This is an extract from The Woman on the Mountain, Chapter 18, ‘Snakes Alive and Dead’, . ‘Once, when I was about nine, Dad and I and the leech-burning neighbour were in the bean paddock when we noticed a really big black snake sunning itself on a log beside the track. The practice then was […]

The ornamental grapevine leaves are now red, so the little green tree snake who visited it in its summer green is no longer camouflaged. The best it can do is mimic stems. Here it looks as if it has green frog fingers as well. Although its head is teeny, thumbnail size, as you can see, […]

My verandah is fringed with an ornamental grape vine, in full summer bright green leaf at present, its stems twining and curving and constantly reaching out to new holds. Last week a familiar and faster twiner and curver was using it as camouflage. I have seen this Green Tree Snake each summer here, but on […]

I have seen a tree snake trying to climb a water tank here. I suspect this is the same slender Green Tree Snake, made smarter by that experience. Now it uses the ladder. My book says that this snake will inflate the fore part of its body when threatened; I’m not sure if it was […]

About to fill a bucket at the little overflow water tank, I just happened to see this little head poking out. Not the sort of snake to make my heart leap, I knew — although quite what sort it was, I didn’t. With amazing liquidity it poured itself up and over my drink bottle and […]

In the four months I have been here I had not seen a snake of any sort. Given how many red-bellied blacks I shared my last mountain home with, and that here is equally wet and welcoming for such inhabitants, I have been on the alert, expecting to see their coastal cousins in the back […]

Autumn, my favourite season, when crisp sunny days contrast with fire-warmed nights.  Taking a photo of the glory vine’s red leaves, it struck me that my roof embodies the contrasts inherent in my life here. Here I sit in the midst of constantly surprising, stunning natural beauty, and yet just look at my roof, bristling […]

It is always wise here to carry a torch when stumbling about outside at night. However I am usually looking down, not up. The other night, it was merely out of the corner of my eye that the top of one verandah post looked different, amongst the labyrinth of twining vines and leaves that encase […]

I have always loved seeing the Jacky Lizards here, but the other day, for the first time in over 30 years, I saw a different Dragon lizard on my place. It was bigger, with a different head and different colouring. It looked even more prehistoric than my Jacky, not really able to called ‘cute’ at […]

After almost a month away, I half-expected the critters to have taken over the last bit left to me, the cabin. They hadn’t, really — just the usual antechinus invasion, persistent but not escalated. The verandah wasn’t so lucky. The spiders had tied the cane chair to my dad’s coffee table, with a densely woven […]

Much of this winter has been spent at the computer, writing more book talks. It’s cosy inside my cabin, with the slow combustion wood heater going all the time but fully banked down, as once the mud brick walls have heated up, they hold the warmth. No heat transfer at all. But I am also […]

Just when I thought it was cold enough for any sensible snake to have gone to sleep, so had relaxed my vigilance around the house yard… Out of the kitchen window, I spied my old mate, looking quite spry and healthy and not all sleepy. It was sniffing around the tankstand overflow pipe, which is […]

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