“Oh, don’t worry Love. That’s a golden orb weaver. It’s totally harmless.”
I had been standing still and gaping with a horrified look on my face as I beheld one of the largest spiders I had ever seen when I heard the voice behind me. I spun around to find a pair of the most adorable little old ladies I had ever seen, out for a leisurely stroll in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
The smaller and frailer of two went on to say, “It’s the small ones you can’t see that you need to worry about!”
My eyes widened and they giggled, told me to have a nice day, and went on their merry little way.
Gee. Thanks. I’ll sleep fantastically tonight, I thought.
And, of course, I didn’t.
When I announced to my friends and family that I was planning on traveling to Australia, I was met with a number of reactions. Most of the reactions were along the lines of ooooh, I’m jealous. I wish I could go. Many of the reactions, however, were along the lines of you know everything in Australia will kill you, right?
After having gone to Australia, having an amazing time, and returning unscathed, I can attest to the fact that travel to Australia is perfectly safe and that there aren’t dangerous spiders, crocodiles, snakes and sharks chasing you down the roads just dying to get a hold of you and murder you. I promise. I even wrote an entire blog post about the very subject just in case you aren’t convinced.
But let’s talk about the spiders. I never quite got over my fear of them while I was there. You see, I’m afraid of spiders…any spiders. I’m even afraid of the spiders at home that I know are perfectly harmless. Now, transplant me to a country with a reputation for dangerous spiders and add on the fact that they are species of spider that I’m unfamiliar with, so I’m really not sure if what I’m looking at is poisonous or not. In that case, my best course of action was to be extremely fearful of anything with 8 legs and beady little eyes that stared at me, emotionless.
I was in the country for a little less than three weeks and the entire time I was there, I was wary of every single spider I encountered. I checked under the toilet seat every time I used a bathroom in case there was a spider hiding down there, even in the middle of the night. I ran in fear when I found myself in a creepy parking garage stairwell that happened to be filled with spiderwebs, and yes, I gaped in fear when I encountered abnormally large arachnids.
Once, in Far North Queensland while on a day trip to the Daintree National Park, I was on a trail with my husband. He had gone off to investigate some strange plant he had spotted while I unfortunately discovered a spider that was THE SIZE OF MY HAND. While I was freaking out and staring at this enormous spider that looked large enough to take down a small bird, I noticed a Chinese couple strolling down the path. They weren’t paying much attention to where they were going and were instead engrossed in conversation with one another. They were speaking Chinese, but when I noticed they were about to walk RIGHT into the web of this monstrous spider, I started yelling, “No! Stop! Spider! Spider!” and waving my arms at them. At first, they looked at me in a confused manner, wondering what this strange lady yelling at them in English wanted, but I pointed at the web and when they saw that they were really close to have walked face first into this monstrous spider, they both screamed, jumped backwards, and yelled something in Chinese. We may not have spoken the same language, but there is a sort of universal language when it comes to fear of enormous spiders.
One final note on the spiders of Australia that I should include is that I never actually encountered any of those dangerous, deadly spiders everybody talks about so much. I did see an abnormally large number of spiders while I was there and not knowing what species they were, it was entirely possible some of those spiders might have been of the deadly variety. However, I kept my distance from them and, thankfully, they returned the favor.
Even though the mere sight of a spider can send my heart racing and produce sweat on my brow, I didn’t feel unsafe in Australia. I had an amazing time. I saw some lovely things, met some lovely people, ate some amazing food, and had the trip of a lifetime. I highly recommend anybody should go if they get the opportunity. Maybe just watch where you’re walking so you don’t run into the webs of any enormous spiders.