Life in the outback is not for the faint of heart. From dry land to the murkiest waters, it seems that there’s some creature with charged up super powers out to get those brave Aussies at every turn. If that’s not enough, there’s half-crazed lunatics hunting other humans and the natural elements alone can be enough to kill.
Luckily, the Aussies seem to be scrappy enough to take care of themselves. At worst, they might get into a tangle with a baby croc and have to chuck a sickie so we’ll consider this list a warning guide of sorts for those of us who don’t live in Australia and just want to keep it handy in case someone tries to talk us into joining them for an outback adventure. We would hate for anyone to accuse us of whinging but personally speaking, we rather enjoy the thought of seeing the late arvo sun for many more decades to come. In any case, we hope you find this list to be a ripper time! (Last time, we promise.) It’s chockers full of fascinating yet terrifying items that add up to one big death trap. (Okay, we’re done.) Read on if you dare, mate.
15. The Marble Cone Snail Is More Thug Than Slug
A predatory sea snail? Yep, this one is venomous and comes loaded with its own harpoons – that’s really what the small pipette looking poison tubes are called. The marble cone snail’s harpoon acts as a disposable hypodermic needle that reaches out from its cone to strike a victim before falling off. Marble cone snails primarily target small sea life but they can cause damage, even severe damage to humans if they feel threatened so they should never be handled. The killer snail usually has around twenty harpoons in “cone storage” at any given time so it’s literally locked and loaded and ready for anything that comes its way. The marble cone snail’s harpoon is filled with a cocktail of poison that sends its victims (usually small fish) into something called excitotoxic shock initially and then to a state of flaccid paralysis. It all seems very unfair as the fish never see it coming since the harpoon can strike from a distance away. But that’s how a thug slug works under the sea.
14. Killer Fish Disguised As Rocks
Don’t stop to pet the rocks if you’re going deep sea diving in Australia. As a matter of fact, be on a sharp lookout for anything that even remotely resembles a rock encrusted with sea flora. If you do encounter one, tread very carefully because you, my friend, might be within inches of a stonefish, the most venomous fish in the world. These camouflage experts are so skilled at hiding in plain sight, they are nearly impossible to tell at times, which leads to people stepping on them, which leads to people needing to seek immediate medical treatment for the poison they’ve just been subjected to.
Just don’t compare these stony bad boys to spineless jellyfish, they’ve got thirteen spines with venomous sacs on each one of them. The good thing about stonefish is that they will not go out of their way to harm you but the bad thing is that you may not see them so arm yourself with plenty of stonefish photos before donning your scuba gear and keep your eyes open for large colorful fish-shaped rocks.
13. Steer Clear Of The Cassowary
Casso-worry is more like it if you ever run into one of these feathered flightless beauties, known as the world’s deadliest bird. Cassowaries are mostly described as shy fruitarians which isn’t the most intimidating of descriptions but these shy fruitarians aren’t ones to be messed with. When they feel they are in danger, they’ll do whatever they need to survive including disemboweling a human with their three-toed, sharp-clawed feet. There’s been approximately 150 cassowary-on-human attacks that we know of and it’s largely our fault. In areas where cassowaries are known to live, people have been warned not to feed the big prehistoric-looking birds yet approximately 75% of the cassowary-on-human attacks were committed by cassowaries that were fed by humans. As for the other attacks, reasons such as defending themselves against attacks by humans, protecting their babies and eggs and defending their natural food sources are among the top. To summarize, it seems like the cassowaries don’t want to but have absolutely no problem bringing it if they have to. Plus, they swallow apples and bananas whole making them extremely badass fruitarians.
12. Sweet Honeybees, These Are Not
Australia is home to 1,500 plus native species of bees and out of those, only 1o do not sting! In case you’re not so great at math, that means that your chances of meeting up with a bee who doesn’t mean to do your skin any harm are very slim. It’s said that out of all of Australia’s venomous creatures, bees and wasps actually pose the biggest risk to human health as they have sent more than twice the amount of people to the hospital as snake bites have. Death from Australian bee stings are usually the result of anaphylactic shock which doesn’t sound like a very fun way to go out. If you’re planning a trip to the outback, make sure to skip scheduling it from April to October which is prime bee sting season.
11. Dingoes Are Dangerous At Dinnertime
If you happen to find yourself wandering around Australia and see what looks like a stray dog, maybe a Shepherd/Lab mix, headed your way, do not kneel down, whistle and call, “here, boy!” Because you have likely stumbled across a wild dingo. Ever heard the phrase, “The dingo ate my baby?” That’s a line from a movie based on the all too true and tragic story of the loss of baby Azaria Chamberlain who is thought to have been a victim of a dingo attack in 1980. In fact, dingoes are the biggest terrestrial predator in Australia and they serve an important role as an apex predator in the outback. Aussies know not to feed dingoes or pose a threat to them but nevertheless, people have in the past and as a result, a dingo attack on a human can be quite vicious and quickly lead to death. Dingoes are known to hunt buffalo and here you see a dingo munching on a shark so yeah… us humans don’t stand a snowball’s chance in well… Australia.
10. The Dangers Of Uluru – Don’t Even Try To Climb!
In Australia’s famous Red Centre, a natural wonder of the world sits proudly for all to admire. It is called Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru. It is one of Australia’s most famous tourist attractions because there is no geological feature in the world like it. Comprised of orange sandstone, this massive rock is over 1,148 feet high. One of its amazing features is the various colors it changes to during the incredible Australian sunrise and sunset. The Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe named the sacred rock and they prefer people not to climb it for more reasons other than respect. Temperatures can easily soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and tourists have been known to treat the climb as an average small mountain hike. If one chooses to go against the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe’s wishes and climb the rock unprepared (which happens probably too often) they likely will join the fate of several others who have died at Uluru. It’s a common way for tourists to die, whether from falling off the rock, extreme dehydration and overexertion or having a heart attack. It’s best to take the locals’ advice on this one and appreciate it from a distance, with a water bottle in hand.
9. Crocodile Rock… Your World (In A Bad Way)
Aussies probably laugh ’til it hurts when they see the size of the crocs and gators that people in other countries worry about compared to their crocodiles also known as “little dinosaurs.” Saltwater crocodiles or “Salties” as they are affectionately referred to in their home country are the largest reptiles in the world. Sadly, habitat destruction and illegal hunting have severely depleted their numbers. Salties take their revenge for this by being extremely territorial and aggressive and keeping up their average of eating at least one human each year… for each Saltie. With a massive head size and super heavy jaws that are able to exert many tons of pressure, they have no problem chomping on humans or anyone else. These king crocs typically weigh over two thousand pounds and can stretch to over twenty feet long.
8. Welcome To Arachnophobia
Because if you don’t already have a spider phobia, just learn a little about Australia’s multi-legged buddies and you soon will. Australia is like Shangri-La for spiders or at least, that’s how it would seem considering just how many spiders live there, dangerous ones at that. They’ve got the Sydney funnel-web spider who boasts mighty fangs so big they are larger than that of the brown snake and able to pierce through human finger and toenails. Redback spiders are known to hide under toilet seats and though there are about 2,000 bites reported each year, thankfully there have been no deaths reported since the 50s thanks to Redback spider antivenom that was introduced soon after the last death. Some of the other common spiders are the brown recluse, the Australian tarantula and of course the bird-eating spider of North Queensland. Last but not least, we can’t leave the Giant Huntsman spider off of this list. The legs of these giant creepy crawlers can extend up to twelve inches – times that by eight and you’ve got an instant case of arachnophobia on your hands.
7. Cute But Not Cuddly Platypus
Do not pet the platypus. We repeat, do not, under any circumstances, pet these little wonders of nature. Even though they are very cute and every instinct would tell you to reach down and pet the adorable love child of an otter and a duck, retract that hand. Because if you are silly enough to provoke an angry male platypus, you’ll be in for a world of hurt. Hailing from eastern Australia, platypuses mostly keep to themselves, foraging for food and are known as shy, mainly nocturnal aquatic-land mammals. But when it comes time to protect what’s theirs, these munchkins turn into mini-Rambos, hooking their legs onto you and driving in their spurs, spiked with venom. The pain is said to be so severe that no amount of morphine can help. You will become nauseous immediately, develop cold sweats and the muscles in the affected area will soon waste away. Best to admire these cuties from afar!
6. Super Strong Snakes
You know how you’ve always been told that when it comes to slithering, hissing creatures, they are likely much more afraid of you than you are of them? This slitherer might have an objection about that. If these critters give you the creeps even a tiny bit, this photo may haunt your nightmares forever. The story is that a hiker named Jody was exploring the Australian outback when she came across this very sad deceased wallaby being lifted by a mighty olive python. She watched the amazing yet horrifying train-wreck of a sight for over an hour but after an hour of trying, the python wasn’t able to lift the wallaby after all and finally gave up before heading elsewhere in the outback. Still, that doesn’t do much to help dispel your fears of slithery limb-free super strong Aussie climbing snakes, does it? Ours either.
5. Don’t Fly Kites In Darwin
The folks who live in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia don’t hide under their covers when there’s a lightning storm. With an average of 28,000 lightning strikes per year (a record-breaking 880 in a single weekend), it’s safe to assume that they’re accustomed to seeing huge electric shows of fury in the sky and do not fear the bolt. Apocalyptical lightning storms would be terrifying to most of us but Darwin locals don’t think anything of sitting out on their verandahs enjoying their favorite beverage while snapping an amazing photo or two. While all of this sounds rather carefree, you should know that planes have been known to get struck by lightning as well as people in Darwin so it is a legitimate concern especially for tourists who might not be as lightning-savvy as Darwin natives. Being struck by lightning is no picnic as it can stop one’s heart in a split second.
4. The Deadly Desert Is No Joke
By now, you should have learned enough about how Australia is just a large death trap waiting to swallow you whole without blinking but if you require further reasoning that Australia is a deadly destination, how about getting hopelessly lost in the vast and unforgiving desert to deter you? Many people, especially tourists, love to visit Australia’s sand dune-infested deserts for all of the epic off-roading and sand dune riding they imagine they’re going to be in store for. But when their vehicles’ tires get stuck in the super soft sand or the engines overheat thanks to the Aussie sun beating down like an angry drummer from up above, those people are usually singing a different tune. It might sound something like, Please don’t let me die out here. It’s happened many times. It’s quite easy to get lost in the huge desert and when vehicles fail due to not being prepared as only an Aussie truly can, it’s a recipe ripe for disaster.
3. Box Jellyfish Will Send You Packing
Box jellyfish are some of the coolest looking sea creatures. Electric blue with what look like glowing eyes and a straight smile that is clearly not amused, these guys will seem a lot less cooler if you are ever unfortunate enough to be on the business end of their stinging wrath. As is often the case with the animal residents of Australia, these guys are a whole different class of jellyfish. They don’t spend their days simply drifting along in the sea, hoping that a meal comes their way. Box jellyfish took Tony Robbins seminars and they know that the key to success is action so they actively hunt for their prey and are always on the defense. Throughout the years, they’ve earned some cutesy nicknames such as the “world’s most venomous creatures” and the “sucker punch” of the sea, thanks to their almost transparent appearance in the water and the horrifying fact that their sting is usually not detected until the victim starts showing symptoms of being infected with venom.
2. The Heat Is On! And It Can Kill You
“Catastrophic” is a danger heat level that sees a lot of action in Australia. In fact, they have just one level that is before “High.” Aussies who live in rural areas are always encouraged to have their brushfire survival plans ready at the hand, just in case. Sizzling temperatures can lead to blackouts and paramedics stay on high alert. So it’s no surprise that with extreme conditions like these, unfortunate deaths can easily happen. In 1998, after speaking with several pro tennis players, an Extreme Heat Policy was introduced to the Australia Open. All walks of life from baby joeys to rural vegetable farmers to pro tennis players are effected by the severe Australian sun; no one is immune. Unless they have a powerful central air conditioning system, a fireproof house and no need to leave their residence during these times, which we would highly recommend.
1. M Is For Murder, Mate
Murder by mad outback killers, that is. Australia has a bad rap for being overrun by crazed lunatic knife-wielding killers. Movies based on true Australian crimes such as The Snowtown Murders and Wolf Creek (though it’s really supposed to be Wolfe Creek) show a horrifying side to life in the outback. While Australia certainly has its fair share of unsolved murders, all-around creepy happenings and serial killers such as Ivan Milat, Andy Albury and the strange case of David and Catherine Birnie, what country doesn’t? Sad and tragic but true. With that being said, what probably isn’t helping Australia’s reputation for being warm and friendly is the sheer amount of tourist killings. For a slew of recent depraved and senseless murders of backpackers and visiting students, Google “Australia murder tourists”. Or better yet, save some love for Australia in your heart and don’t.
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