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Lizard Island


Watson's Bay

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Lizard Island first entered the history books when Captain Cook stopped there on his journeys to survey the coast and hiked to the top of the hill for a view of the Great Barrier Reef.  Two hundred years later Ansett Airlines built a resort there that reportedly cost A$800 per night.

Beyond Captain Cook and the resort the island is known for its namesake, the meter long monitor lizard.  This is the small cousin of the Komodo dragons that we had seen in Indonesia.  The lizards here are not nearly as frightening though as they eat rodents and small birds as opposed to water buffalo. 

After anchoring in Watson's Bay on the islands west side we hiked to the top of Cook's Lookout.  There we found a cairn that was reportedly started by the sailors of the Endevour but obviously added to over the years by other visitors.  The pile of rocks was over 4 meters high.

From the top of the hill one can see the reef extending from horizon to horizon and seaward for 10 miles.  Cook was here to look for an escape to the sea.  He could not find one nor could we.  A very spectacular view.

Lizard Island.jpg (9719 bytes)

Arial view of Lizard Island.  Watson's Bay is to the left of the main island.  Cook's Lookout is the peak that is hidden by the clouds in the center of the island.               Photo by Peter Lik

After the hike to the top, we walked around to the resort to see if we could get a drink and maybe a meal.  The resort definitely did not look like anything special, particularly not A$800 per day worth.   On entering the restaurant, we were politely but firm told that yachties were not welcome there. 

Being the type of people that can take a hint, we left and walked around to the research station on the east side of the island.  There marine biology students from all over the world come and run experiments experiments on the various inhabitants of the reef.  We talked to several Ph.D. candidates from Europe and the US as we toured the facility.

After walking back to Watson's Bay Inke and Meno went for a swim and some sun bathing on the beach.  When they came back we noticed remora's swimming under the boat.  Remora's are fish, about 65cm long that have a sucker disk on their head.  They use it to attach themselves to sharks and manta rays and then feed off the scraps as the host eats.  Seeing remora's usually means that there are sharks about.  Sure enough there basking in the shade under Dragon's Toy were a pair of 2 meter long black tip reef sharks.  For some reason, nobody wanted to go swimming after that.

That evening we had a wonderful little party on Meshugge with the South Africans (Nick, DeDe and Phil) comparing Afrikaans to the Dutch spoken by Meno and Inke.  The mono-linguistic capt'n just sat back and enjoyed his beer.   About midnight, we said our good-bye's to Nick and Dede, weighed anchor and rode out on the tide heading for Cooktown.

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Last modified: February 01, 2009