WHEN Dutch tourists Jan and Hermien Kamphius pulled up at the Caltex service station in Auckland St yesterday, an unexpected hitchhiker crawled out.
As they filled the tank of their campervan, a 1.2m python appeared from under the bonnet.
"Someone yelled out 'snake' and we saw him on the ground," Mrs Kamphius said.
"We wanted to see a snake in Australia, but we didn't expect to take one with us!"
The couple is travelling around Australia for 10 weeks and spent four days in Yeppoon last week.
"We stayed in a very nice campsite with lots of goannas and birds," Mrs Kamphius said.
"We then drove into Rockhampton and stayed a night there afterwards, but I think the snake has been living with us since Yeppoon."
Staff at the service station called in snake catcher Joey Drumm, who was there within 10 minutes.
He used a hook tool to prompt the python to come out of the engine bay and, grasping the snake's head with his hands, pulled it out.
"I've seen lots of pythons in cars, but never heard of one hitching a ride," he said.
"I reckon he crawled in there because it was warm and then he unexpectedly ended up going on a road trip."
Mr Kamphius couldn't believe the snake had been under the car for a few days.
"All I know is there are poisonous snakes and non-poisonous snakes in Australia," he said.
"And I'm very happy this was one of the gentler ones."