Dangers of Victoria

KillOZWelcome to Australia! I assume that you either have seen this picture or you have a fairly vivid imagination of how people die left, right and centre due to some poisonous critters. Fortunately it isn’t that bad. I’m a German who migrated to this beautiful country a couple of years ago. Yes I also thought geocaching in the bush is one of the worst things you can do but that’s not true. So let’s have a closer look at animals and other dangers:

Animals:

  • Snakes
    Our all-time favourite but bites are actually quite rare in Australia and, since the development of anti-venom, fatalities have been low – between four to six deaths a year.
    “This is in contrast to India, for example, where bites may reach one million a year, with over 50,000 deaths,” says Associate Professor Bryan Fry, a herpetologist and venom expert at the University of Queensland. “Snake bites are very, very rare [in Australia] and often the fault of the person being bitten. Most bites occur when people are trying to kill a snake or show off.”
    Snakes don’t see humans as lunch or dinner and actually try to get away from you. If you’re on their escape route, that’s when things go pear-shaped. Just give them space and everything will be fine. I had numerous encounters with deadly snakes and never got even close to a dangerous situation.
    >> But … (there’s always one of those) … In case you do get bitten seek medical attention immediately! Dial 000, set-off your PLB, inReach or spot tracker and don’t waste any time.
  • Spiders
    I’m not good with spiders but I came to terms with them. However they aren’t dangerous at all. Spiders are the most widely distributed venomous creatures in Australia, with an estimated 10,000 species inhabiting a variety of ecosystems. But even though spiders live around us, from our urban centres to the bush, bites are infrequent. In fact, spiders are less life-threatening than snakes or sharks, or even bees. In fact way more people die due to bee-stings than of spiders. That’s mainly because there aren’t any recorded deaths from spider bites since 1981 when the antivenom for two of our more dangerous spiders, the funnel-web and the redback has been available since the 1950s and 1981, respectively.
    >> If you do get bitten see a doctor but you don’t have to rush.
  • Sharks
    Well … this is the state of Victoria. There are barely any dangerous sharks. I think there was sighting of a great white in the Bay six years ago but that’s about it. You have to be a diver, an off-shore fisher or surfer and very unlucky to encounter and get bitten by a shark.
    >> If you get bitten … good luck. But it’s more likely you get trampled down by a cow.
  • Blue-ringed octopus
    Yeah that one is a fairly odd-ball. There are two recorded deaths … ever. So it’s unlikely you’ll ever see one but I just mention it to get a complete list. Just have a read on the Museum Victoria blog page.
  • Saltwater Crocodiles
    Sorry. There are no “salties” in Victoria except for the zoo, so don’t bother.
  • Irukandji and Australian Box Jelly Fish
    Same thing. It’s not a thing you can find around here

Other Dangers:

  • Bushfire
    This is a clear an immanent threat on a high fire danger day. During the Black Saturday bushfire 173 people died. Trust me – if the cfa website says there is a high fire danger rating or more, you should think twice before going anywhere into the country. Do not – under no circumstances – underestimate the danger of a bushfire. Conditions can change extremely fast. Spot-fires can start 15km ahead of the main-front.
    I’ve been to the affected areas, talked to the locals and I know that many friends and geocachers have been affected. The stories I heard are horrific and I’m not talking about half-burned animals which had to be put down. Please be safe on hot and dry days! Seriously I might joke about a lot of things but this isn’t one of them.
  • Flooding
    We do get the random flooding every couple of years but this is not any different to anywhere else in the world. Just use common sense and stay away from flood waters.
  • Storms
    Once again it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we do have the occasional thunderstorm and maybe some hail.
  • Remote Accidents
    Accidents happen and you can twist your ankle on a hike. If you’re from Europe, you are used to call 112 and everything will be fine. Well this is Australia mate. There might not be any phone reception where you are hiking. German tourists seem to have a thing to get themselves in trouble and die out there. Just don’t go alone, be prepared, let someone know where you are going and stick to the plan and check-in times. If you have access to a PLB, inReach or spot tracker then use it.

I hope this doesn’t you put off caching in VIC for good. I’ve cached on five continents and some of the best caches I’ve found are right here. It’s all about using common sense and so far I managed fairly well despite coming from another country. Yes I got bitten by some spiders but I still fear wasps more.
If you have any questions, please contact me or someone else from Geocaching Melbourne.

Cheers
Philipp

 Philipp migrated to Melbourne from Germany in 2010. He can be found all over Victoria in remote locations. If you need some advice on high-T rating caches and long distance hikes, he’s your guy. Philipp’s profile on geocaching.com

 

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