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Goanna is the term used for Australian Monitor Lizards; they are native to Australia and can be found all around the Whitsundays on both the islands and the mainland. As a lizard, they are skittish and easily scared, so if you hope to see one you have to stay quiet and keep your eyes open! They are most often see in the bush, such as on the walk to Hill Inlet Lookout on Whitsunday Island. They are experts in camouflage, and can often be seen on tree trunks or in the underbrush around walking trails.

If you are quiet enough and search in amidst the low bushland on the Hill Inlet Lookout Walk on Whitsunday Island, you are most likely to see one, despite their camouflage. The goannas of Whitsunday Island are a dark brown-grey colour with flecks of yellow and are often taking shade, in the bush, from the heat of the sun.

Although today these lizards can measure over 2 metres in length around the East Coast of Queensland, 30 million years ago they would have roamed at double that size! They have a thick, strong, muscular tail that has been known to be used in attack. While they are really amazing to see, and are likely to run if you get too close, it's still a good idea to keep your distance from these wild and beautiful animals.

Habitat and Food

Goannas build themselves burrows with their strong front claws in which to nest and sleep. They have also been known to take shelter in hollowed out logs or trees. When it comes to feeding goannas will usually look out for prey they can swallow in one gulp, however, farmers have reported that they have had sheep attacked by the big lizards. One of their favourite meals are eggs, which are easy to find and even easier to eat. They are not fussy whether they need to climb a tree or dig into the sand or dirt to find them, as they are pretty agile and opportunistic hunters.

Goannas in Aboriginal history

Goannas have played a strong role in Aboriginal dreamtime stories, which are an important part of Aboriginal culture. In their stories, goannas have been a representation for local tribes and as a food source. Due to its muscular structure the tail of a Goanna provided a great meal for local indigenous tribes. Goanna oil is claimed to have 'mystical healing powers' it was a common bush medicine used as a treatment for a number of ailments. Today it can still be purchased in pharmacies, with the focus on muscle pain relief.