Feb Photo 11 – Something That Makes Me Happy
This is a tough one. Many things make me happy in different ways, as with most people. I think what makes me happiest overall, is knowing that I am living in one of the greatest countries in the free world.
Australia has a relatively low population, yet we have such a massive reserve of land. Our land mass extends beyond that of Europe, and even the United States, however we survive and thrive with a population of just 32 million people. A large proportion of these people (in the area of 90%) live within 90 minutes to a beach of some description. We have a great lifestyle down here, being able to get to a beach so easily, when some people in other countries go their entire life without ever seeing the ocean.
Australia has some of the most diverse wildlife, with over 90% of our critters unique to our shores. When white man first settled here in 1780 and began collecting wildlife and documenting the flora and fauna to show the folks back in England, many samples were believed to have been a hoax. None more than the Platypus. When the first samples were sent back, they were disposed of, as the English believed it was a hoax. No animal could possibly have webbed feet, fur, a Duck’s bill and an Otter’s tail. Imagine being the first to see a Platypus. Or a Kangaroo!
Although our spiders and snakes are amongst the deadliest in the world, they hold untapped secrets. I read a while ago that the venom of a particular spider known only to Australia was being used in trials for a drug to help with Alzheimer’s. It is actually a rarity to hear of someone being killed by a snake or a spider in Australia these days (and no, not because the ‘drop bears’ are killing off the witnesses!) rather, the medical industry here are doing such an amazing job with discovering antivenom and treatments for most of our wildlife.
If the land critters worry you, and you think the waters are a better place to be, think again.
Apart from the obvious shark and crocodiles of the Northern waters, we also have many other deadly creatures, like Stonefish, Pufferfsh, Blue-Ringed Octopus, Box Jellyfish, and even some types of fish and starfish that can kill you by eating them. All of these usually cause death simply by stepping on them, except the box jellyfish, which has stingers that can stretch behind it for hundreds of metres (300 feet, for you Americans!), ready to trap any potential meal that tries to get past it. A sting from one of these can kill a human in about 7 minutes without immediate treatment.
All of this aside, I feel happy to be here. We are a lucky country, a young country, and a wealthy country. Our dollar is above America’s, and catching up to the Euro. We have no wars here. We have no direct enemies (although some would suggest New Zealand…), we have about 100 metres of coastline for every person on the continent, we have a great entertainment industry, great sports (some that are unique to our shores!), and an abundance of polite, happy people living here.
The above photo was taken in Lorne when I was camping there (see Feb Photo 8 – Sun) at about 6am. I was the only one on the beach, there were no footprints, no litter and no other sign of life. The sounds of waves crashing against the rocks and sand surrounded me. These waves had not seen land since they left Antarctica, a few thousand kilometres off this shore. Behind me was a national park, full of the Australian Wildlife that could potentially kill me, as well as about 100 kilometres of native fauna, kangaroos, wallabies, and possibly even emus. I was completely alone, surrounded by Australian wilderness. This stretch of beach was only a few hundred metres from the campsite, however I believe I was the only one that had been there in weeks.
This is what makes me happy.