Paddy and the Snake:-

Paddy NEVIN was an elderly identity pf Kunanalling who lived by himself ina  camp on the outskirts of town. Paddy had been involved in a nasty accident in his younger days, being dragged the length of a platform by a train, inflicting horrible painful injuries to his right leg. A stiff leg was to afflict Paddy for the rest of his long life.
It was the custom of old time prospectors to spread fine sand over the floor and smooth this down with a hair broom every morning. The purpose of this exercise was to detect the presence of snakes in the cam while the owner was away at his show or in town. An experienced bushman would see the tracks of the reptile where it has slithered across the sand and entered the camp – and where and if it had departed.

Paddy was the first customer on the Butchers round one Saturday morning. It was my job to hop off the cart and arouse the occupant of the camp while Dad chained the wheel and opened up the cart to display the meat. I noticed that Paddy’s bunk was outside the camp and Paddy was inside cooking breakfast. By his ashen looks this well could have been his last meal, he was as white as death and trembling like a leaf. dad enquired after Paddy’s health and was given a complete run down of the events of the previous few hours. Paddy had returned to his camp for the evening meal after first having inspected the floor for signs of unwelcome visitors. There were tracks on the floor but no sign of the snake having made an exit. So for safety’s sake Paddy took his bed outside to sleep, turning in after the evening meal. On awakening soon after sunrise, Paddy rolled back the blankets and, being handicapped as he was by his lame leg he always had difficulty in climbing in and out of bed.

He slowly inched his way painfully upright and was about to ease both feet to the floor when he discovered a large venomous black snake coiled up beside him in bed. Stiff leg or not, he made the quickest move he had ever done in his life. By not inspecting the bed before clambering in for the night, Paddy had moved both bed and snake outside.
Paddy provided us with a running commentary of the episode and it made our day when, concluding his ‘tale of woe’ he said “I thought I felt a wriggle once or twice through the night”.
Paddy had many a sleepless night after this and tried many a different method of snake detection until he finally acquired a fox terrier dog who could sniff out snakes. This dog was also Paddy’s faithful companion for many years until it fell down a disused mine shaft – chasing a snake.                                                                                    by Rob Bounsell

NOTE: Patrick NEVIN died in Coolgardie on the 4th Aug 1955 and is buried in the Cemetery there.

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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  1. Definitely a ripping yarn! I’m not surprised he had trouble sleeping after that.

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