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January 16, 2012

Great Snakes! Australia in January 1812.

“A snake of the diamond kind has been lately killed at Blackwattle swamp, the length of which was 10 feet 4 inches, and its largest circumference five inches.” the Sydney Gazette reported on January 4th, 1812.

A woodcutter was going about his business, when he turned around and saw the “monstrous” creature. Naturally the woodcutter was afraid of snakes, so he whacked the animal on the head.

That didn’t stop the snake much, so the woodcutter ran for his life.

After running for “more than thirty yards,” the woodcutter looked back, and saw that the “monstrous reptile” was “close to his heels, with his crest erect, at the very point of springing upon him.”

Then the woodcutter struck again.  He was aided by one of his colleagues, and the snake was “with much difficulty killed.”

(Other than its the size, this doesn’t seem to fit the description of a diamond python.)

Not much else made the papers in Australia in 1812.

“There has been a Theatre in Botany Bay for some time.” Quipped the Ipswitch Journal in England on November 28,  “They have a bank which may be thought equally diverting.”

The running stories in the Sydney Herald that month were linked to current affairs abroad and in Britain, with some of them taken directly from the British papers.

As far as local news went, most of that involved shipping news, including people who were leaving and asking anyone who they owed money to come forward.

There were stories of people being punished for “abominable” crimes, but few details were given other than the names of the criminals and the fact that the populace had little sympathy for them.

The Sydney paper also carried advertisements about missing livestock and absconding workers. (There were warnings not to employ these people, as they “belonged” to another employer.)

The population of Sydney was small, but in the next few decades, it was destined to grow.

Sources:

  • 1812 ‘SYDNEY.’, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), 4 January, p. 2, viewed 1 January, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article628389
  • Other articles and issues of the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser

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