Monday, April 04, 2005

Repost of Volunteering in Australia

I was sitting here looking through a student travel site and found a section on volunteer work. To my surprise, the age limit for this particular volunteer work is 18-70! Even at 46 I could volunteer to do something nice sometime. I noticed that Australia was listed so I thought, "Great! I'll have a look at that." A dear friend's family is in Tasmania and I have a few other Aussie friends so a volunteer visit might be really nice sometime. Once I looked through the site though, I really had to laugh.

What Australia is in need of are people to do "Conservation" work. And can you guess why? That's because no Aussie I know would be stupid enough to go out into the blazing Australian sun to conserve anything. So they kill two birds with one stone. I have to hand it to the Aussies it's certainly a brilliant plan - avoid the poisonous livestock and get rid of pushy Americans at the same time. Australians sit in air-conditioned houses having a Foster's while they watch telly or they surf the Internet while we Americans go out and fry under the lethal sun wearing Kevlar underwear while running away from 99.9% of the most venomous of everything on earth. Now I ask you, is that a plan or what?

The site lists volunteer activities:

1. Reforestation. Where the most deadly funnel web lives, even MORE deadly than the regular old not-quite-so-deadly funnel web.

2. River and creek reservation. Where the huge salt water crocs live and are regularly fed everything. Especially irritating Yanks, conservationist and tourists.

3. Walking trails. This gives wombats and Tasmanian devils ample opportunity to tear large hunks out of your legs as you try to run away. I understand running away only infuriates them. Then there is the wildlife data collection.

In my minds eye, I saw myself walking along roasting in my Kevlar underwear to keep all (Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers guide to Australia volumes 1-42, "What's poisonous in Australia" comes immediately to mind) the various poisonous things away from me. I also saw a flash of my diary of field notes from observing the fauna... that being the final trailing off of my writing as I describe the deadly snake that has just given me a less than friendly love tap to let me know how very unhappy it is that I happened to be "observing" in it's neighborhood.

Let's see now, lovely, rather darkish... a tiger snake? King brown perhaps? Or is my eyesight failing from the copious amount of neurotoxic venom the snake just harpooned me with and maybe it was actually a lovely iridescent Taipan? Who can tell? And it doesn't really matter because I have no anti-venom to inject and wouldn't know how to if I did. So much for that $2.49 Walmart snakebite kit I brought with me.

While you may begin to feel that nothing else lives there except deadly snakes, they certainly aren't the only things to worry about. There are vicious birds as well. Let's not even think about the cassowaries. Well, ok, we have to think about them since they also roam the forests of Australia. Cassowaries are enormous VW-sized birds with heavy armor plating on their heads and the largest toenails in the solar system. They are very angry birds with bad attitudes especially when you look at their toenails. They either head butt you or they use their razor sharp toenails to rip you open like a big sack of Idaho potatoes. Who knows, maybe they head butt you THEN use the potato-sack openers. In any case, I think a very large pair of nail clippers is in order for the "Things to take to Australia" list.

The site also says that equipment and training are supplied at each project. The equipment being sticks, large pieces of pipe, a hammer, extra-jumbo toenail clippers, and fluorescent tape. Sticks, pipes, and the extra-jumbo toenail clippers are very obviously for protection. Everyone knows this. The hammer is to knock yourself in the head with after you realize what you've really gotten yourself into. The fluorescent tape is so the Australian forest rangers can find your withered body complete with snakebite, cassowary head butt bruises and a wombat hanging from your Kevlar underwear. All after only a few hours of observing the interesting wildlife.

Unlike throwing a few more shrimp on the barbie, this certainly isn't the most cheery way to end an almost one day stint of Australian wildlife observation but at least they have part of a page in an otherwise empty field diary for posterity. I wonder if a nice funeral is included.

After thinking it over, I believe I may hold out for the possible future invitation from a friend to visit lovely Australia rather than risk life and limb to visit under the pretence of a volunteer conservation visit. To all my Aussie friends and everyone else, please forgive my jests, this is meant in the spirit of laughter. I adore Australia and the animals there but neither my Kevlar underwear nor me wish to encounter quite that much wildlife in one day.


  • Right, haven't we seen the Animal Channel and the Croc. Hunter? By now we've learned of the DANGEROUS and VENEMOUS snakes, spiiiiders, kangaroos, koalas, dogs, cats, people, infants, and sidewalks of Australia.

    Of course, some of this may be exaggerated!

    By Blogger Goalie, at 2:53 AM  

  • I think Kate would go down a treat down under..

    By Blogger Deek Deekster, at 2:25 PM  

  • hmmmm, I'm still reading this one Deek. LOL... What exactally does that mean? Did you misspell something or leave a crucial bit of information out? Do let me know as this is a very odd post. :o)

    By Blogger Kate Ford, at 5:42 AM  

  • Australians dont drink Fosters.
    We export it.
    We keep the decent beer for ourselves.

    By Blogger Aurelius, at 4:24 PM  

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