Hey Australians! Do you know what comes to mind when people outside Australia think about your country?
As someone not from Australia who has thought these things, and someone currently in Australia who is hearing these things from friends and family not in Australia, I can tell you that animals (and yes, this includes all members of the animal kingdom: mammals, insects, reptiles, spiders, fish, etc.) are among some of the most popular images evoked by the mention of your country (Foster’s is a close second).
What’s more is that people commonly imagine these animals as capable of killing humans.
However, despite the fact that your country is apparently filled with killer animals, I have been largely disappointed with the amount of wildlife (deadly or otherwise) I’ve seen after more than a month of bicycle riding.
No, I’m here to see some snakes, spiders, and lizards. I’m here to see kangaroos, wallabies, and dingos. I’m here to see camels, horses, and emus.
And do you know how many of these things I’ve seen alive? Well, here’s a tally:
- SNAKES | 0
- SPIDERS | 0
- LIZARDS | 0
- KANGAROOS | 0
- WALLABIES | 0
- DINGOS | 0
- CAMELS | 0
- HORSES | 0
- EMUS | 0
The only wildlife I’ve come across has been birds.
Every morning I am awoken by the sound of some of the loudest and most obnoxious birds I’ve ever heard (sleeping in is not an option). I have identified some of these nuisances to be chatterings of cockatoos, but there are others whose songs are foreign to me (and one that sounds like a screaming monkey).
The most impressive bird (and perhaps the least unpleasant) I’ve encountered is the wedge-tailed eagle. They can be commonly found eating their fallen animal brethren in the middle of the road, and they have wingspans that reach up to 8.3 ft (2.5 m) (fun to watch as they attempt to take flight with bellies full of kangaroo).
Speaking of dead things, my sightings of deceased animals have been far too frequent to count (and their rotting corpses are not fun to breathe in whilst riding past).
Dawn and dusk are the best times to see (live) animals (or so “they” say), and so perhaps a change to my riding schedule will yield more successful contact.
Some mornings I hear passing road trains honk, which tells me that animals have chosen to occupy the highway.
In other news, today my bicycle today was the heaviest it’s been since leaving Port Augusta. I am loaded up with far too much food (purchased at the first market I’ve seen in hundreds of miles) and fifteen liters of water.
Now is not the time for my bicycle to break down.
- START: Coober Pedy, South Australia
- END: Evelyn Downs Rest Area, South Australia
- DAY’S DISTANCE: 57.57 mi / 92.65 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 1,094.77 mi / 1,761.86 km