The ninth child born to Jim and ‘Tot’ Le Gros in 1931, he left school early to learn the bush trades on sheep and cattle stations out west. He has run his own properties in Queensland and NSW and now, still a sturdy 80 year-old, he lives with his wife Gwen in Mapleton.
Glyn has taken to writing down memories of a past life spent mainly in the bush – memories experienced in places like Cunnamulla, Muttaburra and Blackall.
SOME of Glyn’s most fascinating memories down the years concern his encounter with snakes. Here are several such stories from this natural yarn spinner.
During the school holidays of 1946-47 a dozen boys from Ipswich Grammar School and Brisbane Boys Grammar School were invited to pick grapes on the Banff farm at Coominya . I recall the wages were seven shillings and sixpence per day and fifteen shillings on Sunday –and one could eat as many grapes as one liked. An evening ritual was to congregate down in the old wine cellar playing or watching card games. The area was lit by a carbide lamp. There was always plenty of talk and laughter. One night a rough diamond type from BGS, George McCann called out to Alistair Purvis to take his arm off his back. As nothing happened, George called out again in a louder voice using the famous Australian word, ‘bloody’ a few times. It was hot weather and we were dressed only in shorts. Someone glanced over at George’s back and noticed a good sized black snake in residence (probably watching the card game!) He called out, “snake!” There was a stampede for the steps, the light was knocked over and we were in darkness. A quick count up top revealed all had evacuated safely. Nothing was seen of the black snake.”
One close encounter was in 1950 when brother Bill and I were clearing Warrego River flood debris north of the “Baroona” homestead. We were picking up the debris and throwing it over the fence to the downstream side. We were working about three or four yards apart. I glanced over at Bill who was in the process of throwing a big armful of rubbish over the fence. In a split second a lively five foot brown snake shot out of the pile and down Bill’s back and out of sight into the Mitchell grass. We continued the exercise but we used pitch forks instead of our arms for the job.
I was mustering on “Baroona Station” in North Lignum Holes, a paddock of 10,000 acres with no open country. There were about 20 sheep missing from the first shearing muster. I do not know why but I did one of the most stupid things in relation to snakes. A very large mulga snake, over seven feet long was minding its own business along a track near the north boundary fence. There was no suitable timber on the ground so I decided to kill this monster by a means I had heard of, using my stirrup leather and iron.
I quickly tied up my gelding, removed the near-side stirrup leather and iron and approached the snake which by this time had turned to face me head on. As I got closer I thought this was the biggest venomous snake I had encountered, and it would be difficult to get a clean hit with my weapon, as it was not very long. But I was 23 years old and, at that moment, bulletproof.
I quickly moved to the side of the monster which was trying to line me up head on. A quick swing and the iron just missed the snake, about two feet from its head. Next moment, an angry snake reared over backwards and upwards at my head. Fortunately, I ducked to the side, and as the snake turned to strike again I moved back to my horse at high speed. re-stirruped, mounted and reflected how lucky I was not be bitten. I was about eight miles from the shed and in those days there would only be concern if I had not shown up by later afternoon – five or six hours away. If bitten the circling hawks would have led to a carcass a few days later. One afternoon whilst returning to Ipswich on the Somerset Dam road just south of Mount Brisbane I encountered a taipan which I later measured at about eight feet. It was on the bitumen road with its back broken about one third up from its tail. I stopped to kill the poor creature with the steel support used for the back cover of my utility. The snake was striking in all directions and at this moment a car pulled up. An older couple stepped out who were on holiday from Switzerland. They had never seen a snake in the wild before. Let alone one of Australia’s most deadly poisonous snakes. They took photos, keeping well back. I soon killed the taipan and picked it up with the tail held above my head and about two feet still on the bitumen.
They requested more photos and then asked how often I killed such big poisonous snakes? My very tongue-in- cheek reply was, “Oh quite often”. Why let the truth spoil a good story!