Hamilton Old Cemetery

In 1850, Henry Wade, the surveyor for the Portland district, completed a plan of the township of Hamilton, then known as The Grange.  He was under instruction from Robert Hoddle, the head of the Melbourne Survey Office.  Hoddle requested Wade set aside eight acres for a cemetery.  Wade surveyed a site on the then Wannon Road, later known as Coleraine Road. That site became the Hamilton Cemetery but is now more commonly known as the Hamilton Old Cemetery after the first burial at the Hamilton Lawn Cemetery in February 1970.  Some burials occurred at the old cemetery after that time, but generally with existing graves.




Of the cemeteries I have visited in the Western District, the Hamilton Old Cemetery is the one closest to my heart. The following grave is the one that first took me there.  The time of my first visit is unclear but maybe as a toddler.  I’m not sure who I even went with.  Maybe my Nana or my great auntie Rosie, both daughters of Thomas and Sarah Hadden. Both Nana and Auntie Rosie took me to the cemetery many times as a child.




The visits to the cemetery were a regular Sunday ritual. If I heard Nana say, “Those flowers would be nice for the cemetery”, I knew the camellias or the dahlias were in bloom and a cemetery visit was impending. Of course, there were also the visits on significant dates.  Nana and Auntie Rosie would weed the plot and put fresh flowers in the vases and I would fill the vases with water at a nearby tap.  The vases in the photo (above) have been with the grave since the beginning as Mum remembers them when she was a child visiting the grave.  And now my son, a fourth generation descendant, has visited the grave of his gg grandparents Thomas and Sarah.

Thomas Hadden was born in Cavendish in 1879, a son of a Scottish immigrant while Sarah was born Sarah Elizabeth Harman at Byaduk.  Her mother, Lizzie Bishop, passed away when Sarah was seven and she and her two siblings were raised by their father Reuben and step-mother Emma Lorden.  Thomas Hadden and Sarah Harman married in 1904 at Byaduk.  They raised seven children in a small house on Coleraine Road, their first-born Lucy Angelina in 1905.





Both Sarah and Tom passed away in their sixties. Tom in 1943 aged sixty-four and Sarah in 1948 aged sixty-five, both still relatively young.

When I was ten, there was another grave to visit at the cemetery, that of my great Uncle Len Hadden.  We probably visited it before that, but it’s not in my memory. My great-aunt Jessie was buried in 1969, but I was one-year-old and don’t remember her, but I do remember Uncle Len.




Arthur Leonard Hadden (below), better known as Len, was the second child and oldest son of Thomas and Sarah.  He was born in  February 1907 at Hamilton.  Len attended the Hamilton State school and became a butcher.




Len married Jessie McPhail in October 1928 at Hamilton.  Jessie was born at Tahara to Archibald McPhail and Jessie Wilson in 1905.  Jessie and Len had four boys.


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Visiting Uncle Len at his home on Port Fairy Road, Hamilton during the 1970s was memorable.  Then a widower, he was in his mid-sixties but he seemed very old to me.  I recall he always had the newspaper open on the table and the radio going, the racing station I think, and he didn’t talk much to me, not in the way his younger brother Bill did anyway. Uncle Len had an ankle biting silky terrier called Scruffy I was a bit scared of and a talking cockatoo.  Most memorable was his outdoor dunny, the only one I had seen at the time, and I can still recall the smell which was probably phenyle.




From the Hadden’s, the next of my family graves are those I discovered when I began researching my family history.  As a child, I had no idea there were others in the cemetery related to me.  Little did I know my great-grandmother Sarah Harman’s great-uncle and aunt William Reed and Sarah Burgin were there and not too far away either.

William Reed and Sarah Burgin were the subjects of my post The Muddy Creek Reeds.  There you can read about William’s early life in Cambridgeshire and later as a husband and father living at Muddy Creek.




Also buried there is Edna Alice Ford, a grand-daughter of William and Sarah.  Her parents were Martha Reed and James Ernest Ford and she was their fourth born.  There is also William Reed Jnr, the eldest child of William Reed and Sarah Burgin. Dying aged eighty-six, William never married.

Not far away is the grave of another of William and Sarah’s children, Sarah Ann Reed (below). She married William Kirkwood of Buckley’s Swamp in 1903.  They settled at Buckley’s Swamp and raised a family of at least seven children.  I have several more photos of Kirkwood graves and I will feature those in a future post on the Hamilton Cemetery.




There are more of the Reed family graves to photograph including William and Sarah’s daughter and mother of Alice Edna Ford, Martha Reed and her husband James Ford.  Also daughter Eliza Reed and her husband James Clayton and her sister Alice Reed and Alice’s husband Henry Brewis.  Williams and Sarah’s son, Albert Reed and his wife Elilias Patman are also buried in the cemetery.

Nearby the grave of William and Sarah is the last resting place of Sarah’s parents Richard Burgin and Eliza Addinsall.  They were from Lincolnshire and arrived at Geelong aboard the Joshua in 1854.  Accompanying them were their children, Richard Jnr, Sarah, William and baby Hannah.  According to the passenger list, they were heading to nearby Batesford, the home of relatives.  They eventually made their way further west and were in the Hamilton district by 1858 when their daughter Eliza was born.  They settled at Muddy Creek, a small settlement just south of Hamilton with a large Methodist population.




Devout Wesleyans, the Burgins attended the Muddy Creek Methodist Chuch.  That is where the Burgin, Reed, Harman connection all began.  My ggg grandfather was a local preacher and in the early 1860s, before he settled his family at what would become Byaduk, Muddy Creek was their nearest church.  James’ wife Susan Reed was a sister of William, who arrived in the district from England as a single man and settled around Muddy Creek.  Sarah and William met, possibly at church, married and the rest is history.

The first burial in the Burgin plot was Eliza Burgin Jnr who passed away in 1874 aged sixteen.  Her mother Eliza followed in 1883 aged sixty-six then father Richard who passed away in 1888 aged seventy-eight.


"The Horsham Times." The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 8 Jun 1888:.

“The Horsham Times.” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 8 Jun 1888:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72883526&gt;.

The last burial was, Hannah Burgin who never married and passed away in 1923 aged seventy.

Still close by is the grave of Sarah Harman’s 1st cousin 1 x removed, Jessie Harman.  Jessie, of Byaduk, was the daughter of Reuben Harman and Elizabeth Oliver and married Hamilton man, Walter Greed in 1898.




Walter’s parents, John Weaver Greed and Emma Grinter started an undertaking business in Hamilton in 1861.  Around 1890, it was taken over by Walter’s younger brother Frank after the death of their father. It  became known as F.Greed & Sons and today the descendants of John and Emma run the business on the site where the business began 154 years ago.

Walter was the nephew of Abraham Greed a Hamilton coachmaker and at one time, Mayor. When he finished school, Walter went to work with his uncle in the coach building trade.  After their marriage, Jessie and Walter lived at 21 Stephen Street (below), with not only their children, Vera and Arthur, but at times, Jessie’s mother and two sisters, Beatrice and Sarah.


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Jessie and Walter’s son Arthur married Evelyn Sack around 1928 at the Hamilton Baptist Church, just a couple of blocks from the Greed home.


"SOCIAL." The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954) 22 Jun 1928:.

“SOCIAL.” The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954) 22 Jun 1928:<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72628020&gt;.





Evelyn was born in Shepparton, but her family moved to Hamilton soon after and her father Frederick Sack operated a jewellers and optician business in Gray Street.  The family lived at 46 Martin Street.

"Advertising." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 8 Jun 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119502851>.

“Advertising.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 8 Jun 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119502851&gt;.


Arthur Greed worked in the materials and curtain department in Miller’s store also in Gray Street.  After he and Evelyn married, they lived at 20 Stephen Street, across the road from Arthur’s parents.  In their later years, Arthur and Evelyn retired to Portland.  They passed away within three months of each other in 1993.






We now make our way to the opposite end of the cemetery to the Diwell plot.  On my last visit, I found another Diwell grave along the way.




I’ll have to use the cemetery records to find out who it belongs to, however, I have narrowed it down to possibly being Jonathan Richard Diwell, born at Hamilton in 1919 and who died in Hamilton in 1928.  He was the son of William Diwell and Vita Gleeson and grandson of Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly, buried in the next featured grave.

This grave is the most ornate of my family graves at the cemetery, the final resting place of my gg grandparents, Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly and four of their children.




You can read more about Richard and Elizabeth in the posts Elizabeth Ann Jelly and Another What the Dickens Moment.

Buried with them are four children including the baby Elizabeth gave birth to in 1900, with both dying as a result.  Also Richard and Elizabeth’s seventh child, Ernest Richard. He died in 1939 aged forty-eight after accidentally drinking spirits of salt.




The grave is looking a little worse for wear.




There are still several Diwell related headstones to get photos of.  They include Richard and Anne’s three young granddaughters, Hilda, Linda and Margaret the daughters of Margaret Ann Diwell and her husband Frederick Coustley.  There are also Richard’s sister Margaret Ann McClintock and her daughter Martha Emily McClintock and another daughter Mary Crawford McClintock who married John Blackney.

Since my collection of Hamilton Old cemetery photos is close to 200, this is not the last post on the cemetery.  Next, a tour of some of the graves of those who shaped Hamilton.


Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984, p38.

Hamilton History Centre Driving Tour

Gardner, Margaret & Heffernan, Val & Hamilton History Centre (2007). Exploring Hamilton : mini histories for drive no. 1. Hamilton History Centre, Hamilton, Vic, p15.

Victoria. Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom. Microfiche VPRS 14. Public Record Office Victoria, North Melbourne, Victoria, sourced from Ancestry.com.au


©Merron Riddiford 2015.  The use of the content and images in this post is according to Western District Families’ Creative Commons License

The Muddy Creek Reeds

Researching the family of my ggg grandmother Susan has been like searching a muddy creek looking for clues with reeds blocking my way.  The thing is Susan was a Reed and for a time members of her family lived at Muddy Creek.

The main challenge has been the family name.  My ggg grandmother and her siblings were christened as Reed .  She and her family were Read on the 1841 and 1851 UK Census and on Susan’s death record.   Despite the variance,  I had chosen to call Susan and her parents and siblings by the surname Read.   Then I found that Susan’s brother William was living just down the road from her in Victoria.  In 1866 when William married Sarah Burgin, he was William Read.  By 1869, and the birth of William’s first child, he was Reed.  That was the surname taken by his children and that went with him to the grave.

Even though the “Reed” name was consistently used by William from 1869, always lurking is the thought that at sometime the name may be Read.  Or Reid.  Especially in the newspapers.

Susan and William’s story began in Cambridgeshire, first in Melbourn where Susan was born in 1830 and then Whaddon where William was born in 1835.  They remained in Whaddon until they left England.

From the 1841 UK Census, the Read family of Whaddon appeared a fairly typical family in the village.  Parents William Read and Mary Waymant had four children, Susan being the eldest.  William senior was an agricultural labourer.  By the time of the 1851 Census it was clear that over the preceding decade, life for the Read family had changed somewhat.  Susan, recorded as Sussanna was now head of the household, her occupation “pauper”.  There were two new children in the family, Julia aged 7 and John aged  6.  They, along with Sybil then 13 and James 11, were also paupers.  William jnr. 16, was working as an agriculture labourer.

The most noticeable difference from the 1841 Census, other than most of the family being paupers, is that parents William and Mary were not in the house on the night of the 1851 Census.  No amount of searching has found a trace of them on that night or there after.  The other missing family member was Isabella, then 16.  I found her in Bassingbourn working as a servant.  She married in 1853 to Henry Cutts but she died in 1856.  In addition to the information on the Census,  in 1847, another child was born to William and Mary, a son Alfred William.  Like his parents, I have not found any further trace of him.

If William and Mary had died by 1851, it raises questions about Susan’s emotions about leaving for Australia in 1852, shortly after her marriage to James Harman.  Departing would have been heart wrenching enough, but to leave her brothers and sisters under such circumstances must have been extremely difficult for Susan.  She named three of her children after her siblings, Alfred, Julia and Isabella.

Sometime over the following eight to ten years, William jnr left England for Australia but I have not been able to find his arrival in Victoria.  A lot of “William Reeds” and ” William Reads” arrived in Victoria during the 1850s and 60s and that is assuming he came directly to Victoria.

He had arrived in Australia by 1866 as he married Sarah Burgin in that year.  Sarah was the daughter of Richard Burgin and Eliza Addinsall and was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1846.  The Burgins arrived in Geelong in 1854 aboard “Josuha“.  They settled at Muddy Creek, south of Hamilton.

William and Sarah had seven children:

WILLIAM – Born 1869 at Macarthur; Died 1952 at  Hamilton;  Never married.

ELIZA MARY –  Born 1871 at  Hamilton; Died 1954 at  Hamilton;  Marriage – James Percy CLAYTON in  1896.

MARTHA –  Born 1873 at  Macarthur;  Died 1945  at Warrabkook;  Marriage – James Ernest FORD in  1901.

ALBERT –  Born 1874 at  Warrabkook;  Died 1954 at Hamilton;  Marriage –  Elilias PATMAN in  1904.

JOHN –  Born 1877 at Warrabkook;  Died 1878 at Warrabkook.

SARAH ANN –  Born 1879 at  Warrabkook;  Died 1948  at Hamilton;  Marriage –  William KIRKWOOD in 1903.

ALICE –  Born 1882  at Warrabkook;  Died 1974  at Hamilton;  Marriage – Henry Alfred BREWIS  in 1904.

Another difficulty with William Reed is that he lived at both Warrabkook near Macarthur and Muddy Creek, near Hamilton, but he could also be recorded as living at South Hamilton as Muddy Creek fell in the Parish of South Hamilton.  I also can’t rule out nearby Yulecart being used as his place of residence.   So that leaves me searching for William Read or Reed (or Reid) at two locations with four possible place names across the same time period.

In 1888, William was executor of his father in-laws  will.  Noted was William’s signature, “William Reed” and his residence Warrabkook.

Advertising. (1888, June 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6130428

Advertising. (1888, June 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6130428

Not taking a lead from his father in law, William passed away the following year, on December 23, 1889, intestate.   William’s two brother-in-laws William  Burgin and my ggg grandfather James Harman, lodged applications to administer the estate.  However,  William’s wife Sarah was granted administration.  The notice, below, said William was from South Hamilton while Sarah was from Muddy Creek, South Hamilton.

Advertising. (1890, January 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 10. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8586393

Advertising. (1890, January 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 10. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8586393

William was buried at Hamilton Old Cemetery and his headstone recorded his place of death as Muddy Creek.



It was William’s’ probate papers that told me more about him.  William owned six properties at the time of his death, three in the Parish of South Hamilton, two in the Parish of Warrabkook and one in the Parish of Yulecart.

One of the properties in South Hamilton of 94 acres, had a five-room stone dwelling with an iron roof and all walls plastered.  One ceiling was still canvas lined.  There was also a stone out building.  This would have been the Reed’s Muddy Creek residence.  The other two smaller properties were next to the “home paddock”.  They were all partially fenced with an old log fence and post and wire.  There is a clue to how long William may have been at Muddy Creek.  The improvements on the properties had occurred over 30 years.  That would go back to around 1859.

This list of tender bids, presented at the District Road Board on February 20, 1863 includes a W.Reed who lodged a tender to repair the ford at Muddy Creek.  He did have the cheapest quote but he was beaten to the job by contractors, Vivian and White.

DISTRICT ROAD BOARD. (1863, February 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64628235

DISTRICT ROAD BOARD. (1863, February 23). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64628235

The two properties in the Parish of Warrabkook were close by to the Eumeralla River and they can be seen on the  Parish of Warrabkook map from 1879.  John Kirkwood, father-in law of William’s daughter Sarah owned the property to the west.  To the north was the property of William Burgin, William’s brother-in-law.

The larger property of 229 acres  had a four room mud dwelling with a two room wooden add-on.  There were three brick chimneys and the walls were papered.  Two rooms had pine lined ceilings.  This would have been the Reed’s Warrabkook residence.  Improvements on the property had taken place over 22 years, beginning around 1867.

This Local Land Board notice from 1871  reports on an application from W.Reed of Warrabkook.

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1871, November 30). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65426388

LOCAL LAND BOARD. (1871, November 30). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 6 Edition: EVENINGS. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65426388

It seems that while William may have bought land at Muddy Creek first, he and Sarah spent the early years of their marriage at Warrabkook, although there did seem to be some going backwards and forwards until their third child, Martha was born.  It was some distance between Muddy Creek and Warrabkook, but I think William may have taken a shorter more direct route than Google Maps offers, with a distance of around 42 kilometres.  Susan lived at Byaduk on the way.  The map below shows Warrabkook (A), Byaduk (B) and Muddy Creek (C).

Later they seem to have spent more time at Muddy Creek.  There was a strong Methodist community and the Reeds were members of the Muddy Creek Primitive Methodist Church.  In 1929, Sarah Reed laid the foundation stone for a new Muddy Creek Pioneer church .  Daughter Martha’s  wedding notice from 1901 has Sarah from Muddy Creek and Warrabkook.

SOCIAL. (1901, May 7). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73026998

SOCIAL. (1901, May 7). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73026998

While I can’t find William Reed’s South Hamilton properties on land maps, the road names around Muddy Creek/Yulecart give a clue.  Like at Warrabkook, the Reed, Burgin and Kirkwoods were never far away from each other.

Until now, I have recorded Susan as Susan Read on my family tree and William as William Reed which is a bit messy.  Writing this post as forced me to look harder at the sources and I have decided that I will change all those I have listed as Read to Reed as that is what Susan and her siblings were christened.  I will still need to factor in the different name variables.

William and Susan were not the only Reeds of Whaddon to come to Australia.  Their sister Sybil lived in Ulmurra, New South Wales.  Her husband John Revell was the puntman on the Coldstream River at Ulmurra.  At the time of Sybil’s death in 1903, Susan placed a notice in The Hamilton Spectator for her younger sister.

So for at least three of the Reed family, life improved and the move to Australia must be attributed to that.  William would not have owned six properties had he stayed in Whaddon.  Although they led  hard pioneering lives, at the end, I doubt they had few regrets.

Old Cavendish Cemetery

Behind this gate are the graves of two of my ggg grandfathers, a ggg grandmother, a 2nd cousin once removed, possibly another ggg grandmother and more.

This is the Old Cavendish Cemetery on the banks of the Wannon River. In use from 1849 through to 1922,  it was the site of over 120 burials.  A beautiful resting place for my ancestors but the problem is there are very few headstones.

I visited a few weeks ago on a sunny Sunday morning.    Ticking off the risk factors before entering: sunny, mid-spring, river location, long grass and graves, I decided to move quickly as I didn’t want to run into “Joe Blake”.   I moved at great haste barely stopping to take each photo. Surprisingly none were blurred.

This cemetery is set in beautiful countryside with Hugh Duncan and his wife Catherine having a prime position overlooking the Wannon River.

Headstone of Hugh Duncan (died 1892) and Catherine Duncan (died 1917)

Grave of James Rogers (died 1913) and Hannah Rogers (died 1908) and their daughters Mary Ann (died 1876) & Elizabeth Jane (died 1899)

I have a family link to the Brewis family of Karabeal.  My first cousin 4 x removed, Alice Reed married Henry Alfred Brewis, son of Joseph and Mary Brewis.  Alice was the niece of Susan Reed, wife of James Harman.

Front: Headstone of Magaret Matheson (died 1871) Back: George Healy Wilson (died 1895) and his mother Elizabeth Wilson (died 1898)

Headstone of William Lord (died 1885) and Sarah Lord (died 1874) and their son Henry (died 1872)

The following headstone is interesting.  It is the grave of Ann Wright who died in 1891.  She is buried with her son Henry Huntly and another Cavendish man Brown Hearn who died in 1904.  A clue came from another Hearn buried in the cemetery, Jessie Hearn.  Her death record of 1880 lists the three-year old’s parents as Brown Hearn and Elizabeth Huntly (or Huntley).  I have found a Victorian Marriage record for an Ann Prior to Henry Huntly in 1842 at Portland, but I can’t find a birth record for a Henry Huntly Jnr and I can’t explain the “Wright” surname.

Headstone of Thomas Varley (died 1892) and his daughter Evelyn Margaret (died 1894)

A Diphtheria epidemic hit Cavendish during 1879 and 1880 and many lives were lost including four children of the Cavendish school headmaster.  The headstone of Sarah Jane and Minnie McDonald is a reminder of that time.  Sarah Jane passed away on June 17, 1880 and her sister on June 19, 1880.  They were the daughters of Michael and Margaret McDonald of “Hyde Park” Cavendish.

Richard Bryant was a July Passing Pioneer.  Maggie, Richard’s second wife, was born in Ireland and was Margaret Nowlan.  My link to Richard is on his Passing Pioneer entry.

Headstone of Eliza Hewitt (died 1891), Anna Jane Hewitt (died 1899) and William Hewitt (died 1905)

This plaque at the entrance to the cemetery lists all those buried in the cemetery and events from the history of Cavendish during the time the cemetery was in use.

My family members are well represented in the cemetery, but all the headstones are gone or didn’t exist.  There is my ggg grandparents Charles and Agnes Hadden and their great-grandson, Charles.  Also my ggg grandfather James Mortimer, died 1895 and his granddaughter Queenie Rose Ann Victoria Mortimer who died as a baby in 1891.

There are  three Mortimers that I am not sure of.  Given I cannot find the death of my ggg grandmother Rosanna Buckland, she has to be one of them .  One unidentified Mortimer died in 1895 which should be James Mortimer.  There is also a  Mrs Mortimer, died 1889 and another Mrs Mortimer, died 1898.  I think the latter is Sarah Ann Duggan, wife of Henry Mortimer, James and Rosanna’s youngest son.  Sarah Ann died in Warrnambool in 1898.

GGG Grandmother Rosanna could be the 1889 “Mrs Mortimer”.  Or maybe not.   She has been elusive to date.  There is also a Mr W. Mortimer who died in 1889.  I don’t have a W. Mortimer on my tree that died around that time nor can I find a W. Mortimer in the Victorian Death records.

I will return to the Old Cavendish Cemetery in Autumn, when the grass will be shorter and “Joe Blake” will be tiring.  Maybe then I can take my time and see what is hidden beneath the grass.

For a full list of those buried at the Old Cavendish Cemetery, check out Ian Marr’s great site Cemeteries of S.W.Victoria


“Joe Blake” ( Australian Rhyming Slang) – snake.