29. October 2007 02:57
by Rene Pallesen

Berowra, Narrabeen Slabs & Australian Wildlife

29. October 2007 02:57 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

berowra narrabeen slabs australian wildlife

One of the things about living in Australia is that you are exposed to a lot of creepy crawly stuff. In the urban jungle you don't really notice, but once you come a bit closer to nature then you cannot avoid seeing some of the insects etc. This is especially true when we go climbing. The last couple of weeks Andy and I have been exposed to a couple more creeps than we usually see.

The last couple of weeks Andy and I have been climbing in the Sydney area. Last weekend we went up to Berowra again and had a generally pleasant day had it not been for the brown snake.

On the last climb of the day we decided to try this climb that none of us had done before, but because of the protection we decided to top rope it. In the guide book the description reads:

Savage Cabbage 8m 19
Up thin crack then tricky moves left to main crack. Follow this (take care with pro) to new lower off. Often dirty and sometimes inhabited by a (friendly) brown snake.

This was warning enough and as a safety precaution we checked the holes at the bottom of the climb and didn't see anything suspicious. He started climbing and about 2 metres up he stuck his had into one of the pockets. He then decided to take a peek to see if there was anything in there and very quickly pulled his stand out shouting "Fu...a snake". Fortunately he hadn't been bitten or I would have had to call him a helicopter....again.

Eastern Brown Snake

Wikipedia says the following about the snake:
Brown snakes are easily alarmed and may bite if approached closely, handled or threatened. The Eastern brown snake is the most toxic member of the genus and is the second most toxic land snake in the world.

I don't think we'll be jumping onto that climb anytime soon.

This weekend we decided instead to go to Narrabeen slaps as we hadn't been there for a while and it is easily accessible (15 minutes drive from home). It is a nice selection of semi difficult slabs along the Wakehurst parkway (almost rain forest).

Andy on a blank slab

Generally when climbing in Sydney you see many webs from the funnel webs and I also saw at least one at Narrabeen. And, when we go to other climbing areas then there are always multiple holes in the rocks where you can see the funnel shaped webs. I happen to hate spiders and always fear that I will poke my fingers into a funnel web. I have only seen a live (I think) funnel web once and that was in Nowra on the bottom of a pond of water (people generally check their swimming pools for funnel webs before swimming as they can stay below the surface for ages), I saw a tiny scorpion on the floor of the cooking area in Nowra on the same trip.

Sydney Funnel Web

Wikipedia says:
Although they are rather small, they should not be handled without taking substantial precautions, because their fangs have been known to penetrate fingernails and soft shoes, resulting in dangerous bites. Funnel-webs are probably one of the three most dangerous spiders in the world and are regarded by some to be the most dangerous.

While Andy was belaying me he saw a redback spider crawl across the rope back and squashed it under his feet. He told me he had to stomp on it several times before it died.

redback spider

Wikipedia says:
The redback spider is a potentially dangerous spider native to Australia. It resembles a Black widow spider. Redbacks, along with funnel-web spiders, are the most dangerous spiders in Australia. Most Australians dislike the redback spider, thanks in part to the frequency with which it is encountered in the environs of human habitations.

Also, the crag is generally infested with mosquitoes, ticks and on this day we also had the pleasure of a big fat Tiger Leech which had had a feast on Andy's big toe so it started bleeding heavily as we left the crag (but the leech lived to see another day). We saw it earlier on Andy's sandals but flicked it off...only later did we discover that it had been sucking blood from him.

Hungry Tiger Leech

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