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Health & Safety

Given that many travelers make the most of the outdoors in Australia it’s not a bad idea to have travel insurance. When you get half-drowned in a rip tide, tumble down a canyon or get attacked by any number of the dangerous creatures in Australia you’ll get the best treatment going.

Australia is a relatively safe place to travel. You’re more likely to be the victim of crimes of opportunity, although walking down the street in the wrong place at the wrong time could leave you beaten up in the gutter. Turning-out time in front of the bars and nightclubs on Friday and Saturday may not be the moment to stroll past with your rucksack.

The main danger in Australia is nature. Bushfires are common and cyclones sweep in from the Coral Sea or Indian Ocean. The cyclones bring heavy rain and then there’s the risk of sudden floods.

Australia is the driest continent on Earth, however and if you’re traveling in a remote area, you should have ample supplies of food and drinking water. If you’re inland and traveling by 4WD or boating, a CB radio, flares and EPIRB are important. Basic mechanical knowledge is a bonus.

Australian snakes are some of the deadliest in the world. Dial 000 or get to a hospital immediately if bitten. Redback and funnel web spiders can kill you. So can the box jellyfish. And sea snakes. Sharks are a real danger. Stonefish and scorpion fish give painful stings that can reduce a grown man to tears. Be wary of wild pigs and water buffalo, and for God’s sake, seek local advice before swimming in any saltwater or brackish location in northern parts of Australia. Crocodiles don’t particularly have a taste for ‘the other white meat’ but that doesn’t mean they won’t bite and kill you.

Don’t forget that Australia’s deadly environment is part of its allure. Australians enjoy laughing at paranoid foreigners and there’s no real reason to be afraid – just cautious.

Jamie McGraw