Monday, November 14, 2011

Australia is not a bigger New Zealand (Part 1)

I am back in New Zealand for an extended visit and it got me thinking about the surprising ways Australia is very different from New Zealand. I thought Australia was just a larger version of New Zealand. How wrong I was.

This blog post is about some of the differences.

The Wild Life

After two years I never saw a koala in the wild and the only echidna I saw was road kill; but I glimpsed wallabies and kangaroos in their natural element. I saw marvellous Water Dragons ( a very cool looking lizard with bouncy legs and a frill on top), a family of kookaburras, some shy platypuses and whole family of frogs bouncing in the light of my headlights. I went to cairns and saw a crocodile farm and watched a Cassowary cross the road. One day I hope to see the local four foot long Goana and the chunky wombats. I have never seen any of these in New Zealand

The Birds

The birds in Australia are bigger and brasher than their NZ counterparts and come in all the colourful hues I have only seen in NZ cages. They are large and noisy and a whole flock settles in the neighbours garden in the early morning calling each other in raucous and shrill tones. One week I saw about a twenty cockatoos and Galahs feasting on berries in just one tree. I also love the long curved beak Ibis I watched fossicking in amongst the people eating at the Southbank market in Brisbane city.

The Insect Life

Just like the birds, the insects are bigger and bolder. I have been up close and personal with large furry Huntsman Spiders in the house and they can run pretty fast when you are chasing them with a broom. They also make a big mess when you splat them. Mosquitos are familiar but the flies are particularly annoying. In NZ a fly will give up when you swat at it but not in Australia. It just flies off lazily and chooses a new spot to land its little legs on your face. Yuk.

The Bugs

No one told me about the leeches. Twice I went bush walking and had the little black jelly like bloodsuckers crawl up my shoe onto my ankle. They inject anaesthetic and anticoagulant, and then sit there sucking the blood and drop off when they are full. I noticed the first one early but the second left me with a big bloody mark on my sock. At least I never had a tick move in. Those things leave an itchy raised red rash.

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