Funnel webs on the march across Sydney – First Aid Course Canberra

Hannah Paine

It was a damp day last April, and Steve O’Neill described himself as “on a mission” to clean the gutters around his Balgowlah home.

“I had my hand reached up high, cleaning the leaves and I didn’t have gloves on. I felt something bite one of fingers on my right hand,” he said.

Immediately, Mr O’Neill pulled his hand from the gutter, and saw what looked like a spider fall to the ground. Alarmed and in immense pain, he ran inside and called his wife Natasha, who phoned triple-0.

Steve O'Neill was bitten by a spider reaching into his guttering.Steve O’Neill was bitten by a spider reaching into his guttering.

“I was panicking, my heart rate was up and I was thinking ‘God what is going to happen next if this is a nasty bite what is going to happen to me,'” said Mr O’Neill.

With  a suspected funnel-web spider bite, he was taken to Manly hospital by ambulance and was placed under observation and blood tests were taken.

According to NSW Ambulance, 2015 has already seen a spike in spider bites.

A female funnel-web spider, one of the world's most venomous, creeps out of its hole at night.A female funnel-web spider, one of the world’s most venomous, creeps out of its hole at night. Photo: Nick Moir

In January, 98 cases were attended by paramedics in NSW, with four so far this February. For 2014, paramedics were called out to 319 incidents in Sydney with the majority in Sydney’s west, followed by the north and south-west regions.

Forty-three of those incidents were involved Australia’s deadliest spider, the funnel web.

Fortunately for Mr O’Neill, no  venom was found in his system, and he counts himself lucky that whatever spider it was did not bite deep enough.

“I was worried because I didn’t know what it was, and you think of spiders [bites] how it runs through the blood stream and is it going to affect my heart or anything like that,” he said.

“It was very painful in the finger, it started to swell up [but] it didn’t move beyond my finger or hand it was just a throbbing pain similar to being stung by a wasp or bee, but worse.”

For Mr O’Neill, it’s not an event he will soon forget, and he has a scar to show for it.

“Ironically it didn’t draw any blood, but I can still see on my finger two marks where fangs or whatever it was scraped the skin,” he said.

Mr O’Neill also said that next time he does clean his house gutters, he will take better precautions.

“I do need to get up there pretty soon, but when I do I will be wearing gloves.”


Come and learn about the first aid treatment of funnel web spiders at a Canberra first aid course run at Ainslie Football Club. Our first aid trainers will teach you the correct techniques in case someone has been bitten by a spider.

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