13 months
Jan 31:
the big tease
Feb 9:
yertle the turtle
Feb 10:
reef walking
Feb 28:
the low down
all galleries
next location
(new zealand)

the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at dawn
Sydney, Australia; Feb 19, 2005

big snake! big snake!

Several times we've had to pay the price for exploring remote spots (arrived and found nothing, paid more than we thought to get there, lost for hours, etc.). But usually it's been great. Today, however, we thought we might have to pay with our lives (cue evil laughter and scary music).

The deserted beach we'd heard about from the locals was well worth the hike through the tangled underbrush. We lazed our way through the day like a couple of housecats and towards sunset, we start the return journey. I follow Grace as we retrace our morning steps when suddenly, he jumps backwards like a Carl Lewis replay, mumbling incomprehensibly to himself. I'm pretty sure he's gone mad. Now white as a ghost, he's pointing and yelling, "BIG SNAKE!! BIG SNAKE!!" Sure enough, there on our path is a very big snake - thick as my arm and well over six feet long, with its strategically placed head right on our path. At this point, it’s worth reiterating that Australia has a reputation for trying to kill you (see the australia will kill you sidebar in the previous entry). So while we can usually reason our way out of adverse situations, we've recently been plied with posters and pamphlets on all sorts of various nasties and neither of us is confident about what to do. We quickly discuss our options while the dusk mosquitoes make a 12-course meal of us:

  a) Run and jump over it, but Grace says, "No way. It's way faster than us so if it wants to spring up and kill us, we'll die (well, one of us will anyway)."
  b) Turn back and wait for it to move – but this may take a long time and with the sun setting quickly we might not be able to find our way home in the dark.
  c) It's brown and huge so it's probably not poisonous so we should just cross and not worry about it - ummm... possibly, but what if we're wrong.

d) It's probably more scared of us than we are of it – yea, right.

  e) Run around it through the thick and thorny surrounding bush – but what if there are other faster, more poisonous snakes in there, not to mention deadly spiders and who knows what else?
  f) Throw something at it - yea, that's it, let's throw something at it and scare it away.

A small rock. A big rock. A stick. A bigger stick. A really big stick. All of these things thrown at the snake only reveal that we have rotten aim in times of adversity. Except the big stick – bullseye! It basically skids to a stop on top of the snake. But the snake doesn’t flinch. Argh. We go over our options again, replacing “big snake” with "really pissed-off big snake."

Feeling that time is running out, we decide to brave it through the surrounding bush. We plan a route giving the snake a wide berth, take a deep breath and run screaming through the forest like teenage girls at a Justin Timberlake concert. Scraped and scratched, we make it, and keep on running! Five seconds up the trail, our wits about us again, we decide to go back and take a photo of the snake so that we can 1) identify whether it is actually deadly, and 2) have proof of our heroic escape. We return to "the scene," but the snake is gone! Only the big stick remained. Obviously, we should have simply given it its space in the first place. Oh well, next time we'll know. Actually, next time we'll probably run screaming again.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


Having had a similar experience on Magentic Island, as I happily played my tinwhistle atop a big boulder... I can help out by mentioning that if it were brown, the chances are it is one of the seven most poisonous snakes in the world! Keep smiling!

--Darina (www.gonebikeabout.com); Sep 19, 2006


Yet another lol adventure I read! (^^) smile Only wish you took a picture of the snake so we could identify if it was deadly poison or not. Maybe you can find an image of it via the Internet and added it to the snake story section on a later date. Maybe you will run into it again, but this time don't panic and get that picture of it so everyone is not wondering for the rest of their lives on what kind of a snake it was... As ever, enjoying your 13 month mission!

--Edward R. (Hawaii, USA); Jun 19, 2005


I just finished wiping the tears from my eyes after reading your story about the “Big, Big Snake” in Australia and particularly enjoyed the intricate and true to life artistic depiction of the event! I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your entries on your site, and eagerly anticipate new updates as they arrive! (I’ve also shared the site with a coworker who is a world traveler.) Your pictures are truly amazing and your writing sense is wonderful and extremely enjoyable to read.

I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed traveling the world vicariously through your site… I look forward to the next dispatch!

--Robert V. (Beaverton, OR, USA); Jun 14, 2005

[Robert and Grace are actually relatives, but we've never met. Robert contacted us because we put him on our original distribution list, which included some extended family, so now we have some new cousins!]


Your article on the BIG SNAKE was hysterical! We loved your dipiction of the scene using Crayola crayons! Also, the reef pictures are amazing!

We can wait for your next chapter of the journey.

--Mark & Amy V. (San Jose, CA, USA); Jun 14, 2005