A snake in the van! Ellis Beach, Queensland, Australia.

A warm evening in the camper-van, parked up where the ocean and beach meet led to choosing to leave the side and rear doors open for the night. No one else has pitched up near by and leaving the doors open cools the van and let’s me fall asleep listening the the waves lapping at the shore. 
I wake up in the night, it’s dark, quiet and I try to ignore that I need to go to visit the toilet. The waves lashing on the shore and are not helping me to relax. The moon lights up my clothes which are next to me and wriggle into them whilst still on the bed. I recall that my headlight is on the kitchen unit near by and that my shoes are tucked just beneath the bed within arms reach.
With my body sitting on the bed, I reach under to pick up my shoes. Something doesn’t feel right and my eyes focus on an object sliding. I jump back and question in my mind what I felt and saw, ‘I think there’s a snake in the van’! Then a few seconds later I reassure us both, ‘It’s only a small one’.
A jumps into action, grabs the light and shines in under the bed. ‘It’s not small’. We whisper to each other and come up with suggestions. Using my shaking hands I decide to Google ‘Snake in a van’. The choices to select on the illuminating screen mainly come from Daily Mail articles and include Man finds snake in (builders) van. All of which are useless and I put my phone down.
Questions and suggestions are batted between us whilst our visitor slithers beneath us.
‘How are we going to get it out?’
‘Could we give it some chicken?’ (I have a vision of a table draped with a cloth and A showing the snake a menu, ‘Grilled or fried?’) (That and we don’t have any chicken in the van!)
‘What did they say the other day?’ (At Hartley’s Crocodile Farm, I really should pay more attention when someone talks!)
‘Where is it now?’
And finally with A’s head still under the bed and me sitting in the centre of the bed, he asks me to look and see where the snake is. Barring in mind it is 4.30am, dark and in my mind a snake may be weaving his head up the back of the van AND who knows it may launch up at my face if it put my head over the headrests at the back. I say, ‘No!’

The reply is that we need to know what’s it’s doing and after about minute or so, I muster up the courage, turn the torch on, on my phone and peer over.
There he is brown, long and sliding, thankfully along the floor in the rear of the van. I see his head, triangular in shape, with dark eyes and a flicking forked tongue. I should point out that neither of us know our snakes. I watch him move with caution, ‘I can see his head and he’s going out the back’. This response is greeted with, ‘Take a photo, no one will believe us otherwise’. At this point I have a vision of Instagraming a live snake encounter, just to prove I’m telling the truth. I decline, for a moment until I see the snakes head disappear along the side of the van and then click. A has left the tail end of the bed and joined me. We watch the snake leave slowly. Both of us shocked, shaking and speaking in whispers, just in case he hears us.


The snake disappears, we don’t see where to due to the darkness outside. We sit quietly for a moment, before giving each other a did that really happen look and laughing at bizarreness of the moment. Laughter which carries on for the next few days in disbelief.
Both shaken we try to find out who our visitor was and laugh again when a snake expert posts:


Now wide awake with no chance of relaxing and going back to sleep, we visit the toilet, make a cup of tea and watch the sunrise on Ellis Beach. We check the ground every so often and place our seats a little way from the camper-van. After all who knows where the snake has gone? He was last seen slithering towards the underside of the van.


To be continued…….

Camper-vaning, Port Douglas, Hartley’s Crocodile Farm and Ellis Beach, Queensland, Australia (3)

We were escorted from the Daintree Rainforest predictably by the heaviest enslaught of rain. This eased in time for a Cassowary to be crossing the road ahead of us. A tall robust colourful bird different but similar to an emu. We stopped and watched it move across the road before hiding in the vegetation and disappearing. A rarity, apparently to see in the wild and a wildlife tick in the box for me.


On both our entrance to the rainforest and departure we crossed the Daintree River by ferry, not a ferry as we would experience  in the U.K but more of a platform on water. A $26 fee for the ten minute journey with signs warning of crocodiles inhabiting the area. 

Todays travels take us from the remote, uninhabited, natural landscape of the rainforest to Port Douglas. A contrast indeed with concrete, materialism and swarms of people. The area is nice with boutiques, bars and a mix of people from different backgrounds but something in me would prefer to return to the rainforest or nature. Any attempts today to visit the beach were thwarted, as soon as my toes touched the sand, there was a deluge of rain being dumped on me, requiring a dash back to Martha and yet more wet clothing needing to be dried out in our small space. 

The following morning we drove to the lookout at Port Douglas. An incredibly steep climb up for Martha but a wonderful view from Flagstaff Hill looking out to the sea and surrounding area. Thankfully the sun was shinning which always makes sightseeing more pleasant and engaging. From here I could see the beach that I attempted to venture on to the day before and I have my first glance of a swimming net. This is an area patrolled by lifeguards and protects swimmers from stingers (jellyfish), crocodiles and sharks (depending on where you are on the coast, depends on what’s out there). This was the moment when I realised that swimming in the ocean would not be an option for the time being.


Our next over night stay would be at Ellis Beach however a stop at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm was to come first. Hartleys is a great place to visit. On arrival we were greeted by Gonzo a parrot and we were directed to join the tours and talks on offer ( not by Gonzo I may add but by the lady on reception). The trip is well organised with the opportunity to watch crocodile and snake shows, go on a boat ride on the crocodile lake whilst they were fed and to hear their powerful snapping jaws as well as going into the enclosures with Wallabies, Kangaroos and kookaburras. I left Hartley’s feeling that I’d seen and learnt a lot about the wildlife of Australia including what to do when you encounter a crocodile (run in a straight line away from it and every man for himself) and a snake.


From Hartley’s the drive allows so many beautiful places to stop along the coastline. This is made easy with lookouts that you can park up at and admire the awesome views. This helps with the fatigue of being in a van and travelling too. A revival of the mind ready for the next part of the journey. Ours is to Ellis Beach, an isolated area on the main road with only a restaurant that closes early today. We set up on the camping pitch and cook dinner. It’s no longer raining, in fact it is really warm, too warm to close Martha’s doors to sleep. Tonight we are going to learn that this is in fact not a good idea…….


(Martha is the name given to our very old, leaky and cosy camper-van)