The world-famous Riversleigh fossil beds, situated north of Mount Isa in far north-western Queensland close to the Gulf of Carpenteria, have lately revealed further fossil remains of Megalania together with other remains of giant emus and other 'megafauna' dating from Miocene times.
Before examining the mass of evidence for living Megalania gathered from New South Wales, we shall study some equally astounding reports from Queensland. "Big goannas live in the Kuranda forests," some of the more talkative locals of this little community perched high up on the Atherton Tableland above Cairns, will tell you.
The creatures have left their large tracks across properties on the edge of jungle and taken the odd calf or two, even poultry. Some locals have even sighted these creatures but few talk about these things, no doubt fearing ridicule. Aborigines claim the reptiles wander a wide area of the Cape York and Gulf country forests.
It was while researching on the Atherton Tableland that I met retired Australian Army Major [name witheld] who informed me that when he was about 20 years old, around 1913, he saw a 10-foot-long goanna at Emerald Creek in Queensland.
During the summer of 1963, Mr and Mrs [name witheld] reported seeing a 15 foot-long goanna near Beenleigh, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, while driving their Renault car on a bush road.
"The goanna appeared from out of a gully and dashed across the road into scrub. It stood a good three feet tall on all fours. It was bigger than the nine-foot-wide dirt road we were on," Mrs Karlsen informed me many years later in 1978.
The Karlsen goanna, however, is dwarfed by the following two reports
Back in August 1981 I was visited by a Queensland soldier, Private Steve" (he did not want his full name published), who related the following incident to me. "During October 1968 I was with my unit on a jungle training exercise deep in forest country, inland from Shoalwater Bay on the Normanby Range north of Rockhampton, when we came upon a dead cow in a remote swampy area.
The cow had been torn apart by some massive beast which, by the cow's appearance, would have been of considerable size and strength to have literally ripped the cow in half the way it had.
We found large reptile tracks and tail-marks in the mud about the area of the 'kill'. It now became obvious to us all that the cow had been killed elsewhere, on some pastureland far off, and dragged through the forest to this swamp where it had been devoured.
My mates took fright. So did I.
We left the area in some haste. The cow was a fresh 'kill', not even hours old. The 20-inch-or-so width of the claw-marks in the mud, their distance apart, plus the tail-marks, suggested to us that the reptile was up to 30 feet long. We had also examined the drag-marks for some distance through the forest, and the path tramped through the foliage in the opposite direction by the monster perhaps only half an hour before.
If the monster had been up to 30 feet in length, it must have been of considerable weight," said Steve.
Perhaps this reptile was a fully grown Megalania, but unless Megalania could grow larger than 30 feet (10 metres), the next reptilian giant might be something else.
One day in 1977, teenage sisters Karen and Susan [name witheld], together with two boys, Alan Johnson and Tom Carrol, were walking along a jungle track in mountain country near Townsville when they saw a huge reptile emerge 100 yards ahead of them from out of dense forest on the edge of a swamp.
"We took fright and hid behind some bushes watching the creature”, said Karen to me some years later. “It looked just like a goanna, only it was far, far too big for that. It had a large, goanna-like head, long neck, a huge, almost elephant-like body, enormous legs and big claws, and a long, thick tail. The creature was covered throughout with large scales of a mottled grey colour.
It stood parallel with the swamp, and we estimated its length from head to tail to be a good 40 feet, and its height about six feet tall standing on all fours.
We watched as the monster began moving off, trampling foliage as it moved back into the forest. We then got out of there fast. No one believes us to this day, but we know what we saw," she said.
Obviously, if this story is true, the creature was some monstrous goanna, but could it be Megalania, or some other related species?