Upside Down Expat

Nightmare Neighbours

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Spiders, snakes and sharks…oh my!  Is the reality of being neighbours with the wildlife down under really as bad as you imagine? This post describes what it’s really like living next door to some of Australia’s notorious natives.

Growing up, I had a reccurring nightmare of a giant hybrid spider.

The ‘Dr C Wasp’ was half giant spider; half giant wasp, who visited in my sleep when the spider catcher (aka my dad) was away.

Armed with a red plastic racket, my mum would attempt in vain to kill the ‘Dr C Wasp’ while my sister and I looked on in terror.

It was indestructible.

So, twenty odd years later, when moving to Australia, I thought of the Dr C Wasp.

Was my nightmare about to come true?!

Because while Australia is known for its hot weather and stunning scenery, it’s also known for it’s unusual animals and creepy crawlies.

And with scary spiders topping the topic of conversation prior to the move, I was feeling uneasy about encountering an eight legged Aussie.

But are they really that bad?

Here is a rundown of some of the notorious and nightmare neighbours, or housemates, you’ll have in Australia.

The nasty neighbours

Spiders. The neighbour you dread bumping into. Redbacks, whitetails and huntsmen. I’ve come face to face with the ugly blood suckers more times than I care to remember. It has tended to happen a few times a year, and has done absolutely nothing to quell my fear. However, the thought of them lurking in the shadows is moderately tolerable, because, contrary to popular belief, they don’t hunt down humans to feast on. And, chances are, if you do get bitten, you’ll live.  [1]

The lurkers

Snakes. The neighbours you know are there but thankfully bumping into one is rare. In urban areas the chance of catching a glimpse of one is slim to none, while on rural land it’s not uncommon to hear their rustles in the bushes. But again, it’s ok because they don’t intentionally hunt down humans. Which buys you some time. To run. Fast. [2]

The scary neighbours

Sharks. The neighbours waiting for someone to step on their lawn so they can launch an attack. You might want to tread Australian water carefully with these petrifying predators at sea. They kill an average of three people a year, and injure many more. And while the risk may seem low, unless you have a death wish I wouldn’t go more than waist high. I personally prefer to paddle. [3].

The famous neighbours

Kangaroos. The notorious neighbours everyone wants a glimpse of. But while tourists hop off the plane expecting a kangaroo to bounce by, these eminent emblems tend to skip around out of town. You’ll find plenty of ‘roo’s on roadtrips, or at their local hangouts (parks and woodland), and can usually get a close up look. But while mostly mild mannered, it’s worth knowing they have a good right hook, and will throw a paw punch or powerful kick if intimidated. [4]

The noisy neighbours

Birds. The neighbours with a perpetually prominent presence. From the striking cockatoos, paraquets and galahs to the more common magpies, crows or plovers; the birds in Australia are proud and loud and not at all intimidated by humans.  [5] Their distinct calls will stir you from your morning haze, and you’ll be confronted by the backyard birds everyday; and want get out of their way. It’s not uncommon to be chased or attacked in chick season. And attempts to feed the ducks will see you ganged up on by a gaggle of goggle eyed geese.

The party animals

Possums. The lively neighbours bringing the house down every night with their antics. Messy, noisy and destructive, they sleep nestled in the trees throughout the day, and come alive outside your house at night.  [6] They’ll scurry across your rooftop, scramble across your fence and scare the life out of you on a regular occasion. But while to many a pest, I’m particularly partial to the placid party animals, with ‘Paul’ my part-time pet.

The layabout stoners

Koalas. The neighbours that when you attempt to chat, you get little back. You’ll be fascinated when you first feast your eyes on one, but quickly bored when you realise they do nothing more than gorge on gum leaves. And while a myth they get high on eucalyptus, they are low-energy lazybones who crash out for up to 20 hours a day! The magnificent marsupials (not bears) can be found in captivity all over Australia but it’s far more satisfying to discover them in the wild in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia.[7]

There are of course many more wonderful creatures you could come across; emus, wombats, wallabies, platypuses, goannas, kookaburras, quokkas and tasmanian devils, to name a few.

Thankfully, the Doctor C Wasp isn’t one of them.

But, whether feral friend or foe, the quirky creatures down under are part of what makes Australia so unique.

And with a little space and understanding, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have any problems with your new neighbours.

You may even become good friends.

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