The bizarre phenomenon virtually blocked out the sun in the New South Wales town of Goulburn, around 120 miles south-west of Sydney.

One local man, Ian Watson, told the Goulburn Post: “The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred metres into the sky. I’m 10 minutes out of town and you can clearly see hundreds of little spiders floating along with their webs and my home is covered in them.

“You couldn’t go out without getting spider webs on you. And I’ve got a beard as well so they kept getting in my beard.”

Similar occurrences have previously been reported in other parts of Australia. Spiders are known to crawl to the tops of plants and trees before leaping off – using their webs as parachutes. The migration technique is known as ‘ballooning’, and is believed by scientists to be the reason why spiders are found on every continent.