Australia is a unique and fascinating country and taking a vacation there, whether as an overseas or domestic tourist, is a rewarding experience. However there’s more to Australia than kangaroos and koalas and it’s as well to be aware that there is a need to take certain precautions in order to ensure that you holiday safely.
Respect the sun
Australia’s sunny climate is one of its big attractions but be aware that those blue, unpolluted skies admit high amounts of UV rays that will, if you’re exposed to them for too long, give you a nasty case of sunburn. Australian schoolchildren learn the “Slip on a shirt, Slop on the 50+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade or shelter, Slide on some glasses used to block out sun slogan— “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide”. Since its introduction in the 1980s it has been adopted in many other countries and has relevance to sunseekers wherever they may be.
Another feature of the Australian climate to be on guard against is its extremely low humidity, particularly during the summer months when temperatures can reach the forties. Due to the dryness of the air, perspiration rapidly evaporates, which has a cooling effect but also can quickly result in dehydration if you don’t drink enough, And enough means more than you would normally drink so when out and about be sure to have your water bottle with you.
Insect life – mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are to be found all over the planet and while most of the many varieties that exist are an annoyance, there are some that can cause serious illness, malaria being the most well known but by no means the only one. Dengue, for example, endemic throughout SE Asia, is now carried by several species of the Aedes genus living in Australia’s sub-tropical zones. But even if the mosquito that bites you is not a disease carrier, those itchy bumps can be a blight on your holiday and worse should they become infected, And it’s not only children that cannot resist scratching them, which can lead to a nasty infection. A mosquito repellent should therefore be considered a must for the holidaymaker. There are several products on the market that are highly effective, one of which is Mozzie Gear’s chemical free mosquito repellent which is a great choice for those who prefer a chemical free option.
Other measures that can be taken to minimise the possibility of being bitten are wearing light coloured (white is best) long sleeves and pants, particularly when mosquitoes are feeding – for most species this is at dusk or early mornings, though the dengue host Aedes feeds during the daytime. Essential oils can also play a part in keeping your living space mozzie free, whether holiday accommodation or home. Amongst the range of oils available are some, for example, citronella and lavender, that help to repel mosquitoes. Tea tree oil, which can reduce the itching from insect bites and has powerful antiseptic and antifungal properties, is also believed to have an aroma that is repellent to mosquitoes. Portable essential oil diffuser kits do not take up much luggage space so are a practical option.
Insect life – spiders
Australia’s spiders have acquired a fearsome reputation, much of which is the stuff of legends. Thanks to the development of anti-venom serums there has been only one death from spider bite since more than 20 years ago. Furthermore, in the age of the Internet, most providers of holiday accommodation, being aware of the damage that a negative posting about their facilities can do to their business, employ pest control services. That’s not to say that the rare stray spider won’t find its way indoors, so a few precautionary measures are in order. Remember to:
- Shake out shoes before wearing
- Do the same with clothes, even those from a hanger or suitcase.
- Don’t leave clothes or towels on the floor.
- Wear shoes – indoors and outdoors.
- Check bedding before going to bed.
Spiders are, like snakes, shy, retiring creatures. They seek the safety of dark, concealed places. They are in fact every bit as afraid of you as you might be of them and will only bite a human in self-defence.
In the unlikely event of a spider bite the victim, should:
- Remain calm and quiet – excessive activity causes the venom to move through the body faster.
- Keep the affected limb below the heart.
- Apply a pressure bandage to the limb from the top downwards.
- If possible, scoop the spider into a closed container or take a photo of it.
- Seek medical assistance.
A comprehensive guide to those travelling in Australia
The Australian Government values the contribution that tourism provides to the country’s economy and naturally wishes all tourists, not only those coming from overseas but also Australian residents exploring their country, to have a positive experience. With this in mind they have published this guide to safe and healthy travel in Australia. Happy holidays!