Hats Off For Snakes & Millionaires

For the quick-fix readers who will soon realize that this is yet another whopping 4-minute read and end up quickly browsing the pictures and move on; do at least scroll down and read the bold text, it might save your life 🙂

We were burning all the hundreds of branches we had collected over the summer holiday. After every bit of bad weather, Camp Moogerah’s massive green lawns were littered with dead foliage which we duly collected to make the property look presentable for the school camps. Now the time had finally come to torch the fruit of our work.

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“My alchol-infused brain, however, insisted on knowing more about how to murder a snake…”

The neighbours came over for a barbecue in the light of the blaze. Richard and Joan are millionaires and I worked for them. Anton and I had given their property a thorough trim with whipper-snippers, lawn-mowers and hedge cutters. Pleased with our effort, they invited us for dinner and drinks; two nomads with calloused hands and broken shoes sitting in a sparkling white leather couch, eating Black Angus steaks, each pound of meat worth more than half a day’s wages for us. Damn fine steak I tell you, and great company too.

As we watched the flames eat away our pile of stick-pickings, I ended up chatting to Richard. He is from Western Queensland. To anyone who knows a bit of Australian geography, Western Queensland means hardship, tough times and leathery skin. Born nearly 70 years ago, Richard grew up on the edges of the great inland deserts, where the land is like a cracked heel; dry, furrowed and painful. He didn’t come from money, he came from farmers and hard work – “yakka” they call it here – and Richard still does a hard day’s yakka every day, beginning at sunrise, tending to the nearly 100 premium horses he breeds for the glamorous race-tracks of Australia’s big cities.

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Not all snake encounters are serious…

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My Worst Fears…

Traveling is dangerous. Mothers and insurance companies will tell you that. I have both, and I can tell you that it is indeed true; traveling is dangerous. All kinds of tourist-targetting thugs, creapy creatures, devilish diseases and corrupted cops are out there to get you.

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Not to mention the “drop-bears”!

Australia has all of the above and then some. This is the kind of land where you knock your boots in the morning and walk with heavy steps at night. It is creepy-crawly country. It is also catastrophe country. Roads, buildings, cars, yourself – all of it is subject to heavy floods, wildfire, cyclones and the like.

Even partying is apprently dangerous in Australia. 8 days from now, I will be at the Eclipse 2012 festival in Northen Queensland out in the bush somewhere. Until a few days ago, all I knew about this festival was that there will be a complete solar eclipse, the music will be great, the company outstanding and I get to volunteer in the backstage area! More