Cool creatures hot favourites at fest

Michelle Leggat and Wally the lace monitor get to know each other.
Michelle Leggat and Wally the lace monitor get to know each other. Sarah Harvey

SNAKES, dragons, monitors and turtles were the main attraction at the Ipswich Showgrounds this weekend.

Hundreds of people make their way to the showground's main pavilion on Saturday for the annual Scales and Tails Reptile Festival.

According to the festival's key speaker, conservationist Bob Irwin, the festival was a chance for people, especially children, to get up close and personal with reptiles.

"This thing I really like about (the reptile festival) is it's not just entertainment for kids. It's education for them and for adults, too," he said.

"If we're really serious about conservation and making sure we can protect these animals into the future we've got to make sure it's the kids who understand how important they are."

Mr Irwin said the festival was a chance for some of the remaining stigma about reptiles to be overcome.

"People can still think of reptiles as something a bit scary, but they're not that. They're beautiful animals."

The festival saw displays of a range of native reptiles, including lace and water monitors, snapping turtles and a huge number of different snakes and lizards.

Australian Freshwater Turtle Conservation and Research Association president Graham Stockfeld said he was pleased by the interest people were showing in turtles.

"It's great to see so many people here showing an interest in turtles," he said.

"It's a fantastic chance just to get the word out there about turtles and ourselves."

The group, founded in south-east Queensland, works across the country to protect Australian turtles.

An 80-year-old white-throated snapping turtle, Jessica, was one of the group's biggest attractions.

Mr Irwin was one of a range of speakers who took to the stage during the festival alongside American TV show Snakebytes personality Brian Barczyk and Sydney-based snake expert Peter Birch.

Topics:  ipswich showgrounds scales and tails reptile festival

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