This was not a beautiful old Queensland pub with wide, gracious verandahs or a place buzzing with farmers doing deals and boasting about getting one over on some other bloke. This pub served its one true purpose which was to supply ice cold beer to hot, languid cane farmers during the bulk of the year when there was nothing to do but watch the cane grow. Life was so slow there wasn’t much to talk about, the ICE sign in the window was the only advertising necessary.
So I remember well the day that a tall thin man, dressed in the regulation cane farmer khaki outfit with button down flap pockets on the breast, strolled in and asked for a midi, quickly please. The other men he knew who were sitting on the bar stools turned and looked at him and waited, frozen. It was the ‘quickly’ that had done it, nothing was ever fast in Queensland in those days.
The man sculled down his beer and asked for another one which he also poured down without a breath, the next one he took a bit slower. After a proper interval to let the man get his breath back a small, round man who wasn’t dressed as a cane farmer asked what the hurry was.
Cane farmer replied that he’d been bit by a Tiger snake about an hour ago, to which there was a general, fearful hissing in of breath.
Not cane farmer suggested that going to hospital might be an idea, the antivenin for Tiger snakes being very effective.
To which cane farmer replied Nah, he’d been home, taken a valium and was going to have a few more beers then go home and lie down, in his view the main thing was to keep calm and relaxed.
So this is what he did, and he didn’t die, even though Tiger snakes are in the top ten most venomous snakes in the world. But he was very, very ill for many, many months and must have thought that he was dying.
These days the cane farms have all gone, moved north, and the land is covered in houses. I haven’t been to the town for many years but I imagine the old pub as a fancy wine and cocktail bar with umbrellas and awnings, no snakes allowed.