|Cape Richards,...the resort that is no longer...and Orchid Beach, Cape Richards|
The report a few weeks ago about an eight year-old girl bitten on her foot by an angry goanna - it took two people to wrestle the monster off the child - and another, a couple of weeks later regarding a man who had a battle with a giant monitor reminded me of a few incidents when I was manager of the then resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island.
Monitor lizards, large, medium and small roam the island undisturbed, relishing the pristine habitat, as they should. A large monitor lizard is not something one would enjoy being confronted by, particularly a small child. The little girl would’ve been traumatised. Her terrifying experience will linger long in her mind...if not forever.
Generally, the carnivores prefer to stay clear of humans. Goannas have acute vision, but their ability to recognise – differentiate - objects by sight is limited.
To a goanna a stationary human could be a tree. The lizard can’t see the forest for that one, single tree. If startled, the monitor is capable of mistaking a human for a tree.
Erroneously, a panicked goanna would scale the main trunk (human) in an effort to seek safety – not a pleasant experience for anyone - child or adult. They are not to be messed with; goannas are not soft, cuddly creatures.
Early one morning while in my office at the resort I heard screaming issuing forth from the rear side of the main building that housed the restaurant, bar, kitchen, cold room, store room, small resort shop and the office.
Dropping everything immediately, I raced outside in the direction of the shrieking.
A staff member, loaded to the hilt with bed linen from guest cabins received the shock of her life as she entered the laundry. Two goannas had been having a wrestling match high up in a tree near the laundry’s entrance. Losing their grip both landed on the poor lass. She was lucky not to have suffered any injuries from their powerful, sharp claws and teeth.
Young parents, enjoying the ambience of Goold Island, across the way from Hinchinbrook, had their tranquillity shattered during their visit to the uninhabited isle. Temporarily, they’d left their baby, on a rug, on the sand well above the watermark while they dipped their toes in the Coral Sea.
Hearing their baby’s distressed cry they sped back to discover a goanna nibbling one of the bub’s fingers. Luckily, no serious injuries were caused.
I had serious heart to heart with a resort guest one evening when she arrived at the restaurant to dine.
A doctor from South Africa, she was a woman in her early 40s, both old enough, and educated enough – one would think - to know better.
Guests had dobbed her in for her reckless behaviour towards a monster monitor during the day.
I didn’t mince words when pointing out her aggravating the creature wasn’t a clever pastime.
Commonsense is rare in some.
Displaying further ignorance, she asked if I’d have a staff member remove an innocent, harmless little gecko from her cabin!
Upon reflection, I should’ve replaced the gecko with a goanna.
My late brother, Graham (whose birthday it is/would have been today...28th February) and my chef David copped a tongue-lashing from me one day, too. They stood there like two little schoolboys being reprimanded by a very angry headmistress...both with lowered heads as I blasted them, telling them they were both old enough and ugly enough to know better!
They'd not seen or heard me coming. I'd caught Graham and David feeding eggs to a massive goanna on the deck out from the cold room, to see how many it would swallow in one sitting. A goanna will just go on forever...a bit like the theme song from “Titanic”!
Goannas don’t know when to stop – feed them...and they will just go on and on until they’re about to explode. This big fellow’s belly was already bulging when I arrived, unannounced on the scene.
Not only was it the most senseless game being played out by the fellows, but it was a waste of eggs, too. We were on an island, after all...and couldn’t “just pop down to the store” when we ran out of supplies!
Wound up and angry, in no uncertain terms, I also pointed out to the likely lads the foolishness of their bit of fun...encouraging a goanna...who would probably go and tell the rest of its mob that free food was on offer at the restaurant...wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. The resort would have had permanent guests – bookings not required!
I now smile to myself every time I think of that morning. The guilty looks when they got unexpectedly nabbed...caught in the act! I wish I had a photo of their faces while they were being duly and descriptively reprimanded. They skulked back to work, heads lowered in shame and remorse.
A number of times I've prepared (when I was cooking in restaurants)...and tasted for the sake of tasting...a variety of out-of-the- norm “foods” e.g. crocodile, emu, frogs’ legs, escargot aka snails, eel, etc. However, I drew the line at goanna, gecko, and snake.
Once, I did, as a joke, put Witchetty Grub Soup on the menu at a venue in which I was cooking.
My behaviour needs monitoring, I guess.
Protein is good for us, but, personally, I prefer my protein from different sources than those above!
Orange Chicken Balls: Combine 1/4c milk and 1/4c Panko breadcrumbs; let sit 5min. Combine 800g minced chicken, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2tsp minced fresh ginger, 2tsp minced onion, 2tbs soy sauce, salt, pepper and soaked breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands; shape into balls, 2-3tbs per ball. Place in greased mini-muffin pan/or baking dish; bake in 230C oven, 15-20mins, until cooked. Sauce: Add 1-1/2tsp each olive oil and sesame oil in pot over med-low heat; add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1tsp minced fresh ginger; cook, stirring, about 2mins until golden; add 1-1/2tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, 3/4c orange marmalade and 1/4c hoisin sauce; cook until thickened slightly. Transfer balls to bowl; pour over sauce; toss to coat.
Salmon & Puy Lentils: Put 200g Puy lentils in saucepan with 1 bay leaf and enough cold water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer; cook 30 mins/until tender. Season; add 200g fresh, chopped green beans; simmer 1min. Drain; discard bay leaf. Stir in 25g chopped Italian parsley, 2tbs Dijon, 2tbs chopped capers and 2tbs olive oil. Preheat grill to hot. Slice thinly 2 lemons; arrange slices on foil-lined grill pan; place 500g salmon fillets and 1 finely-sliced fennel bulb on top; season. Cook under grill 10 mins, or until salmon is cooked. Place salmon on top of lentils and fennel slices, garnish with dill sprigs.
Protein Bars: Line a 9-by-13-inch glass pan with paper, letting it hang over the sides. Set aside. Combine 2c crunchy peanut paste, 1/3c honey and 1/3c chocolate milk in a medium heatproof glass bowl; place over a pot of simmering water. Allow mixture to become warm and smooth, stirring to completely incorporate. Remove from heat; set aside. Mix 2-1/2c rolled oats, 1/2c flax seeds, 2tbs chocolate protein powder, 1/3c dried cherries or cranberries and 1/4c mini-chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture into coat mixture; stir until well combined. Transfer to prepared pan; press into an even layer. Sprinkle over more mini-choc chips, lightly pressing into base; freeze for 15mnis to allow mixture to set. Remove from pan; cut into 24 bars; transfer to airtight container; freeze.