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Outback Rescue: Off To Find A New Home

“See, that is why I keep you around dear brother.” I said to Matthew as he spotted the same snake both Alex and I spotted at the same time he did, you know the same snake we were looking for.

“Because of my eagle eye and attention to detail?” he asked me.

“Well I was thinking more along the lines of your ability to state the bleeding obvious, but whatever floats your dinghy.” I replied.

“Around here the only thing that floats anything is bulldust and dirt.”

Now we could easily have followed that up with a conversation about the famous Henley-on-Todd Regatta. For those that don’t know it’s a rather iconic regatta given that the Todd River, which runs through Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, doesn’t see any water for ninety five percent of the year, and it’s not during the wet season that the regatta is run. That’s right it’s a dry weather race where competitors make their own boats, often out of empty beer cans, and then lift that boat up and run as fast as they can from the start to the finish.

The rules are based on the Henley Royal Regatta with teams of eight, in boats of a designed to Royal Regatta guidelines, except for the beer cans. Apart from the lack of water and less than strict uniform rules the regatta is just like any other boat race, and in its fifty four years has only be cancelled once and that was due to the river having too much water in it! Honestly it’s a classic and something everyone should see once in their life just to say they’ve experienced it.

But of course that sort of discussion would have been off topic because we had a snake to catch and I’m not the sort of person to wander off topic at the drop of a hat just because it’s interesting.

The problem we had with the bigger boxes was that they were too heavy for the snake tongs and even the hook would not be strong enough given the lack of friction between the heavy wooden box and the carpet on the floor of the vehicle’s boot. What that of course meant was that we had to grab the boxes by hand, slide them out and hope we didn’t frighten our friend or worse offer him a free ride out of the car.

There was no toss of the coin to see who was the lucky one finding themselves closer to the snake I just took the lead.

“How heavy are those boxes?” I asked Alex.

“Probably only seven or eight kilos. They are small but heavy.”

“Ok. I’m going to shift the first box to the side, if you can’t see it I’ll pull the box out. Hopefully without dropping it. Keep your eyes peeled and warn me if anything is moving.”

The boxes were sealed which did mean that I wasn’t going to get a surprise once the box was in my hands, I just hoped that my spotters were up to their game.

“They should survive being dropped from that height, but all the same it would be good if they weren’t.” Alex said from beside me.

It was the kind of comment which left me a bit ambivalent, firstly it was good to know that dropping the boxes might not break what was in them, but secondly because I can honestly tell you that if I had either box in my hand and Mr. Snake poked his head out I wouldn’t be overly concerned about breaking what was in the box I was holding.

“Ready?” I asked my two spotters and when I got affirmative answers I slowly reached forward and slid the first box to the left.

“Nothing.” I heard Matthew say.

I shifted the box a bit further and Matthew repeated the same word. I then reached for the handle of the box and slowly began sliding it out. It was a deliberately slow movement which saw the box moving away from it’s partner as much as it was moving out.

When the first box was completely clear of the second box and my grip on the handle was the only thing stopping it from tipping towards the ground I asked Matthew if things were still clear. He assured me they were so I quickly put my left hand on the side handle and swept the box out quickly. It wasn’t quite a swift and smooth sweep down to the ground, the box actually landed quiet hard on one of its corners but it was not hard enough to break the box.

“Ok. Rinse and repeat.” I said indicating that we’d do the same thing for the second box.

“Want me to have a go?” Matthew asked.

“Na, I’m on a roll.” I said not at all convincing myself.

I was moving slower as I reached in for the second box but my plan was to do the same thing, pull the box away from the interior wall, give Matthew a gap to look down, which was made a bit harder because of the shape of the interior panels, then sweep the box out, hopefully without Mr. Snake.

As it turned out we didn’t need to get the second box all the way out because within milliseconds of me shifting it towards the middle of the car and opening up a gap it was all over. The snake obviously saw a path to freedom and slithered straight for it. There was no introduction on his way past, no attack because he thought it was kill or be killed, it simply slithered out the back, well clear of us and under the vehicle.

There was a brief moment where all three of us moved to keep an eye on the snake, because obviously didn’t want it hiding somewhere under the vehicle. But obviously the age old saying of “he’s more scared of you than you are of him” has some merit because this little whipsnake wasn’t looking for a hiding spot he was just looking at getting away. He might have been a distance from his original home but he was quickly off to make a new home.

Ok, I guess that was a little bit anticlimactic, but believe me there was three people standing on the road beside a Toyota that we happy it was like that.

Previous Outback Rescue story here.


  1. Ok… Googled the race. Looks pretty awesome and fun. I didn’t see many beer cans, but lots of laughter and fun. And dirt… I saw lots of dirt.

    • Rules might have changed now days but once upon a time the boats used to be made of beer cans. These days it’s probably politically incorrect to advertise that people drink that much beer.

      It’s terrible dirt too, that red dusty crap is neigh on impossible to get out of things and it sticks like glue .

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