British bricklayer James “Jimmy” Shepherd was finishing off a hard day’s work in Redhead when he was asked to help move a snake from a nearby car park.
Working on a site building a new amenities block at a local park, the Central Coast tradie had to quickly call upon all his Aussie know-how gained in three years living down under.
“We were wrapping up for the day and I saw a car leaving the car park,” he recalled. “It kind of left the exit, but then reversed back towards it and parked up.”
Confused at the odd driving, he carried on walking to his car but was soon approached by the woman behind the wheel.
“She said, ‘excuse me, there’s a snake on the road over there’,” Jimmy said. “She’s like, ‘I notice you’ve got a level, I’m just wondering whether you can just poke it out off the road’.
“I said, ‘you do realise you’ve picked the only Englishman in the area?’...
“But anyway, I grabbed my level and I thought I’d give it a go.”
With the snake out looking for some afternoon sun near a children’s playground, Jimmy thought it was a hazard that couldn’t remain – it had to be moved.
But before approaching the snake, the 27-year-old from Huddersfield thought it appropriate to grab his mobile phone and ‘Snapchat’ the encounter to show his friends and family back in the Old Dart.
“As I seen it, I came around the corner and thought ‘oh my God look at the size of that’,” Jimmy said. “It was coiled up, it looked like it was all ready to attack and I thought, ‘what am I getting myself into?’.
“So I thought, obvious thing to do – let’s call some of the Australian blokes over, they’ll know what to do.
“I called my mate over and said ‘what do I do?’… he said, ‘do whatever they hell you like with it, I’m not going anywhere near it’.”
With little help from his Aussie workmates, Jimmy managed to move the snake off the road and into the bushes.
“I got it out of the way, I gathered a little bit of a crowd, quite a lot of cars stopping and people cheering me,” Jimmy said.
“One bloke wound his window down and said: ‘It’s absolutely harmless, you could pick it up’… so I told him, ‘well jump out of the car then and show me how it’s done’.
“It was a diamond python I’m told, but that means nothing to me; a snake’s a snake.”
With the crisis averted and the “crowd” relieved, Jimmy found out the driver of the car was actually Newcastle Herald photographer Marina Neil, who snapped the wild suburban encounter.
But it turns out this isn’t Jimmy’s only snake-wrangling moment in Australia. He once got up close and personal with a sea snake on Fraser Island.
Asked what his workmates thought of his daring snake wrangling, Jimmy said they told him he was “crazy”. “My boss told me I might get arrested for messing with the Australian wildlife,” he said with a laugh.