular questions I’ve been asked but in this first I thought I would start with two interesting facts about this land and its inhabitants. I’m not sure if many know it but the Kangaroo and the Emu are our National Emblems which would normally mean a certain deference be paid to the animals in question. Not in Australia, in fact Australia is the only country in the world to EAT its national emblems [other than the Welsh but theirs is the Leek so I hardly think that counts]
The second little titbit is in regards to our reptile population and this time I’m not speaking about the variety of snakes, small, large and terrifyingly huge. No I’m talking about the Goanna, which in my opinion is the freakiest of all animals [including the Platypus] that we have roaming this sunburnt country. They resemble monitor lizards with war paint, add to that the ability to walk and run on its hind legs [as do others of our reptiles like the Frill Necked Lizard] and you have an animal suitably off-putting to even the most ardent animal enthusiast.
Strangely I saw something in a movie and few years ago that made me sit up and stare. Who’s seen Jurassic Park [takes a moment to hear replies]? Ok now we all know about the T-Rex which is an impressive creature but the two dinosaurs on that movie that really caught my attention were the Velociraptor and the other whose name I can’t remember but flares its neck out and spits poison on the fool committing corporate espionage in a hurricane. [like that would ever work out].
The Australian Frill Necked Lizard [picture of the little lizard running] came to mind immediately when I saw that scene but what really stopped me cold was watching the Velociraptors hunt. Freakin’ Goannas is what they were, okay ours are smaller but that is about where the difference ends[and they can be in your backyard – hows that for fun, but more commonly in the outback].
They hunt in packs and will coordinate their attacks and while they do walk on all fours when taking a stroll when they go in for the kill it’s on two legs and using their razor claws from their front legs to slash and immobilize their prey. After taking a close look at those claws – you tell me – don’t they look like hands WITH OPPOSABLE THUMBS!!!! So I have to admit as blase as I am about most Australian wildlife the Goanna freaks me out, whenever you come across one you know they’re sizing you up and if they don’t take you down it’s simply because they can’t be bother NOT because you worry them in ANY way.
Below is a clip called Solid Rock by Australian band Goanna – I thought it was an apt way to finish this post.