Bondi - stunning but treacherous
A while ago, to celebrate my 200th post, I wrote about some of the ways people find this blog, and the things they are really looking for. Postwise, I'm nearer 300 now, but the ways the people of the internetosphere stumble bemused onto these pages still fascinate me. As well as the previously mentioned Blogger tracking tool, I've also got a widget on my trusty, yellowing MacBook called Google Analytics - which gives me so much information about you lovely readers it's almost frightening. Graphs, pie charts, keywords, entry and exit points, it's got the lot. I can sit here in my cold Scottish castle and discover what computer you use, your co-ordinates, who you voted for on X-Factor, anything. Through this, I learned what my most popular post of all time is, and not only is it surprising, but just how popular it is is astonishing.
Just under 6% of all my readers look at this one page. They all, without exception, arrive there by typing the same four words into Google (the search engine drags in 36% of my total visitors). It was a post I wrote very early on, when I was just getting the hang of blogging - and my ramblings were noticeably shorter. In fact, as I sit here writing this, four out of the last fourteen people to read DUaB arrived here searching for that one subject - it's incredible. I have the wonders of Google to thank, of course, as if you type the four words (which I'm not revealing yet, as you may have noticed) into their search engine you get 15,500,000 results - the top hit being me. Blimey.
So why do I mention this now? I promise you it's not to blow my own trumpet - it all relates to this Guardian Article last week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the National Coroner's Information System, which I read while eating my lunch one afternoon at work. As DUaB regulars will know (the 34 of you that have 200+ visits each, my 'Platinum Elite'), I started this thing when I moved to Australia to let people know I was still alive and hadn't been eaten by any of the thousands of killer animals, fish and plants us Brits think live down under. Essentially some statto type (and I know I've no grounds to criticise), has worked out how many unfortunate tourists have died in Oz over the last seven years - 2,433 of them. Almost one a day.
The majority of these tragic cases are natural causes, and have to be comparable with the number of people who fall ill and die on holiday anywhere else. Take out car crashes, and the number reduces even further. But Australia does have a dangerous reputation. This article in China's People's Daily newspaper warns would-be visitors of things to watch out for, under the title 'Deadly creatures lurk amid summer paradise', and goes on at length about snakes, spiders and crocodiles. Personally, I think the wildlife dangers are over-emphasised somewhat, and when the most dangerous native creature here can dish out a slight nibbling at worst, we tend to freak out at the merest glimpse of something scaly, or eight-legged. Or at least I do.
Apart from my close encounter with a very large spider, the only dangers I rountinely faced were from the local takeaway curry house on Victoria Street. But my frankly weedy swimming ability meant I deliberately didn't expose myself to one of the greatest risks of Sydney life - the beaches. I don't mean sharks (although there have been two attacks recently), but the currents. Australian beaches are iconic - and none more than Bondi. But it has a fearsome rip tide, and continually people get into trouble without realising the risks. Already in 2007, eight people have drowned in the city. 210 had to be rescued over the course of the last weekend in January, as temperatures soared into the 40's. Bondi sees a lot of rescues, as new arrivals visit what is arguably the world's most famous beach, and go into the water unaware of the danger.
But do foreigners really think down under is so dangerous, or is it just a much played-upon stereotype? Well, that brings me back to the most popular DUaB post, and those four most searched for words. They are 'Bad Things About Australia'. Be prepared...but don't be put off...
'Bad Things About Australia' DUaB post (1st December 2004)
Australia's fatal charms claim thousands of tourists [Guardian]
Australian Bureau of Statistics website