Animals, Australia, Gardening
Comments 20

Handsome Little Devils: The Water Dragons Revisited

Hey, all.

I’ve bitched about Summer on here more than once: the energy-sucking heat, of course; the harsh, high-contrast, drama-killing, colour-draining light (photographically speaking); the insanely early start required to reach the waterfront or creek bank in time for sunrise (just made it this morning by heading out the door at 4:10am); cricket; bad TV (I mean badder than usual, and not in a good way); Christmas…

So why bludgeon you with more of the same? Let’s focus on the good side of the Sweltering South-East Queensland Summer: the basking. Not mine — I don’t bask well, except in my own glory.

I’m talking about the lizards:


I’m still slogging through the pictures from Japan and have completed the editing of half a dozen days’ worth from that 47-day epic, plus several shots, at least, from each of the others. When Day 28, for example, starts to drive me crazy, I jump over to Day 13 for some variety.

At least six hours a day goes by like that. When my eyes start to hurt, I leave the library air-conditioning behind and step outside so I can refocus on something more than 18 inches from my eyes. It feels so good

Other than that, on a good day there are afternoon storms (a possible one forecast today)…


..the magpies at home or in the park are a nice diversion, as are medication-induced naps enlivened by vivid and entertaining dream-sagas, and lately there’s Gilligan, my little grey butcherbird buddy here in the other park, who drops by daily for a few bits of meat while I enjoy my morning coffee in an ever-shrinking oasis of early shade.

A few days ago, though, I headed into the city to break the monotony with a few hours in the beautiful library there, and when the worst of the heat and light seemed to have passed, wandered back to Roma Street Parkland…


So disrespectful of all that incredible horticulture! revisit the eastern water dragons I love watching and photographing:


I hadn’t visited Roma Street since last Winter, which, though typically mild, was chilly enough to send the resident reptiles underground. I asked a gardener, who confirmed that hibernation explained the disappointingly lizard-free environs, adding that I “might be lucky”.

I suppose I was: I found one, a halfwit, I suspect, who, like me, was wondering where everybody had gone.


Purple butterfly bush.

So it was great to be back in Dragon Country. I had a couple of enjoyable hours strolling the always-immaculate grounds of the Spectacle Garden and surrounds as the sun slowly sank behind the apartments leaning protectively over the lawns.

The shots here feature perhaps eight or 10 of the numerous mini-saurians I stalked. All were shot, as always, sans telephoto, which means I had to do some reptilian belly-crawling myself, inching as close to the beautiful big buggers as I could.


More than once I was charged by a big, burly male, presumably responding territorially to the spiny brute reflected in my lens, or perhaps because he just didn’t approve of harassment by the paparazzi.

Either way, a relic from the Age of the Dinosaurs bearing down on you from above is always startling!


For the camera nerds: this one and the last shot were taken with a cheapo 16mm pancake lens plus an ultra-wide adaptor on an old Sony NEX 5N. The others were all shot with a Sony a7 or RX1.

I also witnessed an impressively violent tussle between two testosterone-charged males: it was like one of those old Ray Harryhausen plasticine-dinosaur spectacles. But in colour.

One thing I love about these dragons is the backdrop of flowers. Dragons plus floral colour is a weird but somehow very Queensland combination for me. You’ll notice that shades of purple dominate at the moment — also nicely complementary with the shimmery streaks in that delightful dragon leather.


Not sure what this plant is — couldn’t find any signage. Anyone help?

Alright, nearly outta shade. I’ll leave you with the pictures and see you soon.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in previous dragon posts, you can try here (from back when my camera skills and equipment were rather more basic) or here for the first part of my “Dragon Trilogy”.


What’s with the toe?!


A Study in Paranoia.



Petunias in the Topiary Garden.


This was the loser in the territorial battle I witnessed (but was too slow to photograph). He bailed for the security of a mondo-grass verge.


And the winner is…


Purple agapanthus.


“Flat-out like a lizard on a rock” ~ Australian expression. “Flat out” is Aust slang for really busy.



On the Tiles.



White butterfly bush.


In a cotton-tree thicket at a edge of a pond. As their name suggests, water dragons are as happy in the water (they can stay submerged for over an hour) as on the land — or in a tree.



Agapanthus-lined pathway.






White agapanthus.


Just before leaving, I tried to capture the activity on the lawn below, where exercise junkies were punching and throwing balls at each other on the left, while a couple posed for wedding pictures on the right. A security guard appeared and asked if I was aiming my lens into those apartments beyond the lawn. I told him it was a wide-angle, and that those apartments looked “like they’re five miles away”. But he did give me an excellent idea for future posts, and when I do purchase a nice long lens, I’ll be back to give you something truly memorable.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. Hi Ian, thankyou for showcasing our beautiful Parklands again. The purple flower is Dichorosanda commonly called Blue Ginger. ,the butterfly bushes are Buddliea. The water dragons of course are Eastern Water Dragons, found all along the East Coast of OZ. But very prolific in the Parklands because there are no predators there. And a great tourist attraction, esp. frightening to the young Asian girls who visit!

    • Oh yes, I well remember the screams that a mere cicada or even earthworm could induce in Korea or Japan. A dragon — takes it to another level.

      Yes, my mother also identified the ginger, thanks! The Parklands were in typically superb shape.

  2. Philip Davis says

    Once again a superlative photo study…you’re getting kind of good at this stuff.

  3. Hey Goat, great to hear from you, always enjoy your posts. Tremendous photos as usual. Love what you can do with a wide angle, great stuff.

    I’ve spent some time trying to photograph these reptiles over at Southbank, they are fantastic. A friend of mine who is a committed reptile photographer has encouraged them to approach his lens using a mirror, so I think your theory about the reflections is a good one. When I lived in the bayside suburb of Lota many millenia ago I once spent all day capturing oil-soaked adults from Wynnum Creek, where some clown had dumped a load of motor oil, and scrubbing them with detergent in the bath wherefore releasing them. My wife was not impressed, upon seeing the state of the bathroom and its scaly occupants. I enjoyed spending some time with them up close though, true characters.

    I have found them in so many places in southern Queensland, I have a favourite image of one lording it over a pond at Goomburra NP here

    Hope you have a great Christmas, whatever you’re doing. I’ll be having lunch with my family at my sister’s place at Shorncliffe, in your current part of the planet. Always find this time of year somewhat challenging. My solution this year is to drink my way through Christmas, and hence I have started tonight, having consumed so much red wine that it’s a wonder I can type. Work tomorrow is not looking promising. I’ll go now before my reply gets deleted for its irrelevant, rambling nature.

    All the best mate, Rob. Good luck with the editing saga.

    • Robert, that’s a beautiful shot, thanks. My father used to build boats at Hemmant, and a couple of old friends come from the Wynnum area as well. The oil in the creek — yeah, I can just picture it. I think attitudes to mangrove creeks have improved a little overall…

      Will contact you privately re Xmas Day. Mine’s looking very quiet, might be able to catch up somewhere local.

  4. The water dragons look as if they might be yoga teachers demonstrating how to do the water dragon pose perfectly. I like them. I like the way they look at things.

    Interesting to find that when I wake up at 0445 here in Washington State during the darkest days of the year, the summer sun is rising in Brisbane and flowers are blooming.

    • Oh, yes, we have way to little darkness at this time of the year. Still, I made it to Solstice, only a couple more months of gruelling hellish summer weather to get through!

  5. Gotta say that water dragons are one of my favourite critters! I go to Nerima Gardens at Queens Park in Ipswich to stalk mine. I’ve spent hours there watching them. I love ’em so obviously I was pleased to see you shared another post about them. Wonderful pictures as always. Thank you! 🙂 Commiserations on the heat and pre-Christmas madness. I find both thoroughly exhausting.

    • Yes, a dreadful combination. Today I felt light-headed and weak when I got home. Actually had my first beer in ages and it went down in about two minutes. Then I felt miraculously reinvigorated, and here I am finishing up a post!

  6. Gorgeous pictures as usual – I remember Roma Street Parklands well but have never seen it looking so beautiful as it does here!

    • Cheers. They really do an amazing job. I’m not usually a fan of bright and colourful mass-plantings of annuals, but they work well in that setting and the trees and shrubs, etc, are spectacular.

  7. Danielle says

    Just great reading you.
    Will go for a little walkabout myself to Tokushima, Takamatsu and Naoshima before Oshogatsu. I still get my morning coffee from the Family Mart around the corner. No Goat there this morning.

    • Thanks, Jennie, I’m a big fan of the wides, though of course this necessitates a lot of getting physically closer. Still dreaming of a nice tele but unsure about the best one for my mirrorless arsenal. Plus there’s cost, of course! But one day…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s