Despite growing up in ‘Brissie’ and spending many years hiking, climbing and bush bashing close to home, my home town still surprises me. Yesterday’s bush walk with a couple of mates is a prime example.
The Enoggera Reservoir is only 10kms – as the crow flies – from Brisbane’s CBD yet it feels a world away from all of the hustle and bustle. Centred around a dam that was built in 1866 to supply water to a growing city, it now forms part of the D’Aguilar National Park that commands 36,000ha of bushland west of Brisbane. It’s popular with swimmers, kayakers, mountain bikers and walkers.
This was my first visit to these parklands despite it being popular with bushwalkers. Our small group met at the appropriately named Walkabout Creek Visitor’s Centre. The 10km hike followed a lumpy trail around the dam on a day that threatened thunderstorms and heavy rains. But today we were lucky, the rains completely missed us.
Rolling thunder early on gave way to the lovely chiming calls of bellbirds, the sharp crack of the whip birds and a few raucous chortles from several kookaburras. The highlight, however, was the number of lace monitors we met, including two sizeable chaps having a wrestling match in the middle of our hiking trail.
Lace monitors, also known as tree goannas, belong to the genus Varanus, a group of lizards that include the perentie (Australia’s largest lizard) and the Komodo dragon (the world’s largest lizard) which is found in Indonesia. Lace monitors grow to around 2m in length and come complete with long claws, sharp teeth, and poison glands. And they do like a good scrap! They’re not aggressive but I wouldn’t annoy one!
As for the term goanna? It’s not an aboriginal word. Apparently, it derives from the early Europeans who used the term ‘iguana’ to describe these strange lizards. We now use it simply to describe any of our big lizards – like the lace monitor.