According to those less fortunate souls who reside on the big, flat, hot island to our North, Tasmania is a cold, bleak place, inhabited by strange types. We don’t bother to correct them. It would take too long. Besides, if they knew the truth, the place would be overrun. So don’t let on, will you? Sure it gets a bit cool in the winter in the high country. Even get some snow on the mountains if we are lucky. Lower down we get frosts, but they usually clear a couple of hours after sunrise. All country kids have memories of trooping of to school beside white coated, tree lined paddocks under a blue sky with a couple of clouds in it. Nothin’ prettier, believe me.
Sometimes on these cool days the kids would find a goanna lying still and stiff by the track. Caught in the open overnight, the poor beggar had got frozen stiff. Not dead you understand. They are cold blooded, and when the temperature drops to zero they ice up. Left alone in the rising heat of the day, they thaw out, warm up and wander off. But kids are interfering little sods and being kids they poke it and pick it up. If they were still close to home they might run back and load the lizard into the oven of the perpetually warm fuel stove in the kitchen. They’d reckon they were saving its life or something If not, they would more likely take it on to school and put it in somebody’s desk. More than one town bred teacher has had an interesting start to the day when they opened a desk drawer and met an annoyed Blue Tongue.
The farm up the road from our place was a nice little dairy farm run by a mum and dad and their three kids. The two youngest were still at school, and walked the two mile there each morning and back at night. The eldest was about 17 and had finished school. She was helping out at home till she took off for the city to be a nurse or typist or shop girl. She was a real country girl, pretty and nice with it. So when her brother came barging through the kitchen door with a frigid, foot long goanna in his hand, she calmly accepted the fact that he was carrying on the old tradition of thawing lizards. Once he was gone she carried on with her housekeeping jobs, sweeping, dusting, washing, and so on. Mum and dad had gone to the sales and were due back for lunch. Then there was a knock on the front door. Had to be a stranger, all the locals came round the back. In the porch was a travelling salesman. Used to be a lot of them back then. He was nicely surprised to be greeted by a good looking girl at the door, and just about the time for morning tea. He must have thought his luck was right in. He started his line of chat, and she was happy to have a new face around. She was wondering if it would be a good idea of inviting him in for a cuppa, when she suddenly remembered. “Excuse me, I have a goanna in the oven” and she darted back to the kitchen. Removing the unroasted reptile, and dropping it into a box, she returned to the front door. 50 yards away, the travelling rep was hastily climbing into his car.
Must have been something she said.