Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Little (Poisonous) Spider

I saw her in my garden for the first time a few weeks ago.  I went to grab the watering can to water my chili plants.  While I was filling up my watering can, I looked down to find a redback spider, fiercely guarding her web!
Like a baby, I shrieked at first and nearly dropped my watering can.  I ran inside to show Justin, but when we came back outside, she was gone.
Don't get me wrong... I'm used to spiders by now.  I probably see about four a day inside our house.  I've actually given up trying to eliminate them and will typically only kill them if they are really scary-big (Google Huntsman spider- there's nothing like having a tarantula-sized spider hang out on the edge of the wall by the ceiling) or if they are in my bed (I once awoke to a medium-sized spider crawling across my head.  Yeah, I was up for the day after that incident.)  If I see a spider outside, I figure that this is their territory, so what right do I have to kill it?  Plus, they are so useful for catching flies.
You must understand that my fear arose solely from the fact that it was a female redback, a notoriously poisonous spider who is a relative of the black widow.  Redback bites have the capacity to kill people, but this seems to be a somewhat rare situation.  Apparently, this hasn't happened for a very long time.  Based upon my research, I've surmised that if you get bit, you may need to go to the hospital and receive anti-venom treatment or you'll just need to put ice on the bite and you'll be just fine.
A few days passed by, when I was back in the garden and guess who was there?  I was ready to kill it, but then decided to watch and wait.  I soon became transfixed with my observation and realized that I just didn't have the heart to kill it.  To be in the presence of something so tiny, but potentially lethal, is pretty radical.
Things are cool between us.  I know where to find my little poisonous spider and she knows to expect me (okay, probably not, but I like to imagine this).  Why squash her when we've got a good thing going?  I will be the first to say though that if I see a male red back hanging around or an egg sac, all bets are off.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Point Nepean

We took a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula to visit the mineral/Turkish baths.  Oh my goodness... there are few greater things in life than retreating to water that's heated by magma!  Anyway, we arrived on a super busy day, so we were told that we could get in four hours after we arrived.  No worries, right?  So, we decided to kill time before the baths at Point Nepean National Park, located thirty minutes away.  I'm posting some pictures from our hike below:

Point Nepean used to serve as a military fort/army training ground.

The swim that needed no towel...

The moment before Justin's hat tried to fly off his head.

The tip of the point

One of the military lookouts

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Grampians

After visiting the marvelous Great Ocean Road, we headed inland right before Christmas to visit Grampians National Park.  The Grampians are a small sandstone mountain range.  The area provides amazing day hikes, complete with waterfalls and plenty of animals.

The view heading into Halls Gap, a small town in the heart of the Grampians

I love the (mostly) arid landscape of this continent.  I've noticed while living here that I drink/need more water than I did back in Minneapolis.  It's got little to do with elevation, since Melbourne is basically at sea-level.  I think it's got everything to do with the dryness of the land.  I love this climate because I find it fascinating that so much flora and fauna can exist and evolve in such harsh conditions.

Our first hike: Off to the Pinnacle.
You'll notice the burnt trees, which are remnants of a bushfire.  While in the Grampians, we noticed many signs warning visitors that it was bushfire season.  Additionally, when you turn on the television, you can't go fifteen minutes without seeing a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for creating an emergency exit plan in case of a bushfire.
[Random side note: Speaking of advertisements on Australian television, this is what I have gathered: 1/3 are PSAs, 1/3 are spokespeople hawking products, 1/6 are informercials (such as Genie Bra and its competitor, the Ah Bra) and 1/6 are actually cleverly done and interesting.  I guess when you live in a place with such a small population, there are less products to sell and therefore, less competition in the marketplace to sell them, so there is no need for fancy commercials.]

A view of Lake Bellfield

I love yoga... but I must say that on this 90 degree F day (compounded by the lack of an an ozone layer- 90 degrees F here feels like 105 degrees F in most places around the world) those rocks were HOT on my bare soles!

Labyrinth-like rock face

Some views from the top

He can't be bothered to act whimsical, but at least he tolerates my continuous playful nature.

I love parrots!  They are everywhere (even in the city) but I still never get sick of them flying around.

Hello, wallaby!

Wallabies grazing alongside cattle.

Some random male kangaroo we encountered during an arvo (afternoon) walk.

Day Two in the Grampians
The view from another lookout.

The mermaid

Laughing Kookaburra

MacKenzie Falls

Hello, echidna!

So Hemi (Southern Hemisphere) Christmas!

It's a mob!

I see somebody's foot sticking out of a pouch!