What is an experience you had while in a car you’ll never forget?

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Mudassir Ali
Feb 27, 2020 01:31 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 27, 2020 01:32 PM

As time rolled by, it had lapsed into the role of ‘Station Hack’ and put to work to earn its keep like everything / everyone else on the property. The rear seats had been removed to provide additional cargo space and commonly held a couple of sheep dogs or even a couple of hog-tied sheep: ‘stragglers’ who had missed the last shearing, back to the homestead for a much-needed haircut.

Despite the lapsed aesthetics (I don’t think it had ever been washed) it was still a good, reliable car. Powerful V8 engine, reasonable ground clearance AND, joy of joy, a very efficient AIR CONDITIONER. It could freeze our bollocks off on the hottest of days.

On this particular hot day I was fortunate enough to have grabbed ‘The Ford’ to go check that the windmill was keeping up on a well some 20 km out from the Homestead. As I was setting out, mum flagged me down and asked me to pick up some dry ‘Mallee’ firewood for the wood-fired stove in the kitchen. She used a mix of green / dry / hollow dry wood to regulate oven temperature when she was baking. “Make it hollow if you can. I’m o.k. for everything else”. I kicked the dogs out (I’d need the space for the wood) and set off.

I checked the well, found everything o.k., cleaned the troughs then headed off for a patch of ‘Mallee’ where I knew there was cut wood just waiting to be loaded. We had left it behind a couple of months earlier, AND, mum was in luck as I knew there was a cut, hollow tree among it. God it was hot! but that air conditioner was insanely cool.

I filled the trunk, partially filled the rear cabin where the seats had been removed, cranked the air conditioning down to its coolest setting and headed for home.

A couple of miles down the track I felt something brush against the back of my ankles. Glancing down I almost died! There, coiling itself up into a coil just behind my boots was one of these

A KING BROWN snake (we called them a MULGA SNAKE) – the second most venomous terrestrial snake in Australia and one of the most aggressive. These are the only snake I ever truly feared. They can hurl themselves twice their body length (they grow to 2.5 metres) and they will chase a man and even bring down a horse.

I chilled and not only because of the aircon. The sweat poured from me and I could hardly take my eyes off the reptile. As it curled itself into a tight coil I could see that it was a juvenile, probably only 4 – 5 feet long . It looked as though it was preparing to go to sleep; no sign of aggression. Then I got it! The cold of the aircon was lulling it into hibernation. I gingerly pointed the vents down toward the floor, not daring to move my feet, slowing the car down and carefully avoiding every rut and bump I could see. The road home never seemed so long.

I figured out what had happened: It must have been asleep inside one of the hollow logs I had loaded inside. God knows why it hadn’t leaped out and grabbed me as I was loading. I prayed that He would continue to smile down on me. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got home. The snake was very definitely sleeping: Or was that wishful thinking on my part?

As I started down the hill towards the homestead I gingerly eased the gear stick into neutral and eased off on the throttle, all the while watching the sleeping ‘Mulga’. All good! As the Ford coasted to a stop (didn’t / couldn’t use the brake) I eased the window down a couple of inches and just sat there frozen, both figuratively and literally, casting glances between snake and kitchen door. I saw mum looking at me quizzically before her instincts kicked in and she bolted inside to fetch dad.

Dad walked up to the car a few moments later asking “What’s going on son?” I signalled ‘silence’ by holding a finger to my lips, then pointed down at my feet mouthing the word ‘snake’. Dad crept over and took a peek. He blanched and mouthed the word ‘Mulga’? I slowly nodded ‘affirmative’. He took off to the kitchen door where mum stood with a worried look on her face and told her of the problem. Dad bolted off to the shed while mum made a dash to the ‘Hands Quarters’. Meanwhile that old Ford kept chugging away, pouring out the blessed chilled air. The snake slept on, unawares.

Mum and one of the Aboriginal Station Hands, armed with a shot gun, were first back, followed by dad who carried a dripping wet hessian bag. Dad and the ‘hand’ quietly approached the car, whilst mum stood well clear, both of her fisted hands to her mouth and a look of sheer anguish on her face. Everyone knew of the danger a ‘Mulga’ represented at close quarters.

Dad quietly spoke of how the plan would play out! “John, I’m going to count to three then haul that door wide open. I want you to roll out of that car as soon as the door opens. Don’t attempt to stand, just roll out and get clear, O.K?” I slowly nodded my head in confirmation. “Billie, he addressed the ‘hand’, as soon as John is clear, I’m going to toss this sack over the snake, I think it is heavy enough to hold him down, then stand clear so you can get a shot into him, O.K.? If he is too quick for you, take your second shot and if that misses, slam the door shut, understood?” Billie responded with ‘Yes Boss’.

“Right”, said dad,”here we go… 1, 2, 3″ He hauled the door open, I rolled out head first and rolled clear. Dad stepped forward and threw the bag over the surprised snake. Billie got him with the first shot. Text book plan and execution.

Mum burst into tears and gave me the biggest hug. Dad shook Billie’s hand and invited him and the other hands over for a ‘sundowner’ later on. Me? I peed my pants, swore off EVER carrying wood in that car and vowed never to forget. I NEVER HAVE.

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