Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Snakes and Spiders in the Land of Oz

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the video of a huntsman spider dragging a mouse up a fridge door.

I’m not surprised it’s gone viral; we all love to talk about our creepy crawlies here and to be perfectly honest I’d be pretty freaked out by that sight myself, but I’m easily freaked out by mice anyway. If we had a resident huntsman capable of killing mice I’d be okay with that, though I’d rather he did it in the dead of night. Fortunately we don’t have mice and any huntsmen I see are nowhere near that big.

I didn’t know whether to be amused or . . . what? when I heard some Americans had cancelled their planned holidays to Australia after seeing that video, but given that most of my readers are from USA I thought it worth explaining a few things about our creepy crawlies. Huntsmen, first of all, are common but perfectly harmless, unless you’re an insect. Or a mouse apparently! And they’re not usually that big.

I spent my very early years living in a house surrounded by orange trees, quite a few miles from the nearest town. The little school I went to was also surrounded by trees, or grape vines–I’m not sure now, but I do remember sitting on the ground with my friends eating lunch and drinking rain water from a red plastic mug. The rain water often had wrigglers (mosquito larvae) in it and no doubt a few things we couldn’t see but they didn’t do us any harm.

Most of my schooling was after we moved to a bigger country town–we used to swim in the river and I spent quite a lot of time at the farm when my older sister married a farmer. I’ve also lived in Queensland, both on the beach and inland. Would you like to know how many snakes I’ve seen? Not counting zoos, none!

I’m not suggesting visitors (or anyone)  should run around the  bush barefoot, or approach snakes or spiders to test if they’re venomous, but generally they prefer their own company. I’m hardly an expert of course, just an average Aussie with a healthy respect for our wildlife–I was once kind of attacked by a kangaroo at a park, so my mother tells me, but I don’t remember it. They can actually be quite dangerous, but like most of our wildlife they don’t actually like us much and stay away. So if you want to go Oz but you’re frightened of spiders and snakes just stay in the civilised areas, or go with a tour, and you can be pretty sure they’ll stay away from you.

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Roo Poo

It’s autumn here in Oz–my favourite time of the year—not a fan of the summer heat, and winter, although welcome in the beginning, soon outstays its welcome. Autumn is perfect, warm days and cool nights developing into cool days and cold nights. And the trees changing colour before they lose all their leaves and become drab. We don’t have any deciduous trees in our garden, just natives, all of which are evergreen, but I don’t have to walk far to enjoy the autumn display.

I’ve just been to a small park nearby and soaked up the smell of eucalyptus–it’s great when the eucalypts are damp from the rain. I was strolling along with my nose in the air when I happened to glance down and realised I needed to watch where I was walking. There was roo poo everywhere!Stony_Creek_Cover_for_Kindle

There’s a national park area not far from where I live and there’s been a lot of new homes put up since we moved here around 15 years ago. I did see a few kangaroos on my walks in those early years and it’s nice to know they’re still around. Obviously we’ve stolen some of their territory but, be assured, they’re not at risk.

For those of you who don’t know much about Australia, it must look like a sparsely populated country, with plenty of room for more people. Which if course it is, in theory. The trouble is most of us tend to cling to the coastline or at least places with some kind of civilization. I live in a regional inland city which only really came about because of a gold rush many years ago. We don’t even have a river, much less a view of the coast, and it would be very difficult to live in any such area without the assurance of a water supply.

Much of inland Australia is desert and uninhabitable, at least to those of us who likekarinya cover water and power. So we keep building more houses near already established towns and we do rob the wildlife of their habitat; at least we are aware of the problem now and hopefully we can find some way around it. I hear conflicting stories–our koalas are dying out in some areas because of chlamydia, while in other areas they’re being culled because there’s just too many and they’re in danger of starving to death.

That’s a grim note to finish on but I’m very hopeful the experts will find a solution and I do know they’re trying. My last couple of years I’ve been writing stories based in the outback and I’m on the last one of the series, which, as yet, is nameless. The first two are ‘Stony Creek‘ and ‘The Road to Karinya‘.