1959, 1st Field Regiment, headed up to the
warmer regions in Far North Queensland to a
place called "Coulston's Gap", around 40
miles short of Sarina. The exercise was
named GRAND SLAM" .
Coulston's Gap was just before the cane
fields, but our "area of operation"
was "Natural" bush and with it ,a cursed
grass called "Spear Grass" which penetrated
clothing and even leather but worst of all,
if it got into the skin it festered up and
caused nasty sores.
One day a few of us went for a scout into
the bush and came across a small creek with
crystal clear running water, so clear, you
could see the pebbles on the bottom around 4
feet down. This, we decided would be our own
little "secret" swimming hole.
Every time we came back to camp after a day
on the back of trucks, covered with dust in
every pore in our skin, we quietly grabbed
our soap and towel and slipped quietly to
our aquatic destination.
As soon as we decided to use this as a
swimming hole, we found a fallen tree and
dropped it into the centre over another tree
that was already in the water. This was
necessary as the bank was steep and it
allowed easy access to the centre of the
creek to dive from.
One day we arrived in late afternoon only a
day or so after having a group outdoor
lecture about the deadly Taipan snake that
is native to this particular region. The
snake "guru" was none other that Ram
Chandra, a well know Queensland
herpetologist and the equivalent to our own
Eric Worrell based in NSW. Ram Chandra
pulled snakes from several bags while we
stood, eyes bulging and moving further back
with each specimen he extracted from his
So, on this particular day, late afternoon,
we stripped off, walked along the tree to
the centre and dived in. When everyone was
in someone looked back at the old tree in
the water, and, slithering out of a hole in
that tree was an extremely healthy
"BLACK SNAKE". We quickly
devised a plan, I was to get out by climbing
up the bank, grapping my machete and while
balancing along the tree branch, chop the
snake and kill it. Well, the idea was good
only, when I got close enough and swung the
blade down it moved so that I only chopped
it half way through.....WELL!!
You should have seen that
waterhole empty out, the guys moved so fast
as the "CUT SNAKE" fell into the water with
them, the water resembled a turbulence that
a 100 HP outboard would leave behind it.
Bottom line.......we never...ever.....went
back to our "secret" little oasis again.
The photo below shows the place in
question and you may even be able to "Make
out" the hole in the vertical branch where
the snake emerged from. The branch to the
right is where I made a pathetic attempt to