His look was defiant. I'd gone through the gate, two hundred yards up the path and into the trees - and that was far enough. This was his path, and I would be wise to keep off.
Australia was a new environment for me. I arrived early on Monday and this was Tuesday afternoon. After catching up with some sleep I'd taken the briefest of strolls near my Melbourne hotel, then been whisked away by taxi to this country retreat. The conference would start that evening. With three hours to spare it seemed the time to walk the ground in the hope of seeing my first Antipodean wildlife. This fellow was not what I had in mind.
England has snakes, so they tell me, but few people ever see them. I had only ever seen a couple, but I had no doubt I was looking at one now - and I kept my distance. His basic colouring was grey, with bands of muted reds and greens, he was subtly attractive. He didn't give me his name, so full identification would have to wait. What he did give me was a threatening stare, with his head poised to reinforce the point if I dared step any closer. I accepted his authority and circled round through sparse undergrowth, checking as I went that none of his relations were planning an ambush. I wanted to see wildlife on this walk - but a kangaroo would have been preferable.