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Australia - Great Barrier Reef - Lizard Island - 12 February 2012 #1

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Published on Mar 5, 2012

Lizard Island lies about 27km from the Queensland Coast, 93km north east of Cooktown. This group of islands are the only high rocky islands situated close to the Outer Barrier Reefs and on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

For many thousands of years, aborigines canoed to Lizard Island from the mainland to collect food from the shores and shallow reefs. On the islands, extensive shell middens indicate the importance of this shellfish food source and are an accurate record of the long history the Aboriginal people have had with the islands.

Captain James Cook climbed the steep ridge to the highest point of the island as he had enough sailing through reef waters and must have been delighted when the views from Cooks Look showed him safe passage through the outer barrier reefs into the Coral Sea.

Cook's reports of the goo anchorage and freshwater, led other early survey vessels, including the HMS Beagle, Fly and Rattlesnake to Watson's Bay on Lizard island during the 1880's.

In the 1870's, Robert Watson started processing Beche-de-mer or Sea Cucumbers on the island. The animals were collected on nearby reefs and boiled and dried at Lizard Island. In 1881 aboriginals who may have felt that their traditional rights were threatened, attacked the settlers, killing one Chinese servant, while Robert Watson was at sea. Mrs Watson fled the island in a Beche-de-mer boiling tank with her baby son and one other Chinese servant. They died of thirst after drifting for nine days. Mrs. Watson's diary of the ordeal is held in the John Oxley library in Brisbane.

The Islands anchorage, fresh water, and unspoilt beauty have continued to attract fisherman and sailors for the past 200 years. The Island National Park was gazetted in 1939 and the surrounding marine park in 1983. The Lizard Island Research Station was established in 1973. The tourist resort, Lizard Island Lodge, was opened in 1975 and is an exclusive resort often visited by royalty and movie stars.

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