Life Wellbeing Australia mate, where even the beautiful people get eaten by the wildlife
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Australia mate, where even the beautiful people get eaten by the wildlife

Experts believe sea lice attacked Sam Kanizay​
Sam Kanizay​ in hospital after being attacked by sea critters at Brighton. Photo: Jarrod Kanizay
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Oh the poor folk of Brighton. The normally pleasant suburb of Melbourne, where residents pay top coin to enjoy life surrounded by mansions, boutiques and beach boxes, is under attack yet again.

The suburb, where celebrity residents include Chris and Rebecca Judd, and Shane Warne, has already hosted a deadly Islamic State-inspired terrorism incident in recent months.

And now they’ve been invaded by what experts are calling a bad-luck case of hungry sea fleas nibbling on the feet of a local teen.

So far, so random.

The poor young fella, Sam Kanizay, 16, was hospitalised after suffering multiple bites after paddling among the little wriggling mites that have since been outed and look like maggots with tiny legs.

But really should any of us be surprised that another faction of Australian nature wants to draw blood?

Let’s face it, humans are just not welcome here. The critters, both land and sea dwellers, have been sending us a message for a while now that we just refuse to hear.

In fact it’s surprising that even more of us do not fall victim more often to the poisonous, hungry, ruthless creatures we live alongside in this dangerous land.

I’ve been resident here for 10 years since moving from England and it’s not an understatement to say that my kids and I are lucky to have survived this long.

Take the time I was three months pregnant and paddling dreamily one Boxing Day in Double Bay, Sydney. Out of nowhere a creature grabbed me firmly in its mouth around my right calf. When I screamed it let go.

I found out later it was likely to have been a toothless shark native to the harbour. Yes. Toothless. So myself and my unborn son were saved simply by freak genetic fish dentistry.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

On a daily basis, we all play Russian roulette with poisonous, dangerous spiders that come into our homes seeking refuge, dark corners and kindness only to be met with human violence.

White-tailed spiders get their name from the distinctive white patch on their lower abdomen. Photo: CSIRO

Like many of us I’ve swiped many white-tailed spiders, the strong, cunning beasts who hide in the shade of your wardrobe when it gets too hot for them outside.

They don’t make arachnids like this in London − these things scurry as fast as mice with the engine of a Range Rover.

And how will my kids forget the time we were so excited to spend new year in a beach house at “Paradise beach” in Gippsland? We dreamed of days swimming and paddling on this ancient 90-mile beach before meandering back home all relaxed and sun-kissed.

The reality was, of course, different. We ventured to the beach only to be attacked by those nasty sand flies that you only know have landed once they’ve already taken a bite of you.

My daughter, then aged three, shouted “Mummy look what I’ve found”, as she joyfully waved a baby hammerhead shark in the air. A dead one.

We ended up driving miles everyday just to swim in a lake.

“If there’s a baby hammerhead, there’s a mummy and daddy nearby,” we explained to our confused kids who were quite happy to launch themselves into the shark-infested waters.

We avoided Gippsland after that. We headed to the far north. But that’s where the true gangsters of nature lay in wait. No swimming in case of box jellyfish. No moonlit strolls on the beach in case of crocodiles.

Still, we became citizens.

It’s the weather, you see. The wineries. The space. The people. The humour. The fresh air. It’s OK folks, we’ve trained the kids to be mini-assassins when needed.

The whole family can catch a huntsman in a tupperware box and we now know not to run through long grass in case of snakes.

We are Australians. Survival is part of the joy in this precarious yet addictively beautiful land of the brave and foolhardy.

Lucie Morris-Marr is a Melbourne-based freelance investigative journalist who is a contributor for CNN, The New York Times and Daily Mail Australia.

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