Red’s TOP 10 Aussie Pests (and where I found them)!

Western Tiers from Woolmers Estate, Tasmania

Western Tiers from Woolmers Estate, Tasmania

Travelling downunder isn’t all surf and sunshine; kangaroos and koalas; or moonbeams and magic. A fabulous holiday can also be an opportunity to share the sights with some of Australia’s lesser known – and MUCH less popular – creatures!

Like I did when I met my TOP 10 Aussie pests some FAAAAABULOUS places!  Where I’ll go again – despite the presence of vermin.

Why?

Flinders Ranges near Parachilna, South Australia

Flinders Ranges near Parachilna, South Australia

Because meeting the ‘locals’ isn’t anywhere near so scary when you’re armed with a range of pest control products and preventative measures to keep them at bay. They’ll leave you free to enjoy the attractions without too much vermin distraction AND have a horror story or two to dine out on!

Win-win, right?

Actually, that’s win-Win-WIN! Check out the great giveaway at the bottom of the post!!

1 For MOSQUITOES, try Victoria Park!

I’ve visited this tiny fragment of remnant rainforest full of sub-tropical flora and fauna in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales many times. Its Scenic Public Toilet even made it into MY BOOK!

Victoria Park Rainforest, via Alstonville, NSW

Victoria Park Rainforest, via Alstonville, NSW

But although the photographic and birding attractions along the 400m boardwalk circuit mean it usually takes over an hour to walk, on our last visit we set a new lap record!

Why? Because when millions of mosquitoes (give or take a few hundred thousand) descend and threaten to carry you away, there’s only one thing to do.

RUN like hell! AND … next time bring some protection!!

2 For SANDFLIES, try Kununurra!

With killer sunsets like these direct from any lake-front campsite at the Kununurra Lakeside Tourist Park, I’m prepared to overlook a few minor inconveniences.

Kununurra Sunset

Kununurra Sunset

Even the sandflies that love me like a sister.

They ‘ringbarked’ me around the waistband of my shorts the first time I shot the sunset. Of course I was asking for it by a) wearing a loose T-shirt and b) NOT wearing any insect repellent. I didn’t make THAT mistake again – and didn’t score any more bites!

ANOTHER Kununurra Sunset!

ANOTHER Kununurra Sunset!

But I DID score some FAAAAABULOUS sunset photos!

3 For FLIES, try Parachilna!

Louie the Fly

Aussie Pest Icon Louie the Fly!

On a fine day, the awesome view from the ever-so-scenic Parachilna Public Toilet (YES! It’s in MY BOOK!) shows the magnificent Heysen Ranges in South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges at their best (see 2nd pic).

The view DOESN’T show the gazillion flies.

But why let a few million mates of Aussie Icon Louie the fly bother you when you’ve got all the attractions of one of Australia’s most magnificent National Parks to explore on the one hand, and a can of fly spray in the other??!!

4 For Deadly JELLYFISH, try Cairns!

Irukandji Warning Sign, Cairns Beaches

Irukandji Warning Sign, Cairns Beaches

First time visitors to Far North Queensland are often surprised to see emergency rations of vinegar at strategic intervals along the beach. AND grateful – especially if they’ve picked up an order of fish and chips to go, but forgot the condiments.

But if you’re ever stung by the deadly Irukandji (aka box jellyfish) just hope the tourists didn’t get to the vinegar first because a liberal application may help stop the intense pain – and the array of nasty symptoms collectively known as Irukandji Syndrome.

Avoid this pest like the plague! How? During October to May, wear a stinger suit, swim in the stinger net exclusion zones or just use the pool!

And leave the vinegar for the fish & chips!

5 For MOTHS, try Canberra, OR the Victorian High Country!

Lake Guy, Bogong Village, Victorian High Country

Lake Guy, Bogong Village, Victorian High Country

Actually, almost anywhere in Australia with an outside light at night is a good – or bad – place for moths, depending on your point of view.

But there’s a couple of places for a REAL moth experience – and the mystery of the moth mass migration! And that’s at either the High Country around Mount Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain in summer – or when they move down the slopes in winter. They’ve been known to invade Canberra – you’ve GOT to love a moth that has no fear of politicians!

And if killer tomatoes are worthy horror movie subjects, why not Giant Moths? Or – even better – Giant MUTANT Mass Migrating Moths? Call me, Hollywood!!

6 For TICKS, try Toonumbar National Park!

An hour into our rainforest walk, and what happens?

It RAINS!

Murray Scrub, Toonumbar National Park, NSW

Murray Scrub, Toonumbar National Park, NSW

Not just a light shower either, but a heavy, drenching rain rattling atop the canopy high above, then ever so slowly dripping through onto the mid-storey leaves above us. Pilchard was on full leech alert as the track slowly turned muddy and the leaves of our shelter started dripping down the back of my neck.

Well, what did we expect? Toonumbar National Park, in Northern New South Wales, is in a high rainfall area, and we WERE walking through pristine rainforest.

We didn’t see any leeches.

BUT, back at the camper trailer Pilchard’s tick-removal skills – yes, THAT’S what those flat-nose tweezers in the first aid box are for – got a full workout!

7 For SNAKES, try Tasmania!

In answer to often asked, but tedious question of whether I’m a cat or a dog person, I say neither. For a ophidiophobe, a mongoose is the only sane choice of pet. And Rikki Tikki Tavi (the famous snake-fighting mongoose from the Jungle Book) the only hero worth a damn in childhood literature.

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Sandy Beach, Bay of Fires, Tasmania

So it was a good thing that my 10 days in Tassie were snake-free, although everyone else who’s been there tells me I just got lucky.

Even the cold doesn’t slow them down, I’m told.

And even for a snake-fearer like me, seeing a snake sunning itself on the snow would almost be worth the scare factor.

It’s possible the snakes were there all along – but with scenery like Tasmania’s got, I’m WAY too busy taking photos to care!

8 For MICE, try the Yorke Peninsula!

South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula isn’t the only place in Australia subject to mice plagues from time to time.

Royston Head, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula SA

Royston Head, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula SA

BUT … it’s (arguably) one of the most scenic! And with public loos SO scenic, they’ve scored their own section in MY BOOK!

Yes, I’m digressing. But that’s what the scenery will make YOU do if you’re unfortunate enough to encounter a mouse while you’re down there 😀

9 For ANTS, try Endeavour Falls!

Our stay at this little campground gem just north of Cooktown wasn’t marred at all by the rubber-chomping ants that built their nests each night over the power cord stretching across the ground from the camper trailer to the power box.

Endeavour Falls, via Cooktown, Queensland

Endeavour Falls, via Cooktown, Queensland

That’s because we didn’t actually KNOW they’d chomped through the outer layer of rubber that held the electrical wiring together until we packed up to leave!

All the same, it was probably lucky we only stayed in this Far North Queensland hot spot for 4 nights. Any longer, and the ants would have exposed the wires. It won’t stop us staying there again – but next time we’ll suspend the cord above the ground.

10 For CROCODILES, try Cahill’s Crossing!

OK, Ok, ok. Crocodiles aren’t really vermin, are they?

Crocodile Warning sign near Cahill's Crossing, Northern Territory

Crocodile Warning sign near Cahill’s Crossing, Northern Territory

They’re more along the lines of a dangerous, man-eating predator. But who among us hasn’t thought of a verminous human (or two) for which a crocodile (or two) would provide the perfect final solution? And Cahill’s Crossing, from Kakadu to the eastern boundary of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, is one of Australia’s best final solution HOT spots.

Tragically, there’s no effective (or ineffective) crocodile repellent on the market. Even more tragically, and unlike most other Aussie vermin, there’s no known antidote for crocodile attack.

Croc HOT spot - Cahills Crossing, via Kakadu, Northern Territory

Croc HOT spot – Cahills Crossing, via Kakadu, Northern Territory

For a verminous croc, prevention really is the best defence!

You’re on your own with the Crocodile Repellent. And you’ll have to find your own mongoose. But for the smaller Aussie pests, there’s often nothing that a good dose of mosquito repellent won’t fix!

But meeting the vermin is all part of the fun of an Aussie travel adventure, right?

Machans Beach, Cairns, Queensland

Machans Beach, Cairns, Queensland

For a chance to test that out for yourself, Mortein is offering one lucky reader a pack of these four TOP products worth $AUD75*:

SO … if you have an Australian or New Zealand postal address, enter the Mortein Prize Pack Giveaway by making a comment below containing the word ‘VERMIN’ by midnight, 8th April 2015 (see terms & conditions below)!

Levens Beach, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Levens Beach, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Giveaway Terms & Conditions: All comments containing the word ‘Vermin’ made before midnight 08 April 2015 (AEST) will be entered into a draw and a winner randomly selected via random.org. The winner will be contacted by email and must provide an Australian or New Zealand postal address to RedzAustralia (which will be passed to Mortein for mailing the giveaway prize) within 3 days of the date of the email to claim the giveaway. The giveaway will be forfeited if the winner fails to provide an Australian or New Zealand postal address within that time and will be offered to the next person on the random.org list and so on until the giveaway is claimed.

Disclosure: Mortein provided RedzAustralia with 4 products to test and is providing 4 products to give away in return for this post.


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40 comments

  • Some of the pests you mention are not a nuisance, unless you specifically invade their territory (snakes, crocodiles, jellyfish).
    I would have thought that leeches, whether the Tasmanian variety, or from Queensland would have easily made it to the top 10. I have had numerous encounters in both states, but probably the most memorable one was after I took my two sons, then 8 and 10, down the side of a waterfall in northern Queensland, through some dense and damp foliage, to get a view from the bottom up. When back up top at the carpark, during the routine leech check, we dealt with a number of leeches in between fingers and toes, but the cracker was when my younger son said something, revealing that he had one inside his mouth!

    • Right on both counts, Grumpy – actually, ANY of my pests are pests only when you’re in their territory – including leeches! Like spiders, leeches didn’t make it onto MY top 10 because while I’ve experienced them, they haven’t been a real problem – YET!!! But if I found one in my mouth, they would IMMEDIATELY go to #1 – and probably stay there ’til the end of time 😀

      PS There’s still time to enter the giveaway – assuming you have an OZ/NZ mailing address, just need to make a comment with the word ‘Vermin’ in it before midnight, 8 April!!

  • Well done. An entire VERMIN post without mentioning spiders. The locations are all so gorgeous, it’s hard to imagine anything so lowly as vermin there. But forewarned is forearmed and if I ever go traveling, there’ll be insect repellant aplenty.

    • Thank you River!! I WAS going to mention spiders – but (touch wood) they haven’t really been a problem for us! Am I one of the few Australians who HASN’T seen a redback on the toilet seat?? I put the photos in to show it really IS worth the trip – even if there ARE vermin about!

  • I think VERMIN are part of the deal when travelling and camping in Australia. Did you know that Alo-vera plant is fantastic for sand fly bites? It is trust me. I was luckily handed a leaf when I was bitten all over by sandflies at Point Samson (WA coast) years ago.
    We were almost driven insane by flies camping one night out on the Nullarbor.
    Happy travels, and watch out for those pesky crocs!

    • Thanx for the tip, Jill! I’m always looking for sandfly bite antidotes – I found a local concoction in a Far Nth QLD chemist many years ago that worked a treat. I think it had liberal quantities of lemon myrtle, amongst other things – but sadly it’s long gone, so I’ll be stocking up on your remedy next time we head out. So far (touch wood) mosquitoes have bothered us more than flies – and at least you can see the crocs coming!!

  • When we are on the Yorke Peninsula at Christmas time, we catch more mice than fish…and we are staying in a shack, not out in the bushes!! “Don’t leave home without your mousetrap” is the motto when we go on holidays on the YP.

    • It shouldn’t be so bad for mice now it’s cooled down, Annie! And a few mice is a small price to pay for all those awesome bakeries 😀

      PS Edit your comment to add ‘vermin’ (or put it in a new comment) and you’ll be eligible to enter the giveaway!! Just sayin’

  • A fantastic post and lovely photos. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Ya can’t have beauty without the beasties – not here anyway 🙂
    Encounters with them are indeed a relatively small price to pay for visiting the stunning places that you do, Red.

    I’ve had some very close encounters with snakes… I have to say that I’m fascinated (and just a little in love) with them. Would’ve liked to study herpetology in my younger days.
    I’m not worried about being bitten myself, but I do worry for my doggies – Jack has a very keen sense for seeking out reptiles and was “dry bit” by a mature (metre long) Tiger Snake when he was a pup. That’s one very, very lucky puppy. And, I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it happen.

    Cahill’s Crossing has me quietly shuddering. Such a beautiful, peaceful spot, but what lurks beneath those tempting tranquil waters…..

    • I’d actually volunteer to do something scary with snakes if it’d give me one of your awesome BLACK hares, Vicki!!! But you’re on your own when it comes to studying them 😀 Rikki Tikki Tavi is as close as I’ll get, haha! I wonder if Jack’s snake bite has given him any immunity? I guess we’ll never know – you’re not likely to try that again, right?!?!?!

      PS Add ‘vermin’ to your comment – or in a new one – and you’ll be eligible for the giveaway!!

      • The “dry bite” isn’t uncommon, as I learned back then – used to know a snake catcher/re-locator in Western Australia, very cool bloke, who loves snakes so much. He’s super knowledgeable on all things reptile.
        Many snakes will – as long as not threatened – head butt or dry bite as a warning to something that doesn’t represent food… us for example. Preferring to save their venom for real threats or food, like small animals.

        Jack was just very lucky that the snake had total free space to get away and wasn’t bailed up, so it was a warning to back the f**k up. Phew.

        Thanks so much for the free giveaway offer, Red, but I’ll pass that to another lucky reader.

        *And, I’m SO envious of Diane! Imagine being so fortunate to have a python living in the roof (probably) to keep the rat population down! Awesome. Now, that’s what I call natural pest control 🙂

        • Vicki – the day a snake ‘dry bites’ me is the day you know my ‘snake-dar’ stopped working!!! I once saw a vague scaly movement in our compost heap and before I knew what was happening OR how, I was about 5 metres away! And that was just a friendly blue-tongue lizard!!! I lived in PNG for a year where we had a python living in the ceiling – I found the noise of its slithering strangely comforting after awhile because the pest control thing was EXACTLY what it meant! Hope your weekend has been awesome!

  • Great photos. I found a huge, still damp python snake skin in my garden today. I’m wondering where the owner is. I don’t think Mortein will get rid of it. But maybe its good for other vermin.

    • AAAARRRRGGGHHH! I think finding the empty skin is scarier than actually finding the snake, Diane! I actually found a solar snake scarer in a camping shop yesterday – it looked suspiciously like a big solar light of the type you put along the drive!! Not sure if that would help – but at least a python will get rid of mice and rats????

  • Lovely photos of some of my favourite places.
    Snakes in Tasmania, all poisonous. Crocks in Cardwell for sure, they sometimes lay on the beach. Did you know that? Kununurra is a lovely place and I don’t know how those men can fish from the crossing. I have watched them and wondered.
    Ticks in most National Parks in the wet areas.
    Mozzies, they don’t seem to bother me, but do my husband.
    Sandflys, well I do know about them, like you I have been bitten many times.
    Ants are everywhere usually…..but it’s fun to travel and see our land…

    • Maybe being a mosquito magnet is a BOY thing, M – they flock to Pilchard, but the sandflies flock to me. None of the pests and vermin are going to stop me from exploring – you just have to be aware of what’s around and how to avoid it. I haven’t seen a croc on the beach anywhere – YET!! But I HAVE seen them VERY close to the Cahill’s Crossing roadway – I couldn’t believe a tinnie full of blokes fishing (with one standing on the nose of the boat) and a big croc only a few metres away. Then another chap on the crossing actually caught a massive barramundi – just asking to be croc bait! But snakes still scare me the most 😀

      PS Add ‘VERMIN’ to your comment – or to a new comment – and you’ll be eligible for my giveaway!

      • There is plenty of Vermin out there in ones travels.
        I’m not fond of snakes either, one went over my big toe once and it took me a few years to touch a snake in our travels. We are travelling again in winter up the middle, out to the rock, then Darwin, back down across to Broome (3rd time to Broome) then down the West Coast again, across the Nullabor to the ship and back home…..3 months.

        • Sounds like a FAAAAAABULOUS trip, M! Not sure where we will be for winter – anywhere north is a good bet!! Not so fabulous is the snake – I think I would die with my boots in the air if one crawled over my toe!!

  • Very cleverly written Red. With such wonderful photos of such wonderful destinations I doubt whether you would be putting anyone off visiting them! I actually stayed on Lake Kununurra and I didn’t get eaten alive by sandflies so they must have been around when I was there.

    • Thank you Kathy! I was trying to stop some of the anxiety visitors to Australia have about our vermin by showing the beauty as well as the beasts!!! I think the sandflies are always at the Lake in Kununurra – you must have been more sensible than I and either not sat outside at night, or if you did, used insect repellent!!!

      PS Add the word VERMIN to your comment and you’ll be eligible to enter my giveaway!!! Or add a new comment 😀

  • I am sensible enough to avoid crocodiles and that there isn’t a repellent doesn’t trouble me, but I so want some snake repellent, something more proactive than the reactive shovel. Oh dear, yes I know it is illegal to kill our native animals, snakes included.

    We were invaded here almost right in the city by bogong moths, or bogan moths as we call them. Apparently they are good tucker, but no, we did not have a fry up.

    • Whoever invents a snake repellent is sure to become a millionaire – just from sales to ME! Perhaps we can invent one together Andrew??!! I had a quick look online to see if the bogong moth was Australia’s largest, but I couldn’t find anything definitive. Do you know??

      PS Just add the word ‘Vermin’ to your comment – and you’ll be the only entrant for the giveaway (to date, anyway), so you’ve got a pretty good chance!!

      • According to Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary Hercules Moth is the biggest in Oz.
        Can you mentor me how to do such a great posts? 😉

        • Thank you Karol! I must have not googled ‘big Aussie moths’ properly!!! And you’re too kind – I don’t think you need mentoring! Your posts are great too 😀

          PS Add ‘VERMIN’ to your comment – or put in a new comment – and you’ll be eligible for the giveaway!

      • I doubt the Bogong moth is the largest, (Emperor Gum Moth surely) but they are full of nutritional fats and our indigenous used to eat them. I guess they pulled the wings off. Bad enough having your throat tickled by critter legs, let alone wings. I can’t call them vermin. I would call sand flies vermin though. I recall my father being bitten quite badly by them.

        PS, seems Karol has nailed our biggest moth. The prize to him. I try to avoid looking at new blogs. One only has so much time in the day, but I am off to look at Karol’s, as you say he needs no blog lessons.

        • I think moth size differs quite considerably between the sexes, Andrew! So maybe yours is the biggest male?? Or female – whichever the Hercules moth is not!! I have picked up quite a few tips from Karol’s blog, especially about some places I haven’t yet been! Hope you enjoy it too!

  • Now that’s a fun post… does continue to give us that bad rep of having too many dangerous creatures in one country though 😉 PS… we have an Aussie post in KL today. 🙂

    • I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say they’re too frightened to travel OZ because of the creepy-crawlies, Yum! I say that millions of us survive these hazards and live a full, active, adventurous AND LONG life 😀 Take the right precautions (use pest control products and don’t take risks) and you CAN have a fun adventure! If I’m not proof, who is?!?!?!

  • Red Oz, you make these places so appealing. I just get to pick the predator of my choice. Think I’ve avoid the crocs. I assume these are salties?

    • They ARE salties, TFG – but there are lot of freshies around Northern Australia as well – so you can take your pick from those too!!! And the places ARE appealing despite the critters – I’m not going to let a manic mosquito or active ant stop ME from exploring!!

  • Nice critters! I didn’t think tics or mosquitoes lived there:) Personally the snakes and crocs sound like a blast. But let’s keep the sandflies behind. I think they are the worst on this list. Second worst would be a pissed off snake chasing me a lightning speed on the trails or worse!:)

    • Hahaha, the snake is ALWAYS going to be the worst one for me, Chris!! So it’s tragic that many Aussie birds are found in known snake habitats 🙁 But then again, most of OZ is a known snake habitat!!! While I loathe snakes, the sandflies are the worst for me too – because they really DO love me! Bummer!!

  • We wore jeans and thick socks, Bushman on top – yet the Mossies in Kakadu NP came through – outch!
    And we were sooooo “clever”, too, having put mosquito-nets in front of the rear windows in the car, so we could sleep with them being open, no Mossies ca…. oh, wait, Sandflies! 🙁
    And I had no such beautiful pics taken as you did!
    Wave Rock – the Blowies went INSIDE the camera when changing equipment. We were the only ones with Mosquito-nets and people were jealous!
    In Darwin Museum they have a “sea wasp” like bee Maya, aka box jellyfish 🙂
    Ewwww, moths! Kalbarri NP, I was wearing shorts, ewwww…. in bright daylight, too.
    No ticks, yipeee, but a nearly dead snake in the way on Fraser Island – we were on foot.
    No mice, but we sat in ants, too – in the dark, ewww. Also in Kalbarri.
    Croc… Darwin, yikes.
    And you know what, Red? I´d love to pack and do it all again, with your blog as guide! Make me play lotto, will ya? Oh, and win big, too.
    Awwww. Come 2019 it is some 20 years we were on our last big journey! I so miss it! Thanks for letting us “co-travel” with you, Red!

    • I’m glad you didn’t let the pests and vermin stop you from having a good time, Iris! That is what I was trying to say with this post – the nasties and vermin might be there, but they aren’t going to stop ME from getting out there and seeing them!!

      • To be honest… If (!) Ingo´d told me about what to expect in that sector (I was 24 the first time around), I very likely´d said no. But Ingo is a wise man 🙂

        • Hahaha, I’m glad you saw through the pests to the beauties of this marvellous land Iris! I wasn’t so thrilled about them when I was 24 either – but at least there are a LOT of pest control products to stop them getting too irritating!!

          • Against some, yes, but not all…. eww, just thinking back to those beetles that very softly land on your t-shirt, make their way to your neck and bite, eww. Felt like coffee-beans. Or grasshoppers. OMG… Aw, well, that´s life, right? I got a loo-pic in todays post, btw 🙂

          • Haha, it sounds like I’m bringing back some not-so-nice memories, Iris!! Can’t wait to check out your loo – makes me realise it’s been awhile since I posted one myself 😀

            PS LOVED the loo! Hope you’ve got more!!

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