Berry was a Queensland farmer who loved snakes. He was also a practical joker and one time he released a king brown in his local pub. That caused instant panic with one man exiting the bar through a closed window and another vaulting the bar and getting his foot caught in a beer tap with beer going everywhere.
A friend who worked on Berry's farm said it was quite usual when mustering cattle to see 20 snakes enjoying the Queensland heat.
A successful breeder of Hereford cattle, Berry did not allow anyone mustering his cattle to use horses, bikes or dogs to help the job along. That meant walking long distances around the farm bringing cattle together, so the musterers had a high risk of being bitten by snakes.
Not all were king browns or deadly taipans though. Quite a few were more or less harmless pythons. However my friend woke one morning to find a large python coiled round his neck, an experience he did not wish to repeat.
Berry was quite fearless around snakes and would pin down their heads with a forked stick while with his other hand he would grasp their tails and lift them into a sack. These captured snakes he would send to Brisbane where they were kept cosy for the rest of their lives and milked for their venom. The venom was used to make a vaccine to save the lives of people bitten by snakes.
Berry's wife Vera was also keen about and quite fearless where snakes were concerned. She said it was silly to kill a snake, even when one was close to the homestead, because another snake would always take the place of the one you killed.
"It is much better to have an old snake staking its territory around your house and knowing your movements, than continually killing them and encouraging young and inexperienced snakes into your yard, which you were likely to tread on because they were not familiar with your movements."
Vera knew where all the nearby snakes lived and would even feed them dead mice. Her favourite trick was to dangle a dead mouse by its tail about half a metre from a snake's hole in the ground. She would not flinch when the snake came out, took in the situation, and struck at and grabbed the mouse. Vera said there was no risk of being bitten because the snakes knew her as a friend and that was the way they always took their prey.
The only time Vera relocated snakes was when they started eating her chook's eggs. Not that it was easy because they had a great sense of territory. Sometimes she would move them up to 10 kilometres and they would nearly always come back!