"The Pilbara Cobra"

Warralong, Pilbara,
Western Australia


We moved from Marble Bar to the Warralong Aboriginal Community to the northwest and pitched camp near the Strelley Community School, with the permission of the school principles Chris and Ingrid Walkley, and the community themselves.

Map of Warralong on the Coongan River
click to enlarge


On the road to Warralong
photo: Robert Pendlebury
but watching the weather
photo: Robert Pendlebury


Strelley School, Warralong: Chris, Brian & Ingrid with the community At the back of Warralong,
good snake hunting country
photo: Robert Pendlebury
Mark with school children and a
Black-headed python, Aspidites melanocephalus
Mark showing the community a "cheeky snake"
a venomous snake
Spotted snake, Suta punctatus
During the demo the snake attached itself firmly to Mark's slough hat
photo: David Wright

When we arrived we introduced ourselves to the community and showed them some of the reptiles we had captures, including the Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus) and the Spotted snake (Suta punctata).


Preparing to film some close-up reptile sequences
Mark arranges the reptiles, Matt & Terry look on and Des films
photos: Robert Pendlebury
The Warralong community also found the filming of small reptiles interesting
photos: Robert Pendlebury


Having captured a numerous interesting lizards and a few snakes it was necessary to take time out to obtain the stills you are looking at on these pages, and also to obtain close-up film photography for the documentary. To this end I contructed a series of small sets on a table and posed the geckos, skinks, dragons and snakes for their portraits, so they could be released when we were next out in the bush. This practise was of considerable interest to our hosts who sat around and quietly watched us at work for hours.

Brian and Mark searched for reptiles in the scrap metal scattered across the dump at Warralong,
under tin sheeting and old oil drums...
under discarded fridges and piles of debris.
The Warralong community joined the search as reptile after reptile turned up

We also went herping with the community in the lands around Warralong itself. These communities are often surrounded by acres of old fridges, wrecked cars, rusty oil drums and other objects, unsightly but a mecca for reptiles. Helped by members of the community Brian and I set out to capture quite a few reptiles. More Pilbara flick-leapers (Delma pax) and Burton's snake-lizards (Lialis burtonis), Clay-soil ctenotus (Ctenotus helenae) and more Eyed leopard ctenotus (Ctenotus pantherinus ocellifer) and Stoney-soil ctenotus (Ctenotus saxatilis), along with at least four Inland ridge-tailed monitor lizard (Varanus acanthurus brachyurus).


Pilbara flick-leaper
Delma pax
Burton's snake-lizard
Lialis burtonis
Clay-soil ctenotus
Ctenotus helenae
Eyed leopard ctenotus
Ctenotus pantherinus ocellifer
Stoney-soil ctenotus
Ctenotus saxatilis
Inland ridge-tailed monitor lizard
Varanus acanthurus brachyurus


Inland ridge-tailed monitor lizard
Varanus acanthurus brachyurus

bush tucker?
photo: David Wright


But we also started to find snakes. Brian called me over to examine a large adult Western brownsnake (Pseudonaja mengdeni) he had captured, and while we were talking I was called by one of the women from the community, she had found a snake too. When I ran over to where she and her friend had been digging I could only see a few black-edged pale scales but I know this was another elapid, a Western yellow-cheeked whipsnake (Demansia psammophis cupriceps), the western race of the same species we had found at Richmond, New South Wales during filming of "On The Edge".

Several of the Warralong community were going to be participating the film, particularly two trackers called DT and Peter, and two of the elderly women, Rosy and Biddy.


Brian caught an adult Western brownsnake
Pseudonaja mengdeni

While Mark was called to a small area of exposed snake,
Western yellow-cheeked whipsnake,
Demansia psammophis cupriceps

And these two species were not the end of the day when it came to snakes. We found a Western Stimson's python (Antaresia stimsoni stimsoni), both adult and juvenile Spotted snakes (Suta punctata) and three more Western brownsnakes (Pseudonaja nuchalis).

Western Stimson's python
Antaresia stimsoni stimsoni
Juvenile Spotted snake
Suta punctatus
Adult Spotted snake
Suta punctatus
Western yellow-cheeked whipsnake,
Demansia psammophis cupriceps
Juvenile Western brownsnake
Pseudonaja v
Adult Western brownsnake
Pseudonaja mengdeni
Adult Western brownsnake
Pseudonaja mengdeni


By now there were lots of snakes to photograph
Photo: David Wright