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  • #7463 Reply

    Hi there, I am a german climber girl and planning to move to WA soon. Of course I wanna keep on climbing there and have a question concerning the climbing conditions.

    In Germany you occassionally meet a rabbit or a lizard while climbing, but Australia is supposed to be different. How would you estimate the danger of meeting a snake or poisonous snakes on your way up the rock? Is that a real danger or just a random possibility?

    Thanks for ya help!

    Cheers, Ilona

    #7464 Reply
    colin m

    The only scary experience I had involved a funnel web in the Blue Mountains…WA was ok for me, except snakes at Mt Frankland, and the occassional Kangaroo enroute to climbs. The biggest threat of course is bogons at the quarries.

    A British friend of mine had similar concerns…Read thread here: (hope link works,is there an easier way of doing that ?)


    #7465 Reply

    Hi Ilbona,

    Generally speaking, climbing in WA poses few risks if you take a few simple precautions.

    Firstly, you should NEVER go deep-water soloing in WA! There are some great sea cliffs along the coast here – have a look at some of the photos on the CAWA webpages. However in the southern half of WA, the risk of shark attack is just too great. In the northern half of WA, it’s the Salt Water Crocodiles that you need to be careful off.

    Both the sharks, commonly known as ‘White Pointers’, and the ‘Salties’ as the crocs are called here, grow to over 6 or 7 metres and weigh up to 2 or 3 tonnes. If you fall while deep-water soloing, your chance of survival is very, very small. ALWAYS ROPE UP WELL and NEVER GO CLOSER THAN ABOUT 5 METRES TO THE WATER! Actually, probably 10 metres is safer, as the ‘King Waves’ – random 5 to 10 metre waves that appear out of a seemingly calm sea – can easily wash you away.

    In places where swimming, surfing and fishing is popular, there are usually ‘spotter’ planes that fly overhead looking for sharks and crocs. They send radio messages to lifeguards that are issued with high-power rifles and spearguns, so swimming, surfing and fishing is fine if you go in the patrolled areas. But in the more remote areas where we go climbing, there are no spotter planes and lifeguards, so great care needs to be taken.

    One must also be careful of taking small children into remote areas. It is not commonly known outside Australia, but there are numerous cases of small children being dragged out of cars, tents and even houses by dingoes. In most cases, the remains of the children are never found, although a few ‘lucky’ ones have been brought up by the dingo mothers. If ever re-captured, these children, when reunited with their real parents, and even after years of therapy, still usually have the habit of hunting down and eating the neighbours’ pet kangaroos and koalas. These cases are usually well hidden from the public view so as not to affect the tourist industry. The only case that was well publicised was the ‘Azaria’ case about 20 years ago, which happened in a public camp-ground near Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). Incidentally, the name ‘Azaria’ means ‘Sacrifice in the Desert’ in ancient Sumerian.

    In the south-west (where most of the climbing is), most of the dingoes have been hunted by weekend campers to near-extinction, so most of these areas are quite safe. However there are still a few remote climbing areas where there is the possibility of running into a Bunyip (Bunyipus australis) or a Yowie (Austroloihoihoih rhodokneckus) (see http://www.yowiehunters.com).

    A Bunyip is a large, very shy, but very dangerous creature that lives in swampy areas and ponds. They are very territorial and will readily come out of their lairs and attack intruders that venture into their territory. Yowies are large, native ape-like creatures that live in the Karri Forests in the deep south of WA. These very aggressive forest-dwelling creatures will readily attack if provoked or if they see you as a threat to their lifestyle. You should always check the Department of Environment and Conservation webpage before going out climbing in these areas to check for recent sightings of Bunyips and Yowies. The ‘bogons’ that Colin M mentions are a closely related species to the Yowies that are sometimes seen in the hills around, and indeed, within Perth. They seem to be attracted by food scraps and beer bottles that people leave lying around. Their usual call sounds somewhat like ‘arghyarfukincun’, so they are usually easy to locate by hearing, even before you can see or smell them.

    Closer to Perth, Drop-Bears also pose a risk. These are rather like a cross between a small, very aggressive Koala-Bears and a Tasmanian Devil. They live in trees and their normal prey are small ground-dwelling marsupials, on which they ‘drop’ as the marsupial passes underneath their nesting tree. However they have been known to ‘drop’ out of trees onto bush-walkers and hikers who fail to recognise the tell-tale signs of dismembered marsupials and bones under the trees.

    Snakes are commonly seen at the crags, but as most of them are non-poisonous pythons, there is no need to be unduly alarmed. They are quite slow moving and, unless you fall asleep on the ground, you are unlikely to find yourself being squeezed to death by a python, although the aggressive Trouser Pythons do sometimes cause a few problems, particularly if you arouse one.

    Poisonous snakes such as Dugites, Taipans and King snakes, while much more venomous than snakes like the American Rattlesnake or Indian Cobra, are actually quite shy and unless disturbed will usually simply crawl away, although the wearing of good boots is a must when walking through the bush as if you accidentally step on a sleeping snake, and in particular, the non-poisonous Trouser Python, they will try to bite you. Walking with a heavy stomping action is recommended as the vibrations through the ground will usually wake them up and they will get out of your way.

    The Death Adder snake can be a bit more of a problem as they are not at all shy and can often be seen slithering through a campsite in search of food or a mate. Ground-stomping only serves to attract them.

    Snake-bite can usually be easily treated by slashing the bitten area with a sharp knife and sucking the poison out, so always carry a good quality sharp knife with you. Of course the person sucking you should never swallow. The WA Search and Rescue Service, operated by the State Emergency Service, always have helicopters on stand-by to winch the victim of the rocks and take them to the nearest hospital.

    Spiders are not a huge threat in the bush as most of the dangerous spiders in WA, such as the ‘Red-Back’ (closely related to the American ‘Black Widow’) seem to prefer to live closer to urban areas. I’m not sure why, but one rarely sees any out in the bush. Instead they seem to hide in cool moist places under leaves and pots in gardens, in garden sheds and in dunnies (i.e. toilets). Spider bite in WA rarely leads to death, although necrotic sores or ulcers are commonplace amongst ‘Sandgropers’, as people in WA are known to people in other parts of Australia. Sandgropers are actually bizarre sub-terrainian cricket-like creatures that burrow under the ground and eat the roots of trees. See http://www.museum.wa.gov.au/collections/natscience/invertebrates/Sandgropers.asp

    These sandgropers, combined with the Australian Termite, ensure that much of Australia remains a desert wasteland. Stainless-steel mesh barriers are erected around and under houses to protect the houses from destruction from these creatures.

    I suppose the other thing that you need to be aware of are ticks. Yesterday I went climbing, as it was a relatively cool day here, at only 39 C. I was bitten by a tick and am now in hospital being treated for Lyme’s Disease. Fortunately, I managed to cut the 10 mm long tick out of my leg before it injected too much of it’s bacterial poison into me and so the doctors anticipate that I will be at home by Sylvester.

    There are a number of good books available, such as ‘Dangerous Creatures of Australia’ see http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/search/dangerous+creatures+of+australia/ and one of these books, a good first-aid kit and a large knife or other weapon is an absolute necessity when climbing in Australia.

    Hope to climb with you soon!


    #7466 Reply


    Bruce i assume you are taking the piss and having a giggle at the expense of our german friend? Slashing the wound and sucking out the poison? Are you for real? That practice ended decades ago mate…hope i never get bitten and rely on you for help.

    Merry Xmas

    #7467 Reply


    All poisonous snakes and spiders and scary crocodiles and sharks are nothing compared to the Drop Bear. NEVER stand under a tree between dawn and dusk. These small Koala size animals are responsible for millions of non-fatal, unsubstantiated attacks on people in Australia every year. If you must stand under a tree, Vegemite rubbed into the scalp will protect you….except during the mating season.

    See you soon

    #7468 Reply

    Hi John and Peter,

    thanks for your comments.

    Firstly John, I suppose I shouldn’t have used the word ‘slashing’, as one must be careful not to splash the snake venom around. I find a carefully planned and slowly executed slice works much better and prevents the venom from splashing up into your eyes. Why, only last week I was wondering down Hay Street in search of some ‘friends’, if you know what I mean, and me mate Jock’s pet Trouser Python was bitten by a 4 metre-long Dugite. Well, there was no way he was going to let me have a slash at his Trouser Python, but fortunatly he did manage to find someone to help out.

    As for the Pete’s comments about Vegemite providing protection, or rather not providing protection during the mating season, I find eating lots of fresh garlic helps here.

    Cheers lads!


    #7469 Reply

    Sage words Bruce. I am glad someone is explaining the environmental dangers of climbing in Australia to our overseas visitors.

    I am suprised you have mentioned nothing of the weather, drunken tools in Northbridge, emu bitter, rips, scorpions, daddy long legs, bindies, the blue ringed octopus, the platypus, kangaroos and the deadly outbreak of swine flu I have just heard about on the morning news.

    #7470 Reply

    Hi Bill,

    thanks for your comments.

    Well I didn’t want to scare Ilbona off, so I just thought I’d mention a few of the more common things that she may come across while in WA.

    I did briefly mention the Perth Bogans, which are frequently found in Northbridge and Fremantle. But to the climber they are of probably particular concern at Blackwall Reach, where there seems to be a high concentration of Plummeting Bogans. I suppose also at Mountain Quarry one must be wary of them, although in most cases they are just the normal, not the Plummeting Bogan species. Unfortunatly.

    But yes, maybe when Ilbona gets to Perth we can slowly introduce her to the perils of Blue Ringed Octupus, Rips, Scorpions, Daddy Long legs and our our ‘friends’.


    #7471 Reply

    Ach mein freuline, Der Bruce und ze rest Dumkoffs!

    #7472 Reply

    One day in Moonarie (Flinders Ranges, SA), my friend said on the second pitch of an easy climb: “We have a problem, there is a tiger snake in between my legs!”.

    One day in Peak Charles (Great Eastern Woodland, WA), we had to leave in emergency as a bush fire had started!

    #7473 Reply

    Alright guys, thanks for ur answers. So it doesen´t seem too bad climbing in WA. Did I mention that rabbits in Germany are not of the whithe and fluffy kind. They look more like hyenas with two huge digging teeth in the front and a big poisonous sting on his back….so all that buyip, drop bears… can´t be that bad 😉

    Seriously, I thought there would be more incidents with spiders and snakes and am looking forward to climbing in WA. Might meet one or the other of youse at the rock!

    To give you some jealousy on the way 😉 here it started to snow, so that we can go climbing on frozen waterfalls now! If any of you planning to spend their holidays in Germany, I´d be glad to intruduce u to this kind of climbing!

    Have a lovely x-mas!

    Cheers, ILona

    #7474 Reply

    Hi Ilbona,

    yes I am familiar with the German ‘Kaninchen’. However in Australia, due to 200 years of Darwinian Evolution, accelerated by the heat, flies and the slow Kaninchens becoming road-kill, all we have left are the real ‘Kanin’. They have dropped the ‘chen’ part and are now 2 – 2.5 metres high and weight 500 – 700 kg.

    But I don’t want to scare you away, so please come and visit us in our glorious sun-burnt, snake and spider infested land!


    p.s. .44 magnum lever action rifles are the prefered ‘protection’ item while climbing.

    #7475 Reply

    G’day Ilona, snakes, spiders, drop-bears, bunyips, midgies, march flies and killer rabbits with huge big teeth are the least of your problems, as there are a bunch of crittes that seem nice and placid when you first see them but they can turn into ravaging beasts if they feel threatened….. they are Perth Climbers (especially Numbats)

    #7476 Reply

    Hey Ilona, Please ignore all the other guys attempts to scare you, the climbing here is the safest in the world. We have no enemies in the outdoors all the animals will gladly place your protection further ip route for you and clip your rope with very little training. The ground is quite strange, very marshmallow like and if you do mangage a grounder you can merely roll around in the soft wonderfulness. Oh yes the strictest of rules though, all foreign ladies must (its a law im afraid) climb topless.

    See you on the rock

    #7477 Reply

    Hi Ilona,

    this is Numbat here. I’m not really that dangerous, but I seem to have obtained that reputation somehow.

    Anyway the way I see it, it’s my job to destroy anoying little pests, like termites and loud-mouth rock-climbers.

    Sik em Rex!


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