Our First Goanna Sighting

After discussing my various lizard sightings with Hayley in the office, she told me of a picnic site she had been to where there were loads of Goannas to be seen. Apparently they seemed quite used to humans and when she went there, there were several of them just wandering about the site amongst all the picnicers. Now it has taken me a while to find out exactly what a goanna is. You hear the word a fair bit in Australia and I was always (perhaps stupidly because being a reptile enthusiast I should really know) under the impression it was an Aussie word for Iguana. Anyway, after asking a few Aussies and getting nothing more than “it’s a big lizard” I googled it to discover a goanna is in fact a monitor. “Cool as” I thought. I definitely want to get me a look at one of those little beauties. I didn’t know what sort of monitors they would be but I was damn sure going to find out.

So, last Sunday (30th March) was a pretty fine hot sunny day and Mat and I had gone for little drive up to Cottage Point to see the scenery in the daylight (last time we went by the light of a full moon but I haven’t got around to writing a post on that yet). After a drink and ice cream at the yachting club we decided to hunt down the picnic sight that Hayley had said was nearby. I had a look on the map and saw a picnic site symbol a few Ks down the Coal & Candle Creek at Illawong Bay so this is where we headed.

No sooner than we had spotted the picnic site and turned in Mat spotted something crossing the path ahead. I leapt out as Mat parked up and sure enough, we had us our first goanna sighting:

Lace Monitor and here’s a closeup Lace Monitor closeup

Lace Monitor
The car in the background gives you an idea of the overall length of him (or her) and apparently, after seeing these photos, Hayley says this was a small one.

Lace Monitor
As I tried to get closer he decided to amble off and start to climb a tree.

Mat & Lace Monitor
Here is Mat getting a closer look. The monitor was quite happy to sit there with us watching him until a group of Japanese lads came up and decided to give him a poke.

Lace Monitor
He did not like this too much so climbed further up the tree out of reach. Some people just can’t help themselves!

Well, what a fantastic result! I was hopeful that we would see one but didn’t expect it to be quite that easy. After going home and downloading our pictures I googled Australian monitors to find out exactly what species he was. It turns out he was a Lace Monitor (Varanus varius) which is Australia’s second largest lizard growing anywhere from 1.5 to 2 metres in length. They can be found all along the east coast living in forests and coastal tablelands and spend a lot of their time up trees, hence their other common name, Tree Goanna! Apparently they are also very good at adapting and in some areas have learnt to scavenge food around picnic areas lol, well we know that!

And so my list of Aussie wildlife I have spotted grows steadily longer. I still haven’t seen a snake yet, venomous or otherwise, but hopefully time and a few more walks in the bush will rectify this.

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