The Frilled-Neck Lizard
Forty kilometres north of Cape York is an island named Melgi, which was once occupied by lizards, goannas, and snakes; their leader being a frilled-neck lizard called Malek. Fire was unknown to the early inhabitants of the island of the Torres Strait who placed their food on sun warmed stones and cooked it a little at a time. It was a prolonged, time consuming process. Far away from the coastal islands of New Guinea they often saw smoke rising, and suspected that their relatives had found some way of cooking their food properly. At a tribal meeting Barum, the monitor lizard, said he wanted to find out if it was true. He slid into the water and headed north, but before long he was back again, shivering with cold.
“It’s no good”, he told them. “Cold currants came up from the bed of the sea. I was tossed about by the waves and turned from my course by the strong currents. I could barely back to this island of Melgi, you must find someone who is stronger than I”. He crawled slowly and painfully to a flat rock and lay at full length, revelling in the hot sunshine.
“Why don’t you try, Malek?” asked one of the smaller lizards. After Barum’s defeat, Malek’s pride was touched.
“I’ll try”, he said. “I have a sister on the mainland. She may be willing to help us.”
Before he left he