DOUGLAS ADAMS' (of Hitchhikers guide fame) VIEW OF AUSTRALIA
many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous
bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge
deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an
accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it
up a more frightening theory, but they can't spell either.
The first of the confusing things about
place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as
continent, island, or country,
Typically, it is unique in this.
The second confusing thing about
divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true
that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet,
of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most
curiously few snakes, possibly because the spiders have killed them
But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be
careful to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet
seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else.
A stick is very useful for this task
Strangely, it tends to be the second class of animals (the Odd) that
are more dangerous. The creature that kills the most people each year
is the common Wombat. It is nearly as ridiculous as its name, and
spends its life digging holes in the ground, in which it hides. During
the night it comes out to eat worms and grubs. The wombat kills
people in two ways:
First, the animal is indestructible. Digging holes in the hard
Australian clay builds muscles that outclass Olympic weight lifters.
At night, they often wander the roads. Semi-trailers (Road Trains)
have hit them at high speed, with all 18 wheels on one side, and this
merely makes them very annoyed. They express this by snorting,
glaring, and walking away. Alas, to smaller cars, the wombat becomes
a symmetrical launching pad, with results that can be imagined, but
not adequately described.
The second way the wombat kills people relates to its burrowing
behaviour. If a person happens to put their hand down a Wombat hole,
the Wombat will feel the disturbance and think "Ho! My hole is
collapsing!" at which it will brace its muscled legs and push up against
the roof of its burrow with incredible force, to prevent its collapse. Any
unfortunate hand will be crushed, and attempts to withdraw will cause
the Wombat to simply push up harder. The unfortunate will then bleed
to death through their crushed hand as the wombat prevents him from
seeking assistance. This is considered the third most embarrassing
known way to die, and Australians don't talk about it much.
At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus, estranged
relative of the mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed
feet, lays eggs, detects its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric
eel, and has venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining
all 'typical' Australian attributes into a single improbable creature.
The last confusing thing about
arrived in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and lot
of them died. The ones that survived learned respect for the balance of
nature, man's proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders. They
settled in, and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange
Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north.
More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and
stupid people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in autumn
(failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons when moving
from the top half of the planet to the bottom), ate all their food, and a
lot of them died.
About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It's
interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves
vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie,
cheat, steal, and litigate (marks of a civilised culture they say) -
whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the
middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.
Holiday and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused
by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a
person can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core
of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking
inside your boots every morning for fatal surprises.
They also picked up
and the Aboriginalgift for making up stories.
This Douglas Adams does tend to go on a bit, so I'm going to make
this a two part post, don't miss part two coming soon to a blog near