what are the dangerous things you may come across in Cape York?
Cape York is not any more
any other outback area. All
you need is to be well prepared and
use common sense.
The worst thing that
can happen to you is that you get stuck somewhere and have
to wait for
someone to come along.
You have to carry plenty of
water and food, and make sure your vehicle is in good condition.
Like elsewhere in Australia, one of the dangers around are some
of our animals. Like everywhere else in Australia, we have
And like elsewhere in
Australia, we have crocodiles
most likely danger in Cape York is getting stuck
somewhere, and having to wait for help. It's only a matter of time
before someone comes along, but on smaller roads you will
have to wait longer Always carry plenty of food and water.
lt is not a bad idea to have some kind of means of communication in
case you do go to more remote
tracks. Mobile phones are
useless due to lacking reception, sat phones are expensive to buy and
use. Personally I carry the "Spot", which is a kind of EPIRB.
Zac Declerck via Flickr.com
and Sandfly Bites
Australian mosquitoes don't give you deseases as bad as
malaria, we do have Ross
bad thing is sand
Sandfly bites are
incredibly itchy and
scratched they get easily infected. Use
repellent to avoid insect bites.
If you visit Cape York during the Dry season, you don't risk one, but
if you are up here during the Wet, which is the time of the
southern summer, there most likely will be some heavy thunderstorms
are usually more dangerous in the southern parts of Australia, due to
dry summers. Up here, the hottest part of the year is during the Wet
season, so the fires don't get quite as bad. But there are fires
around, and they are often out of control.
If you are from overseas, it is good to know that we don't sunbake
ourselves on beaches because the sun is much
stronger here than in the Northern Hemisphere. There are also sharks;
crocodiles and jellyfish. Your best place to swim is in freshwater
Virus and Dengue
fever is caused by Dengue virus and both are dangerous things.
It is a
mosquito-borne tropical disease that you don't want to get.
As opposed to Ross River Virus that can be found anywhere in Australia,
Dengue Fever is only
Queensland (except in the far south), and
it is found in the whole Cape
Also, as opposed to Ross River
Virus that is only found in Oceania, Dengue
Fever is found in tropical areas on many
other continents and has since the 1960s become a global
health problem with up to 100 million people infected every
year. It also
differs from the Ross
River Virus by being potentially
because it can develop into life
it Easy to Get Dengue Virus?
I have been living in tropical north
Queensland for more than ten
years now, and I haven't had it.
I have definitely been
exposed, and I
have been living in places
with no insect screens.
I have also seen, and
killed many dengue mosquitoes on myself.
They look like this:
mosquito. By Zac Declerck via Flickr.com
from other mosquitoes thanks to their dark-and-white
There are a few different species of them, but they all belong to the
same genus and are popularly called tiger
mosquitoes - thanks to the pattern on their legs.
Can You Avoid Dengue Virus?
is no reason to panic -
if I haven't got it during almost a decade, it is unlikely that you get
it during your travels.
Because Dengue mosquitoes like to live around homes and buildings, locals are at a bigger risk
people engaging themselves in tourist activities.
(If you live in the area, you can do more - read in the end of the
Dangerous Is Dengue Virus?
Dengue Fever itself is not one of the particularly dangerous things,
even though a bad
case is supposedly a lot of suffering from muscle and joint pain.
What is dangerous is that it can develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever
- which causes internal bleeding, which, as you likely know, is
potentially life threatening.
It is more likely to develop if you get bitten more than once -
so if you get any symptoms, you should go and check it out with a doctor as
soon as possible.
A blood test will reveal if it is dengue and which type it is.
Are the Symptoms of Dengue Virus?
are sudden fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, rash, bleeding nose
and bleeding gums, vomiting and diarrhea.
Less than 5% of cases develop the critical
phase, where organ disfunction and internal bleeding may
You are more likely to develop this phase if you have had a different
type of dengue before. You will be immune to the same type
that you had, but more vulnerable if you get a different type of
Is the Treatment for Dengue Virus?
Like with other diseases that are caused by a virus, there is no
Your doctor may recommend you painkillers or panadol, but don't take
aspirin because it will only increase any internal bleeding, and in
fact don't take anything at all without talking to your doctor.
The stronger your general
the quicker you will recover (and
hopefully not develop the 'critical phase').
Of course, resting
a lot and eating healthy
Eat a lot of fruit and vegies high in all kinds of vitamins, and drink
a lot of water. These are things that you should do
keep your general health and immunity
on a good level.
There is no vaccine
for dengue, however scientists are working on it.
rooymans 2000 via Flickr.com
Can You Do if You Live in
Dengue Virus Area?
mosquitoes don't breed in rivers and swamps as most other
mosquitoes - they
particularly like to breed in yards and around homes.
Then they like to hide
in dark corners inside your house where you cannot see
them. As opposed to other mosquitoes that tend to be most active at
dusk and dawn, dengue mosquitoes bite any time of the day.
Because they so much like to be in and around homes, an important step
in the control of those mosquitoes is to keep your yard free from places
where they can breed - anything from bird baths to palm
fronds or old tyres that fill with rainwater.
Inside, spray the shady
places and dark corners where mosquitoes hide.
Wear light coloured and loose-fitting clothes.
Remember that if someone in your family has got the fever, everyone
else is at even higher risk.
River fever is caused by Ross River virus.
It is a
found in Australia as well as Papua New Guinea and some
It is not a dangerous
disease, but people who have had it say that the joint
The disease got its name from Ross River in Townsville
Queensland, where it was first discovered. As
opposed to Dengue Virus
that is only found in Queensland,
Ross River Fever has spread from Australia's tropical north and is now
also found in the southern parts of the country.
mosquito, 'possibly Aedes
eyeweed via Flickr.com
Is it Easy to Get Ross River
statistically not easy to get it.
I have lived in Australia for well over 10 years now, 90% of the time
tropical north Queensland (and three years next to Ross River - not
that it means anything).
I have been exposed to mosquitoes,
I don't like to poison myself with repellent, and I haven't had it.
Most people here will say the same.
Are the Symptoms?
has some of the usual flu-like
- headache, muscle and joint ache, fever, fatigue, rash.
people never develop any symptoms and thus never know they ever
had the disease.
How Dangerous Is It and What Is
in any way.
And like with other viruses, there is no
You have to rest a lot,
and drink a lot of water.
you are the quicker you get over it.
For some people, however, it
a long time to get over it, and some people also say that it can come back
in the following
years, particularly during the Wet season (during the southern
Australia's summer months).
Can You Avoid Ross River Virus?
River Virus is spread by a
number of different mosquitoes, and some of them have a
appearance (with striped
to the so-called "tiger mosquitoes" that carry Dengue Fever.
Look for them, kill them. Use insect repellent. Wear light
and loose fitting clothes. That's
about what you can do as a traveller.
If you live in Australia,
you can do more.
Make sure there is no
water gathering anywhere in your yard. Empty any
containers, get rid of palm fronds and anything that fills with
rainwater. Insect-screen your home. Spray dark corners in your home
where mosquitoes like to hide.
flies are not really the most dangerous things but they are a big
And they can turn some of the
beautiful camping spots in Cape York to some of the most unpleasant
places to be.
They are small biting insects that belong to the same order as flies -
They are so small you
cannot see them
and their bites
get so itchy you want
to scratch your skin off. As their
name suggests, sand
live near sand, and they need salt or brackish water in
life cycle, so they are
found in or near beaches and river mouths.
flies are tiny mosquito looking insects. By AFPMB via
Some of the beautiful spots that they 'destroy' in Cape York include
Portland Roads, Vrilya Point, Mutee
Head, Sadd Point,
Captain Billy Landing....
Bring proper, Bushman
with you to your Cape York trip.
It is the only one that I
working properly against those pests.
Sand Fly Bites
keeping myself from getting something sharp and scratching my skin
off.. and this is not a good thing to do on a Cape York
It is a trip where it is
easy to keep your skin perfectly clean because you are
in the bush and at times your only 'bath' is in creeks and waterholes
where you don't use soap.
I normally never get my scars infected but on a Cape York trip I do, so
badly that on some trips
I have ended
up visiting a hospital to get antibiotics.
A bad infection, if not
even get life threatening and if you are somewhere remote
it can be a long way
to the hospital
(I was once in Ussher Point
- one of the remotest places in Cape York and we were bogged in sand
with 60km to the main road and even more to the closest hospital in
Bamaga... not a walking
Infected sand fly
bite, by John (leishmaniasis) via Flickr.com
Bring proper insect
Bring something to ease
like calamine lotion.
Try not to scratch your
This is easier said than done but a proper infection on a Cape York
trip really is not fun.
the rest of Australia, there are bush fires in Cape York, and if you are from overseas, you may
everywhere when you drive around in Australia, and Cape York is no
I remember my first trip around the continent in 2001. I was right out
of Sweden and had no idea about a lot of things in Australia.
I was in Western
Australia when I listened to the news about the 2001 Sydney
bushfires. I had left Sydney
about a month earlier.
were approaching the
the bush seemed to be burning everywhere. It was really scary.
I didn't know what to do,
should I drive through or not?? But Australians seemed not
worry about it.
If you are from overseas, you likely find yourself in a similar
situation on your travels in Cape York or elsewhere in
All I can say, do like the locals
bushfire can look scary, and the thing is - in more civilised places,
more crowded parts of Australia, there will be fire fighters and some
kind of traffic control to tell you what to do - but up here, sometimes
none of it.
You are in the middle of nowhere and the bush is burning, and that's
There is nobody there to
tell you what to do.
While it is quite common to come across bush fires up here, and while
it is true that many of
the bush fires up here are out of control, the good thing is
that they never get as bad up here as the ones in the southern parts of
The fires that you hear about on the world news, like the 2003
and the 2009 Victoria
bush fires, they get that bad because the
conditions for the fires are much worse in the southern parts of the
Contrary to the common belief that northern
Australian climate is
year around, when
it's the hottest part of the year, up here
we have the Wet Season.
We have a lot of rain and
humidity which cools the temperatures down, while down
south the summer temperatures can be higher, and that in combination
the dry air and strong winds creates ideal conditions for the fires to
big and spread quickly.
They also have larger forests, and more of them, while up here we have
grasslands, swamps and wetlands, with
not that large areas with big trees to burn.
enough to never burn.
The fires do
exist up here, but they seldom get so big that they would
be life threatening.
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