Most people worry about surviving their first day at a new job. But the new snake man of La Perouse Rob Ambrose had more reasons than most to worry when he took the stage at the famous snake pit at the end of Anzac Parade.
It wasn't even the prospect of handling some of the world's most venomous snakes. Mr Ambrose's job as a snake catcher had provided plenty of training for that.
Rather it was an event more than 100 years before his debut that would put even the least superstitious person on edge.
On Sunday, December 13, 1913, a 37-year-old snake man named Edward "Garny" See stepped into "the pit of death" for his first dance with the snakes that once thrived in the area: black, brown and tiger. For See, his first show would also be his last.
Minutes into his debut, See was bitten on the wrist by an eastern brown snake. Despite applying his self-proclaimed miracle antidote, he died that evening.
The show's founder, "Professor" Frederick Fox, also died from snake bites, as did 40 or so snake men around the country over the last century. Even the legendary snake man, John Cann, finally gave up after he lost a kidney from being bitten five times.
But Mr Ambrose's first show went without a hitch. Later that afternoon, he visited See's unmarked grave in Botany cemetery, a walking distance from the pit, to pay his respects.
The La Perouse Show has been a weekend and holiday fixture at the "loop" since 1889. For much of this time, the snake showman and woman were members of the local Cann family.
The show began with George Cann Snr in 1920, joined shortly after by his wife Essie, who ran with the stage name the "Cleopatra" of snakes. The Cann tradition ended with John Cann's last show in April 2010.
The show is now supported by volunteers from the Hawkesbury Herpetological Society, which promotes awareness and protection of reptiles.
Mr Ambrose sees his new position as part educator, part showman, but most of all, as a custodian of the remarkable legacy of conservation and awareness of the reptiles left by the Cann family.
"I used to watch the show as a kid," he remembers. "I'd lean over the fence, mesmerised by the performance, by the snakes, and used to dream of one day being in that pit. I really just want people to know that I'm just a custodian, and that it's something I love to do."
Fast forward to a frigid winter's afternoon in 2016 and Mr Ambrose is beginning his routine in front of a healthy crowd. His enthusiasm never falls away over three hours of consecutive shows.
It's still a performance, though one where the emphasis is now squarely on education rather than the confrontation with killers.
As Mr Ambrose holds a huge eastern brown snake named James, many in the crowd gasp. It is, after all, the second most venomous land snake in the world. Despite the cold James is clearly awake and quickly takes a healthy bite of Mr Ambrose's jeans. A lady in the crowd shrieks. "They only have small teeth," Rob reassures.
The La Perouse Snake Show can be seen every Sunday and public holidays from 1.30pm.