Winston Aldworth writes in praise of Australia's cuties.

When it comes to wildlife, Australia has the wildest.

It's a land famed for sharks, crocodiles and spiders the size of a heavyweight boxer's fist - and all with knockout blows to match. And don't even start me on the Tasmanian devil.

The juxtaposition with our own native wildlife couldn't be more pronounced. The only way an animal native to Aotearoa could kill a visitor would be if a dozy backpacker tripped over it.

My Aussie secret is that I prefer their cute animals. Herewith, my favourite low-lethality Australian wildlife.



When the good burghers of New South Wales sought an animal emblem for their state, they looked not to the great white shark, the dingo, nor even the giant cockroach. They opted instead for the evolutionary oddity that is the platypus, a creature so at odds with Mother Nature's playbook, that the first samples of skeletons to be sent by explorers back to London were thought to be an elaborate hoax.

Cuteness: 6/10
Character: 9/10
Lethality: 1/10


You'd need to have your cuddly gland surgically removed not to recognise the cuteness of a baby koala. Be Careful with the hugs though, those claws are sharp.

Cuteness: 9/10
Character: 6/10
Lethality: 1/10


What's not to love about a bird with a laugh like a drunk Lotto winner? The kookaburra, like the best of Australia's other cute critters, is a sitter for children's nursery rhymes and brings a unique bit of character to any outdoor setting.

Cuteness: 8/10
Character: 8/10
Lethality: 0/10