Dangerous Australia Revisited

This week’s essay is brought to you by the letter S – snakes, sharks, spiders, scorpions, stingrays, stonefish and sand flies. Some might dispute the description of the saltwater sand fly or midge as deadly. But itchy bites can sure take the edge off a beach holiday. The odds of being bitten by a sand fly in their territory (saltwater marshes) are probably 2-1, with longer odds for those experiencing extreme reactions (me and She)….

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Cigarette Butts Still Polluting Our Highways

While resting in our caravan at Winton on a sultry outback day, the stench of tobacco smoke came wafting through the open window. Going outside to investigate, I found neighbours on either side, sitting outside their vans, puffing away. I have found, over long periods suffering from respiratory problems, that I am incredibly allergic to cigarette smoke. For years now when anyone rummages in their bag and asks do I mind, I say, yes, I…

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Asthma and Australian Dust Storms

As a kid growing up in the North Island of New Zealand, I don’t recall ever seeing dust storms of the type seen in the Australian outback. In recent weeks, we’ve seen clouds of ochre dust blowing in from South Australia. The worst dust storms converge on the eastern seaboard, shrouding cities in an eerie, fog-like miasma. You may recall the really bad one (September 2009) when motorists in Sydney and Brisbane drove with their…

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The scary truth about the paralysis tick

It is sometimes difficult to separate the facts about the paralysis tick from the myths and home-grown remedies suggested by well-meaning folks. You may have heard some of the suggestions on how to combat the tiny, toxic parasite that can kill dogs, cats and humans. The home-spun remedies include (for removal) kerosene, a hot needle, a hot match, Vaseline or methylated spirits. No, you need to first kill the tick, by freezing it or using…

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