Bluenose Girl

Leechgate - A Beginners Guide to Australian Leeches

Nathan and I beautiful waterfall

It might be best to stop reading now if you don’t like creepy crawlies. This is the day in Australia that Nathan and I discovered what land leechers are. In the middle of it all we weren't happy campers but knew if we made it through we would laugh about it one day, it didn't take long for "that day" to arrive. Here is the story of what we now refer to as Leechgate.

On our second day in the Blue Mountains Nathan and I woke up to more rain and fog. So we decided to hike the forest in the valley rather than the clifftop walk which would be rather boring with no views. Luckily on the way to the start of the hike the rain let up.

The walk was beautiful. We saw stunning waterfalls, huge trees, lush ferns, and the mist in the air made for a magical atmosphere. We were loving nature, for the first 2 hours. Then we discovered what looked like worms on Nathan’s shoes and they seemed to be trying to get into his sneakers via the shoelace holes. After Nathan scraped them off his shoes (while I grossed out) we noticed I had them too and the ewws became shrieks. As if that wasn't bad enough after Nathan scraped them off my shoes and I calmed down a bit we realised that despite wearing skinny jeans we also had leeches on our legs. Thank goodness Nathan kept his cool and was able to pick them off because I was too busy screaming my head off.

stairs into the forest

At this point in the walk we had just past a sign saying we had an hour and a half left to the end of our hike. All I could think about was how many worms (turns out the “worms" were leeches) were in my sneakers and how many leeches were still on my legs. So I literally stomped (in an effort to squash anything in my sneakers) my way out of the forest at top speed. We reached the railway lift in about 40 minutes (including a wrong turn).

Despite being traumatised Scenic World’s railway lift back up to the top was a lot of fun and, thankfully, really fast. Worth every penny of the $14 for the 3 minute ride. Once at the top I sat down on the first indoor bench I found, took off my shoes and had Nathan roll up my skinny jeans to check for more leeches (while I kept my eyes shut). I was sure there was still one on me and I was right, but thankfully none were found in my shoes. During this inspection spectacle there were some sympathetic onlookers who due to my shrieks couldn't help but notice something was happening.

Going up and out of the forest

Nathan was a trooper staying calm the whole time getting the little suckers off both of us and keeping up with my Usain Bolt speeds out of the forest. He even humoured me when I asked him to go ask the staff of Scenic World if Australian leeches are more harmful than other leeches (they aren’t).

We were both still feeling paranoid that leeches had wormed their way to other body parts and decided the best thing to do was full body checks of each other, very romantic. At this point I couldn't have cared less what people thought when they saw us go into the washroom together, we both needed confirmation we were leech free. After the all clear was given we sat down for some cake and I was able to calm down at last.

Meanwhile after staying calm for so long Nathan started to have a little freak out over what had happened. Post traumatic stress syndrome from leeches!? Nathan felt better after a shower, except for an incident in the middle of the night when he woke up frantically brushing off leeches. However since we didn't both lose our heads at the same time we made it through the day (and night).

I'll admit to anyone that as much as I love and enjoy nature, I’m a city girl through and through. I like my city comforts and I don’t like it when nature gets too personal and getting into my sneakers and jeans is too personal for me!

FYI: In New South Wales, Australia there are what are commonly known as land leeches. They show up mostly after rain and are attracted to light and movement.

stunning forest