Students often ask me what's a good place to go to learn English, and I always answer them, Australia. Today with David Peachey we discuss some of the concerns people have about learning English in Australia.
Keiran: All right. Today, we have David Peachey [?] back on the podcast.
David Peachey: Hey, hey, hey, good to be back.
Keiran: Yeah. It's good to have you here, David. I have a question.
David Peachey: Yeah.
Keiran: Sometimes, I talk to my students. They say, “You know, I want to travel to an English speaking country.” And I always tell them, “First of all, don’t go to any ESL school. If you can work in a restaurant I think -- or work with people, it’s a better way to learn.”
David Peachey: Yeah, [crosstalk] on the ground.
Keiran: Yeah, and I always suggest, “Go to Australia because Australia is such a beautiful place.”
David Peachey: That’s a very good choice. And as an Australian I must agree. Yeah, it is beautiful here. Nice -- Yeah, the flora and the fauna is beautiful, weather is nice, yeah, so, yeah, there's a lot going for Australia.
Keiran: Right. But the common objection I get from anyone who I talk about this is like, “Yeah, but, you know, Australia has, you know, all those spiders and crocodiles and other dangerous animals.
David Peachey: And things that can kill you, yeah.
Keiran: Yeah, and all those things that can kill you.
David Peachey: It will hurt you badly.
Keiran: What do you think about this? Is this something that people who are considering traveling to Australia should really waste time over, worrying about this?
David Peachey: Short answer is no. Of course, we’ve got our population of Australia and we’re not dying quickly, dying in a hurry, so, obviously, it’s not that dangerous.
David Peachey: How do we survive if -- Well, first thing, a lot of us live in the cities. I think most of the population actually lives in about -- I'd say at least half of the population lives in three or four cities.
Keiran: Yeah, and I guess most of those dangerous animals are not setting in apartment buildings in the cities, right?
David Peachey: Yeah, definitely, like -- A lot of the poisonous snakes are all desert snakes. Well, most of them are desert snakes.
David Peachey: Crocodiles, so, they are up north but not necessarily near the cities. So, you know, if you’re in one of the major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, yeah, I think it’d be fairly safe.
David Peachey: The other thing is I think as part of our Australian nature, we are cautious because we are aware that there are certain things that can kill us or chase us down and attack us.
Keiran: Okay. These are the things that I was not aware of when I was in Australia. So, much I’ve -- we’ve actually done my research a little better. So, fill us in, David. What are the these things?
David Peachey: Obviously the spiders. I mean, that’s the first scary fact that yeah, we have some huge spiders here. First thing to remember is that even if they’re big, they’re generally not going to kill you. In fact, yeah, the lightest spiders are generally quite afraid of us. So, if you see a large spider like the size of your hand, you can actually shoo it away and it will run away in fright.
David Peachey: Yeah, if you’re not already running away in fright. So, feel a bit of bravery. You don’t need to kill it or anything, but you just kind brush at it. Don't do this with the small black evil looking spiders. A couple of the smallest spiders are found in cities, and they are venomous enough to kill you.
David Peachey: So which is why we’re extra cautious.
Keiran: Right. So, there are some dangerous little creatures lurking around the cities then.
David Peachey: Yeah, the two main ones to look at for -- especially when the weather is hotting up. So, there’ll obviously be much more spiders in warmer weather. The dangerous ones are called the funnel-web spider and the red back spider.
David Peachey: The good news is, these generally tend to avoid humans. So, the funnel-web spider, by its name it builds its web in the shape of a funnel but it’s in a hole or in a crack, so even though that’s a spider that could actually chase you if it’s angry, it won’t get angry if you don’t put your anger into its house.
Keiran: Right, right, which, why would he be doing anyways, right?
David Peachey: I don’t know. You think, oh, a dangerous spider, let’s see what it does.
David Peachey: I mean, maybe some people aren’t aware how dangerous or aggressive these can be. We just leave them alone.
David Peachey: Yeah. So, yeah, avoiding it is the first, or not provoking it is the first -- or not provoking. It is the first safety move. Same with the red back, it’s a small spider. It looks a little bit like the black widow and so forth that it has a red marking on the back. Also lives in cracks and crevasses. And you'll probably be bitten if you try to play with it. I don't know why, but if you try to play with it or if you accidentally put your hand into its web.
David Peachey: Which could happen if you are saying -- if you say, pick up -- if you pick up a chair or a table that’s been sitting in the garage and it’s dusty and you don't really look underneath. We check under these things. This is how we survive.
Keiran: All right. So, basically, if people are traveling in the cities and Australia, if they just leave the spiders alone. This should be safe --
David Peachey: Don't go looking for them.
David Peachey: Yeah, and just be a little more thoughtful of, yeah, where you poke your hands and fingers and so on.
David Peachey: We’re quite aware of that.
Keiran: Okay. David, I notice when you were telling me about the first spider, you said when it’s hotting up.
David Peachey: It’s hotting up. Yes, becoming hotter. Is that not a [?] common in Canada which --
Keiran: No, I was like, “Oh, my God, what’s this -- I’ve never heard this, I have to ask David about this.” Because from my perspective, it sounds like a grammatical error that I would correct my students on but I noticed you said it, it’s the second time I’ve heard you said it, so it must be -- the phrase will be --
David Peachey: It must be an Australianism. I’ve never thought of it. It’s just natural for me. Yeah, the weather is hotting up, and it starts to hot up, yeah.
Keiran: Yeah. We would say the weather is heating up over here.
David Peachey: Heating up. Yeah.
David Peachey: Or warming up will be standard phrase for that, yeah.
Keiran: Right. Okay, so, we got to watch out for the funnel-web spider and the red back spider and leave them alone. Is there anything else that the average person should be informed about when they come to Australia? Any other somewhat dangerous or animals they want to stay away from?
David Peachey: Like I said, if you're in the cities, you’re generally avoiding them. Of course, if you’re out walking in the bush which could be -- which is pretty much anything in Australia that is not in a city, is the bush.
Keiran: Yeah, okay.
David Peachey: Of course, yeah, just watch where you’re walking. They could be a snake lying in the path, sunbathing, minding its own business. Two types of animals here will come across in the cities and they’re very common. And of course, you can’t really do anything to this. You can’t kill them because they are native animals. There are possums. And now, because they’re small [?], about the size of a cat --
David Peachey: They crawl through the trees at night and they crawl along power lines and everything.
David Peachey: And you see them at night. People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that because they are furry and cat size, maybe they’re friendly.
Keiran: Okay, so, they’re not friendly. Don’t go pet the possums.
David Peachey: Yeah, don't go petting them because I accidentally did this once. I thought a possum at night was looking friendly and held a hand out and said, “Come on, come on.” In this possums. So, I had food in my hand but it couldn’t see the food, so it tentatively bit my finger and I realized, yes, it is a wild animal.
Keiran: Right, right, yeah, yeah.
David Peachey: And the other one is the bush turkey, and that’s exactly what it looks like and you’ll see them all over the place, like black body, kind of a red and yellow coloring on the neck. Yeah, but I mean, you’ll just see plenty of them around and they can look after themselves and they’ll tend to avoid you.
Keiran: All right. You know, I was just thinking, when I was in Australia, they had the flood, the big flood and I know that was --
David Peachey: Oh, yes.
Keiran: In 2012, I think 2012.
David Peachey: Yes.
Keiran: And this amazing thing happened and you guys can Google this if you’re listening to the podcast and go check out the images, but all the spiders in Wagga, they like, all climbed up and created these webs --
David Peachey: Seeking higher ground.
David Peachey: Yeah, they take over a whole tree or something.
Keiran: Right, exactly. It’s such an amazing thing to see like, that nature had this escape plan for floods you know.
David Peachey: Which is up and take over anything that’s not in the water.
Keiran: Right, right. All right, so, David, thank you for informing us about these dangerous spiders that are not so dangerous if we just leave them alone, which is guess people have trouble doing, right?
David Peachey: Exactly. Yeah. I just want to keep our visitors alive, so, that’d be my work done.
Keiran: Right. So, don’t pet the funnel back spider. Don’t pet the red back spiders and of course don’t pet the possums.