Field Tips: Being Aware of Your Surroundings
October 19, 2010 3 Comments
They say that Australia is home to some of the deadliest snakes in the world. But, in all my trips there, I’ve never seriously considered the possibility of encountering one in the wild. I guess that after living in in Hawaii for several years, I’ve become somewhat complacent about the possibility. After all, there are no snakes in Hawaii.
A few years ago on a visit Western MacDonnell National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, a situation arose that made me aware of the need to consider such possibilities. I’ve visited Australia on numerous occasions, and have photographed in the Outback several times, but I’ve never actually seen a snake in the wild. One morning at Ormiston Gorge, I arose well before dawn, to make the 2 km walk up the White Gum Lookout Walk. With the help of a full moon, and excellent night vision, I was able to make the walk in the dark. I arrived at the lookout well before sunrise, spent an hour or so photographing, then made my way back to camp for breakfast. A nice morning shoot.
Sunrise, Ormiston Gorge. Toyo 45AII, Schneider Symmar-S 135mm f5.6 lens on Fuji Velvia 50.
However, that evening a situation at the campground that reminded me of the need to be more careful, and how that pre-dawn walk was probably not the wisest decision I had made.
That evening another camper approached me and my good friend Steve, as we were relishing the end of day, with a cold Coopers Pale Ale, excited about the photographs we had taken that day. The camper, who we learned was from Germany, was telling us we should come and see that snake he had found outside the ladies toilet. We both told him that he needed to leave it alone, but he continued to insist. We declined to follow, not giving it any further thought.
A short time later however, the camp manager arrived. We followed him to the area where to snake was, and found a long, black snake, about 8 feet in length sitting almost in the door of the building. After pelting it with sticks, it ran back into the desert. After talking to the camp manager, and later one of the Aboriginal Park Rangers, we concluded that we had seen a Mulga Snake, or as it’s commonly known, the King Brown Snake – reputedly one of the deadliest snakes in the world – and which are very common in this area.
A few days later, I was at the Devils Marble Conservation Area, about 500km away. With this experience fresh in my mind, I made sure to take a flashlight and pay closer attention to the areas where I walked. I didn’t see any snakes, but the awareness of the possibility was fresh in my mind.
Dawn, Devils Marbles. Toyo 45AII, Schneider Symmar-S 135mm f5.6 lens on Fuji Velvia 50.
Lesson learned about being more careful in the natural environment.