No, I am not going to write about kangaroos.
I am not that cheap. Everybody who wants to write funny stories about Australia writes about kangaroos. I refuse to stoop that low. They are too easy a target, too cheap a shot. I will, however, write about koala bears. I may not be cheap, but I have my limits. Koala bears sell.
Just to show how thin the line between humor and reality is at times I have put a * before items that really, actually and truly did happen. In the words of fellow human being and somewhat inferior humor writer Dave Barry - "This is true, I am not making this up." (Mr. Barry, through slick and highly questionable means, now owns the copyright to this statement.)
In Australia there are many loathsome creatures to be feared and watched out for. In some areas it is the Australians themselves, but I'll get to that in another article. It's almost as though God intentionally put the most dangerous animals together in one place thinking that man would not find them there. He did. (Except for the polar bear. God was wise enough to hide them in the North Pole where it took man a while to find them. As far as I know there are no polar bears in Australia, although what I know doesn't go that far. No abominable snowmen either, although I have seen a few characters in Queensland who make me wonder.) Of course, there are the usual crocodiles and poisonous snakes and spiders, but they are well known and therefore boring. What I really want to warn you about are the little rascals that you don't expect who sneak up on you like door to door salesmen in the ghetto.
*One of these are turtles. Yes, turtles. Of course in Australia they are the size of Sumo wrestlers. I was swimming back to the beach one day when I saw the wake of something coming towards me. The first thought was "Shark!" and my first reaction was to wet my wet suit. Then the thing passed under me and I saw that it was a giant turtle. Luckily giant turtles don't have a taste for scuba divers or at least have never been known to make the effort to try one.
Another denizen of Down Under is the notorious green-headed, green butted ant. It has, as you can gather from the green headed, green butted name that it has a green head and a green butt and what has not been mentioned previously, a brown midsection. This green-headed, green-butted, brown midsectioned beasty will for the duration of the rest of this article be shortened to GHGBA to save me and the editor nerve damage. Now GHGBA's are funny looking enough to begin with, but on top of that they have a nasty bite which is especially saved for those who make fun of them (which is why I waited until I got home to write this). Couple that with the fact that in some areas they are as common as grass and that spells Trouble with a capital 'T', which changes its name to GHGBAT.
Did you notice that I haven't mentioned kangaroos once yet?
Sand fleas are especially evil things, worthy of a Stephen King novel. They are unseeable, unstoppable AND THEY THRIVE ON HUMAN BLOOD!!!!! AND WHEN THEY BITE THEY ITCH LIKE HELL!!!!!!!!!! (Now is the time to start some spooky background music.) How do you fight off something that you can't see? It's like a horror out of a bad grade B movie. You know, the ones where the invisible vampire sucks you dry like the IRS in April. When one thinks of a country entirely surrounded on all sides by warm, swim-able beaches it is a veritable sin for this to be ruined by such an evil presence as sand fleas. God must hate anyone having too good a time.
*For scuba divers three are Wobegons. They are sharks of the harmless variety (or so they say.) They are also known as 'Sleeping Sharks' because they lie around on the bottom of the sea like couch potatoes without televisions. This they did, that is, until my diving buddy accidentally kicked one and it went swimming off. Now, this destroys my concept of sharkhood since I always thought that any self-respecting shark would at least bite his leg off for such an indignity. I had also assumed that they were real tough since they have hides that look like camouflaged Desert Storm uniforms.
Kukaburras are loud birds that sound like chimpanzees with an irritating case of hemorrhoids. They sound like the entire jungle backdrop of a Tarzan movie. Strangely, all of this noise comes out of short, squat bodies no bigger than pigeons, but then again, bull horns ain't all that big either. If you ever have one next to your tent or cabin the whole night you will never forget it.
Still haven't mentioned kangaroos.
Of course, one creature one never thinks to fear is the humble koala bear, but in whispers at night when no tourists are about the natives speak fearfully of....KILLER KOALAS!!!!!! (Time again for that creepy background music.) It is not wished that the true nature of these creatures would be leaked out to the press. Advertised as being cute, shy, loveable animals has created a gullible, vulnerable and ultimately appetizing public. The truth can be better shown by the piles of German, American, British, Japanese and Korean tourist bones found picked clean under eucalyptus trees housing fat, snoring koalas sleeping satisfied above. It is those taken in by the 'hug a koala' popularity that scream the most. You have been warned.
See, I didn't once mention kangaroos.