Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Marauding marsupials

There are many misconceptions about living in Australia. People have no concept of the sheer distance between points or how vast nothingness can be, though this picture speaks a thousand words. There is this persistent idea that it is full of strange, dangerous animals, particularly reptiles, and cuddly koalas. The other great myth is that kangaroos hop down main streets... well they might do in some places.

We live in a suburb rather like many others, except the beach is down the end of the road. Despite having lived in Australia for 22 years this time, the only time one has ever seen any of the dangerous species it has been tucked safely behind glass. For the record koalas are not cuddly; they have sharp claws (ones capable of ripping you open), reek of eucalyptus and have a rough coat. They also pee on you when you hold them, which is a habit that has ruined many a happy snap for tourists.

Lastly the kangaroo... well not so cut and dried. Round here they don’t hop down the main streets, but they do use the sports grounds of some of the local schools for grazing. It seems to be an arrangement that suits everybody because they only come out in the early morning and late afternoon to do so, thereby missing out on all the noisy children. Kangaroos are smarter than people realise :)

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