I could firstly say that as Australia is my home and I have never known anywhere else it seems perfectly safe to me. Having said that and having consulted many of my overseas friends, Yes this country can be hazardous to the unwary, stupid or just plain unlucky.
Much of our wildlife is quite venomous. We tend to categorize these into:
- Dangerous (will kill you very quickly) and
- Not dangerous (wont actually kill you although you will wish you were dead, or will kill you slowly so you have time to get help).
A Kiwi friend pointed out the way Aussies have a very cautious but relaxed attitude towards safety. You will always notice an Aussie carefully inspects the place he intends to sit if he is outdoors, making sure there are no "biteys" such as spiders or bull-ants. He will always carefully tap his boots out before putting them on. Aussies will keep a close eye on the ground when walking through the bush and are always alert for the rustling sound of something slithering through the undergrowth. Most of all no Aussie would *ever* put their hand down a hole or under a log without a very, very careful inspection first. Not doing so would likely remove you from the gene pool post-haste. Aussies do not go swimming in estuaries in the north of Australia and preferably dont swim in murky water at all. We are aware that many apparently innocuous objects such as cone shells on the reef and even mossy rocks or pretty little octopus in shallow tidal water can result in an agonizing death.
This is not to say that we live in perpetual terror. We don't. This is home and it is a beautiful place to live but it also encourages a person to be thoughtful and calm about his decisions. Not a bad thing I think as this is also a country where arrogance will quickly get you killed. American tourists in particular- when the sign says "Crocodiles-no swimming!" it really means it.