Have you ever wondered why bushwalkers in Australia wear helmets in particular parts of the country? Or why outback tour guides always carry Vegemite? Drop Bears. Although far less known than their Koala cousins, the Drop Bear is well known by all Australians who venture out into the bush. For if you are unlucky enough to rouse one of these beasts from it's tree-top sleep, you will know about it very soon and be very sorry...if you live to tell the tale.
Drop Bears are marsupials, like the Koala. They are slightly larger in size, similar to a large wombat or dingo. They are far more able to move at speed than their gum-leaf eating kin, mainly due to the fact that Drop Bears thrive on a meat-only diet. Drop Bears look similar to the Koala, with thick grey fur and a white front, and sharp claws for climbing trees and catching prey. Their long incisor teeth protrude from their top and bottom jaws, giving the Drop Bear a sinister appearance that has been known to scare Australians and tourists from the tiniest toddlers to the burliest blokes.
Despite repeated warnings, there are many visitors to Australia who refuse to believe in Drop Bears. They arrive full of fear of snakes, spiders and sharks, not realising the worst of our deadly creatures live in the tree-tops above us. A government-led public information campaign failed to influence visitors, despite being issued in multiple languages at airports across Australia. The fact that Australians are known to be pranksters isn't helping to convince tourists, nor the fact that there are no verified photos of these carnivorous beasts. In actuality, only two people have lived to tell of their encounters with Drop Bears, both outside a remote public house in the West Australian outback just after closing time on a Friday night. Both victims claim that Vegemite saved them from an untimely fate, as the Drop Bear is known to be repelled at the smell of Australia's favourite spread, further fuelling conjecture that the Drop Bear cannot be a native Australian.
We revel in our landscape and the unique animals of Australia. Our beaches are known around the world, and for many Australians this is the only space considered safe, despite the sharks and deadly jellyfish one might encounter there. We are people who once loved a walk in the bush, until this tree-top terror was discovered. But fear not, with a good smattering of Vegemite across your face and body, you can enjoy all that the Aussie outback has to offer. Just be sure you only cuddle the Koala, never it's cousin the Drop Bear.