Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weekend Notes

Sydney Australia

Dean and I subscribe to a newsletter called 'Weekend Notes' which highlights cool things to do and see in and around Sydney. I've titled this blog post Weekend Notes 'cause I'm going to write a few short posts about some of the events we've attended.

Welcomed by a T-Rex
Night at the Museum
Have you ever wanted to pull a Ben Stiller and hang out with the dinosaurs at night in the museum? Well we thought that sounded cool, so off to the Sydney Australian Museum we went. From the looks of it many other people had the same desire, the line up to get in was about half an hour long but so worth the wait.
The Jurassic Lounge where the band played with a backdrop of skeletons.
For a few nights only the museum opened it's doors after hours with an exhibit called Jurassic Lounge offering performances, live music (a wicked local indie-rock band) and booze! All set against a prehistoric backdrop with dinosaur skeletons and random stuffed dead Australian animals.  We've never had so much fun at a museum in our lives. Amazing what a drink and some good music can do to improve the vibe.

There were lots of interactive exhibits to try ie. archaeological dig site, silent dance party (not sure what that had to do with dinosaurs but looked interesting) basically everyone dancing had head phones on listening to a DJ but to an outsider we could only see them dancing but heard no music.. weird. There was even a life size brontosaurus walking around scaring people. lol.

Good times at the museum.

Billabong Launch Party
Thanks to a few purchases I made at the new Billabong store in Pitt Street Mall, we were cordially invited to their new store launch party. The event was called "Trade in your Trunks" and all we had to do was drop an old swimsuit or "swimmers" they call them here and we'd get a free entry pass.  FUN!  Not exactly sure what they are going to do with our old swimmers but I was excited for the $1000 shopping spree draw and to see the rock band Van She play live. So take my saggy swimmers I say.

So like the fashion Deva's we are.. Dean and I show up fashionably late and enter the already hoppin' party.  Free food, free beer.. not bad for a free event. We mingle the party not knowing a single soul apparently brushing shoulders with famous surfers that we would never recognize 'cause neither of us knows a thing about surfers. It was a great people watching event, we quickly became amazed by the extremity of short skirts and high shoes worn in this city. It's almost not even possible. We checked out the new store which is three levels featuring a section for their Bob Marley line.

We quickly lost interest once Van She came on stage.. they really blew.. I'll give them the benefit of a poor sound venue.

Living in Australia 101 (Lesson #2 - SPIDERS)
On April 16th Dean and I hosted our first Australian house party!!  Out in the back patio Dean is BBQ'ing up a storm like usual and I'm chatting with a friend when his eyes open large gazing above my head and he mouth's "oh my ..."  Immediately I know something is not right.. swing around to find a giant spider webbed only inches from my head.  For those of you who don't know me I'm seriously not cool with spiders.  Our friend Austin whisked the spidey away with a broom into the back ally but I still fear the day he returns.  This incident motivated me to research Australian Spiders. Which brings me to

Lesson #2 of living in Australia- Know Your Spiders.

Redback Spider
The infamous redback spider belongs to the same family as the American Black Widow Spider.

Size: female 12mm, male 3mm. Pea size body.
Habitat: Found all over Australia in dry sheltered areas around homes, gardens and parks.
Afraid factor: The redback is dangerous and venomous, but not aggressive as it spends most of it's time in the web. The bite is not painful initially but intense pain develops after about 5 minutes. Symptoms include localized sweating at the site of the bite, muscular weakness and even paralysis.

Funnel-Web Spider
This guy is SCARY! The funnel-web spider is very aggressive and it's venom is deadly (one of the deadliest spiders in the world)

Size: Male 20mm, female 30mm
Habitat: The funnel-web is found in rainforest and wet eucalypt forests but can also be found in damp shady areas of private gardens in Sydney.. YIKES! (but according to a friend only north sydney- I'll believe that) They burrow in the ground under rocks or logs not in webs.
Afraid Factor: HIGH! BE AFRAID! The bite of this spider is one of the most dangerous in the world. Bites can be fatal if not treated. An anti-venom is available. Seek treatment if bitten.

Mouse Spider

This spider got it's name because similar to the funnel-web they dig deep burrows (like a mouse) Probably also 'cause they have furry little bodies.. eww look at this one's furry back-side.

Size: male 15mm, female 30mm
Habitat: Burrowing spiders found in the east coastal and highland regions of Australia (Yay! this one's not in Sydney!) Burrows in creek banks and sometimes in suburban gardens.
Afraid Factor: This one is toxic and it's bite is potentially life threatening. However, the mouse spider is less aggressive than the Sydney Funnel-web and doesn't always inject venom when it bites.

This is almost making me barf just writing and googling these spiders so I hope you appreciate my efforts to educate you on Australian spiders. This will likely give me nightmares tonight.

Huntsman Spider
This is a large spider with crab-like legs and is fast moving. He hunts his prey instead of catching it in a web.

We saw one of these in our room in Bali. Thank goodness I did my spider 101 lesson before we saw this monstrosity. Yet, still a scary site.

Size: up to 15cm across the legs
Habitat: Houses, gardens, under rocks, logs.
Afraid Factor: Non toxic and doesn't usually strike humans. Bites only cause mild local pain.

Garden Orb Spider

This is the crazy dude that we found in the back court yard at our party. Just inches away from my head!

Size: female 2-3 cm, male 1.5 - 2cm
Habitat: Gardens
Afraid Factor: Orb weavers are afraid to bite. Symptoms include mild local pain, numbness and swelling.

Wolf Spider

The wolf spider has a distinct Union Jack impression on it's back.
Size: 15mm to 30mm
Habitat: Found Austraila-wide this is a ground dwelling spider that hunts it's prey instead of catching it in a web. Found around homes and garden areas.
Afraid Factor: The bite is poisonous but not leathal. They are non-aggressive but this doesn't mean poke them they will bite if aggrivated.

CONCLUSION:  Be careful around gardens, wooded areas and forests. General rule of thumb;  brown spiders BE AFRAID but black spiders be VERY AFRAID. And never mess with a funnel-web.

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