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Wildlife : The Goanna

Name: Goanna

Scientific Classification: Varanus

Alternative Names: Australian monitor

Location: they live throughout Australia, but not so much in Tasmania.  They like scrubland and forests where the soil is soft for burrowing.


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Fast Facts

  • Goannas are predatory, carnivourous reptiles that will eat small animals, insects and eggs and scavange on rotting meat.
  • There are around 20 species of goanna and 15 of those live in Australia.  They vary in size and can grow to up to 2 metres long.
  • They live in burrows, wander around on the ground looking for food but are great at climing trees.
  • When they breed, they lay about 5-6 eggs which hatch little babies that are about 25cm long.  Sometimes, the goanna mums will dig up a termite mound and lay their eggs inside.  The termites will build their nest around the eggs, incubating and protecting them from predators.  When it’s time, the baby lizards will hatch and dig their way out, or mum will return to give them a hand.


Cuteness Rating: They’re giant lizards with dry skin and long claws.  If you think that’s cute, then that’s your own problem.

Danger Rating: don’t get bitten by a goanna – their teeth are filled with bacteria, so a bite can lead to a nasty infection.


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Our Encounter  

We were camping in Mount Remarkable National Park at the Mambray Creek campground, when Juz noticed a goanna under the shade of a nearby tree, just hanging out in the grass.  We had read that they are attracted to campers by the smell of meat, and while we didn’t really have food out, he seemed quite content in perving on our campsite.


Later on, while we cooked dinner on the electric BBQs in the visitor area, another goanna came by looking for scraps before climbing a nearby rivergum and hanging out on one of the top branches.  The next day, we had another visit and it was cool to watch them move and scurry.


A goanna walking past our campsite


Sugar Gum Lookout hike

Camping : Mount Remarkable National Park

Located in the southern Flinders Ranges, this beautiful national park offers a few campgrounds and a selection of great hikes into gorges shaded by red river gums.


Mambray Creek Camground

We stayed at Mambray Creek, shaded by big, twisted river red gums along the dry creek bed.  There are 54 designated sites, with plenty of taps offering great tasting drinking water.  In the centre of camp are toilets, showers and deep sinks for dishes and hand washing clothes.



If you’re after more sheltered accommodation, there is a cabin that offers basic accommodation right next to the amenities.  It sleeps a maximum of four people, contains a stove, table and chairs with cooking and eating utensils but refrigeration and bedding is BYO.



We couldn’t believe how close the animals got.  Our first surprise was a curious goanna lurking in the bushes near camp and a band of kookaburras perched in the nearby trees while we cooked dinner on the electric BBQ.  We also saw emus and kangaroos during our hike to Sugar Gum Lookout.



Daveys Gully Hike – 1 hour loop, 2.4km

A track that everyone who camps at Mambray Creek should do.  It’s a quick trek through a gully before ascending the hill that overlooks the entrance to the national park.  You can see the Spencer Gulf from the top and even Whyalla on a clear day.  Along the way, you’ll see lizards and kangaroos.  Best time to do this hike is in the late afternoon just before sunset.



Sugar Gum Lookout – 3 hours return, 8km

An easy walk that follows Mambray Creek, the path is shaded by big river red gums.  We bumped into kangaroos, wallabies and a family of emus that dashed ahead as we approached.  A small cabin just before the 600m ascent is interesting to check out before marching up to the lookout, which overlooks red quartzite cliffs.



Camping is at around $18 a night, plus a $10 entry fee into the park, but if you get a Parks Holiday Pass for $70, that takes care of all entry and camping fees to SA National Parks for two months.