I recall seeing Brian on the ABC television program, the 7 30 Report chasing tiger snakes on Carnac Island and thought at the time what an impact he makes. Indeed, lively is probably an understatement. Read on and have a good laugh.
Born in the Sydney suburb of Rockdale on 16 June 1947, he developed a fascination for reptiles as a young boy. This fascination was somewhat encouraged by his stonemason father who often brought home lizards from the bush during sandstone cutting excursions.
After completing an electrical trades course at St George Technical College, Kogarah and serving two years National Service he returned to the electrical trade. It was too late though, the army service had instilled in him the urge for change and he moved to Western Australia in 1976 so that his wife Judy could be closer to her family in Perth.
For 10 years he worked at Lort River on the Esperance sandplain, 700km south-east of Perth, as a fencer and windmill mechanic. This brought him into regular contact with the reptiles of the area. The countless observations and information he gathered on the area, coupled with his frequent visits to the Goldfields region to the north, enabled him to produce a guide to the Reptiles of the Kalgoorlie-Esperance Region. A book which sold out so quick that he had to make photocopies to supply the demand. His energy and devotion to sharing knowledge with others is inexhaustible.
Therefore, after those rewarding ten years on the land, he convinced the wildlife authorities to allow him to do reptile education fulltime. He moved to Perth and has been opening both youngsters' and adults' eyes and minds on the reptile world since.
He is fully supportive of genuine amateurs being allowed to legally maintain reptiles, his attitude being "if I'm allowed to keep you should be too".
Most of us refer to him as the "old man perentie" because of his fatherly stature. This also refers to his age and obvious wrinkles. Although he is often heard to remark that he is only 27 years of age. "If you spent as much time on top of windmills close to the sun as I have, you would be wrinkled too".
His snake collection is large by W A standards. He has done numerous articles and has a small elapid snake named after him, Parasuta spectabilis bushi. Although this is only a subspecies he continually elevates it to full species while we persist in synonymising it with P. gouldii. All in good fun!
Western Australian herps have got to be good-natured and thick-skinned to survive in an unfriendly environment. Good-natured is Brian!
I remember getting lost a few years ago while headtorching for geckos. After spending all night in the bush I eventually found my way back to camp midmorning the following day. There was Brian with a big grin on his face as he says to me, "Brad, we were not worried about you but I did sort out who would get your snake boxes and books etc if you never came back". Always good for a laugh!
He reckons his skin is turning to scales and he should have hatched out of an egg. He has been hospitalised six times in over 40 years from snakebite and says, "any keeper of venomous snakes who has not been bitten must be too rough on the animals".
He is also often heard to remark that the greatest fallacy concerning Australia's snakes is that they are the deadliest in the world. He points out that people who should know better perpetuate fear of snakes by not qualifying this statement. More correctly it should be, "Australia has the deadliest snakes in the world if you are a mouse!"