When Megan Brouwer went hiking with her husband and five-year-old son in Karijini National Park she was concerned about spraining her ankle — instead she was bitten by a deadly snake.
- A mother has survived a deadly western brown snake bite while hiking in Karijini National Park
- The seven-hour rescue effort involved an off-duty doctor, emergency services, and local park rangers
- The woman has expressed gratitude for emergency services and members of the public who assisted
The family had begun their return hike in Karijini’s picturesque Knox Gorge when Ms Brouwer’s husband yelled “snake”.
“I just knew in the way that he yelled it that it was either on me or very close to me,” she said.
“So I jumped around frantically for a moment then saw it in the corner of my eye, slithering away.
The gwardar, or western brown snake, is understood to be the most venomous snake native to Australia.
Off-duty doctor among many saviours
Ms Brouwer said she, her husband, and an off-duty doctor who was walking in the gorge at the time last Sunday, checked her legs and found fresh blood and a puncture wound.
“[The off-duty doctor] had a pressure bandage and applied that for me. She also had a satellite phone in hand … but unfortunately it wasn’t connecting, we were so far in the gorge.
“So she then ran to the top of the gorge — which took her about an hour or so.”
It took Karijini rangers, local police, State Emergency Service, and St John Ambulance volunteers, as well as passers-by helping the rescue effort seven hours to bring Ms Brouwer and her family to safety at the nearest hospital in Tom Price.
She was then flown by Royal Flying Doctor Service to Port Hedland.
Wasps, loose rocks increase difficulty
“It was like something I’d never experienced before,” she said.
Knox Gorge is a two-kilometre class-5 hike, and Ms Brouwer said it was “pretty hairy” in parts.
“The path itself got quite narrow at the edge of the cliff, and manoeuvring a stretcher around trees and up the cliff face was pretty scary for me,” she said.
“There were also some unexpected things like wasps nests and lots of loose rock so footing was really, really important.”
‘Thankful to the snake’
Fortunately for Megan Brouwer and her family, she had received a “dry bite” so was not envenomated by the attack.
“I’ve since learned that if he had’ve got me a second time maybe that would’ve been a poisonous bite.
“But I’m all good. I know a lot more about snakes and I know how best to be prepared when you’re hiking in very remote parts.”
First aid kit ‘a must’
Ms Brouwer recommends hikers always have a first-aid kit on hand in their hiking pack, including a pressure bandage for snake bites, and said they should keep their first-aid training up to date.
She said was incredibly grateful to emergency service volunteers, as well as to members of the public who helped by supplying bandages and trying to keep Ms Brouwer calm.
The Brouwer family are hoping to return to Karijini in the future, but Megan Brouwer said she was not sure if she would be able to return to the scene of the snake bite.