Saturday, January 2, 1999 Published at 02:28 GMT
Australia's fatal attractions
Ayers Rock claims a number of deaths each year
By Red Harrison in Sydney
There is growing concern in about the number of overseas visitors coming to Australia being killed during the country's summer holidays, and officials are beginning to question whether enough is being done to alert visitors to the country's natural dangers.
But there are other creatures here too.
In Sydney venomous Funnelweb spiders lurk in the suburbs and there are poisonous snakes, including some of the most toxic species known on the planet.
Off Bondi beach and elsewhere, deadly, stinging jelly fish thrive. And Sydney's beautiful harbour has more sharks than usual because environmentalists have cleaned up the waters making them a happier place for sharks to breed and feed their young.
Dying for adventure
Or they try to climb Ayers Rock, the great towering monolith in the red heart of the country and die from a heart attack or simply fall to their deaths.
A few days ago three Vietnamese and a Russian tourist drowned while swimming off beaches.
In Australia's famed 'red centre' the deserts create their own tragedies.
Heat and dust
Some young backpackers have simply been murdered.
Tourism authorities do not want to frighten visitors unnecessarily, but most agree about the paradox, that what makes Australia an attractive tourist destination is also what makes it so dangerous.