28 Jan

Cycling in Australia – Animals that either kill you or make you stronger

Australia is full of exotic animals, especially when you are from Germany where the fauna’s fascination stops short of encountering a deer or a daddy longlegs (German:Weberknecht). 

Having lived nearly a year in Australia, I had the (mis)fortune to meet some of its inhabitants. Let me introduce you to a few of them. It is always good to know by what one gets killed:
Every time I see a kangaroo hopping at the side of the road I get into staring, photo-taking tourist mode….
”Look, look there is a kangaroo. 
Do you see it? 
Did you see it? 
Oh my god, it is hopping next to us. Awesome (Monikanouncian is: Ooooohsome). “
What I keep forgetting is that my fellow riders, usually Australians, have already seen one or two or thousands in their lives. Tough to get much excitement out of them. 
Kangaroos behave like mega-bunnies. They cant make up their mind where they jump and all of a sudden they land in front of you. Can you guess where I am going with this?
The most deadly snakes call Australia their home. So if I see a snake, I would not be exactly indifferent about its presence. 
Well, surely enough, I was riding with a few mates (yeah yeah turning into an Aussie already) through the lovely Australian gravel country side when my riding buddies in front of me circumvented a seeming stick on the road. 
I was a confused. 
Why don’t they just hop that sucker? Even I could do that (and if you have ever ridden mountain bikes with me, you know what I am talking about)! 
They were calling something in slurry Oz. Unconcerned and ignorant of the situation I was rocking up to this stick ready to bunny hop. 
Lightning struck. I knew now exactly what was going on. Snake! 
If the same situation happened in Germany, everyone would get of their bike, take their phones out and determine what snake it is. Australians are a little bit more laid back. “Ah, just a brown snake” I was told. After some thorough research on most venomous snakes, I learned that it is ranked as number 2. 
I know this might be a stretch as “need to know” cycling knowledge but if you don’t know about this animal and see it the first time you wish you had already written your will. 
I had the misfortune to encounter it at 2am on my way to the bathroom. I peed my pants. The bathroom was not required anymore. Compared to the huntsman, a daddy longlegs seems a joke made by nature. 
You must be now thinking…Monika…seriously? 
Well, let me tell you, the Australian flies are different. Seriously! 
I made the first real encounter while out-of-shaply grinding up a monstrosity of mountain, one fly after the other felt like joining me and climbed in my ears, nostrils and eyes. Waving in front of my face encouraged the flies to do it again, just a bit more annoying. Well, after an eternity of annoyance and wild waving, I made the mistake of stopping. 
Pooofff, an entire fly colony with its neighbors made picnic on me. After that, I was literally flying to the top of the mountain. 
Well, comparing flies with Magpies, I am not sure what is more challenging – the constant tickle in your eyes, ears and nose or the occasional smack to the head? 
Welcome to Magpie land. 
If it doesn’t kill you on the ground, don’t worry, Australia got the air covered as well. During Magpie season, October and November, these birds attack you from the back and smack you in the head if they think you deserve the full treatment. 
The bird’s exceptional business idea resulted even in an app where you can locate the most active Magpies. 
If you are a fan of fartlek training, the Magpie is your secret training partner.
So I have been living in Australia now for almost a year and still haven’t seen a koala. I start to think that this is a myth to have a cute little fluff ball in Australia’s killer animal kingdom. On top of it, it is high all the time – someone must have been stoned while inventing this creature.
Discovering Australia’s fauna is a work in progress and I am sure I forgot some crucial animals. And I have this odd feeling, that I will discover them rather sooner than later.
Although I am not quite sure about this deadly animal business, there is one thing I am sure about: there is not much left that could unsettle the Australian human species.

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