The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Next up in the Lizard Is­land Wine Se­ries will fea­ture Tor­breck (Barossa Val­ley) vine­yard on Novem­ber 24-27, fol­lowed by Best’s Great Western (Vic­to­ria) on Jan­uary 19-22 next year. More: • lizardis­ • mount­ • • aus­tralian­mu­seum. ally by a yel­low spot­ted mon­i­tor that fos­sicks about in the gar­den. Cap­tain James Cook named the is­land af­ter this fel­low’s an­ces­tors in 1770 when he landed to scale a gran­ite moun­tain in a bid to map a route through the reef; he saw no other an­i­mals but lizards. Thou­sands of years ear­lier, the Din­gaal Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple named the is­land Ji­ig­urru and used it ex­clu­sively for cer­e­mo­nial pur­poses, in­clud­ing the ini­ti­a­tion of young men.

All good with my gal­lop through the book, but there are two walks I must do, al­though I baulk at climb­ing Cook’s Look, as it is now known. Those who do, de­scribe the view as ma­jes­tic. My des­ti­na­tions are Wat­son’s Bay and Blue La­goon. The 10sq km is­land is a na­tional park, so the tracks are good and signs along the way de­scribe wildlife (in­clud­ing beau­ti­ful birds) and veg­e­ta­tion. I am sur­prised Lizard Is­land is not lush and trop­i­cal and is cer­tainly not “a chip off the old block”, which on the main­land is rain­for­est. But there are man­groves, a paper­bark for­est and pan­danus. Ev­i­dence per­sists of the cy­clones that hit hard in 2014 and 2015.

The walk to Wat­son’s Bay leads past a poignant site, the re­mains of a cot­tage and a marker of the clash of cul­tures be­tween colo­nial set­tlers and indige­nous peo­ple. Robert and Mary Wat­son started a hard­scrab­ble bechede-mer fish­ing op­er­a­tion on the is­land in 1879, with South Sea is­lan­der labour­ers and Chi­nese ser­vants. In Oc­to­ber 1881, while Robert was at sea, Abo­rig­ines killed one of the Chi­nese. Mary fled with her son Fer­rier and ser­vant Ah Sam in an iron tank used for boil­ing sea urchins. They drifted, landed on an un­in­hab­ited is­land, but died of thirst af­ter nine days. Mary’s diary was found and she was hailed as a leg­endary tragic hero­ine, while lo­cal Abo­rig­ines suf­fered bru­tal ret­ri­bu­tion. It is a trou­bling tale.

Next day, I en­joy the seren­ity of swim­ming with tur­tles as they graze on sea grass in waist-deep wa­ter at Ca­sua­r­ina Beach. I spot nine, mostly ju­ve­niles, which means up to 40 years old. They prob­a­bly have 80 or more years left, lucky an­i­mals; marvel at their ex­quis­ite shells and old-man heads that pop up for air.

Nearby is the Lizard Is­land Re­search Sta­tion, es­tab­lished in 1973 by the Aus­tralian Mu­seum when coral reef sci­ence was in its in­fancy. Lyle Vail, the co-direc­tor of the

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