A Gippsland fisherman found himself about 11km offshore in Lake Wellington, off the coast of Victoria, when he spotted a deadly snake that had joined him for the trip. The last thing you expect when you’re that far out to sea is a snake. It’s kind of like walking through a field and getting attacked by a shark. You’d rightly think to yourself: “This is unexpected. I hope I survive this so that I can tell the media all about it.”
Fortunately for Bob Thatcher, that’s exactly what he did. "I saw the forked tongue flicking at me and I thought, 'That's a blessed tiger snake'," he told the ABC. Though, almost certainly he did not use the word ‘blessed’ to describe the snake in the moment.
Worst of all, he had dropped the anchor at this point, so he couldn’t even hit the throttle and head back to shore. It sounds like an absolute nightmare being trapped on a little tinny that far away from the shore with a deadly metre-long snake for company. Anyone who has seen the documentary Snakes On A Plane will know that you never want to travel with a serpent.
So what did Bob do? Well, fortunately he kept his wits about him and stayed calm. Personally, if that were me, I would’ve dropped my guts and turned that tiger snake into a brown snake.
Fortunately for Bob, who is in his 80s, he’s actually dealt with worse situations over his decades fishing all around the country. "I've had a few problems with crocodiles," he told the ABC. Now, that’s a sentence you don’t hear much, mostly because people who have problems with crocodiles tend to not live long enough to tell their story.
But, anyway, back to the snake saga: “I picked my jumper up and threw my jumper over its head. That gave it a fright — enough to get it hiding down the side of the boat, so I was able to get to the anchor and pull it up,” he said. Which is probably why your mother always told you to wear a jumper before you head out; you never know when you’ll need to use it to distract a tiger snake 11km off shore.
With the anchor up, Bob was able to commence the 30-minute journey back to shore and he was pretty happy to be back on dry land and away from his companion. But, there were no hard feelings between Bob and the snake. After coaxing it into a bag he released it back into the Heart Morass next to Lake Wellington, which are “pristine conditions for a snake” according to Bob.
Hopefully the snake doesn’t come back to say hello next time he’s out there fishing.
To hear more of Bob’s story, we’ll be chatting to him tonight on The Project, 6.30pm on Ten.
Main image: Bob Thatcher.