Charlie Lash

Charlie Lash

Atkins Terrace

Charlie Lash was no stranger to persecution, having been forced into refugee status three times before the age of thirty. Born in Kosovo in 1926, his family fled their dairy farm under Serbian occupation in 1928, to live as refugees in Albania. Charlie’s fondest childhood memories of Albania were his frequent expeditions with his father, hunting and capturing deadly viper snakes.

Following WW2, he found himself on a boat bound for Fremantle, Australia. In the Bonegilla Migrant Camp Charlie recalls being told, ‘This is Australia – Welcome. We have very tough laws here and if you fail to abide with these laws, you could be hanged.’

Despite this ominous introduction, Charlie sensed that this hot dry land had something positive to offer.

At 32 years of age, Charlie moved to Werribee where he married a young girl from Istanbul with whom he had corresponded for many years. Charlie worked at the sewage treatment farm, a job which many would consider far from ideal, but for Charlie it was perfect. The sewage farm was chock full of snakes which Charlie would capture after hours and deliver to serum laboratories. In 1991 Charlie became a full-time snake catcher and tells many colourful stories of battles between the urban sprawl and its encroachment into the habitat of these deadly reptiles. After the painful, premature death of his wife in 1983, Charlie felt increasingly lonely and isolated. In 1999, after some forty years of separation, he re-established contact with his family in war-torn Kosovo.