The Sydney Funnel Web spider is widely agreed to be the most deadly spider in the world. It is black, about 5cm long and highly aggressive. It's fangs are as long as some Australian snake's fangs and can pierce a fingernail. It will rear up on its hind legs to scare off any dangers.
However, don't let this put you off! They are quite common but your chances of seeing one is rare. They can NOT jump (don't let anyone tell you they can - I even heard a tour guide say this once but it's just not true) and they will not chase you (not for more than a few centimetres anyway). There is an antivenom in use and no one has died since its introduction.
TO AVOID BEING BITTEN: Empty your shoes before putting them on if you've left them outside in a funnel web area. Don't stick your hand in any holes (you'd be surprised). And if you see one at the bottom of a pool of water don't touch it, they can survive in water for days. Avoid any black spiders!
INTERESTING FACTS: My sister left a coffee cup outside for a few days and found a funnel web trapped in there. People will come and collect your funnel web (should you happen to find one in your house) and take it to a lab to be 'milked' to make the antivenom.
Check out this photo of a funnel web!
I'd love to know how the guy got this photo...
PS, don't worry folks, they're not life sized!
There are many extremely poisonous snakes in Australia. You will probably not see them as they tend to stay away from people but it is a good idea to wear hiking boots or thick shoes when bushwalking. The snakes in Australia have fixed fangs (ie. they don't spring out from lying flat in the snake's mouth) that average about 1cm long and will not penetrate most good shoes. All snakes will try to flee rather than attack and will usually hear you coming.
INTERESTING FACTS: The Fierce Snake has the deadliest venom in the world but it was only recently discovered (in the 1970s) because it lives in deep cracks on the dried surface of the earth and had not been seen until then!
I have only ever seen 2 snakes in the wild; a Red Bellied Black Snake on a path out in the country when I was 4 and a Brown Snake in a puddle next to our house when I was 11 (I almost stepped on that one)
The website I've included shows pictures of the different Australian snakes.
When you are walking in the Blue Mountains the paths may be very close to the edge of a cliff. Take care while you are walking and don't run if it is rocky or leafy if you are near the edge. Most are not sheer drops straight down but you can still seriously injure yourself.
If you want to look over the edge of a cliff, take a wide stance with one leg well back from the other and place your hand on top of your thigh above the knee that is closest to the cliff edge. This will prevent you from being toppled over if someone bumps you or if there is a stiff breeze. (Please note, this is not a failsafe option and won't save you if someone really tries to push you over or in gale force winds.)
Another option is to lie down on your stomach and inch forwards.
If you drop something over the other side of a fenced off cliff, unless you can reach it with a stick, consider it gone for good. A tourist was almost killed last year trying to retrieve his shoe that somehow fell over the other side of the fence.
One thing to be aware of when driving in the Blue Mountains, is of the amount of wildlife that comes out in the evenings and mornings. There is so much natural habitat for them to call home here.
So, keep an eye out for the kangaroos & Wallabies, Wombats & Echidnas, you don't want to hit them, and they don't want to hit you!!!
They have a mind of their own though!
The cicada (pronounced sick - ah - da) is one of the loudest sound-producing insects in existence. The Green Grocer, Yellow Monday and the Double Drummer produce noise intensity in excess of 120 decibels at close range which is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear. 120 decibels is the equivalent of standing next to a cannon going off, or a speeding train.
If you're near one, your best option is to move away from it - they're extremely difficult to find even when they're making noise. If you do manage to find one that is being painfully noisy, a flick of the finger will shut it up (but not for very long). They are completely harmless to humans. They drink tree sap and are eaten by birds.
You will find cicadas around in mid spring (if it's hot) and all through summer Australia - wide. There are 200 species of cicada in Australia. They shed their skin and leave shells hanging on trees and walls
INTERESTING FACTS: The photo I took is of one of the more common ones in the Greater Sydney area, the Green Grocer. This particular one had been caught in a spider web and was a little woozy.
I took some cicada shells to kindergarten for show and tell once and my teacher screamed and told me to put them away!
The Weather can be unpredictable and fog can roll into the Blue Mountains making the Three Sisters and many sights impossible to see. During our visit it rained off and on. As we left the Mountains a large fog settled into the area. As we left we could hardly see the mountains at all. Try to plan your visit when the forecast doesn't predict rain so you can avoid losing the view.
I commonly meet tourists on trails / paths that have only a local 'shopping guide' map. i.e one that is NOT suitable for walking in the bush.
This is certainly an unsafe practice. Its easy to come underprepared by looking at a map that is not to scale. These people often ask 'how far' or 'which direction is....' and of course have no concept of how much food and water they need for a walk that looks easy but may take them 2-3 hours longer than expected.
I would suggest using a guide printed guide in both pictures and words from a site such as http://www.wildwalks.com/
Enjoy the wonders of the Blue Mountains in safety.
Help to keep the volunteer seachers-for-lost-bushwalks bored ......by you not getting lost.
BEWARE OF WILDLIFE
PLEASE When driving in or through these National Parks always be aware of wildlife. The wildlife in these National Parks is prolific and very unique . The most dangerous time is when the sun is setting, as this is when most of the animals are foraging for food. They tend to stay out of the sun and heat of the day choosing to lay in a shady situation. A lot of the animals ie: Wallaby's ,Kangaroos ,reptiles, tend to go to the road and lie down for its warmth, Obviously this is a recipe for disaster of both animals and cars. So, PLEASE DRIVE SLOWLY IN THE PARKS.
BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Blue mountains National Park is one of many National Parks here that join togeather in this area and create a huge area of open bushland . These combined National Parks (as one joins another)of the "Blue Mountains NP , Kanangra Boyd NP, Wollemi NP, Nattai NP and Yengo NP cover over a million acres and these are really huge open areas in these National Parks so, if you decide to go bush walking or hiking ALWAYS be aware of the environment.
Many visitors/hikers when deciding to go for a hike are NOT really prepared here and GET LOST. Do not treat a walk in the bush lightly..Make sure that you have neccesary maps etc if walking off the beaten track,,make sure also that you have good hiking boots and a jacket as the weather here can change extremely fast. I always carry a small torch and a pair of binoculars to enjoy the abundant bird and wildlife...
Be aware of the conditions.. if it is extremely hot BEWARE OF BUSHFIRES. WATCH REPORTS..
Always check with local NPWS National Parks and Wildlife Service for conditions inYOUR area
It is neccesary to Have:
Good communication..make sure that your mobile phone is charged!! If hiking for some time let friends know where you are going.The route that you will take..!!!AND when you expect to arrive.
Good navigation..Experienced Hikers/bush walkers will have this..maps,compass..etc
Plenty of fresh bottled water and carry water purifying tabs if needed..
The weather conditions can change rapidly here in the mountains anytime...Always have warm clothing that is accessible..also lots of sunscreen for the sometimes extreme sun.and a hat.
When lighting fires (sometimes in fire season they are forbidden) make sure that the campfire area is cleared of loose combustable litter (at least a meter or two) AND when finished make sure that the fire is COMPLETELY EXTINGUISHED.. (cover with sand if possible).
Always keep a good watch for where you are walking ..not only for self injury but for local snakes..usually they will leave when you arrive..Unless you step on them.. This can be a danger if you can't get help quickly.
Always have a plan for the unexpected ..
Every year Police and Rescue services are always searching for lost hikers that have NOT been organised before setting out.. Keeping in mind this is a vast area of bushland..
TALK TO THE LOCAL RANGERS... HEED LOCAL ADVICE. .THEY KNOW ..THEY LIVE THERE..
This is a copy of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald and indicates the importance of safety, even when you think you're smarter than the official stance:
"THREE experienced adventurers will face court after they allegedly ignored locked gates and warning signs to go canyoning in the Blue Mountains during torrential rain, forcing police and paramedics to launch a full-scale search.
Police were last night expected to charge the trio - including two from the World Horizons tour company for high school students - over allegedly setting out in the early evening on February 5 along the Grand Canyon track at Blackheath.
Police will claim Matthew Anthony Swait, 47, Rupert Pogson, 37, and Sarah Ireland, 30, all of Blackheath, scrambled around two locked gates bearing obvious "closed" signs to get access to the canyon.
It is understood they had travelled barely 100 metres down the trail when Greaves Creek rose rapidly, forcing them to climb to a ledge on the canyon walls. When the water level rose again, they sought refuge on a higher ledge, where they spent the night.
A Police Rescue unit, specialist paramedics and National Parks workers launched a search the next day when the trio were reported missing. The group was found just after midday.
''I can only describe their actions as reckless in endangering themselves and their rescuers,'' said a National Parks regional manager, Geoff Luscombe.
The three are expected to be charged with four offences under National Parks regulations, including putting others at risk, entering a closed park and disobeying park notices.
World Horizons takes students from Cranbrook and Blue Mountains Grammar on tours to countries such as Nepal and Laos.
Mr Swait is the company's managing director, while Ms Ireland is described on its website as "a registered nurse and one of Australia's most respected wilderness first aid practitioners".
As of Sunday, Police Rescue officers had conducted 53 operations across the Blue Mountains since January 1.
About 80 per cent of those were for people reported missing in the bush.
Police Blue Mountains crime manager Detective Inspector Mick Bostock said rescue operations were resource-intensive.
He encouraged all bushwalkers to carry personal locator beacons and to follow National Parks advice and rules. Epirbs are available from the NPWS.