The Land Down Under – Part One


Combination of the Australian national flag and Indigenous Australian flag

Combination of the Australian national flag and Indigenous Australian flag and what our flag should be.

 

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.

Australia Today

Australia Today

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.

natinal emblamOver 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]

 

 

goannaThe 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].

frillly

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].

clawsThey 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.

39 thoughts on “The Land Down Under – Part One

  1. Hahaha I really enjoyed this! 🙂 Have you read Bill Bryson’s In A Sunburnt Country (or Down Under, depending on the publisher)? 🙂 He fusses a fair bit over all the things in Australia that can kill you. 🙂

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    • No I don’t think I have – I’ll have to look it up. Glad you enjoyed this 🙂 and hope you’ll like the ones that follow over the next few weeks. Jenni 🙂

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      • Sounds brilliant – Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs got me utterly busted in Divinity when I was at school. We were supposed to reading something religious and the Sister was just snoozing in the chair and I got to this part re the outdoor loo and the dunny man accident and lost it. Just couldn’t stop myself even when she glared at me. So detention for me but soooo worth it.

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      • The Flag is beautiful It just feels right. But Then the white fellas have confiscated so much of the Aboriginal land, and decimated their culture we can’t take their symbols as well.I don’t think we’ve earned the honour of using this as our national flag .even if it was offered after signing a TREATY. So,something green and gold will have to do. Shame though.!

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      • It is isn’t it – Well maybe in the future it could be a symbol of the choice to acknowledge the past, our place in the universe and the decision to live as one people under many banners with respect for all. At least I hope that is what we’ll see one day.

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  2. Living in Australia, those scary creatures are really not seen everywhere… I’m sure in the cities you’d hardly ever see anything scary, other than the people, who can be scary at times! Don’t be put off visiting, we love tourists, and those weird creatures are probably more scared of us, than we are of them!

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    • I know – it’s just that I got bombarded by questions about what Oz was like once out of the CBD – and the sad fact is most of these really are everywhere especially in Qld, NT and WA. Less of an issue in NSW and Vic and further down south but then they get the funnel web spiders which I think pretty much beats out most things further north. [blinkin black fury ping pong ball creature – don’t even have the common decency to scuttle like a spider – they have to bounce.

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  3. This cracked me up! A brilliant read. My highlight:

    “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]”

    I look forward to future posts! TDx

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    • I thought it was noteworthy to mention the national emblem issue, so glad you appreciated it.:) Thanks for the feedback and I hope you’ll enjoy the others as they come out over the next few weeks. TTFN

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  4. Depending on the source, goannas are either in the same family as monitor lizards, goannas are a species of monitor lizard, or the names goanna and monitor lizard are used interchangeably for Australian monitor lizards. If you type goanna into YouTube, very little comes up, because they are only in Australia and due to the large population of dangerous species, Australians seem to be cleverer than most at avoiding dangerous animals. However type in monitor lizard (the name used for those outside of Australia) and you will find people keeping them as pets (I’m hoping the less dangerous species, rather than the Australian species). You failed to mention that many of them are venomous- not enough to kill you, so maybe it’s not general knowledge, but enough that if you get bitten you will have a very messed up wound (if you survive the rest of the attack). They are fascinating animals though and I would love to meet one (in a controlled environment with a barrier between us).

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    • Yeah – go the barrier, not so much fun to find yourself surrounded in the back paddock – being on horseback doesn’t impress them that much. [trust me, been there done that and tore the T-shirt]. I think the Goanna has a slightly different skeletal structure and bone density as compared to the other larger monitor lizards outside of Oz even though they do get quite big. It’s what enables them to stand and run – they almost resemble meerkats in posture when they stand.

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  5. Great post Jenni. Have not visited your neck of the woods, but loved to holiday in Cairns a few years ago . As you said, your part of the country totally different to Southern Victoria and Mt. Isa area.

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  6. Very interesting post Jenni. I’ve always admired Australia and would like to travel there someday (I’m in central Canada). The variety of climate zones is fascinating. I wouldn’t worry too much about focussing on the nasty stuff – I’m sure that’s what most people want to see and we all know it’s a balance. WE have very ltittle poisonous here ( a few rattlers in the warmest parts) but there are some animals that will kill if cornered or with young or injured. A few simple rules and some common sense keeps you healthy. Touring the various zones in Australia and seeing the diversity of flora and fauna would be fascinating. I’m in trucking and would love to see in person the truck trains that are run in the outback in Australia – they are the largest, longest, heaviest trucks allowed on highways anywhere in the world. That’s not very “naturalistic” of me but hey, it is interesting.

    Keep up the series, I’m fascinated with Australia and its inhabitants.

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    • No it’s true – the road trains are fairly impressive and the pics of them crossing through the red centre are very impressive. Glad you enjoyed it – I’m going to try and address some of the most common questions I get asked – so you will see some of the road trains in future posts as others find them interesting also. Jen

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  7. I’m looking forward to learning more about your country and the difference in our lifestyles. I’m intrigued by the difference and similarities we share. In Indiana we don’t usually run across such reptiles and I am glad for that! Don’t think I’d like having them as neighbors.

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  8. Jenni, After reading this post I will surly be following along with the rest in the series. You really held my attention and I found it very informative. Your country has always fascinated me and it is on my list of places to visit. Looking forward to reading more.

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    • Thanks for dropping in for the visit and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed yourself. The next part of this particular series should be up later this week but we have plenty going on apart from that. Look forward to hearing from you in the future. Jenni

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  9. I would love to visit Jenni, but…….I’m certain I’d have a heart attack upon stumbling across any of these creatures in the back yard.
    I admire you greatly. I mean that.

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    • It’s a lot more fun that you might think and as a general rule you can keep a certain – if I don’t see it, it isn’t there’, attitude in place as that is what most of the wildlife do with us. Plus if you stay near the CBD areas it is limited hugely. You may see kangaroos along the highway or outside of the smaller towns but not in the Brisbane Mall for example.

      Also we have some really beautiful creatures which I’m going to write about next – I think it would be a good idea to provide a ‘little’ balance or the Tourist board may very well be knocking on my door wondering why I’m scaring off visitors.

      As for admiration – you are someone who deserves a great deal of it. Many can’t do what you have done and now that you are out [so to speak] you are voluntarily stepping back up so that others will be warned and informed about DV. You have my sincerest regard for that.

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      • You know I’d love to see Kangaroos on the highway instead of cows and idiots. But most definitely not in the mall. 😀

        I can’t wait to read more about Australia. I can live it through your eyes. And I can say I have a friend whom I talk to regularly who lives there.

        Thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot.

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