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Port Moresby
July 24, 2021
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Snake charmers on Maria Island

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I HEAR a shriek from around a corner of the abandoned white weatherboard farmhouse. I quicken my pedalling, following the faint path my friend Ann’s bike cut through the grass moments ago. Within seconds I’m clenching both brakes and unsuccessfully swallowing a squeal. Partially hidden beneath the porch is a 1m-long tiger snake, one of Tasmania’s three land snake species; Ann almost rode over it.The timid but venomous serpent grants us nearly a minute of gaping before its inky body slithers beneath the floorboards. I shudder and suggest we take a break elsewhere.Unsealed vehicular tracks span nearly the entire length of 22km-long Maria Island, which is accessible via passenger ferry from Triabunna, on Tasmania’s east coast. And since private motorised vehicles are not permitted, the undulating and often bumpy tracks belong to cyclists, bushwalkers and resident wildlife.

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