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31 December 2008 ·

The Orrs’ National Lampoon Christmas Vacation

Usually New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection on the past year, and certainly Nim’s Island has made mine one of the most memorable of my life.

However the last week has been such a comedy of errors it’s difficult to remember back any further at the moment. All ran smoothly on Christmas day – right up till I opened the oven, half way through cooking the turkey, and discovered that the oven had died about an hour earlier. A slight panic when we discovered that Tom’s new barbecue had no gas, and there were no fire lighters to start the briquettes in the Webber…. but we lit it with sticks, chopped up the turkey, even eventually managed to buy gas for the other barbecue and had a great meal a couple of hours later.

It wasn’t till after dinner that I dropped a hot, heavy glass saucepan lid on the floor – which shattered into several thousand pieces and nicked my sister-in-law’s foot in several places. Some of them bled quite a lot. Did I mention that she faints at the sight of blood?

She was fit for the hike the next day, though: down to Cape Schank Lighthouse, on a trail well known for spotting wildlife. We saw over 100 kangaroos, two echidnas, and…

About half way I felt something warm around my legs, looked down and saw a huge (deadly) brown snake twining through my legs. Of course I know that the thing to do is freeze – and I’m sure that Nim, or Finn from Spook’s Shack would have done this – but by the time my brain registered that it was a snake my body was already leaping into the air. Luckily the snake decided to just continue on his way and didn’t turn around to strike me. I’d actually felt his head knock my left leg as it went past, I suppose a fraction of a second before I felt the heavy warmth of the rest of his body, but it was fairly obvious he hadn’t bitten me. ( (And since I didn’t fall down unconscious within minutes, I was obviously right.) I wasn’t as upset as you’d think, and was very intrigued by how warm it felt – I know logically snakes aren’t cold but I still expect them to be. I admit I looked very carefully at every twisted branch across the path after that, but it certainly didn’t spoil my walk.

So my New Year’s Wish for everyone is: may all your mishaps be comedies, all your disasters slide on past – and may we all learn to enjoy the moment as it is.

(And carry a snake bite kit when you’re hiking!)


  1. Ciuineas I am so glad all turned out well for you and your family, mishaps, deadly brown snakes and all.

    Thank you for your New Years wishes and words of wisdom.

    May the year ahead be happy and healthy for you and your loved ones!

    All the best,
    January 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm · Reply
  2. Wendy Thanks! And the same to you and yours.
    January 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm · Reply
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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio