Julee Townsend from Bowraville recently had a harrowing encounter with a bullrout.
Also called freshwater stonefish, bullrouts are pale yellowish to dark-brown coloured fish that live in tidal estuaries and slow-flowing streams from southern NSW to northern Queensland.
Ms Townsend was already well acquainted before her encounter three weeks ago.
“I go swimming down at the creek all the time, I usually swim with shoes because I know bullrouts are around, but that day I wasn't,” she said.
“I slipped, and my hand went between two rocks, there was quite a bit of pain. I thought I had just hurt my hand, bruised it or done the tendons in my finger, but it kept getting worse.”
The lack of spines and puncture marks on her hand meant Julee didn't realise what had happened until it was nearly too late.
“I didn't know what had happened, so I put it in cold water to help ease the pain, it did nothing though,” Ms Townsend said.
“After about an hour and a half I had started shaking and was going into shock, that’s when my partner took me to the hospital.
“Luckily there was a doctor on duty who had dealt with bullrouts before. I was in the hospital for about three to four hours; I had this humongous swollen hand in hot water, the hot water kills the toxin.
“If I had known it was a bullrout I could have put it in hot water myself, I would have done it straight away, but there was no puncture wound, nothing was indicating I had been stung.”
Julee said the pain was unbelievable, “the worst I have ever felt, and I don’t even think I got it that bad, my hand might have just brushed against it.”
“For two to three days after it was really swollen, luckily I discovered heat packs during this time, they really helped.
“It’s still a bit sore now, it feels like I have bad arthritis.”
Despite her experience she hasn't ruled out returning to the creek.
“I haven't been down there since it happened, I probably will go back though. My partner even bought me a set of gloves for next time.”