Aussies have a national ploy…a prank they like to play on outsiders from all nations. Never have I seen a country so united in any desire as Australians are to fool tourists into believing their stories about the dangerous “drop bear”. (Even the Australian National Museum is in on it.)
On my first visit to Australia, I was out to dinner with some friends, telling them about my field work in the bush. “Oh, you better be careful,” one friend said.
“I know, I know,” I replied, “Death Adders.”
“More serious than that, mate,” my friend replied, leaning forward intently, “You gotta watch out for drop bears.”
Now, I had studied Australian flora and fauna, and I had never heard of the drop bear. I glanced at my other Aussie friend, who was nodding intently and seriously. Normally, I’m a pretty gullible person, but I knew the Aussie sense of humour.
“What’s a drop bear?” I asked, a bit suspiciously, I admit.
“It’s like a koala, only with huge claws, and it’s carnivorous. It drops out of the trees and attacks people.”
My friends glanced at each other and decided they needed to be a little more convincing. “Uh,” one said, “It’s in the same species as koala but a different family. Like a mix between a Tasmanian tiger and a koala.”
I raised an eyebrow, “Same species, but different…family?”
“Yeah! A carnivorous koala subspecies!”
My friend nodded encouragingly and hopefully over her beer.
“Ah, naw, you lost her, making all that stuff up,” my other Aussie friend said, elbowing her in the ribs. They both laughed, then he looked at me seriously and said, “But there really are drop bears.”