Snakes at Mangowine
Ronald Winbury Adams (Toodyay Western Australia)
Because Mangowine Homestead is built straight on the ground with mud bricks and rock, various venomous snakes and other creatures often came visiting.
My mother (SJ Adams – Merredin WA) tells me of the time a large centipede (8″ long) wriggled into her shoe through a hole in the toe one summer’s night and bit
her between the toes. It caused an itchy rash to appear but nothing serious.
Or the time my Grandfather (Thomas George Adams) was bitten on the elbow by a redback spider.
He rubbed onion onto the bite and that fixed it!
Or the time when I was about 3 or 4 years old when my dad was carrying me on his shoulders through the prickles down near the well near the graves.
He trod on a very large Dugite (highly venomous snake). I can still see it swishing around between his shoes as he danced around trying to avoid getting bitten.
It shot into the water in the well and commenced to swim to the opposite side and safety.
He promptly dropped me in the prickles and pulled a bit of the old timber covering the well and leant in and killed the snake.
He carried it up to around the old barn area and burnt it on top of a prickle bush.
The thing is, we all took these incidents as part of life living at Mangowine.
Another time – I was about 3 or 4 years old, my Grandad came running into Mangowine kitchen with a half dead, half eaten, day old chicken.
The chicken coop was situated up near the rocks in front of the almond trees this particular time. (as opposed to the regular chook house over near the dunny).
A large racehorse goanna had grabbed one of his chickens and was busy eating it when he chased it off.
We all (my uncles Kelvin, Errol, Grandad and myself) rushed up to the bush behind the rocks to a rabbit hole that the goanna had run into and commenced to dig it out.
They dug for a while and came across a bobtail goanna or two, a lizard or two and even a couple of those pointy tailed brown bobtail goannas. The rabbit hole was well habitated!
Eventually a large yellow tail appeared in the hole and Errol (I remember distinctly that it was him) grabbed the tail and swung the poor goanna over his head and killed it.
No more dead chickens.
My dad told me of the time when he was a kid looking for frogs in the well down near the old barn.
Apparently they used to swim in this well when no one was looking.
The well (as all of them are) is lined with stone and dad was peering into the cracks between the stones hoping to see a frog or two.
Suddenly he saw a large black one staring back at him from the stone cavity.
As he reached in trying to grab the frog, it suddenly moved and he realised that it was the head of a large black snake!!
He was very fortunate not to have been bitten.
The funny thing is years later despite warnings of drowning and/or getting bitten by a snake, I did my first swimming training in the same well when no one was looking.
When I was about 3 or 4, a large dugite crawled into the stonework on the steps of the cellar.
Grandad got his .410 shotgun and poked it into the hole that the snake had crawled into.
When he pulled the trigger, bits of snake were blown out of the hole all over the place. It did the trick!!