Critter bank

As my house is on a cut-and-fill into the hillside, there is steep bank behind it, the view from my kitchen window.

I am gradually clearing it of weeds and making small terraces, pockets of soil for hardy vegetables like pumpkins to spread over its clay sides.

I am mulching it as I go. It is an inhospitable slope, habitat only for ants and spiders so far as I have seen.


Last week I was distracted from the washing-up by a dark motionless shape there. What was it and was it alive or dead?

Sneaking out, camera in hand, I was delighted to see it was an Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii).


An extraordinary creature up close, fiercesome of eye and fabulous of pattern, spiked and ridged and scale-armoured like a mini-dinosaur.

On my old mountain, his little cousin the Jacky Lizard was my favourite reptile.


On top of the bank is grassed, mown by me and the wallabies.

It backs up to the weedy wilderness beyond the fenceline, which includes Lantana, a favourite habitat for the Water Dragons, I read.


I am still charmed by these wallabies, and heartened to see them visiting me daily now and being far less wary. If they move off, it is only a little way.

Having been through this courtship process at my old property, I know we will eventually be happily cohabiting.

Mountain goanna

Last week I saw a goanna on my ridge. It was an occasion of great delight because, over 30 years, this is only the second goanna I have ever seen up here. They have both been Lace Monitors.

My new goanna ran up on to the base of a large horizontal tree trunk that had been snapped off and smashed down in a storm some years ago.

As you can see, the camouflage is perfect – greyish, pinkish, blackish; ripples and spots, patches and strips. And look at that exquisite needle point tail!

Perhaps there are more goannas here than I thought: I just haven’t had my goanna eyes tuned in.