K is for Killer Wildlife: Kangaroos and Koalas (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr
chrisinplymouth
photostream

I have been reading some fantastic blogs on my travels through the A to Z Challenge. One of them is by Geoff Maritz, who lives in Capetown, South Africa. Geoff’s concept for the Challenge is to write about his home in Africa, including its wildlife. You can find Geoff’s blog here: Geoff’s Blogs. He has a killer post about Kilimanjaro today – great K word, Geoff!

Geoff has inspired me to write about some of Australia’s unique killer wildlife. Let me show you a couple of our natives.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos are native to Australia and are marsupials. The name ‘kangaroo” is derived from the Aboriginal language. “Kangaroo” was originally “gangurru” and was  the native’s description of the grey kangaroo. Groups of kangaroos are called mobs.

Some kangaroos can jump 30 feet and and can hop up to 45 kilometres and hour. The largest kangaroo, the Red Kangaroo, can grow as high as 6 feet and weigh 200 pounds. Something I didn’t know and just found out was that kangaroos can’t move backwards and they can’t move their back feet independantly on land. However, when they swim they can kick with one foot at a time. Baby kangaroos are called joeys and are born after only 31 – 36 days of  gestation.  They are basically tiny,  pink, hairless animals that don’t come off of their mother’s teat for weeks and live in their mother’s pouch.

That’s gotta hurt!

Kangaroos are strong and males usually box. Usually this is playful, but can be part of a show of dominance. You do NOT want to be kicked by a kangaroo, although it is an amazing feat of strength and balance. A kangaroo will rear up on its tail and then kick with both feet at the same time. If you are a male of average height, that usually connects with your pride and joy. Great subject for a family video, but you would only want to capture that frame once!

Kangaroos essentially sleep during the day and feed at night. Contrary to popular belief, there are no kangaroos hopping down the street in urban areas, although in some parts this can happen in times of drought. Most urban dwelling Australians see kangaroos by the side of the road – either alive or as road kill or in a wild life sanctuary, just like tourists.

Koalas

Koalas are only found in four states of Australia: Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. The word ‘koala‘ comes from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘no drink’. Koalas mostly eat eucalyptus leaves and this provides them with the water they need. Therefore, they do not, or only rarely, drink water.

Koalas are not actually bears, they are marsupials, which means they carry their young in a pouch like kangaroos. Adult koalas measure between 64 to 76 centimetres in length and weigh between 7 and 14 kilograms.

Koalas have a great life, they basically eat and sleep and seem constantly in a languid satiated state. The reason Koala’s sleep so much is that it takes a lot of energy to digest eucalyptus leaves, which are tough. They are also poisonous to other species.  Male koalas are solitary animals, like their man caves and often live alone.

Most urban Australians will see koalas only in the wildlife sanctuary just like tourists. Sometimes, you can catch a glimpse of a colony of koalas living in trees in rural areas, but in my experience this is occasional at best. Unfortunately koala habitat is on the decline and they are also under threat from cars and dog attacks.

just hanging around

So, come on down and see the natives. They are cute, entertaining and we really don’t bite….much!

A is for Australia: Think Aussie with these 5 Tourist Tips

April 1st has finally rolled around bringing with it the start of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge . Good luck to all the participants – whether you’re a first timer and new to blogging like me or a seasoned blogger and Challenge champion. And a big thank you to the A to Z Challenge gods for giving my blog a shout out in their weekly wrap up  last night. It means much.

Living in this time zone, I guess I am one of the first cabs of the rank… so let the alphablogging games begin!

Australia is my homeland and I am an Aussie. Aussies tend to refer to Australia as the lucky country, with good reason. Leaving politics aside, Australia is truly blessed with natural beauty (and beauties), a terrific climate, unique killer wildlife (the beauties aren’t included in that statement) and wonderful freedoms. I am truly grateful to be living here.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were just over 500,000 visitor arrivals to our fair shores in January 2012, the majority of which were from New Zealand (75,000), China (77,200) United Kingdom (57,000) and United States of America (38,000).

If you have ever travelled to a country for the first time, you know that there’s a fine line between fitting in and looking so much at home that you are asked for directions by other tourists! No tourist wants to stand out with a big “T” on their forehead. So here’s my 5 tips on how to do Australia like an Aussie:

1.       Do your tanning on the beach – Australia is blessed with some of the most amazing beaches in the world. Crystal blue waters and soft white sand abound. If you are visiting a coastal city, do your tanning at the beach and not in a mid-city park. The only Aussies who wear a bikini in the park are those visiting a public swimming pool located there and those coming home after a big night on the town, having lost their clothes. Besides, you haven’t really experienced tanning until you have had sand in your cozzie (Aussie word for swimming costume) and crevices.

2.       A temperature of less than fifteen degrees Celsius does not a summer day make – Australia is blessed with amazing weather. Summers are hot and winters are temperate. However, to most Aussies a temperature of fifteen degrees does not constitute a day worthy of shorts and a tank top. Appropriate dress for fifteen degrees is jeans, a jumper and a neck scarf!

3.       Treat the possibility of a shark attack with the same caution as the possibility of a car accident   – most Aussies are acutely aware that there are killer sharks swimming in our oceans. This does not stop us from enjoying the surf. News of death by shark attack is rare and reports of shark attacks seem to be greatly exaggerated by overseas media.   

By contrast, treat the possibility of a crocodile attack seriously. For some reason, they particularly like the taste of European tourists.

 4.       Give everything a short, pithy nickname  – Aussies tend to shorten the name of everything and everyone. Any word with more than three syllables is too much to say after a few drinks. For example, ” McDonalds” becomes “Maccas” (you’ll probably really need to know that one after a few drinks), Barbeque becomes “Barby”, “Kimberley” becomes “Kimbo” and “Politicians” become “a waste of space” er… I mean “Pollies”.

5.       Savour all of our amazing food – Australians love to eat Aussie food. We love our  pizza, yiros, pad thai, and donner kebab. Any dish which contains pineapple is considered Australian even if it originated from another country.

Now that you have had a taste of my homeland I hope you’ll come on down. Follow these tips and you’ll be tourist savvy in no time.

[photo of the letter A from flikr – Leo Reynolds]