David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



As winter sets in in Australia a creature that has lain dormant throughout the whole summer emerges from hiding. It's called the Australian skier and one of the most remarkable creatures in the world.

The Australian Skier is not to be confused with the European skier. Whereas skiing evolved as a necessity in the long Northern winter, the Australian Skier actually goes looking for snow to fall over on.

During the summer the Skier acquires an accumulation of cash with which it makes its way to the snowfields. The snow on these fields is described in terms of falls - and so are Skiers. For the extraordinary thing about these animals is that, driven by some desire to impress members of the opposite sex, they climb to the top of mountains and throw themselves off. By some miracle most survive the descent only to make their way back up again to repeat the experience. In recent years wildlife authorities have given up trying to stop them and have simply installed a series of mechanical lifts to haul them back up to the top again.

Dotted about the mountainsides can also be seen piles of logs called "lodges". These are the homes of the Ski Instructors - an imported variety of skier that has taken root in Australia. A relentless predator, the Ski Instructor is constantly in search of its prey the female skier or bunny. The Ski Instructor is noted for its ruthlessness and there can be no more forlorn sight than a lone skier wandering the snow at night searching for its mate which has been taken by an instructor.

At the end of the season the Skier returns to level ground again to begin accumulating the necessary cash reserves to repeat the procedure next year.

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