18 Things to Know About Life in Australia – Part 2

18 Things to Know About Life in Australia – Part 2

In Part 1 we chatted about the Outback, Aussie slang and spiders that want to kill you (Read here).

Now we’re on to Part 2, more Aussie wildlife, weather and driving the opposite side of the road…

Dragons, Death Birds, and Other Aussie Animals…

Komodo Dragons…I mean Goannas

Seen above, this animal gave us the biggest shock of anything we have ever seen in the wild. Nowhere on the Australian brochure did we ever see a GIANT LIZARD that we were convinced was a komodo dragon (Komodos, ya know those massive poisonous lizards that have been prone to attack and capable of eating people?).

Have since realized that komodo dragons live in Indonesia. But still, we weren’t taking chances by not BACKING THE HELL UP when a few of these things showed up around our tent while camping in Aus for the first time?

Goanna at The Basin campsite in Palm Beach

Goanna at The Basin campsite in Palm Beach

Goannas can grow up to 8 feet long…WTF????

You can see these guys in most bush areas including around Palm Beach just outside of Sydney.

Even though they aren’t theorised to be a real danger to people our bush trekking Aussie friend has developed a closer relationship with them than we ever did or ever plan too.  Though they’re considered safe to be around and will mostly run away from you if you get near them, they have been known to bite people on the very very rare occasion, so just be careful around them.

Holding a Goanna

Holding a Goanna

Death Birds AKA The Australian White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibis

Our first day in Sydney, we were completely thrown off to see flocks of this nightmare looking creature, reminiscent of the black plague, walking around everywhere. Much like pidgeons, these guys are everywhere and just hang about looking for food. And then they wander into your nightmares…

Kangaroos and Wallabies

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The pinnacle symbol of Australian wildlife for tourists, yet locally these guys are seen as little more than common vermin.

Kangaroos range up to an average of 6 or 7 ft in height but can be taller, while wallabies are their smaller marsupial cousins around two thirds the size of kangaroos.

Common to see them all over the countryside including campsites as close as a 40 minute drive from Sydney city centre at the Basin in Palm Beach or in wine regions like the Hunter Valley (2.5 hours drive).

They’re beautiful to see hopping around the fields at dusk. But they aren’t all cute and friendly.

For some kangaroos, if you piss one off or get too close, they can grab your shoulders by their paws, prop themselves up on their tale, and be quick to start ripping up your chest with their hind leg claws. Not a common headline, but like polar bears, they may be cute but you don’t want to mess with wild ones. If you want to get hands on with them, save it for the zoos like the Steve Irwin Zoo in Queensland.

If you’re camping, don’t leave your food out at night as they’ll take it. And surprise kangaroo and wallaby droppings are not a rare site.

Oh, and eating Kangaroo steak? Best described as “gamey”.

Koala Bears

Koala Bear at Steve Irwin Zoo in Queensland

Koala Bear at Steve Irwin Zoo in Queensland

Cute sleepy little tree hangers. They spend most of their day passed out because of the eucalyptus leaves they eat. The most common place to spot them are in the parks and along the Great Ocean Road just outside of Melbourne. Not highly recommended touching one in the wild but if you go to the Queensland Steve Irwin Zoo you can hold one!

Weather is Hot, Spicy and Ohhh So Delicious…

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

Weather was something we seriously considered as a roadblock before moving. How could a few pale Irish skinned Canadians expect to survive in what you anticipate being a massive arid desert?

But we were completely wrong.

Ok first the bad news.

So the hole in the Ozone layer is situated over Australia. So Seriously. WEAR. YOUR. SUNBLOCK.

The UV rays are SO bad in Australia, 2 in 3 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they’re 70. Less surprising when considering a lifetime out in the sun for most Aussies. But a friend of ours moved to Australia and within 1 year of hardcore beach living, was diagnosed and had to get a spot removed.

Regular skin checks are a must and if done, the mortality rate from these are quite low. Just be safe, wear sunblock, don’t forget to reapply and cover up sometimes.

Ok so now that we’ve SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF YOU, it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds.

Weather in Australia is AMAZING. Year round, in the north (Brisbane) you have a never-ending summer at 15-35 degree averages and in the south (Sydney and Melbourne) it never gets lower than 5 degrees overnight.

So throw away your winter coat!

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

Unless you’re far north in Cairns or the Northern Territory, it’s not even that humid so it really isn’t a worry.

In Sydney maybe once a year the temp will hit 45 degrees and going outside feels like getting hitting in the face by a bag of boiled oranges but those are PUB AND POOL DAYS!

Pool Side

At times, consistent temps above 25 degrees result in dry bushland and further, wild forest fires that can burn for days. The fires get so bad that, though faraway, the city can be filled with smoke for days feeling like you’re walking around in a camp fire.

Some torrential rains and storms at times but they literally only last for an hour in Sydney. And though it may never snow unless you’re in the mountains, some days one suburb in Sydney will be sunny, the neighbouring suburb could be raining, and the one next to that could have fist sized hail heavy enough to break windshields…

Sydney Hail

Sydney Hail

Oh and this happens every once in a while…

Sydney Storm Approaches

Sydney Storm Approaches

…but don’t worry, it may look like the end of the world, but it’s still nothing like a storm back home in Newfoundland.

Driving on the Left Side of the Road…

Driving on Left Side of Road

Like the United Kingdom, Japan India, Southern Africa and most of the Pacific, driving on the left side of the road is the lay of the land.

Left Side Driving

The thought of doing this may scare the crap out of you, but it is nowhere near as hard as you think. But maybe don’t try it on your very FIRST day in Aus ok?

We never had any major issues!….well…except that one time we pulled into the wrong lane in Brisbane…and that time in Hunter Valley we got lost, reverted back to Canadian style driving and got pulled over by the cops because they thought we were drunk. But HEY, Aussies love Canadians so much, just tell them where you’re from, they’ll laugh at you for being idiots, and wave you on your way!

When returning to your right-side driving homeland, be sure to switch back. This is a very very important step. Trust us!

That’s it again for now, until next time, follow us on:

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Chris & Larry

Chris and Larry Beach


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