On 24th November in 1992 during a speech to mark the fortieth anniversary of her accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II described the recent that included the devastating fire at Windsor Castle as being part of an Annus Horribilis that she will not look back upon with undiluted pleasure. That description immediately came to mind following my recent conversation with David Levick in which he recalled what had happened to him during the first six months of 2018.

Featured Image(above): A croc’s tail did this to Dave Levick

Dave and his wife Jenny are what can best be described as professional house sitters and whilst living in a very well fitted out RV, make themselves available to look after properties whilst the owners are away. The beginning of 2018 saw the couple taking care of a small cane farm outside of Mackay and Dave told me that the first tragic event of his Annus Horribilis was when he slipped over on wet floor tiles, severely injuring his head as he fell. ‘The following morning, my head was aching badly so I went to Mackay Hospital to get checked out and, after scans and so on they told me that I had a bleed on the brain,’ said Dave. ‘I was told that I would have to go to Townsville to be treated as that was where the nearest neuro-surgeon was.

I pointed out that this was not possible as my wife suffers from mild and there was nobody to be there for her,’ he said. This resulted in Dave being monitored at the local hospital before returning home the next day and, soon after his return, an urge to drive the farm ATV into a shed was to result in him once again damaging his head on a low beam as he walked back out. ‘I kept on working around the place but had bad headaches so I went back to the hospital, only to be told that I had an even more serious bleed on the brain,’ Dave explained.

Arriving in Mackay after the stint in Townsville Hospital

‘There was no choice this so, after making arrangements for someone to look after Jenny, went to Townsville courtesy of the Flying Doctor and when I arrived at the hospital, they drilled a twenty -five millimetre hole in my skull into which they inserted twenty-two centimetres of drain tube around my brain,’ he said. With the procedure achieving the desired result Dave’s condition improved to the point where he was only two days away from being able to return to Mackay when a twist of fate saw him trip over a nurse’s chair, fracturing his arm in the process.

As well as being disruptive in itself, that accident then presented a whole new problem. ‘In ten days time, myself and a mate who lives in America were booked to go on a safari out of Cairns. And so we had to hurriedly cancel bookings including my mate’s flight over, Dave pointed out. ‘This resulted in us eventually going on the safari during May, me with my arm still in a sling but about seventy-five percent healed,’ he told me. As I sat there wondering how anyone could experience so much bad luck in such a short time, Dave described how, after two days of deep sea fishing, the pair then joined up with a guide who took them fishing in a remote river system near Innisfail.

‘On the second day, we launched the boat in a little creek and, after a good few hours of catching Spanish Mackerel and some Barramundi, we made our way back to the ramp. Because the ramp was a narrow area between two big rocks, the guide said that we should get off the boat onto the rocks and then help him to get the boat back on the trailer,’ recalled Dave. ‘ My mate Chris jumped off onto a rock and, as I tried to do the same, I grabbed an overhanging branch to steady myself but it wasn’t attached to a tree and I fell into the water up to my neck.

With the guide yelling out for me to get the #@** out of the water and Chris starting to drag me out, there was a big splash where I was a second before and we were confronted by a big crocodile,’ he said with a bit of a shudder. Dave told me that, as he was being dragged out by his mate, and with the croc intent on making a meal of him, he kicked at its head and missed with the beast snapping its jaws shut in between his legs. ‘The croc then spun around, dragging its tail over my head causing some damage to my face.

They eventually got me out and kept throwing rocks at the croc until it gave up and went away. All I could say when it was over was, “Gee their breath stinks”,’ Dave said. When I caught up with Dave and Jenny, they were relaxing at a house sit in Ningi and, although the unlucky events of this year are now behind him, I reckon that this will definitely not be a year that Dave Levick will look back on with undiluted pleasure.

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