Australia & Pacific Travel News

Australian wildlife abounds at Lizard Island

One of the best reasons to book an Australia tour is to check out all the local wildlife that calls the Land Down Under home. While the mainland will allow you to spy a cute koala munching on eucalyptus or a wild wallaby hopping through the brush, some of the region's more exotic animals are found on the small islands that surround it. Many of these islets are protected as national parks and preserves, and among the most interesting is the small plot of land known as Lizard Island.

About the island

Located roughly 1,600 miles northwest of Brisbane on the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island is a 10-kilometer plot of granite that is surrounded by three smaller islands named Palfrey, South and Bird. Three more islands can be found within the national park and the small chain is home to a number of charming amenities, and is a popular destination for trampers, swimmers and divers throughout the year. Yet while the locale is a versatile destination with a lot to offer, one its key features is its endemic wildlife.

More than a name

Though the island is home to more than 40 species of sea bird, it's mainly known as a refuge for the yellow-spotted monitor. These large reptiles are a common sight on this island, inspiring the famed explorer Captain James Cook to name the island chain during his exploration of the coast in 1770. The chain's position on the Great Barrier Reef means there is also a wide assortment of marine life to be found in the area, including a number of shellfish such as clams, oysters, spider crabs and trochus.

Cultural importance

Prior to Cook's visit, Lizard Island was known as Dyiigurra and regarded as a sacred place by the local aboriginal tribe, the Dingaal. These islands were supposedly created during the ancient Dreamtime, and shaped in the form of a stingray, with Lizard Island itself serving as the body. In olden times, young boys would test their bravery and skills as fishermen by harvesting shellfish, turtles, dugongs and fish from the waters surrounding this isolated landmass.

Fine dining

Should travelers on Australia tours feel like enjoying some elegant fare during their excursion to Lizard Island, they may want to plan for a lunch at the Osprey Restaurant. Headed up by award-winning executive chef Mark Jensen and able to accommodate any special dietary requirements, this restaurant offers a five-star culinary experience in the middle of an Aussie paradise.

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