Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eulo, the heart of stumpy-tail lizard country

Located well over 800 km west of Brisbane (in Queensland, Australia) is Eulo, a small outback town of 50 people, where there is a date farm and winery, the Paroo River -- and 1500 stumpy-tailed lizards.

Started in 1968 and last held in 2004, the annual World Lizard Racing Championships were held at Eulo in the last week of August. Suitable lizards were auctioned (the highest price paid was $1065) and then the race began. The world record stands at 2.5 seconds, set by 'Herbie', a Cunnumulla lizard in 1972.

After the race, all the lizards were returned to the exact site from which they were found. This is an important point because stumpy-tail lizards mate for life and live in a particular territory

To mark the occasion of our arrival in Eulo, we took our pet Stego (who is now at least 40 years of age) from his carry-box, gave him several gentle soaks and drinks from a tap and then carried him to the signs at the eastern end of the town where we took the enclosed photos.

Stego is gentle and trusting. In my hands he knows he's 100 per cent safe, so he never struggles to be free but looks around, noticing the red earth, blue-grey mulga scrub and vast blue sky.

26°C is the temperature at which Stego and I feel most comfortable; and in Eulo today that's exactly how it was.

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