Pictured is a male scrub python.
Pictured is a male scrub python. Sherrie and Vinnie

FLASHBACK: Was an 18ft snake really at the swamp?

This story originally appeared in the NewsMail's 110 Years of News book.

 

A REPORTED sighting of a "monster snake" loose in Baldwin swamp was knocked on the head by local naturalists.

Ald Bert Martin told the May, 1974, council meeting that he had been told of a snake, allegedly an 18ft long north Queensland scrub python, seen crossing the road in the Baldwin Swamp nature reserve area.

Local snake expert and proprietor of the Dreamtime Reptile Reserve which opened in December 1973, Peter Richardson said the scrub python was the largest snake in Australia and the biggest specimen was 17ft long-caught on an almost inaccessible part of the Atherton tablelands.

To suggest a scrub python could live in Baldwin Swamp for any more than a very short period was ridiculous since both the climate and diet available were unsuitable, Mr Richardson said.

Harry Frauca.
Harry Frauca.

The snake Ald Martin's informant had seen could have been a carpet snake "subject to the almost unlimited exaggeration which invariably occurred".

Mr Richardson said well known naturalist and NewsMail columnist Harry Frauca, who was on holidays, knew every inch of the swamp and would know of the existence of a snake of that size.

Wildlife Preservation Society Bundaberg president Mr G Kortekaas said claims of a big snake were "a big hoax" prompted by recent bad publicity over the council's dealings with Baldwin Swamp.

Mr Kortekaas said the council would be making a fool of itself if it sent in men to kill the snake.

After his return, Mr Frauca wrote on May 24 that it was possible for a scrub python to have escaped from a collector and make its home in the swamp.

But it was not desirable for an exotic species to remain there so, if the scrub python existed and it would be caught it would be wise to remove it to a north Queensland reptile park, he said.

The next day the NewsMail reported that the council had authorised Mr Frauca to investigate whether a giantscrub python was at large in Baldwin Swamp.