By CIEE Sydney Student- Emma Gruby Spring OCB I/II
Coming to Australia, everyone always thinks of the huge spiders and extreme volumes of venom that pretty much every animal here has. There have been a few big spiders and cockroaches, I’ve swam with jellyfish and found some weird rocks in the sea with jelly on the inside (I still have no idea what that last one actually was). This goes to say there has been some pretty crazy wildlife that I’ve run into on this trip. But one of the most memorable experiences were of the ghost spider.
It all started when visiting the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are absolutely gorgeous. There are hikes through the forest with beautiful waterfalls, natural pools, and amazing views. Of course, my partner and I wanted to explore these trails, seeing as we're both outdoorsy people. We decided to hike down Victoria falls hiking track to a waterfall with a natural pool at the bottom. On the hike to the falls, we crossed under this rock ridge. To one side of us was a steep drop off and to the other was a rock wall that extended to encase us from above. As we are walking, we see a huge spider dangling from the top of the rock ceiling. The spider looks to be dead (the spider was blowing in the wind and the legs were all curled). We watch the corpse for a while and decide to quickly run under. Once we get past, we look back at the hanging spider, still stationary. We move on to the rest of the hike. We get to the falls and it is stunning. We swam in the near freezing (at least it felt like it to me) water and talked to some locals about hikes in the area. After a while, we got dressed back into our hiking gear and headed back up the trail.
We got back to the spiders once-home and I decided to look a bit more. The abdomen was shrivelled and the spider was in the exact same place, still swaying in the wind. As any sane person does, I grabbed a stick to poke the spider down and get a better look. The spider fell like a leaf, gently gliding to the trail ground. The legs were hairy and stripped, the body still shrivelled and hollow. I picked up the spider. At this point, my partner is freaking out. He doesn’t like spiders, let alone huge Australian ones. I take a picture and place the spider’s body on the rock wall ledge. Laughing a bit about the experience, we turn the corner and I turn to my partner. “Wow, I guess I’m the only one to hold an Australian spider. You were too scared?” I taunted. “Fine” he says with a smile and determination as we turn back to the place we left five seconds earlier. “Where’s the spider?” He asks. I looked to the spot where I had placed the spider to see nothing. At this point, we were panicking a bit and joking about how maybe the spider wasn’t dead. We look to the right and see the same huge spider tumbling quickly towards us! We both shout a fair share of curses and sprint up the mountain still swearing. “My gosh, Emma!” Says my atheist partner. “You angered the spider's spirit and now they’re going to haunt us! We’re going to get back and have spiders all over our room out of revenge!” We laugh about this the rest of the way up. Overall I've had lots of fun adventures here. I’ve seen beautiful beaches, had so many laughs, and adapted some funny Australian slang into my vocabulary. But one thing I’m worried about taking home is a spider ghost trying to haunt me.