Hazardous landscape features
Hazardous landscape features include falling rocks or slippery surfaces, unstable surfaces that give way underfoot or collapse from above, cliff edges, falling tree limbs or if you’re on the coast - tidal surges, large waves, currents and strong winds.
Be very careful around unstable structures, abandoned mine shafts, old wells and other historic relics. Do not enter or disturb them. Stay on tracks and trails to avoid getting lost.
Always be aware of your surroundings and heed visitor risk warnings. Hazard warning signs are placed for your protection and safety.
Trees and limbs may fall unpredictably and without warning, but the risk is higher during and after high winds, storms and fires. To minimise the risk of injury stay well away from trees that appear to be dead or have dead limbs and consider rescheduling planned visits to parks to which a Bureau of Meteorology weather warning applies and for the following days. Understand that following a bushfire or prescribed burn, areas may remain closed after the fire has been completely extinguished, until the risk of tree fall has been assessed and the area made safe.
The dangers of a long fall while exploring and taking in the breathtaking views of some of our amazing gorges should be obvious. What is less evident is that what may be already extreme weather conditions can be even more so in the gorges. Temperatures may be up to 10°C higher, or could be much lower in the shade of the steep gorge walls. You may experience shock when stepping from hot air into the almost icy cold water of permanently shaded pools. Wind and water can rush through gorges after heavy rain events in the catchment create torrents and flash floods.
Australia's wildlife always features prominently in lists of the world's most deadly, but while it is true that there are creatures that can bite and sting, incidents are often sensationalised and rare. The vast majority of animal encounters on land or in the water are safe if you treat them respect and avoid approaching or feeding any wildlife.
If an animal feels trapped, it may try to protect itself. If you feel threatened by an animal stay calm, keep an eye on where it is, back away, do not run. Some animals in some circumstances may react to your behaviour in particular ways. Research the types of animals you may encounter on your travels and their behaviour.
Ticks and insects
Protect yourself from bites and stings by wearing long, loose, light-coloured clothing (the same clothing that will help protect you from the sun) and using insect repellents available for the skin, clothes and camping gear. During and immediately after visits to the bush check for the presence of ticks on your skin, clothes and other equipment. Pull away any small ticks embedded in the skin using fine tweezers with steady pressure, clean the skin and apply a mild antiseptic. The best way to safely remove larger ticks, complete with mouthparts, is to lasso them with a thread (e.g. cotton or dental floss) as close to the skin as possible and then pull gently and steadily until the tick pulls free.
Native Australian bees rarely sting however, feral European honeybees have a tendency to swarm and can be aggressive. European honeybees build hives in rock crevices, tree hollows and built structures.
What to do:
Wear protective light-coloured clothing and if you encounter bees or a beehive, do not swat if they approach, as that may anger the bees and you’ll be more likely to get stung. If you are allergic to bee stings, carry a supply of antihistamines or an EpiPen and know how to use it.
Bull ants and meat ants are common in some areas and can inflict a painful sting. Keep a lookout for ants and avoid disturbing their nest mounds.
Snakes will generally avoid human contact, but boots and gaiters can protect the areas most at risk of a bite if you are unlucky enough to step on one. Should you be bitten, immobilise the area of the bite to avoid speeding the spread of any venom and seek immediate medical assistance.
Estuarine (Saltwater) crocodiles live in a wide variety of habitats in the State's north, including coastal waters near beaches and offshore islands. Crocs are common, crocs move around and crocs are deadly so Be Crocwise and download our Crocodile safety and myth busting fact sheet. Heed all risk warning signs but remember that crocodiles may be present even if there is no crocodile risk warning sign. If unsure contact the nearest Parks and Wildlife Service District office.
Dangerous marine animals
Some marine animals are harmful. They may bite, sting or have sharp spines. Take heed of any warning signs and tread carefully when going into the water. Consider wearing bootees or reef shoes when walking in the water and fins and gloves when snorkelling.
In tropical waters, check for the presence of jellyfish including the potentially lethal box jellyfish and irukandji. Although they can be present all year round, they are most prevalent from November to April. If you do swim, snorkel or dive, wear a full-length stinger suit and if you are stung, douse liberally with vinegar and seek urgent medical advice. Visit Health Direct for more information.
In Western Australia we are lucky to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but recent shark activity has created some concern. Sometimes beaches are temporarily closed if a potentially dangerous shark has been sighted or an incident has occurred, but the risk of shark attack remains. For more information on shark safety visit the SharkSmart website.