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Snake Bite at Arthurs Plains

6th June, 2016

The Western Arthurs offer some of the most spectacular - and challenging - bushwalking in Australia. Nestled in the South West Tasmanian wilderness, the Western Arthurs may only stretch for 15km, but they certainly pack a punch.

Boasting towering cliffs and stunning glacial lakes, the Western Arthurs are no place for the inexperienced.

For one group of walkers in the Western Arthurs in January 2016, the weather was incredibly hot, which in remote areas brings its own particular dangers. 

Pip Schmidt, was walking with family and friends on the Mackay Track, just below the Western Arthurs. This track follows the Huon River, through open button grass plains and small gullies, with the jagged peaks of the Western Arthurs to the south.

They were walking along the grassy Mackay Track when Pip’s nephew Seb was bitten by what he suspected was a snake. Seb had felt a sharp pain, and noticed two graze marks on his legs. Only moments earlier he had seen a snake trail. 

He began to feel nauseous and disorientated.

Luckily, Pip and her companions were experienced bushwalkers, and knew First Aid. They bandaged the bitten leg, and kept the boy calm by lying him in the shade and keeping him cool.  

The next step was to call for help. They activated their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) at 4.30pm, within 30 minutes of the incident. 

After alerting the emergency services, Pip and her companions laid out brightly coloured jackets and an orange tent so the chopper could locate them easily. 

It was with sheer relief that they greeted the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Seb and his mother were airlifted to the Hobart where they were met by ambulance and taken immediately to hospital. 

Pip and her family were “so impressed” with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Tasmania. In the words of her daughter:

"They were so amazing, they came in and saved the day!"

Snakes are active throughout Tasmania in the summer months. When you’re out bushwalking there are some basic safety tips to help you avoid them. 

  • Be alert at all times, especially in summer
  • Avoid walking in long grass and reeds
  • Inspect hollows and rock crevices before you put your hand in them 
  • Wear gaiters, if you have them, even if the weather is very hot
     

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