Your (unofficial) snake awareness guide
Well the weather is warming up and we are starting to think about heading back into the bush. Some of us don’t care about the weather and are happy to ‘hardcore’ camp all year as it provides great stories of near-hypothermic-man-against-Mother-Nature yarns to be shared among the meek at home.
When I was a ‘recreational camper’, i.e. I did it for fun not profit, I was definitely a fair weather camper whenever possible – after all, why would I want to voluntarily go out and catch pneumonia just so I could tell the story at the pub?
Nowadays I go where I’m told when I’m told, and that doesn’t include the luxury of choosing times and locations where thongs and boardies are the suitable dress of the day.
In fact, I’m sure that those who line up my adventures love nothing more than seeing the little Queenslander freezing his junk off in the Victorian High Country in mid-July. Still, cold weather camping has opened my eyes to a few niceties that I never knew existed, such as: the sun comes up later if you like a sleep-in, along with that it’s much cooler to stay in bed if you choose to, it’s nicer to sit around a fire on a cool night and … no snakes.
That’s right, just like I used to like staying out of the bush when it was cold, so did the snakes. Winter campers rarely come across one and even if they do, he’s generally about as energetic as a 15-year-old with a lawn mower in his hands and just gives you a blank look before falling back to sleep. Summer snakes are all angry, they’re wide awake and hungry because they just spent the cold months letting winter campers run free while they slept off a hangover from the end-of-summer party last year.
People sometimes ask me what steps they should take if a snake comes up behind them and I tell them with a great deal of confidence, “big ones!”.
The opposite confrontation is the face-to-face with a snake and this is what I recommend you do in that situation:
Freeze, pause, look him in the eye, take one large step to your left very slowly (while maintaining eye contact), take one large step to your rear (still maintaining eye contact), take one large step to your right (make sure you still keep an eye on your new best mate), then turn and take those ‘big steps’ as fast as you can. Now it seems like a bit of a process, I know, but there is method to my madness, as always. You see, if you don’t take that U-shaped detour on your way backwards out of harm’s way, you will step in the big pile of poo you made when you first saw the snake, won’t you?