Here is a list of all the animals that I encountered in Australia so far.

Kangaroos in the late evening sun.
Kangaroos in the late evening sun.

As I already mentioned in my earlier post, it is really hard to find any animals that could potentially be poisonous in Melbourne. The same is true for nearly all larger animals, except for a few possums which live in the trees around Alexandra Gardens in the centre of Melbourne. Some of the locals feed them from time to time. The only time that I encountered a kangaroo was when I found one dead near the road. From my limited experience of Sydney, I would say the same for the city with the well known opera house. Although Sydney is supposed to be the home of the highly infamous Funnel Web spiders, I could not see any sign of them at all. Luckily.

However, all this changes when you go to more rural areas. I spent a considerable amount of time during the last month at the Molonglo radio telescope. It is located about 50 kilometres South-East of Canberra, the capital of Australia. The site lies in the midst of a large farm, in a very thinly populated area. As a consequence, cattle and sheep are always around, but that is no problem.

The problem is the presence of snakes and spiders. Whitetail spiders are abundant in this region. Many of them live in or around the metal boxes which contain the electronics that power the telescope. During our work we have to access these boxes regularly, so it is no surprise that we encounter them frequently. They can grow to about thumb size and have a characteristic white spot on their abdomen. That is why they are called Whitetail spiders in the first place. Their bite is supposed to be quite painful, but does little to no long-lasting harm to humans.

More dangerous are the snakes. I have seen and taken photos of one tiger snake so far, but more have been sighted on the premises recently. Tiger snakes are highly dangerous to humans. Their venom is highly potent and the mortality rate is high, if the bite is left untreated. Their venom acts quickly and the only proper treatment is an injection of antivenom. They are said to be aggressive, but I cannot confirm this (luckily). When I took this photo, I was about 4 metres away from the snake and used my telephoto lens (yes, this photo is totally un-cropped!). The snake was just sitting there motionless taking a bath in the sun. A stomp to the ground with a heavy item and it slowly crept away.

A curled up tiger snake.
A curled up tiger snake.

Wild kangaroos are abundant in the hills around the telescope site. They usually appear in larger groups during dusk and dawn and move from meadow to meadow to feed. The problem is that they are normally quite far away even when using a telephoto lens. However, when we visited Mount Stromlo Observatory near Canberra, I was very lucky to encounter a group of them grazing on the lawn outside. Slowly but steadily I could sneak up on them until I was about 5 metres away. Now I could take some proper photos.

As I am writing these lines, it just became apparent that I am not alone. There is a large possum just a couple of metres to right of me on the roof…