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Sunday

The DARK Side of OZ travel – my TOP 7 Hazards!


Stormy Weather ... Sultana Point, South Australia

Wild, rugged mountains. Ancient, arid deserts. Weird, wonderful wildlife. Magnificent beaches, lush rainforests, untamed islands. These – and other amazing wonders – are just part of everyday life in the mystical, magical land of OZ!

What could possibly go wrong??

Most of the time, nothing. But road-tripping round Australia isn't always beaches and bakeries, sunlight and surf, RED rock and rainbows … the dark side of travel in Australia is everywhere.
 
And the scare factor increases considerably through the eyes of a 'world's greatest coward' contender!

Yes, that's me.
 
Outback Road via Copley, South Australia

However, just because I'm easily frightened doesn't make me wrong, right? So for a cowards-eye view, I've put together MY version of the TOP 7 Aussie travel hazards!

But be warned! All you REAL adventurers out there just MIGHT find the dark side stuff that scares me rigid rather lame ...
 
#1 Heights

The shelter shed at the top of the Kalbarri Cliffs gives some idea of the drop DOWN!  Western Australia

The almost unbearable urge to give in to gravity on the edge of a precipitous cliff, narrow ridge or soaring pinnacle makes me weak at the knees.
 
Pilchard at the Eyrie- a 293 metre drop to the bottom of Tully Gorge, QLD
And watching people (like Pilchard!) stand on the edge of sheer drops without quavering gives me the cold shivers.
Perhaps the contrast with the ultra-flat parts of Australia makes its heights more obvious. Or maybe the absence of safety railings in remote spots underlines the danger.

OR … it could be that I really AM a coward!

But avoidance isn't an option if I want to see the sights or take the pix.
 
So after years of blanking out steep drops, my pointless clutching at railings or even rocks has abated (although the magnetic downdraft I feel when I'm on the edge hasn't)!
 
#2 Snakes
 
What's that on the Mt William Road in the Grampians National Park, Victoria?

In a country where threats like deadly box jellyfish and blue-ringed octopi, voracious sharks and crocodiles, giant ants and redback spiders, stonefish and stinging leaves stalk the land, singling out snakes as objects of fear doesn't really make sense.

Although with 9 of the world's 10 deadliest snakes alive and well down here perhaps it does …

But given my extreme 'flight' reaction works just as well on non-venomous species perhaps there's something other than the threat of imminent death in play.

It's a SNAKE, of course!  Who cares what kind??  They're ALL bad ...

I try to put it in perspective. Death from snakebite isn't all that common. But the risk of death rises exponentially when the snake is being handled. So do as I do – and run like hell!
#3 Bogans

According to the Australian Slang Dictionary on Koala Net, a Bogan is 'a person who takes little pride in his appearance, spends his days slacking and drinking beer'.

Not so scary, you say?

Well … wait 'til these benign behaviours intersect with 'disturbed camping' and 'extreme intoxication' and 'reverberating music' and 'sleep deprivation'.

The campground BEFORE the Bogan moved in ... Timber Creek, Northern Territory

Then you end up with a twenty-something low rent loser whacked out of his brain in the middle of a remote but crowded campground playing Aussie group Redgum's I Was Only 19 at full bore on his quadrophonic car stereo while simultaneously playing Elvis AreYou Lonesome Tonight? on his way-too-expensive-for-a-bogan supersonic caravan stereo system. Singing along with first one, then the other as if they went together.
 
At 3:00 am.
He was still passed out when we left the next morning which is why his tyres remained intact and the crocodiles in the creek below remained unfed!

Crocs in the Creek, Timber Creek, Northern Territory

But I still wonder how such a young bloke ended up with a brand-new $50,000+ caravan of a make and model that NO ONE ELSE under 60 owns. Or wants. Maybe it'd be worth checking the missing-grey-nomad register back where he came from …
 

#4 Extreme Sports

What ARE those black specks in the stormy sky above Ballina, New South Wales???

Paragliders, of course!
While watching para-gliders drifting lazily downwards against a backdrop of storm clouds makes for marvellously melodramatic shots, for me it's an awful amalgam of #1 and #6.

And if I'm going to break my neck, I'd rather do it the all-natural old-fashioned way than diving into a pool with an elastic rope around my ankles (see #1 above!).

Anyway, road-tripping Australia's vast distances in challenging conditions is virtually an extreme sport in itself!

Besides, I already participate in the most extreme sport on the planet.

Running through the inhospitable Aussie bushland laden with heavy equipment; crawling through swamps (sorry, 'wetlands') in eye-ball shrivelling heat or pouring rain; comparing field observations with an encyclopaedic wealth of conflicting data; negotiating 'roads' in remote wilderness; and the psychological ability to deal with the sometimes appalling social skills of its more experienced practitioners are just a few of the challenges the extreme sport of – yes – BIRDWATCHING presents.

It's nothing to do with cowardice – I just don't have the time – or energy – left for anything else!

D'you reckon there'd be snakes at the Tyto Wetlands, Ingham, Queensland?

And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you ...
 
#5 Being 'Caught Short'

Thousands of kilometres of road-tripping takes its toll in more ways than one. And despite the plethora of both male and female 'relief' products on the market, nothing beats finding a divine dunny when you need one.

Classic Aussie Dunny, Quobba Blowholes, Western Australia

Maybe that's why I've got such an affinity for Australia's Scenic Public Toilets!

While the scare factor is pretty low compared to, say, snakebite or death by duelling musicians, continually crossing one's legs is just plain AWKWARD!


View of the Loo (that black speck!) from the Lighthouse against the Quobba Blowholes, Western Australia
One day I'll introduce a unique Tour of Australia via its most AMAZING Amenities – but in the meantime? I'll just keep publishing my handy guide to the most scenic loos in OZ!
Is it so wrong to combine doing business with pleasure??

#6 Roads

The Silver Bullet on the Strzelecki Track, via Lyndhurst, South Australia

Putting the 'road' into 'road-trip' isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Strzelecki Track Surface!
While vast distances, extreme weather, rugged conditions and wild animals take their toll, the real problem is economics.

At least that's the reason some regions give for tyre-shredding road surfaces, mud slicks, swimming pool-sized potholes and once-temporary traffic hazard signs that seem to have become permanent.

And without rail network closure and mining activity increases in many rural and remote areas, there'd be considerably fewer hazards from the network of semi-trailers.
 
Although grey nomads who use experimental driving techniques with their semi-trailer-sized caravans and truck-sized tow vehicles are even more of a hazard!

Either way, leaving home without Automobile Association membership means a road emergency miles from anywhere can bring your road-trip to a grinding – and expensive – halt!


Road Train on Kimberley Road, Western Australia
 

#7 Sensory Overload

Ho hum … another day on the road, another panorama of staggering scenery … an Aussie road-trip can really leave you jaded!

I've seen a LOT of Australia's abundant – and varied – natural attractions. And photographed them for my blog. But I'm SO not done yet! Not when I keep finding places like THESE!

Mt Warning, Northern New South Wales

OK, so I'm biased. But not without good reason!!


Sunset over the Richmond River, Ballina, New South Wales

Well, that's MY list. And yes, I'm sure it leaves my inarguable coward-contender status undamaged!!
 
But what have I missed?  What's the DARK side of Aussie travel for YOU??

44 comments:

  1. I think your list is comprehensive! I laughed at #5 on our recent trip we had driven miles and miles through flat treeless plains and just had to go ... nowhere to hide but fortunately no cars on the road either.

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  2. well a couple thoughts Red; I'm with you re the snakes - and in case you hadn't thought about it when visiting the outback dunnies - every wondered if one could be in there with you? As to the bogan - maybe he was getting over the divorce with his half share accommodation on the road.

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  3. I'm with you on 1 and 2 but no 5. is the worst.

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  4. Great shots with nice views.

    greetings from Holland, Joop

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  5. I am with you on the snakes and the bogan Red. How about the over friendly, know all, chatterbox bore who doesn't know when to go back to their own van and leave you to your own peace and quiet.

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  6. I certainly can agree with several. Snakes for sure.
    We never travel on the dirt roads due to my disabled husband, we stick to the sealed roads if we can.

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  7. Yes, I can see why your hazards might give you pause for thought and/or a quick intake of breath.
    What always tickles me is that I see Oz as a vast and unpopulated place where you have to make an appointment weeks ahead if you want to meet a fellow traveller on the road. So why do you need dunnies on the road? Are there no bushes or stones tall enough to hide behind?

    I don’t suppose you have facilities for a quick pee behind the hedge?

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  8. I agree with you that one camper can disrupt everything and that's annoying but I'm also aware that the word bogan was invented by professional types to describe the working classes whom they fear and despise.
    And unkempt! slacking! drinking! oh my goodness! what right do these boneheads have to own anything!
    It's so immoral.

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  9. Yep, have run into campers like that and usually they are temendously huge and scary even to look at - n look unscrubbed - I've even seen a few of them thrown out of campground in the middle of the night with the assistance of a couple of Mounties. They can tend to take over and ruin your stay for sure, Eh.
    Very interesting hazard post and I agree with most. Snakes do not bother me as we have no poisonous snakes here, but they sure are pretty. Even brought a few home in my day to show family and then let it go back where I got it. Heights do not bother me, definately not gonna jump from a plane or off a mountain top, Eh - Yah gotta be crazy - I would be the only one that "the chute" or whatever would not open.
    I gotta laugh at the Loo, as it wouldn't bother me to use it. I would probably sit there with my camera and take photos. he,he NOW the world will know - this girl in an emergency has opened both car doors on roadside away from roadside and created automatic Loo in emergencies - works well. I know you are laughing now and do not picture it. ha,ha
    I don't especially like the looks of that road - I think it would do quick damage to your tires.
    Lovely RED sunset kiddo. Take care :)

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  10. Just when I saw the snake thankfully distant, the next photo was a close up. Thanks for that, not. To Carole M, yes, a childhood experience was of a snake in the lav. My mother killed it with Phenyle.

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  11. Red, I have thoroughly enjoyed your list of Australia's dark sides. The snake is my worst fear, especially if they are close. Your photos are beautiful, great post! Have a happy week ahead!

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  12. Greatly enjoyed your post on the dark side. Many items on your list just make sense to approach with care. Heights, snakes, crocks, poisonous flora and fauna, and potholes all are good to avoid. Great photos and story.

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  13. Regarding the first one, I should think you suffer from vertigo. I also have a great fear of snakes. And I haven't the fainted of ideas why.

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  14. #8 Either of our options as the next Prime Minister, Red, who’ll be voted in by #3 Bogans. I’d rather take my chances with a snake on the edge of a precipice.

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  15. Gotta say, snakes are the least of my fears. I've lived in one of the most tiger snake infested areas and had some very, very close calls. But, I still love them all the same - insane wanna-be herpetologist here :)

    I truly have more fear of the Bush Bogan, than snakes. And, it doesn't help that I've seen Wolf Creek!

    For me, the worst is the "dark side" of our moods, when we've had to return home to suburban mundanesville (or, Stepfordtown) after a fantastic road trip - that's the worst for us :)

    Lovin' your posts and your pics. I miss travelling.

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  16. The dark side of Aussie travel for me? The isolation. Husband and I were travelling through the more-deserted west coast of Tasmania through forest looking at a slowly approaching car. "Ivan Milat?" I joked to my husband. One word from him "Don't".
    Loved your post! Can especially relate to the vertigo. Wonderful photos!

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  17. Seeing the dunny reminded me of our holiday with Leo and Jessica in April to Dubbo Zoo we stopped at a rest area to have lunch and I took Little Leo to the toilet which was a dunny and he looked at it and said that's not a real toilet and I am not using it..............

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  18. I am terrified of heights, and the slightest possibility of not making it to the bathroom in time while traveling are two pretty big hazards, Red. How you take such fascinating photos while dealing with such things is simply AMAZING!

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  19. Vertigo? Even platform soled shoes were a no-no for me. Oddly enough, I've only ever seen snakes al fresco twice, and both times they were on a well travelled road. Forced myself once to go right up close and look at some [securely caged] at an agricultural show. Nearly gagged, but can now almost look at pictures of them without breaking into a sweat.
    As a child, I only ever used the dunny when it had just been emptied. Nothing wrong with a good clean paddock, I say.

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  20. Of course, my travel is through the US -deserts, but the dangers aka adventures are pretty much the same! The bathroom is a problem. We thought the last week 4-hrs. traffic jam in 105 degr.F weather was horrible, till we saw someone go on the side of the road, in front of half America - didn't even go into the bushes! We laughed because of his guts.

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  21. Yes, I must say that I have encountered most of these - you haven't included the heat, dust storms, crocs, mosquitoes, flies, "march" flies (much bigger than your typical Aussie bush fly), creek crossings......... but would I NOT go on an Aussie Road Trip - No! I'm planning my next one right now!
    Thanks Red for another great post about our amazing country.

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  22. The "Dark" side is really rather pretty, even the snake. I would have left him alone too. I'd say the darkest of the list is the Bogans. you don't want that sort of hullaballoo spoiling the quiet of the outback.
    If I was to make a list it would have to include bush flies and march flies.

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  23. "... pointless clutching at railings" - I´m so with you, in many of your fears!
    Add Spiders or anything with more than 4 legs and see me jump.
    Thankfully Ingo never told me of all these dang insects you have over there - I would´ve refused to give it a go!
    And.... fire. Especially when you´re with a conventional car on a gravel road, because Lonly Planet said, that´s no problem. But it turns out it is. And no one else is around.

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  24. Well except for the snakes, no thank you to any kind, and those trucks pulling way too many loads, the rest looks more than doable. Hey, everybody has some kind of phobia. Please don't take me to a crowded shopping mall. But that loo, WOW, what a view.

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  25. Funny how much of that slang is already adopted by us! Even though when two German blokes travel together through the Outback, they speak no more English than "Pump No 1 (or 2)" and "Credit card, please". Weird, no?

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  26. I still have a visit to Australia on my bucket list in spite of this listing of the dark side of travel there. I think I could handle all of these except possibly the snakes. I'm not a big fan of them, either.

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  27. Even scary is beautiful there! I wish I were one of those gray nomads (I'd try not to frighten you)>

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  28. Great post. Of course, now I am terrified about visiting Oz.

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  29. Red this is quite the list, the only one I encountered were the roads and being stuck in Alice Springs, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise I might add. The sudden rains left the roads into the APY Lands washed out, I got to see the river which runs through Alice flood, which they say if you've seen it happen three times you're a resident... two more times and I can apply for legal citizenship under these standards! ;-)

    You live in a magnificent country, sure there are hazards and/or things which are scary but that can be said about any country I'm sure. I find that I've also pushed myself over and beyond fears to take THE photo, as long as I'm looking through my lens all is well in my world... funny how that works.

    Cheers.

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  30. Red
    I do agree with you on heights. I get spooked on those wall-hugging trails along the side of a mountain. I get white knuckles when I have to drive one of those roads. I'm not fond of snakes either. Bogans....... now that is a new word to me. They must be spooky because a lot of people agreed on that one. Of course I can find the scary side of a lot of things.


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  31. @Joan - Hahaha, 'doing a squat' is what road-trips are all about! And I'm laughing WITH you, not AT you!
    @Carole - Yes, the deadly snake/dunny combo is ALWAYS in my thoughts - just adds that frisson of danger to make even the simplest outback activities exciting! And I don't think Mr Bogan was getting over ANYTHING!
    @Peter Perletti - May your travels be hazard-free!
    @Jon Chown - Hahaha, crossing your legs isn't all it's cracked up to be!!!
    @Joop Zand - Thank you, my friend! Other than the flatness, I bet this looks NOTHING like Holland!!
    @Linley - Yes indeed! I call them 'dingo traps' - because I'd rather gnaw off a limb than be trapped by THEM!!!

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  32. @whiteangel - Our camper trailer isn't often on the dirt - it's getting a bit too old, unlike it's owners, hahaha!!
    @Friko - What's a hedge??!! Even if you haven't seen another soul for hours, someone's bound to turn up just when things are getting interesting ...
    @RH - I see I've mixed up my bogans with my deranged psychopaths - of whom fear/loathing is actually a logical response!
    @Saucy Kodz - I'm SO moving to Canada now I know you've got no poisonous snakes!!!! But I think I'd find a whole different set of hazards ... like killer cold and bears and stuff!
    @Andrew - You've clearly been scarred for life - but just look at the close-up as therapy! And how DO you kill a snake with Phenyl, anyway??
    @eileeninmd - Threaten me with a snake and I'll do/say anything you like!! This one was too cold to move quickly or I'd never have got the shot!
    @TFG - It was quite difficult picking out the Top 7 - maybe I'll do a follow up of the ones that didn't make the cut!

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  33. @Ramakant Pradhan - You're right about the vertigo, my friend! And the snake thing isn't logical, it just IS!
    @FigMince - Hahaha, but whoever #3 select will be a disaster, so save your fight with a snake on a cliff for when it will actually make a difference!
    @Vicki - I won't be contesting the herpetology position - it's SO all yours!! Agree about the coming-home-downer too ... but I use it as impetus to travel again!
    @Pam - We had a similar experience on the Sturt Highway near where Peter Falconio disappeared. We were SO outta there!!
    @Jo-Anne - Hahaha!! Desperation usually lowers my standards pretty quickly!!!
    @TMWH - I severely curtail my coffee intake when there's a big day out on the road ahead ... but alas, it doesn't always work ...

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  34. @FruitCake - Haha, thanx for your comment ... I was starting to think I was a touch neurotic there for a moment!!!
    @Jesh St Germein - HAhaha, that's hilarious!! Are you sure he wasn't Australian?? But if you've gotta go, may as well be loud & proud about it!!!
    @Jill - The list that DIDN'T make the cut is bigger than the one that did!! But stopping the travels is SO not an option!!
    @River - Yeah, the flies aren't much fun, and Pilchard's a mosquito magnet- but sandflies always go for me!! Then there's the ants ... hang on, I feel another post coming on!
    @Jidhu - Thank you!
    @Iris - Haha, maybe you should send Lonely Planet your experience so they can update their OZ guide!! And you survived all the insects, right?? So they can't REALLY be that bad ...
    @Gaelyn - Crowded shopping malls deserve their own special category of hell ... and as for the scenic loos - well, they make it all worthwhile!

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  35. @Iris - HAha, you don't NEED any more English than that!!!
    @George - Many Australians can go for YEARS without sighting a snake!! It all depends where you want to go & what you want to see!
    @Sallie - I'm sure you'd be an AWESOME grey nomad!! Come on down!!!
    @Jack - I think the statistical odds are in your favour ... unless you're a drunken bogan who decides to go swimming in a crocodile infested creek, of course!!!
    @Darlin - You're one up on me, girlfriend! I've NEVER seen the Todd River in flood!!! Where do I go to revoke my citizenship?!?!?!
    @Manzanita - I never pegged you as a coward contender!!! But actually, one of the reasons I name my fears is to reduce their impact!!! Hope it works ...

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  36. I can relate all too well with everything on your list. I decided once to zip-line in Costa Rica, totally forgetting about #1 on your list. When it kicked in, my adventure turned to sheer terror. I won't be doing that again. And, I must admit I've never understood the camper who makes his way to a beautiful natural setting only to turn on the ghetto blaster at full volume. Why do they bother to leave home? Once again your wit and gift of storytelling has entertained me. (Sorry my comment has to follow the truly humorless bloke above.)

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  37. Crocs and snakes!!! Both would scare the bejeepers out of me. I think the snake might even scare me more than a croc.

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  38. I hope to have the chance... sooner or later to visit this fantastic County !
    many regards from Italy ! your blog is really nice ..

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  39. @Sharon - Haha, I can only imagine the horror of zip-lining which means I'll probably never try it!! And I guess we all need music - some of us just need more than others!
    @MJWC - On balance, while the croc is more scary there's something cringe-worthy about those snakes!
    @Massimo - Welcome and thank you! There's so much to see and do down here - I hope my blog gives you some inspiration!

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  40. Yep me too. heights make me dizzy. Snakes give e heart palpitations, corrugated roads shakes your brain, noisy bogans in the next cabin or motel room makes me see red, (not you) but the worst is to be on a bus tour with the person behind you coughing over you for 20 days and giving you bronchitis on the other side of the world then having to visit a foreign doctor who doesn't speak English. Then take medication you have never heard of before and doesn't work anyway. Then been scared that Qantas will offload you because you are sick.
    Going whale watching and not seeing any.

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  41. Your fears all seem reasonable to me! I share your fears. But you haven't scared me off from wanting to visit Australia someday. ;)

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  42. Entertaining post! I like the view from high places but they make my knees shake! I am unable to climb off a ladder onto a roof because my legs won't cooperate!

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