Seasonal stingers of many shapes await you

Pay pain: Some varieties of stingers can cause excruciating muscle-cramping in your wallet-extracting fingers. Photo: Paul Sutherland
Pay pain: Some varieties of stingers can cause excruciating muscle-cramping in your wallet-extracting fingers. Photo: Paul Sutherland

If you don't know about the Whitsundays, they're a beautiful bunch of islands off the Queensland coast, each island surrounded by turquoise waters filled with colourful coral, tropical fish, and sunburned snorkelling British tourists popping their heads up and yelling, "Oiiii, Patrick! Look over 'ere! I's brilliant! Every'fings brilliant! I's all jus' brillll-liant, innit Patrick, innit?"

It's quite mesmerising, watching their little pink heads bobbing around in the water. One of Queensland's great natural wonders.

I've just got back from a one-week holiday up there, from Whitsunday to Whitfriday, and I loved the place, just loved it - but I wish someone had warned me about the seasonal stingers.

It's a big problem at this time of year and unfortunately I got stung pretty bad.

It happened on the morning I arrived at Whitsunday Airport. I stepped into the arrivals lounge and a large venomous stinger drifted toward me, known in marine-biology terminology as Shuttlus-Bus Driver-alis.

He was selling tickets for a shuttle-bus that went from the airport to the coastline and he charged me $49 for the trip, causing excruciating muscle-cramping in my wallet-extracting fingers.

Apparently you can ease the discomfort by applying vinegar to the sting, so I bought a tube of Salt & Vinegar Pringles from the airport kiosk. $5 for a half-tube.That didn't help. It just made it worse.

Unbelievably, I got stung again, half an hour later, at the end of my shuttle-bus ride, when I stepped off the bus, straight into a swarm of large, blue-shirted Water-Taxi Crewmember Overchargus.

These were fully-grown adults, even bigger than a Shuttlus-Bus Driver-alis, with leathery head-skin and a more toxic venom.

They charged me fifty bucks for a water-taxi to my island resort and I was instantly stricken with nausea, sweating, anxiety, heart palpitations, and an agonising burning sensation in my vital debit-card organs.

The symptoms didn't go away either: I kept getting recurring spasms for the rest of my island holiday, every time I remembered that I had to catch a water-taxi to get back.

Look, I'm not out to frighten tourists but people should be aware of all the different stinger species lurking along the Queensland coast - and I had encounters with pretty much all of them.

One night I visited the resort bar and strolled face-first into a Barmanus Drink-Price Obscene-i.

He charged me $10.50 for a beer, $18 for a cocktail - the sting was so severe, it required an emergency dose of whisky-based analgesia, at $22 22 dollars a shot.

Two days later I survived a life-threatening attack from a Snorkellus Cruise-Boat Operator who charged $199 for a half-day cruise to the famous Whitehaven Beach, causing general numbness in my chest, legs and crotch, though that may have been the wetsuit they gave me to wear. I think it was a toddler's size.

Of course there are the actual stingers in the tropical Queensland waters - the Irukandji box jellyfish - but as long as you wear a protective stinger-suit when you go in the ocean, they won't hurt you at all.

Though I did get stung when I found out I had to hire the stinger-suit each day from a Resort-Managerus Opportunisti. I'd heard you can neutralise the sting-wound by flushing it with your own urine, so I tried that every time I went swimming in the resort stinger-suit.

Maybe it was psychological, but in a funny way, it actually seemed to help.